THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME is a book of tales that at their heart, have to do with society’s reaction to those who do not fit the “norm” in sexual orientation or gender identity. The stories follow very similar patterns, whether set in the USA, India, or Iran – a character discovers, or reveals, that she or he has a minority sexual orientation – gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual – or gender identity – transgendered or gender fluid – and they face hatred, fear, confusion and anger from close family members and friends as a result. The solutions they find differ, and are often mediated by their culture, but the resolution rings true across cultures – either heartbreak, brokenness, even death, or self-acceptance and growth.
The multicultural approach adds a multifaceted perspective, since each culture addresses sexuality and gender identity in a different ways. It may surprise Americans, for example, to learn that Iranian culture is far more accepting of transgenderism than of homosexuality, or that there is a recognized third gender in India. Each individual’s story, however, is their own, and in the end it’s the people whose relationships matter – the troubled nephew taken in by his drag queen uncle, the mother who chooses to have a living daughter instead of a dead son, the bookstore owner who connects deeply with a customer – and it is they who make the stories come alive.
The stories do tend to feel a bit repetitive after a while, and the language can be stilted – a character asked about what their sexuality means, for example, will often respond with a dictionary definition, and characters often lecture each other rather didactically on the need for acceptance and respect for others’ identities. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to the emotional force of the stories being sacrificed, in part at least, to a rather preachy tone.
THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME is, at its core, a series of loving arguments, making a case for the acceptance and support of people as human beings, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader