A must-needed representation of the almost extinct Queer Generation XInkish Kingdoms
The Guncle by Steven Rowley is one of the gayest and sweetest stories I have read this year. The approach of being a gay uncle and that the story does not go around his sexuality or his romantic life made it feel fresh and new! – it has those elements, but they are 100% secondary to the matter of the book -.
Patrick is a Hollywood star who has been hiding for quite some time in the desert – Palm Springs -. He has been hiding from the public eye and his family. He needed time and space after a tragedy shocked his life, and his best friend found a way to bring him back to the land of the living.
Some people may say the story is cliche and predictable; however, the representation of the Queer Generation X (1965-1979) is all that matters. People that were alive and not part of the Queer community during the early 80s and early 90s seem to have forgotten in full the hardships the community had to endure to survive. In the 90s, Queer people had no right to visit their dying partners, and they have no saying on calling out if they wanted to pull the plug or not when needed. They were not allowed in the graveyards for the services. Families ignored them, and the world, in general, denied their existence.
Additionally, people have this misconception of what a gay person should or should not be. Some readers might mark Patrick as a cliche, but they rely on the image that the media has been feeding them for a long time. Patrick might use caftans. Patrick might be loud and exuberant. Patrick might suffer from body dysmorphia for the illogical standards of the gay community – another topic of another day – but these are not cliches: those are real-life for many. – As a personal note, I could see a lot of Bianca Del Rio, a famous Drag Quee, in Patrick, which supports my point that these are not cliches. Patrick is an artist. He enjoys music, theater, television, and culture in general like many gay men do. Those things are what make Patrick unique, intelligent, and emotional enough to guide these kids through the grieving process of losing a beloved one.
Through jokes, screams, and a very gay life, Patrick helps Maisie and Grant to understand more about grief. They can open their hearts and be empathetic for the loses each other had to experience. He can help them define who they want to be and encourage them to be who they wish to be without censorship. Patrick learns from the sweetness, naiveness, and pureness of these kids. Patrick is able then to open his heart to the world and break from his cacoon. Not only is GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick) able to find what he was looking for, but he also recovers what he was missing.
Steven Rowley is also the narrator of the audio version of The Guncle, and contrary to other experiences, he does an outstanding job! The way he plays the character, the tone of voice, the pitch, and the sassiness are raw in his performance. When listening to the audiobook, the listener goes up and down on Patrick’s emotional rollercoaster and his journey through finding peace and healing. Not only is The Guncle one of the sweetest books for this year, but the narration is also one of the best I have had the pleasure to experience.
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Gay, LGBTQ, LGBT, LGBTQIIA, LGBTQ+