by David Lopez
Part of our Tiny Review series
When John Paul (J.P.) Brammer was introduced to Grindr by a friend, little did he know that he would unlock more than just a world of empty greetings, headless torsos, and unsolicited dick pics. He would unearth the complexities that come with the gay dating world including, but not limited to, being called ‘Papi’ by complete strangers who presume to know your type.
These discoveries, along with Brammer’s journey toward self-acceptance, became the blueprint for his debut book Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons. The memoir is composed of essays in response to some of the most common questions he was asked in his advice column ¡Hola Papi!, which launched on Grindr’s LGBTQ+ outlet INTO in 2017. Brammer soon became known as the Chicano Carrie Bradshaw because of his wit and expert way of framing his advice.
This ultimately led to a deal with Simon & Schuster and a hard-hitting, hilarious, yet poignant series of stories true to the author’s life and experience.
Brammer’s Hola Papi is coming-of-age of intersectionality that resonates with many queer people of color. As a biracial gay man from Cache, Oklahoma, Brammer grew up yearning for the connection to his Mexican heritage, leading him to search for community and language by getting a job at a Mexican restaurant where he was given the moniker ‘Juanpa’ for Juan Pablo. Despite his grandmother’s resistance to imparting their cultural richness, Brammer forges his own path toward embracing the in-betweenness with which he could not connect.
In Hola Papi, the theme of living closeted is prevalent throughout the essays. Growing up in a conservative town, Brammer faced bullying, had a serious girlfriend, and was active in his church’s youth group. These pivotal times in the author’s life became milestones in his search for identity and self-acceptance. He lost his virginity, experienced heartbreak, and learned that being rejected is just a building block in affirming one’s worth. Through his storytelling, Brammer offers a light-hearted and humorous look at some of his life’s deepest moments, reminding the reader to find levity among the pain.
Still, Brammer does not consider himself to be an ‘expert’ on giving advice. He even mocks himself as a columnist multiple times and reminds readers that he carries this title loosely. Instead, Brammer sees his column as an outlet for people to figure out things for themselves, with his earnest words as a beacon of inspiration.
Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons is a commentary on how we face our issues in the Latinx and queer community. It is a unique journey for everyone, some with more difficult terrain than others, but each with a special perspective that contributes to the world.
David Lopez is a Queer, Latinx writer and librarian from Santa Ana, CA. He is a former Barrio Writers writing advisor and has supported LibroMobile since inception. Currently, he helps curate programs and events and aiding in securing reliable community partnerships.
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