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A Look at the Beginning of AIDS in the Caribbean

A Small Gathering of Bones by Patricia Powell, centres around a small group of gay men living in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1970s. The core group consists of Dale, Nevin and Ian and takes us into their everyday lives. Dale is a student at the university, and he is living with Nevin who is an entrepreneur (and also his ex). The two of them still love each other, but cannot come to terms with the issues within their relationship. The link between Nevin and Dale to Ian shows the power and uniqueness of human connection. Nevin briefly had a relationship with Ian, but when they broke up, Ian and Dale still communicated and formed a deep friendship.

When Ian gets sick, it's Dale who visits him at the hospital and helps him when he has to convalesce at home.

However, it's not all rainbows and sunshine in this story. After all, the men are living in Jamaica, a country with 'Christian' values, and a reputation for homophobia. They do encounter people who do not agree with their sexual choices, mainly strangers. Yet, while Dale and Nevin have good relationships with their families, Ian's situation is not so rosy. In fact, he has been totally rejected by his mother when he tells her about his sexuality:

"I never did like you from the beginning. Miss Iris couldn't get you out. Twist up yourself inside me womb like you plan was to stay. Them did have to force cow-itch tea down me throat to get you to budge. Even then you were no damn good. Should've followed me heart and put a blasted end to you, then."

This quote shows the depth of rejection Ian's mother feels towards him. Despite this, he still holds unto hope that one day he will rekindle his relationship with his mother (to his detriment).

Love, in all its forms is an important theme of this story, and adds a layer of relatability and nuance to the various storylines of these characters.

This story was heartfelt, the characters well rounded and interesting, and the plot was unique in the sense that it was based around the romantic relationships of gay men in a 1970s Jamaica.


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