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McGehee, Peter (1955 -1991)  
page: 1  2  3  

As Wilson's Labor of Love opens, however, Jeff is mentioned only as having suddenly died, leaving Zero--who is dying of toxoplasmosis, an AIDS-related condition in which lesions form on the brain, resulting in a loss of balance, eyesight, and memory--to be cared for by David, who is himself seriously ill. In Wilson's "completion" of the story of Zero and David's relationship, every character in the book--including Zero himself, before he dies--testifies to David's being the only man whom Zero ever really loved.

Wilson, in effect, takes back from McGehee the printed portrait of their relationship, retelling their story from David's/Wilson's point of view. Unfortunately, Wilson lacked his late partner's skill as a novelist. David's self-righteous, at times deeply self-pitying, tone tarnishes the brightness of McGehee's comic world, reducing to flat, mechanical exchanges the witty banter that characterizes Boys Like Us and Sweetheart, and rendering wooden and one-dimensional McGehee's vibrant, whimsical characters. Labor of Love fails precisely because Wilson lacks McGehee's screwball sensibility.

If David's "labor of love" is to care for Zero in his last days and then distribute Zero's ashes as his lover would have wanted, Wilson's was to attempt to complete McGehee's projected trilogy. Wilson's novel remains valuable as a fictionalized portrait of McGehee's last days, and as evidence of the peculiar opportunity for creative collaboration that came with the AIDS epidemic as gay men cared not only for the bodies of their friends and lovers, but struggled to preserve their body of creative work as well.

Raymond-Jean Frontain

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literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

After Stonewall, gay male literature became focused as a movement, aided by the development of gay newspapers, magazines, and quarterlies and the founding of serious gay and lesbian bookstores.

literature >> Overview:  Canadian Literature in English

Since the 1960s, Canadian gay and lesbian writers have produced a vibrant body of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry.

social sciences >> Wilson, Douglas

Canadian human rights activist Douglas Wilson is also remembered as the life partner of American-Canadian writer/performer Peter McGehee; together they married activism with art and entertainment.


"Doug Wilson (1950-1992)."

Koestenbaum, Wayne. Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration. New York: Routledge, 1989.

McGehee, Peter. Beyond Happiness: The Intimate Memoirs of Billy Lee Belle. Toronto: Stubblejumper Press, 1985. Rpt. Regina, Saskatchewan: Coteau Books, 1993.

_____. Boys Like Us. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

_____. The I. Q. Zoo. Regina, Saskatchewan: Coteau Books, 1991.

_____. Sweetheart. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Wilson, Doug. Labor of Love. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.


    Citation Information
    Author: Frontain, Raymond-Jean  
    Entry Title: McGehee, Peter  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated April 11, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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