Whether gay or straight, the dating scene can be cruel, and sometimes too much to handle. It might be a series of bad dates, something that started out with such promise and ended abruptly after you discovered their non-negotiable fetishes (and a schoolgirl uniform sadly makes your legs look fat), or it might be a relationship that simply and tragically came to an end.
We all deal with this churning feeling of disappointment in different ways, and some of us bury ourselves in work coupled with “getting back out there” on the weekends and having unsatisfying casual flings. Some of us stare out the window for hours with a pained expression on our faces that an observer might confuse with constipation. Some of us don’t overthink it and just get really, really, really drunk. There are ways of escaping pain while still engaging your brain, which hopefully helps to deal with the problem, even if on a subconscious level, and for centuries people have sought solace and understanding between the pages of a book. If a no good man has let you down for the last time, and you’re a damn good man who doesn’t quite know how to get through the pain, let’s take a look at some gay Australian classics of literature which you might find inspirational, or will at the very least distract you from checking your phone every five seconds.
Loaded, by Christos Tsiolkas
Perhaps not a novel that seems uplifting when read at face value, Loaded at least gives the reader an opportunity to think, I might be depressed and screwed up… but at least I’m not like this. The book tells the story of Ari, a 19 year old from Melbourne who goes out in relentless pursuit of fun, and all the illicit substances and random sexual encounters that are a part of his journey. Loaded was made into a rather good movie starring Oz’s own Alex Dimitriades. What happened to him anyway? Seems like it’s all been a bit quiet since Wog Boy 2…
Holding the Man, by Timothy Conigrave
A tragic autobiography, Holding the Man tells the story of the authors 15 year love affair with his high school sweetheart, and how over the years they drifted away from each other, before finally realizing that the other was the only person who could complete them (sort of borrowed that from Jerry Maguire, but whatever). The beauty of their love is underpinned with sadness and fear as HIV begins to rear its head in early 1980’s Australia. Keep some tissues handy when you read this one.
Somebody to Love, by Steve Holden
A transsexual mortician who lives and works in a small town sounds like the plot of a rather pretentious indie movie, and yet Steve Holden has created a delicate and gripping story set in Tasmania that illustrates how love is love, regardless of gender, and the aching sadness of trying to hold onto a love that is beginning to slip away. The book was released in 2011 and was criminally ignored, so it’s well worth tracking down a copy.
Vanity Fierce, by Graham Aitken
After the emotional wallop that these previous books might have given their readers, let’s have a look at something a little lighter that reminds us how flirting and being bitchy can be rather a lot of fun. Aitken’s comic novel details the exploits of Stephen Spear (how long did it take him to think up that name?) who after years of superficiality finally finds the man of his dreams… who is simply not into poor Stephen. But hey, Stephen isn’t giving up without an enjoyably written fight. Which is good, otherwise it would be quite a short book.
Image via Andy Lamb on Flickr.