“The Order of Nature” by Josh Scheinert— Where Love is Illegal

Scheinert, Josh. ““The Order of Nature”, Josh Scheinert, 2019.

Where Love is Illegal

Amos Lassen

After college, Andrew accepted a volunteer placement in Gambia. He was a sheltered and shy guy who wanted a change from his well-to-do suburban life. At first, everything was great. He did good work, made friends, and actually started to come out of his shell. Then, he met Thomas, a charming hotel bartender. He had run away from his homophobic village and knows too well how unforgiving his country can be to people like himself. He has one friend and  there is nowhere safe for him to be who he is. Then he met Andrew.

“The Order of Nature” is the story Andrew and Thomas as they navigate a place where their love is illegal. In the beginning, they actually thought that it would be possible to have a relationship in the worst and most trying circumstances. But as their relationship strengthens, homophobia becomes more hostile and the politics of prejudice rears its head with exposing and arresting them and forcing them confront what it means when one’s existence is considered a crime  and one’s  love goes  against the order of nature.

We are taken on a journey in which we see the struggles and fears of being gay in West Africa – of having to constantly hide, and never be free. We are reminded on every page of the human cost of discriminating against people because of who they are and who they love.

The beauty of Gambia is juxtaposed with the harshness of its political reality and that reality becomes an assault on our senses. We are taken into a world where individual freedom is at a premium and, in turn, we see  how fortunate we are to have been born in countries where we are free to live our lives as we wish. (Even though it was not always that way).

Andrew and Thomas faced personal relating to family and personal growth while at the same time facing a political landscape that wanted to tear them apart. While this story is fiction, but reads like, it is believable and we know that it could be. I am still thinking about what I read here and likely to be doing so for some time.

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