I’ve read Bingo Love three times now and I’ve cried all three times. It’s happy tears, the kind of crying that accompanies an acknowledgement that the human experience is complicated and that happy endings are possible. We are halfway through Pride Month and I hope you have picked up a few comic titles with LGBTQI characters or storylines. If not, you need to read Bingo Love!
Bingo Love is the sweet story of two friends, Hazel Johnson and Mari MsCray, who meet at church bingo. Mari is new in school and her and Hazel strike up a friendship that turns into love. The narrative could be complicated today but it is even more impactful as it takes place in 1963. The story that follows spans over 60 years of joy and heartbreak. Hazel and Mari are separated when they are caught kissing by Mari’s grandmother, end up marrying men they don’t love, and carry on with life until a chance meeting at church bingo decades later. Reunited they have to figure out what comes next.
It’s not often that you read stories where queer POC are the central characters, or comics where the artists include a variety of body shapes, clothing, and skin tones. Bingo Love does this masterfully not just with the main characters, but filling the background with a diverse mix of people. It isn’t a gimmick or diversity just for the sake of it. Instead you feel like you are hanging out with family during the weekend barbecue, getting this story told to you by grandma while everyone is having some other conversation. It’s real and full of heart; everything you want in a love story.
Bingo Love was Kickstarted by writer Tee Franklin and was so successful Image Comics picked it up for release. I finally grabbed a copy of the second printing at ClexaCon a couple months ago. It’s been sitting on my nightstand since then and I just can’t put it away yet. I keep re-reading it, getting emotional, and think about how thankful I am that things have changed for the better. The LGBTQI community continues to fight for acceptance but stories like Bingo Love remind me that love is love and life can be surprising in happy ways. Happy Pride everyone, now go pick up a copy!