Toronto Book Review

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I’M SO GLAD WE HAD THIS TIME TOGETHER: A MEMOIR BY MAURICE VELLEKOO

In a poignant and candid graphic memoir, Canadian artist Maurice Vellekoop opens up about his experiences growing up gay in 1970s Toronto. Raised in a conservative Christian household where homosexuality was condemned as a sin, Vellekoop grapples with his identity amidst family dynamics marked by his deep affection for his mother and fear of his unpredictable father. His childhood memories are painted with a blend of nostalgia and vulnerability, from cherished outings with his mother to the impact of Disney’s Fantasia and his fascination with TV sitcoms and Barbie dolls.

Vellekoop’s journey unfolds through a series of short chapters, each capturing a pivotal moment in his life. From navigating teenage angst to finding solace in art school, he shares the highs and lows of his career and the complexities of his romantic endeavors. Throughout, he confronts inner turmoil symbolized by two opposing angels—one urging kindness and compassion, the other steeped in bitterness and darkness.

In 1995, Vellekoop embarked on a new chapter by relocating to Manhattan, seeking refuge from his past as a “smart, urban homosexual.” Despite professional success, his personal life is marred by struggles with alcoholism, depression, and the devastating toll of the AIDS epidemic on his circle of friends. It is only through the arduous journey of therapy that he begins to find healing and redemption.

Vellekoop’s memoir is an unfiltered account of self-discovery and resilience, offering a raw and intimate glimpse into the complexities of gay life. Through his vivid illustrations and honest narrative, he sheds light on the struggles faced by many in the LGBTQ+ community, while also celebrating the triumphs of overcoming adversity and embracing one’s true self.

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