Friday, July 12, 2024
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Gayme of the Week: My Dear Handel is a queer, interactive look at Great Expectations

Anyone who has sat down and read a book at least once in their life knows what subtext is. The read between the lines from a touch of hands, or a meaningful glance. So it shouldn’t be any surprise to know that there’s been an abundance of queer essays surrounding literature like Great Expectations.

The book, by Charles Dickens, focuses on a young man called Pip and his focus to become a gentleman in order to woo the cold, callous Estella. It deals with classism, sexism, and the highs and lows of infatuation, fueled by the concept of love and marriage. It’s a great tale and the themes of the book, while heteronormative at first glance, is spun in My Dear Handel to be more homoerotic through the eyes of Pip’s best friend, Herbert Pocket.

In the tale of My Dear Handel, we are thrust into feelings of longing and duty by becoming Pocket as he tends to his friend’s injuries.

There’s always been something very charming about homoeroticism in classical works of literature. It has been argued for centuries now that male homoeroticism stems from violence – something which the game mentions in its Further Reading section. The clash of two men, bare-chested with sweat dripping from their brow as they wrestle one another doesn’t leave much to subtext, yet it feels superficial at most. Instead, My Dear Handel uses the act of male nursing to express the queer longing that Herbert holds for Pip.

Great Expectations is full of male nursing scenes, and it is this concept that pushes the narrative along in My Dear Handel. You don’t have to have read the book to understand that the vulnerability between two men who are their lowest, physically and emotionally, is what drives the conversation to be as truthful and as bare as possible.

Of course, the truth is only what you, the player, make of it. You can choose to be as honest as possible about your feelings, or you can lie and spare Pip your musings about his future and where you fit in it. It’s a great look at how homosexuality in that era was repressed by gentlemen in order to benefit their future – and why the vulnerability between Pip and Herbert as they tend to their wounds (physical and otherwise) is scene steeped in homosexual desire.

To find out more about My Dear Handel and Great Expectations check out the full game on itch.io.


Gayme of the Week is a weekly column by Gayming Magazine staff about indie LGBT+ games that they’ve played and what they love about them. If you’ve got any recommendations, be sure to contact us on Twitter (@gaymingmag) or email (aimee@grayjonesmedia.com).


Image Source: ActuaLitté on Flickr

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