Some of us were or are lucky enough to have that one cool uncle.
He is the friend you turn to when no one else will understand.
The one who listens without judgement, who offers warm hugs and encouraging words. Who maybe sneaks you a $20 bill when your parents are working too hard to scrape together petty cash for their kids.
He is a trusted confidant waiting in the wings when we need someone to cheer us on.
That uncle might be your mom’s brother, or your dad’s. He might just be an uncle in name only. He could be older or younger. He might be gay or straight.
One thing is certain: He is our mentor and champion and safe space.
At Guncles are Great, we want to fill the world with trusted mentors, friends, and champions in the form of the Gay Uncle, or “Guncle.” Guncles are Great is a nonprofit LGBTQ+ organization focused on reaching across the aisle to normalize the gay experience through the power of community support and mentorship.
Based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, we support average families who need extra helping hands when they’re struggling to get through each day and make ends meet. We do this by providing empowerment workshops to parents, helping them get educated, learn new trades or skills, or maybe pursue that start-up business they’ve been dreaming about. We also act as “Guardian Guncles” to the children in our community through workshops, family events, and the minor financial relief their parents can’t always provide when they are working day-to-day to give their families the best in life.
Guncles are Great was founded by Charles Tinsley, a “guncle” who grew up with hard-working parents who earned too much to qualify for subsidies, but not enough to live comfortably off two incomes. Charles’ parents worked multiple jobs, so they weren’t always around, and when they were, they were tired. Despite all the work, they always managed to always scrape together enough for new clothes, gas money, lunch money, cool electronics, etc… sometimes it just took longer, and they often had to go without in order for their kids to not feel like outsiders among their peers.
Today, as an adult and a “guncle,” Charles recognizes how much his parents struggled and sacrificed so their kids would not feel like pariahs. Recognizing a void in services to families like his in Northeast Arkansas, he wanted to create an organization that would specifically address the needs of struggling middle class families by offering them financial aid, community workshops, and youth mentorship, all while helping to build bridges between gay and straight communities in Northeast Arkansas.
The result is Guncles are Great, a family-friendly community serving LGBTQ+ people and their straight allies. We forge unique and meaningful connections between helping heroes and local families across generations, political lines, sexual identities, and backgrounds. We want our community members to reach across the aisle and across the kitchen table in a spirit of love and friendship.
This is the LGBTQ+ community’s opportunity to give back. We are heeding a call to take care of all people in our community, with a special mission to support, advocate for, and nurture our own within the LGBTQ+ community. Not every member of our organization is gay, but we believe with our whole hearts that every gay person is a human being worthy of being treated with the same dignity and respect as every other human being, plain and simple.
Our ultimate mission is to build unity within the community, one guncle and one family at a time.