Born and raised in the West African nation of Nigeria, Rizi Timane realized as a child that he was a boy although he was born with a girl’s body. African culture and his family’s fundamentalist Christian beliefs, however, taught him that being LGBT was a cardinal sin. He struggled for many years with his identity, coming out first as a lesbian and finally as transgender. Timane learned to reconcile what he knew to be true about himself with what he thought to be true about God. An Unspoken Compromise is Timane’s message to members of the LGBT community, especially those who are struggling to reconcile their orientation or gender identity with firmly held religious beliefs.
Although the title leads the reader to believe that the book will be a spiritual reference book similar to Matthew Vines’s God and the Gay Christian or Justin Lee’s Torn, the first 100 pages describe the author’s childhood, young adulthood, coming out experiences, and transition. At the end, a 24-page appendix serves as a memorial to LGBT victims of homophobic rape in Africa. The remainder of the book discusses Timane’s interpretations of the so-called biblical “clobber passages,” a topic covered extensively by other authors. The book would benefit from some editing.
The fate of LGBT persons in Africa is an important topic, and I hope that Timane’s work encourages other authors to detail their own experiences. It is recommended as a memoir to public libraries.
Reviewer: Jenni Frencham, Librarian
Cesar Chavez Middle School, Hayward (CA)