I was curious when I discovered Red Soil Publishing on my Instagram feed (Thank you this time Instagram Algorithm). When I was reading the description of the page, it captivated me and I felt like there was finally something for us queer ABC people.
When I started scrolling through the account of Red Soil Publishing on Instagram, I saw the book ‘Amen cu Sanger’ and I was instantly attracted to it by the name, the illustrations and what the story was about (from the summary) and I knew that I had to buy it immediately.
Being part of the LGBT+ and born and raised in Aruba, I felt like my experience was being told from another perspective. And in my first language Papiamento on top of it all also, something I’ve always been curious to read in a book, which I’ve never did before.
When I finally got the book, I started reading and I was in a state of exploration. Discovering how the sentences are immaculately structured with each other, what the meaning behind some of the words are
I wrote down all the words I do not know, I never got to learn Papiamento at school) and what the story is about. The way the author Joshuar Gomez writes in Papiamento is something I have seldomly witnessed before.
How the words flow with each other is poetically resplendent and the analogies fits with the theme of the setting, like being in love is juxtaposed with flying a kite which can be an event that happens at a specific time in Aruba.
I couldn’t stop reading.
Going into the the narrative of the book, l was feeling different kinds of emotions. The story is of a timid and soft-hearted teenager who’s struggling with his identity and trying to find his way in the world, seeking love and acceptance in a place where that feels impossible, blocked by the societal pressure to amalgamate with the expectations of the Aruban norm. There were also other characters that were showcased, delved into their own experience as the reader witness the harsh reality of how minorities are excluded without a second thought.
After reading the book, I felt a hard knot in my stomach and painful tears running away from my eyes, I wasn’t happy with how it ended. It became too real.
When I usually read a book, it’s my escape from this reality. But this time it felt like it was knocking on the door of my subconscious, opening an old wound that hasn’t even fully healed yet. The death of Thomas and Alex is an example how some LGBT+ people in the Caribbean can’t handle the undeserving treatment of their peers and suicide seems like the only viable option.
I am glad that I was strong enough to endure what I’ve been through, not only because I am queer but because of my inquisitiveness of the outside world and my physical reactions to what I experience, being open-minded has its price in a place where being different is a reason for being left out. It hurts me to think that other people that is similar to me also had and have to go through with the torture of just existing.
I urge everyone who knows Papiamento and love reading to give this book a try. Anyone can read this, no matter your gender/ethnicity/religion/orientation. This book is a step in the right direction to open up about the mistreatment of LGBT+ people on the ABC islands.
And to bring awareness and to learn to love others that are different from you.
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