Friday, March 21, 2014

An Unspoken Compromise by Rize Xavier Timane

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: HawkFish Publishing
Pages: 192

Rizi Xavier Timane was born in Nigeria to proud parents who loved her and who had high hopes for their daughter. The problem was, Rizi was transgendered, a boy trapped inside a girl’s body.  As he grew older, his family and school chums assumed he was a Tomboy, but as he matured into his teens, they began to think he was a lesbian. He was taunted at school and forced to undergo numerous exorcisms by the church to cast out the gay devil living inside him. He always knew, however, that he was not a lesbian, but rather, a male with the wrong body.

Rizi eventually fled Africa to escape his God-fearing parents and the religious wingnuts at the church, first to England for advanced schooling, and then to Los Angeles to live his life without persecution.  But even in L.A., he was shunned when he tried to join church groups. Then, after finding a life partner, Christina, he decided to finally fix his gender issue, and started conversion therapy.

This wonderful memoir chronicles Rize’s journey, first as a lesbian and then as a transgendered male.

I developed a love/hate relationship with this book. The lion’s share of these pages is Rizi’s story of self-discovery, persecution, and resolution. His story is both thought-provoking and heartfelt. He gives moving details of his feelings and his courage, and also gives accounts of how African culture violently crushes anything having to do with the LGBTQ community.

The part I had trouble with was a sizable section of the book that was basically a religious argument (Fundamentalist Christian) justifying why Christians should embrace the LGBTQ community. Frankly, as a non-Christian, I found this part of the book extremely off-putting. I’m sure only non-Christians will have issues with this.

The bible-thumping aside, this is a wonder memoir everyone can enjoy and learn from. It’s a book that can help confused, LGBTQ youth to better understand themselves, and a book that can help parents better understand the challenges their LGBTQ sons and daughters are facing. This book ends on a high note, and is an inspiration.