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Double Melancholy - Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man

Double Melancholy

Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man

By C.E. Gatchalian
Categories: BIPOC, Asian Literature, Biography & Memoir, LGBTQ+, Gay Literature
Paperback : 9781551527536, 224 pages, 2019


According to Didier Eribon, melancholy is where it all starts and where it also ends: the lifelong process of mourning that each homosexual experiences, and through which they construct their own identity. In this beguiling book, an introverted, anxious, ambitious, artistically gifted queer Filipino-Canadian boy finds solace, inspiration, and a "syllabus for living" in art -- works of literature and music, from the children's literary classic Anne of Green Gables to the music of Maria Callas. But their contribution to his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual edification belies the fact that they were largely heteronormative and white, which had the effect of invisibilizing him as a queer person of colour.

Part memoir, part cultural commentary, and a hybrid of besotted aesthetic appreciation and unsparing critique, Double Melancholy is by turns a passionate love letter to art and an embattled examination of its oppressive complicity with the society that produces it, and the depths to which art both enriches and colonizes us.


Chris Gatchalian's Double Melancholy is a game-changing memoir. To be queer and to be brown are separate struggles, but to occupy a body and mind locked between the two is a world we cannot all experience. Stuck in the crevice where the personal meets the political, we the readers root for the narrator. Brilliant and gripping. -Chelene Knight, author of Dear Current Occupant

Alberto Manguel meets Richard Rodriguez in this fearless, intimate memoir. Gatchalian's prose is evocative, lyrical, and poetic. It's also rigorous and tough. Gatchalian doesn't only expose oppressive legacies of our homophobic, racist, and patriarchal histories. He also exposes himself. In passages of raw, compelling vulnerability, he offers readers a window into the indefensible, incorrect desires, longings, and hatreds that we all carry in some form or other, and that many of us go to great lengths to mask. -Marcus Youssef, winner of the Siminovitch Prize and Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award

A work of such psychic intimacy, one almost has the sense that they're watching Gatchalian think in real time on the page. Diaristic, theoretical, lyrical, Double Melancholy gives voice to a unique, multi-hyphenated identity. -Jordan Tannahill, author of Liminal

C. E. Gatchalian's Double Melancholy charts a central and exciting path: a Canadian of Filipinx descent attempts to tease out the complexities of his identification with white and Western 'high culture,' from E. M. Forster to Anne of Green Gables, from Tennessee Williams to Maria Callas. As a brown and queer artist, Gatchalian is unsparing with both himself and others, often provocatively and wittily so. An ambitious and original book of warring voices, many of them the author's own. -Will Aitken, author of Antigone Undone

C. E. Gatachlian's Double Melancholy is a brave and heartbreaking fireworks display of a book. The author, a self-described 'brown queer man' and well-known playwright, scrutinizes the inner pasts of various artists as a means of deepening his own self-awareness and displaying his singular prose style. -George Fetherling, author of Travels by Night