IN a radio interview in the UK yesterday, Jamaican novelist Marlon James, above, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2015, spoke of the agony he endured in a bid to be cured of his homosexuality in a Pentacostal church.
In the end, he revealed on the popular BBC Radio 4 programme, Desert Island Discs, he turned away from formal religion, left the Caribbean, fully accepted his homosexuality and even wrote about it.
James, who earned literary fame with his third novel A Brief History Of Seven Killings, had immersed himself in religion to fit in with Jamaican society. In his youth, he wanted to alter his sexuality “more than anything” and underwent a gruelling religious ritual to try to “drive out the gay”.
“I was at church almost every day of the week,” he said, adding that he told himself God would provide a wife who would understand his struggle.
He described the exorcism process as:
James said he was ill multiple times during the “gay cure” process.
A kind of mental control. Back then I thought they were just driving out demons.
Then one day it hit me: ‘What if I got rid of the church?’ And that worked smashingly.
Moving to the United States allowed him to write more freely about his sexuality.
I’m too much of a wuss to be an atheist, but I don’t think I have faith any more
This report adds that James was not open about his sexuality for many years and operated his own personal “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
The full interview with James can be heard here.