An astonishing, epic graphic memoir in the spirit of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Meet little Maurice Vellekoop, the youngest of four children raised by Dutch immigrants in the 1970s in a blue-collar suburb of Toronto. Despite their working-class milieu, the Vellekoops are devoted to art, music, and film, and they instill a deep reverence for the arts in young Maurice—except for literature. He’d much rather watch Cher and Carol Burnett on TV than read a book. He also loves playing with his girlfriends’ Barbie dolls and helping his Mum in her hair salon, which she runs out of the basement of their house. In short, he is really, really gay. Which is a huge problem, because the family is part of the Christian Reformed Church, a strict Calvinist sect. They go to church twice on Sunday, and they send their kids to a private Christian school, catechism classes, and the Calvinist Cadet Corps. Needless to say, the church is intolerant of homosexuality. Though she loves her son deeply, Maurice’s mother, Ann, cannot accept him, setting the course for a long estrangement.
Vellekoop struggles through all of this until he graduates from high school and is accepted into the Ontario College of Art in the early 1980s. Here he finds a welcoming community of bohemians, including a brilliant, flamboyantly gay professor who encourages him to come out. But just as he’s dipping his toes into the waters of gay sex and love, a series of romantic disasters, followed by a violent attack, sets him back severely. And then the shadow of the AIDS era descends. Maurice reacts by retreating to the safety of childhood obsessions, and seeks to satisfy his emotional needs with film- and theatre-going, music, boozy self-medication, and prolific art-making. When these tactics inevitably fail, Vellekoop at last embarks on a journey towards his heart’s true desire. In psychotherapy, the spiderweb of family, faith, guilt, sexuality, mental health, the intergenerational fallout of World War II, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, French Formula Hairspray, and much more at last begins to untangle. But it’s going to be a long, messy, and occasionally hilarious process.
I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together is an enthralling portrait of what it means to be true to yourself, to learn to forgive, and to be an artist.