Tucker Shaw: 'Being gay is the greatest gift I was ever given' | My Life In 20

1 June 2022, 14:50

Tucker Shaw
Tucker Shaw. Picture: Penguin Random House UK
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

To celebrate the start of Pride month, we asked author Tucker Shaw to take a trip down memory lane with our My Life In 20 questions.

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What better way to start Pride month by treating yourself to a new, queer YA novel?

Tomorrow marks the UK release of When You Call My Name by author Tucker Shaw. The story follows Adam, who is falling in love for the first time, and Ben, who is forced out of his home after his mum discovers he is gay.

Drawn by the city's irresistible energy, the boys are swept up into the queer scene, where the potential for life and love seems limitless. But as the shadows of prejudice gather, Ben and Adam discover how their newfound community is facing the looming threat of AIDS, which will touch their lives more closely than they ever could have imagined.

Tucker was inspired to write the story after a Twitter thread he wrote went viral in 2018. The thread detailed his own experience of living in New York in the '90s.

To celebrate the book launch, we asked Tucker to answer our My Life In 20 questions. Read those below and find out more about When You Call My Name here.

20) What movie could you watch 20 times over and not get bored?

9 To 5, with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and the queen of all things, Dolly Parton.

19) What topic could you talk about for 19 minutes straight without notes?

Supermodels circa 1988-1994. Naomi, Linda, Christy, Cindy, Yasmeen, Kate, Helena, Stella, Kristen, Veronica, Claudia… the whole crew.

18) What was the most important thing to happen in your life when you were 18?

At 18, I learned how it feels to fall, truly, in love. How it feels for your heart to jump at the sound of a voice or the gesture of a hand. And what it means to lose.

17) Who was your crush at 17?

At 17, in 1985 (!), I was hopelessly in love with Greg Louganis, the Olympic diver. And not just for his Speedos, but for his smile.

16) What can you remember about your 16th birthday?

Sneaking booze from liquor cabinet, and not feeling great the next day.

When You Call My Name book cover
When You Call My Name book cover. Picture: Penguin Random House UK

15) What did you hate at 15 which you love now?

I hated knowing I was gay. But later I realized it’s the greatest gift I was ever given.

14) What TV show were you obsessed with at 14 and why?

Dynasty, because of Joan Collins and those unstoppable shoulder pads. Hashtag fashion.

13) 13 is unlucky for some. Do you have anything that you’re superstitious about?

I always have to land on my right foot when ascending a flight of stairs. If I don’t, I feel unbalanced for the rest of the day.

12) If you could live the life of any other person for 12 hours, who would you be and why?

Serena Williams. Imagine having that much power, focus, precision, and determination under your control. Her talent is otherworldly.

11) Who was your best friend when you were 11?

At 11, my best friend was called Charita. I remember the beautiful freckles tossed across her face and neck, her unwavering propensity for mischief, and the way she laughed with her whole body.

10) Which bad habit do you hope to have quit in 10 years time?

Procrastination. Life is short! Stop dawdling, Tucker!

9) What was your biggest fear when you were 9?

I was terrified that people would discover that, instead of practicing my baseball swing, I was busy memorizing every word and orgasmic sigh in “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer. I don’t remember any funny encounters, only mortifying ones. I drew a lot of scorn for my love of disco music back then.

8) When you were 8, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A game show host! I thought there was no higher calling than giving away prizes on TV.

7) Which of the seven deadly sins are you most guilty of?

Sloth, I suppose. Sleep is a deeply compelling activity for me and I hate getting out of bed.

6) You can invite six people to your dream dinner party (dead or alive), who would you invite?

Michelle Yeoh, Alan Cumming, Diana Ross, Keith Haring, Lizzo, and Yotam Ottolenghi. I hope he’ll be game to cook.

5) Name five things you can't live without.

Butter, bread, music, hope, friendship. Friendship most of all.

4) Describe yourself in four words.

Curious, loyal, suggestible, peckish.

3) Your top three songs of all time.

This is a nearly impossible question and my answers would almost certainly be different tomorrow, but here goes: 'Kiss' by Prince, 'Ain’t Nobody' by Chaka Khan, and 'You You You You You' by The 6ths.

2) Name two things on your bucket list.

To see Antarctica and to celebrate Pride in London.

1) Who or what is your one true love?

New York City.

Listen to the When You Call My Name inspired playlist on Spotify below.