“Slaves to the Rhythm”– Beautifully Raw and Honest


Connell, Terry. “Slaves to the Rhythm: A Love Story”, Terry Connell, 2010

Beautifully Raw and Honest

Amos Lassen


Terry Connell gives us his life story in this incredibly moving book and I really want to recommend this as both a piece of literature and a look at a time that was. Connell was one of eleven children and in the first half of his book he tells us what it was like growing up Catholic and gay in his large family. In fact many Irish Catholics consider their religion to be another child in the family. Here the book concentrates on family ties and relationships and overcoming some of the things we meet in life.

We can only imagine what it is like to live with ten brothers and sisters in a family where there was a great deal of activity. Something was always happening and with all of those people we can only imagine that the house was “rocking”. We also learn that there was a great deal of love and as much laughter.

The second part of the book is about Terry and his late partner Stephan who he lost to AIDS and it is an in-depth look at their last year together. When Stephan was diagnosed with AIDS, Terry became his caregiver and he was there as Stephan weakened and ultimately lost the battle. Terry lets us read his journals for that period and your heart breaks as you do. We learn of the love they shared as well as the pain at the end.

We have had similar stories before but we have not had one about taking care of a dying lover for a while now so don’t tell me you have read enough. Terry Connell’s book has something really special and I am referring to the lush prose with which he writes. Books like this are so important for the younger generations who know little if anything about how AIDS decimated our ranks and what it was like to watch the death of those that we loved. We share Terry’s love for Stephan and we are with him as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Connell also gives us the reality of his life—whether growing up in a large family or sharing his life with the man he loved. Connell also knows how to handle emotions and you will find yourself, as I said, laughing and crying and sometimes both on the same page.

The book makes us look at what AIDS did to our community and I think we sometimes forgot that when someone dies, many are affected and in the case of AIDS, we got a new generation of widowers and we lost a generation of beautiful men, many of whom were extremely talented.

Thinking back about the book now I must say that the quality of the writing moved me and the story that is told is one we must all know about. Thank you, Terry Connell for giving us that chance.