Gay Man Booker Prize winner describes ‘exile’ from Jamaica (VIDEO)
Marlon James recently opened up about growing up gay in a homophobic country.
The openly gay author won the prestigious Man Booker Prize last night.
His novel – A Brief History of Seven Killings – is inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s.
Michael Wood, chair of the judges, declared James’ novel as the “most exciting” book on the literary shortlist.
James is also the first Jamaican writer to receive the award.
However, a number of Jamaican commentators have highlighted that while being celebrated as a Jamaican author, James in fact fled the country due to his sexuality.
In Jamaica, the LGBT community exists amongst violent prejudice, with a gay man stoned to death in March.
The country’s Offences Against the Person Act deems sexual acts between men illegal and can result in lengthy prison sentences.
Last year, 91 percent of Jamaicans surveyed by the Jamaica Gleaner supported the law.
Terrified and tired of living as a closeted gay man in Jamaica, James described the moment he realised he had to get out of the country – alive or dead.
Speaking before the awards, the author also described being labelled a “gay batty man” whilst growing up as “pretty traumatic”.
“Whether it was in a plane or a coffin, I knew I had to get out of Jamaica,” he said.
The author also described being labelled a “gay batty man” during as “pretty traumatic”.
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“Nobody wants to be rejected at school, it is the exact point in your life when you need acceptance,” he told Channel 4.
Prior to winning the award, James also discussed whether he identifies much with the gay character in the novel, Weeper.
“I don’t know if any of me found its way into that,” he told The Telegraph.
“But it was very important to me that there were gay characters in the book – to reflect the gayness and hypocrisy in Jamaica.”
Watch the author open up about his sexuality below.