C.E. Gatchalian’s collection of personal essays Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man is both relatable and academic. There is no question as to Gatchalian’s genius. He is a smart dude, and he has no qualms about showing off his intelligence. If you’ve read his other writings or seen one of his plays, you know he has a way with words that can be somewhat inaccessible but beautiful at the same time.
I enjoyed this collection for the most part, though if you’re not familiar with some of the cultural references that he dives into, then you may be somewhat bored. Some things he dissects includes the British TV show Queer As Folk, opera singer Maria Callas, and the Canadian classic Anne of Green Gables.
It’s a memoir, yes. But it’s also an exploration of the pop culture that influenced him as a “Brown Queer Man.” He talks about race (he’s Filipinx, a term he’s coined) and I definitely could relate to that Asian vs White dichotomy in the landscape of the gay community.
He is blunt and shows us entries from his journals that date back to when he was a precocious sounding young child. He is not afraid to bare his ugly side for us to see, i.e. when he talks about how AIDS-phobic he used to be. The candidness is a breath of fresh air and a bold move. It makes this memoir all that more honest and interesting.