To celebrate this figure of Welsh literature, we firstly want to ensure we recognise how important this author's work stands in the voices of our nation. With clear and rational understanding, this body of work is a testament to standing up and speaking your whole truth with confidence.
‘An interracial gay couple baby-sits the two young children of a friend for a weekend; a high school boy grapples with his emergent sexuality while looking for support from the conservative adults in his life; and a mentally disturbed woman seeks vengeance against the brother who slept with her husband, in John Sam Jones’s Welsh Boys Too. These intriguing short stories look at homosexuality through the lens of Welsh culture, subtly linking homophobia to other kinds of discrimination – racism, religious intolerance – with objectivity and sensitivity.’ Publisher’s Weekly
To read a recent interview regarding his new memoir, you can access this here:
Kiss and Tell is a collection of stories regarding coming of age, sexuality and fitting in amongst our peers and learning to fit in around adults as we experience the changes as we learn about our bodies and ourselves. They discuss that sexual orientation was difficult to explore verbally as it was still considered 'wrong'. These shameful titles for being gay at this time was supported until fairly recently under government legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher called Section or Clause 28 imposed to ensure that local authorities could not support or promote support for those in their communities who were LGBTQ+.
This was in effect from 1988 to 2000 (in Scotland) and 2003 (in England and Wales). It caused many organisations such as student support groups to close or limit their activities or self-censor.
You can purchase 'Kiss and Tell' here:
The Journey is Home engages its audience in an ongoing dialogue about sexual health, mental health, sexuality, self-esteem, trauma, blatant homophobia and the Aids crisis. While there has been a breakthrough in terms of positive reinforcements within mainstream storylines on television such as the most recent series of Sex Education on Netflix, Russell T. Davies' It's a Sin, Pose and Queer as Folk regarding these topics, hearing a firsthand account is incredibly important to encounter.
To regurgitate the facts, to explain the aftermath in a positive way, to understand the traumas and taboos that are still surrounding these topics in 2021 is abominable.
You can access the hardback here:
Gallwch gyrchu'r cofiant yn Gymraeg yma:
Or another of John Sam Jones's work Crawling Through Thorns here:
David Llewellyn notes in his introduction 'Tidy':
'Many of the books were by American writers, the novels telling stories set on the other side of the world or in the recent past. What I was missing was a sense of myself on the page. I was a working-class kid from the valleys and I fancied boys; there wasn’t anyone like me in anything I read.'
And here in lies the marvellous thing, that never changes. This is a universal and eternal quandry, we want to see ourselves represented. We crave it in our world. I think we might all understand a number of the themes in these works, struggling with our image, understanding ourselves or vocalising how we feel.
In a time when things haven't been known, or concrete or when the world felt like it had taken the rug out from under our feet, reading might just help us to re-cooperate.
An illuminating interview by the Wales Art Review: https://www.walesartsreview.org/in-conversation-with-john-sam-jones/