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H Nigel Thomas Discusses His Inspiration for “No Safeguards”

nosafeguardsIn a recent article published in Daily Xtra, Dinah Zeldin discusses the inspiration behind H Nigel Thomas’ newest novel, No Safeguards.

Zeldin begins by explaining the basis of the novel, which follows two St. Vincentian brothers who move to Canada to join their mother, who has fled St. Vincent in order to get away from her abusive and fundamentalist Christian husband. While in Montreal, the brothers come to terms with the fact that they are gay. Zeldin states, “No Safeguards draws on Thomas’ experiences growing up as a gay man in St. Vincent, where anal sex is still punished with 10 years imprisonment. An incident recounted in the book, where a gay couple’s house is surrounded, the man beaten, and the home burned to the ground, is drawn from Thomas’ early childhood memories”.

Zeldin’s article draws on a conversation with H Nigel Thomas, in which he explains how in St. Vincent, “violence was a common occurrence and, as an effeminate boy, he was often its target. ‘Effeminacy and homosexuality were considered to be one and the same thing,’ he says. ‘People would literally hit me and say ‘Act like a man,’ or mock my voice and call me names’”.

Although H Nigel Thomas entered his first long-term relationship in the 1980s, he “did not publicly come out until a series of homophobic articles appeared in the Vincentian press in 1994”. This prompted Thomas to denounce the offending papers by writing an article in response. After its publication, Thomas found himself “dueling with the archbishop of the Windward Islands”.

Although Thomas was “criticized for his openness by Montreal’s Vincentian community”, even pointing that “following an interview with the Montreal Gazette in 2000, where he spoke about black people in the LGBT community, he received angry phone calls”, he later joined the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Montreal. There, he found himself welcomed, stating “to my great astonishment, people were quite happy to have me”.

Zeldin ends the article by stating, “there is hope for the future. One bookstore on the island now sells Thomas’ books. There is a secret gay association. While local gay activists use pseudonyms, allies openly write and speak about LGBT rights”.

H. Nigel Thomas was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has been living in Montreal since 1986. He has written three other novels, Spirits in the Dark, Behind the Face of Winter, and Return to Arcadia, along with three collections of short stories, How Loud Can the Village Cock Crow, Lives: Whole and Otherwise (translated into French as Des vies cassées), and When the Bottom Falls Out and Other Stories. He has also written a collection of poems, Moving through Darkness, and two scholarly texts.

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