Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



The Real Deal: Reflections from Jamaican Author/Scholar Thomas Glave
by D. Kevin McNeir

This article shared 3111 times since Sat Apr 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Thomas Glave is no stranger to controversy, nor is he afraid of challenging the status quo. And in his latest book, Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent ( University of Minneapolis Press, 2005, $25.95 ) , his first piece of non-fiction, this American-born scholar of Jamaican parents tackles issues that are close to his heart and his island homeland.

With a style reminiscent of James Baldwin and Richard Wright, Glave presents his readers with a series of powerful essays that draw on his experiences as a politically committed, gay Jamaican American and confronts the prejudices, hatreds and inhumanities that persist in the United States and around the world.

Glave, a Fulbright Scholar and assistant professor of English at SUNY Binghamton, was in Chicago recently on his book tour and spoke with us about his latest work, his life and his dreams for gay men and women, in America, Jamaica and other lands.

Identity: The essays included in your book cover a broad range of years, beginning in 1994 with a reflection about your childhood and extending to 2004. What inspired you to write this book and what has been the response?

TG: When I wrote the earliest essay, 'Baychester,' I had no idea that it would be part of a book one day. Some of the essays were written as lectures and public addresses. A few years ago, one of my relatives asked me if I was writing and speaking so much in order to publish all of these works in a book. I started to give it some thought and, well, here we are.

In terms of response to the book, I am currently on the second half of my tour, which I began in November on the East Coast of the U.S. It's a lot of work—going from city to city but folks are coming out to hear me read and to ask questions or give their opinions on the essays. We really have a tremendous turnout in Toronto, Canada. It's hard to gauge the response of my readers because the book has so much information. There are 17 essays. But I would say that what is interesting is how people tend to respond to those essays that speak directly to them. African Americans respond to the Black American-related stuff and Jamaicans to that which deals with Jamaicans, especially on the topics of class and color. Because of my background, I straddle both fences, American and Jamaican. And then of course, there's the added dimension of my identity—I'm gay.

I: Speaking of your ethnic background, how do you deal with the several hyphenated parts of your identity—American, Jamaican and gay?

TG: On the cover of my book I am seated and looking out at the sea. In a sense that is how I explain my purpose or, perhaps, identity. You see, I believe I am a bridge that connects people who feel they are different when, in fact, we are really connected and more the same than any our perceived differences.

Just consider the ocean that separates America from Jamaica. There are millions of bodies—our ancestors—who jumped overboard rather than be sold into slavery. Some remained on the island in the Caribbean while others were brought to America. I speak the language of Jamaica and my parents were born there, but America is my adopted home. My soul resonates with the Black church; the music; and the history and struggle for civil rights.

I: Your essays deal with some really heavy issues: gay bashing, homosexuality and discrimination among your own people—provocative issues. Was it painful for you as you completed this work?

TG: Some of my friends who are gay have been attacked or killed. Yes, this was a personal challenge. Here in America, the gay issue is Black and white, racially speaking. But in Jamaica it's more difficult to analyze. We are still very much a British colony and conservative in our views. Jamaicans are therefore very homophobic but we also have the added dilemma of color—in Jamaica being light or dark really matters. And then, your class and economic status plays a significant role in whether you are accepted or ostracized.

Jamaica is a very small island with 2.6 million people, so you don't have much privacy unless you have a lot of money. Those who are really poor tend to be the most homophobic and strangely enough, they will accept a feminine gay man much easier than they will a gay man that is macho and more in keeping with gender role expectations.

In one of the included essays I talk about gay marriage. I don't know exactly where I stand on the issue yet. Maybe I'm more conservative in some aspects than I thought. But the point of legalizing gay marriage is its symbolic value—it's a bonding ritual. And it's also about intimacy because it tells the world that I have access to your body and you have access to mine. We have the right to make that claim a public one.

I: What is like for you given the multiple pieces to your identity as a professor in upstate New York?

TG: Sometimes I do get lonely and it is a bit bleak but then I am only three hours from New York City. I think it's important, however, that I am a member of the faculty because for my students I have become a beacon. There are quite a few Black students and gay students and they look to me for guidance and support. But I don't do it alone—I have several colleagues who are of color and/or gay. The only regret I have is that I would like to more active in political events and programs in New York City, but I just can't get there as often as I would like.

I: What can we expect from you in the near future?

TG: I am currently editing an anthology of pieces from authors, living and dead, who hail from the Caribbean. The works cover the period from 1956 to 2005 and it's a conversation the different people from the islands who although they may be French, Dutch, Spanish, English or other ethnicities, as people who grew up on the Caribbean islands, we have more in common than we might realize. The problem for us has been historically that we are separated by the sea. In America, people of color can stay connected just by taking a bus ride or traveling by car from one state or region to another. We don't have that luxury.

I also hope to have more opportunities to talk about life as a gay Jamaican among other Jamaicans. Some members of my family don't even want to speak to me about the whole gay issue. Some don't even know how to name it, much less talk about it. But change is coming, very slowly. But it's going to take sacrifice. I guess I'm prepared for the sacrifices that lie ahead.

This article shared 3111 times since Sat Apr 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

"A Secret I Can't Tell" book updated and reissued 2022-12-07
-- From a press release - NEW YORK, NY — NOVEMBER 14, 2022 — In 2020 the United States Supreme Court ruled that 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. But now Florida's "Don't say gay" ...

Gay News

Bulls, Blackhawks lose; Lightfoot-Fire FC link 2022-12-01
- The Chicago Bulls (9-12) fell to the Phoenix Suns (15-6) 132-113 in Arizona on Nov. 30, dropping the Bulls to 12th in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix now leads the Western Conference. Devin Booker scored 51 for ...

Gay News

Book censorship focus of public comments at Lincolnwood Public Library Board of Trustees meeting 2022-11-30
- During the closed door portion of the regularly scheduled Lincolnwood Public Library Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 28 at Lincolnwood Village Hall, Library Defense members hosted a Freadom Book Swap outside of the building. Library Defense ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT What are the most banned books: take a guess 2022-11-18
- The Latin word for book is liber. It is also the Latin word for "free," as in not a slave but a person who enjoys freedom (liberty). The word library means a home for books, a place of liberation, a sacred ...

Gay News

Opinion: What are the most banned books? Take a guess. 2022-11-14
- The Latin word for book is liber. It is also the Latin word for "free," as in not a slave but a person who enjoys freedom (liberty). The word library means a home for books, a place of liberation, a sacred ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: COVID book, 'Wicked' cocktails, 'A Taste of Hope' and more 2022-10-24
- —COVID-19, the LGBTQIA+ Community and Public Policy: As studies emerge to help us understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on every facet of modern life, it is critical that the effect of the pandemic on ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH bell hooks: A voice of love, activism and intersectionality 2022-10-22
- When bell hooks died on Dec. 15, 2021, it was a gut punch. There was no time when bell hooks' extraordinary writing and feminist and lesbian theorizing was not part of the queer community. There was ...

Gay News

Former Chicago Ald. Helen Shiller hosts book launch and reception 2022-10-20
- Publishing house Haymarket Books presented a book-signing and interview session with longtime LGBTQ+ ally and former Chicago Ald. Helen Shiller on Oct. 17. Shiller was interviewed by noted Chicago Tribune ...

Gay News

BOOKS Lesbian co-author discusses 'No More Police: A Case for Abolition' 2022-10-18
- "We don't need all the answers to start down the road toward where we want to go: a world where everyone has safety, food, clean water, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, and rest."—No More Police: A ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives holds 'Unboxing Queer History LIVE' fall benefit 2022-10-17
- Gerber/Hart Library and Archives (Gerber/Hart) held its fall benefit, "Unboxing Queer History LIVE!," on Oct. 15 at Gerber/Hart to raise funds in support of the library's mission to preserve LGBTQ+ history in Chicago and the Midwest. ...

Gay News

BOOKS 'Last Call Chicago' release party held at Sidetrack 2022-10-13
- On Oct. 12, co-authors Rick Karlin and St. Sukie de la Croix held a book-release party for their book, Last Call Chicago: A History of 1,001 LGBTQ-Friendly Taverns, Haunts & Hangouts. Last Call Chicago is a ...

Gay News

OutHistory reveals discovery in LGBTQ+ history: identity of pioneering LGBTQ+ author Jennie June 2022-10-12
-- From a press release - New York, NY—Oct. 10, 2022—In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month, the website OutHistory announced a groundbreaking discovery: the probable identity of Jennie June, the pioneering LGBTQ+ author who bravely defended ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH San Francisco Public Library digitizes LGBTQ+ archives, including Harvey Milk holdings 2022-10-09
LGBTQ+ HISTORY MONTH - Shot with black-and-white film, two small children stand outside in a San Francisco public plaza draped in protest signs. One reads, "We're Proud, Not Stigmatized." The other declares, "We Love Our Gay Parents." In the right ...

Gay News

BOOKS David Sedaris returns to the Raue Center on Nov. 4 2022-10-06
- Best-selling author David Sedaris will return to the Crystal Lake venue the Raue Center on Friday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. The openly gay humor writer is known for books such as Calypso, Theft By Finding, ...

Gay News

BOOKS Events related to 'Last Call Chicago' on Oct. 10 and 12 2022-10-03
- Last Call Chicago: A History of 1,001 LGBTQ-Friendly Taverns, Haunts & Hangouts is a historical account of LGBTQ+ venues in the Windy City. The book's authors, Rick Karlin and St. Sukie de la Croix, are journalists ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.