All posts by General Mgrm

Call for Interviewer/Videographer/Photographer

Are you a talented journalist, videographer, or photographer with a keen interest in local LGBTIQ+ history and an eye for storytelling? Or perhaps you have a production company which is interested in collaborating in this exciting project?
If the answer is yes, we invite you to join us as we commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Pride in Malta through a photo documentary, and insightful video interviews with individuals who have been at the heart of the movement. The photographs and interviews will be published in a publication and an exhibition commemorating the milestone. 
Joint bids are also accepted. 

Opportunities Available:


  • Conduct engaging interviews with 10 – 12 activists, community members, and allies who were present at the first Pride march and celebrations in Malta. 
  • Write compelling narratives that highlight personal journeys, challenges faced, and the triumphs that have shaped Malta’s LGBTIQ+ landscape.
  • Coordinate with MGRM team and the photographer/videographer and provide critical input in the project.

  • Record and edit a series of short interviews with 10 – 12 activists, community members, and allies who were present at the first Pride march and celebrations in Malta. 
  • Create visually stunning videos, and snippets based on the interviews, to be published on social media and through an exhibition
  • Coordinate with MGRM team and the photographer/interviewer and provide critical input in the project.

  • Capture portraits of 10 – 12 activists, community members, and allies who were present at the first Pride march and celebrations in Malta, during or following the interviews.
  • To bear in mind the context of the project.
  • Coordinate with MGRM team and the videographer/interviewer and provide critical input in the project.
  • The creative liberty of the photographer will be respected.

Terms of Reference

  • To determine, after consulting the MGRM’s team, the content and form of the media
  • To hold/record/write interviews with people who were present or heavily involved with Malta’s first Pride march
  • To bear in mind the context of the project
  • Coordinate with MGRM’s team and provide critical input to the project
  • The creative liberty of the interviewer/videographer/photographer will be respected.
  • Individuals and/or production companies are welcome to apply

Eligibility Criteria
Bidders must submit a CV and portfolio with relevant experience in the respective fields, while also demonstrating the ability to produce the work being contracted to the high quality being sought.

An understanding of the sensitivity around the lived experience of minority groups in Malta is essential. 

Selection Criteria

  • Quality of portfolio presented;
  • Knowledge of LGBTIQ issues and LGBTIQ affirmative approach
  • Technical and Financial Bid in accordance to MCVS/VOPS regulations


  • Maximum funding available to cover all three positions are as follows, inclusive of VAT:
    – Photographer €800
    – Videographer €5000
    – Journalist/Interviewer €3500

Intellection Property

  • All intellectual property rights belong to MGRM.


Individuals may propose working jointly with one or more persons given the tight deadlines envisaged. This must be clearly stated in their submission. Bidders are to attach CV’s of each expert.
Following the adjudication, any subcontracting to third parties other than the selected service provider/s needs to be approved in writing by MGRM other than for technical elements such as translations or proof reading.

Bids are to be sent to MGRM on, and should include a quotation. For any queries, please contact Robert Attard on +356 99255559. Deadline is 1st April 2024.


Call Application Deadline 1st April
Contracting of selected interviewer/photographer/videographer 5th April
Finalise interviews 31st May
Recording of panel discussion commemorating the 20th anniversary of Pride 5th July
Finalising all materials (videos/photographs/interviews) 9th August
Proofreading of interviews & content for publication/exhibition 16th August
Printing of book 23rd August
Launch of publication/exhibition 2nd – 11th September
This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector supported by the Ministry for Inclusion, Voluntary Organisations and Consumer Rights (MIVC).
This project reflects the views only of the author, and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Expression of Interest for Youth Work Service with MGRM

  1. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, within the Ministry of Inclusion and Social Well-Being and the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, MGRM is inviting applications for one position of Youth Work Provision of Service to be provided with the MGRM. 
  2. The successful applicants should hold a qualification in YOUTH AND COMMUNITY STUDIES at diploma level or higher;
  3. The responsibilities of the Youth Worker include an ability to provide:
    • A positive social network and safe environment for the young people participating in the programme/s and/or service/s by the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement;
    • Holistic personal development opportunities which are empowering and motivating;
    • Deliver quality youth work services following MGRM’s and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ’s policies, objectives, standards and procedures;
    • Engage with young people in leisure and entertainment working areas as part of an interdisciplinary team to provide care and support, informal education and referral to other services where required;
    • Work as part of a team and collaborate with management and co-ordinators of MGRM;
    • Keep attendance and participation records of young people attending the programme/s and/or service/s;
    • Participate in meetings and internal evaluations as necessary at no additional cost;
    • Provide at least three months in advance, the programme planned including the activities to be delivered to young people, which has to be approved by MGRM; 
    • Ensure that confidentiality is maintained and that data is protected according to General Data Protection Regulations enacted on 25th May 2018.
  4. The successful service candidates will be offered a two-year contract agreement with MGRM for a minimum of six hours monthly, mainly in the evenings or over the weekend and according to the selected candidates’ availability hours mutually agreed and annexed to the contract, to perform duties on a different number of projects that MGRM will be engaged in. 
  5. The rate is €15.00 per hour of service delivered [or contact time with young people] if the candidate holds a degree or higher qualification in Youth Work and €12.50 per hour of service delivered [or contact time with young people] for candidates with a diploma, which either rate is inclusive of all taxes and no further fees shall be charged for travelling, preparation for sessions including meetings concerning the programme/s and/or service/s.
  6. Motivational letters, including a Europass CV, work experience, references and certified copies of qualifications and the police conduct certificate are to be submitted to MGRM, 32, Parish Street, Mosta MST 2021 in a sealed envelope or by email to by not later than 2nd February 2024
  7. Original certificates and testimonials are to be submitted for verification at the interview.
  8. The Selection Criteria and weightings set for the interview are the following: Knowledge about the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement and contextKnowledge and Suitability about the post including an understanding of the role and experience; Abilities and Skills including applied learning, communication skills, teamwork and leadership skills and Personal Attributes including motivation and commitment; adaptability and flexibility and personality.
  9. Eligible candidates providing such service will be interviewed by a selection board to assess their suitability for the post. 
  10. Applications by post should be sent by registered mail, allowing sufficient time to ensure delivery by the above deadline. These applications will be acknowledged in writing by MGRM within seven days. 
  11. Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement reserves the right to reject any or all submissions associated with this call for an Expression of Interest. Late applications will be discarded. 
  12. For further information or queries, please email

A Guide on Hate Speech and Hate Crime

A guide on hate speech and hate crime

Don’t accept hate.

No one has the right to abuse you for who you are. Everyone has a right to be respected and to express themselves free from abuse.

Quick links

What is hate speech?

Hate speech, also known as bias motivated speech, is written, printed or verbal speech that uses threatening, abusive or insulting language, with the intent to stir up violence or hatred with reference to a person or group based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, ethnic origin, age, disability, religion, or belief or political or other opinion.

What is hate crime?

Hate crime is any criminal offence which is aggravated or motivated* by hostility, aversion or contempt  based on a victim’s membership (or presumed membership)** of a group based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability,  citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion. Hate crime is made up of a combination of the following acts such as verbal insults, violence and aggression and inciting. 

* The offender demonstrates this hostility, aversion or contempt, at the time of committing the offence, immediately before or after the offence. 

** Membership in relation to a group, includes association with members of that group. “Presumed” means presumed by the offender.

What are the effects of hate speech?

The effects of hate speech can be devastating to targeted individuals or groups, which affects society. Hate speech is directed not just to LGBT persons, but even people of colour, Muslims, persons with disability, the elderly and other groups. Hate speech is not an isolated phenomenon or limited to extreme groups; it can come from anyone. When hate speech is normalised and entering everyday discourse, it jeopardises peace, social cohesion, and democracy. 

Online and verbal hate speech may affect individuals’ psychological well being directly or indirectly. The amount of damage is significantly larger when an individual is targeted, compared to witnessing it on others. Victims of hate speech are at risk of low self-esteem, depression, increased anxiety and feelings of fear and insecurity.

Hate speech has been shown to lead to and escalate bias motivated violence. Historically, hate speech against different groups has fuelled wars, violent extremism and even genocide.

Genocides do not start with bullets, but with hate speech.

The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers and concentration camps, but with hate speech and discriminatory policies over a number of years before. Decades of hate speech worsened by ethnic tensions led to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. These are just two examples from many.


In the case of LGBTIQ persons, it has been observed that increased hate speech has led to an increase in hate crimes against LGBTIQ persons globally, even in countries where homosexuality is not criminalised. 

In 2023, following trends in previous years, ILGA-Europe noted that there had been an increase in bias motivated speech in Europe, especially towards trans people. 2023 has seen a stark rise in violence against LGBT persons, and in the severity of violence. Anti-LGBT hate crime is on the rise in France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK amongst other European countries. 

In August 2023, an ally of the LGBTIQ community who displayed a pride flag outside her shop was shot and killed by a man in Southern California after she had an argument with him when he tore the flag down and shouted homophobic slurs. This comes alongside an increase in threats and acts of violence towards LGBTIQ persons and allies, as well as a wave of anti-LGBTIQ legislation and policies in the US.  Hate speech hurts everyone.


What is the difference between Hate Speech and Free Speech?

Freedom of expression (aka free speech) is recognised in Maltese, European and International human rights law. But in all instances, duties and responsibilities come with this right and limitations for hate speech exist in law to protect everyone in society. 

“I’m just saying what I think!” or “I have a right to free speech!” are common responses when people who have written or said hateful comments are challenged about what they expressed. 

Addressing hate speech does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law.”

— United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, May 2019

Speech that criticises or challenges ideas or the status quo (for example, criticising events, policy, government, teachings), even if it is offensive or unpopular, is protected – it is important so that we can learn about different ideas, think and discuss critically and challenge. That is fundamental to a democratic society. On the other hand, speech that threatens or encourages discrimination, abuse and violence against people should be addressed. 

Internet-based platforms have become places where hateful content has become very common, be it words, videos, photos, memes or articles. It is important for everyone to consider what they are posting, whether it is to exchange and challenge perspectives, or target a group to encourage ‘othering’, violence or hatred. Not all hateful comments would be considered hate speech in the eyes of the law, but they are still hurtful and can be harmful. If you need support, reach out to the services in the next section.

What should you do if you encounter hate speech or hate crime?

Before taking any action, it is important to ensure the wellbeing of the victim, be it yourself or another person. Seek support if you need it. You can reach out to the contacts below:

  • MGRM
    call +356 99255559 or +356 794300006 
  • Victim Support Agency
    call 116 006 (7.30am – 7.30pm, including weekends and public holidays)
  • If in Gozo, you can call LGBTI+ Gozo’s counselling services on +356 9935 6622, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
  • Call 179 or 1579 for emotional support. (National Helplines)

We’re still working on guidelines for bystanders, but here are some existing resources from international organisations.

Bystander intervention training
Bystander Intervention (Please note support services contacts are UK only)

How to report

You can report the incident to the police at a police station or online here,  or the Victim Support Agency. The Victim Support Agency has been established to act as the national contact point for victims of crime, including victims of hate crime. Victims of crime who need assistance are invited  to call on 116 006 (freephone) which is available every day from 7.30am till 7.30pm, including weekends and public holidays. This national victim supportline is meant to provide information to Victims of Crime and facilitate access to victim support services.

When you report a case of online hate speech with the Victim Support Agency, you need to provide a screenshot of the post and comment, and the URL link of where the post/comment was originally published.  If it is a video, use a safe online downloader or screen recorder to download the video. The screenshot/video should not be altered in any way. You also need to provide the URL link to the alleged offender’s Facebook (or other social media) profile, and a screenshot of said profile.

IMPORTANT! Collect the evidence as soon as possible. Offenders sometimes take down their posts/comments/videos within hours or days. 

What happens after a report is filed?

Following the analysis of evidence followed by the lawyer, an official complaint (kwerela) will be issued should the report be found to be hate speech or hate crime and the official complaint will be handled by the Police, who will investigate from their end. Should the investigations result that a criminal act was committed, the alleged offender will be arraigned in court and the persons reporting or victims will be called to act as witnesses. If the offender is convicted of a hate crime, they will be imprisoned between six and eighteen months and a fine could be issued.


I’m encountering a lot of anti-LGBT hate speech online, and it is distressing. What should I do?

Self-care is important. Take a break from social media, go out and do things that sustain you like exercise, meditation, hobbies, hanging out with friends. If you need to talk to someone, you can reach out to our Rainbow Support Service. ( and +356 79430006)

If you are not feeling emotionally well, are passing through a difficult time, or contemplating suicide and need immediate and free emotional support, and advice, you can seek help through the below services.

Online chats

    Available 24/7. Run by SOS Malta.
  • OLLI chat
    Available Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm, and Saturday between 8am and 4pm. Run by Richmond Foundation.

or call 

  • Freephone 179.
    Available 24/7.National Helpline.
  • Freephone 1579
    Available 24/7. Run by the Ministry of Health.
  • Freephone 1770
    Available Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm, and Saturday between 8am and 4pm. Run by Richmond Foundation.
  • If in Gozo, you can call LGBTI+ Gozo’s counselling services on +356 9935 6622, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

Legal information and support

aditus foundation or call +356 7707 2221

This page has been written by MGRM with the support of the aditus foundation and information provided by the Victim Support Agency. While this page consists of information based on local legislation, MGRM is not a legal expert and the aim of the material available here is to make the information more accessible. For legal information and advice, please contact a lawyer. If you were a victim of a hate crime, reach out to any of the services provided above.



Maltese Laws on Hate Speech, Hate Crime and Freedom of Expression

Hate Speech & Hate Crime

Article 82A of the Criminal Code states:

(1) Whosoever uses any threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written or printed material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, or otherwise conducts himself in such a manner, with intent thereby to stir up violence or hatred against another person or group of persons on the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, ethnic origin, age,disability, religion or belief or political or other opinion or whereby such violence or hatred is likely, having regard to all the circumstances, to be stirred up shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from six (6) to eighteen (18) months

(2) For the purposes of sub-article (1) “violence or hatred” means violence or hatred against a person or against a group of persons in Malta defined by reference to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion.

Article 82C of the Criminal Code states:

(1) Whosoever publicly condones, denies or grossly trivialises crimes against peace directed against a person or a group of persons defined by reference to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion when the conduct is carried out in a manner-
(a) likely to incite to violence or hatred against such a person or group; or
(b) likely to disturb public order or which is threatening, abusive or insulting, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from eight months to two years.

(2) For the purposes of this article a crime against peace means conduct consisting of:
(a) the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(b) participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts referred to in paragraph (a).

Investigation and Punishment for the Offence of Hate Speech/Hate Crime

Article 83B of the Criminal Code states:

The punishment established for any offence shall be increased by one to two degrees when the offence is aggravated or motivated, wholly or in part by hatred against a person or a group, on the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion within the meaning of sub-articles(3) to (6), both inclusive, of article 222A.

Article 222A of the Criminal Code states:

(1)Deleted by Act LXV.2021.6.

(2) The punishments established in the foregoing provisions of this Sub-title shall also be increased by one to two degrees when the offence is aggravated or motivated on the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion.

(3) An offence is aggravated or motivated on grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion if:

(a) at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after the commission of the offence, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility, aversion or contempt based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a group, denoting a particular gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion; or

(b) the offence is motivated, wholly or partly, by hostility, aversion or contempt towards members of a group as referred to in paragraph (a).

(4) In sub-article (3)(a):”membership”, in relation to a group, includes association with members of that group;”presumed” means presumed by the offender.

(5) It is immaterial for the purposes of sub-article (3)(a) or (b)whether or not the offender’s hostility is also based, to any extent, on any other factor not mentioned in those paragraphs.

(6) In this article:”racial group” means a group of persons defined by reference to race, descent, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins;”religious group” means a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.

(7) The punishment prescribed for any of the crimes referred to in the preceding articles of this Sub-title shall be increased by one to two degrees in the applicable cases referred to in article 202, provided that where an aggravation of punishment in respect of the circumstances mentioned in this article is already provided for under this Code or any other law, the higher punishment may be applied.

Freedom of Expression Law

Article 41

(1) Except with his own consent or by way of parental discipline, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his correspondence.

(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of sub-article (1) of this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision –

(a) that is reasonably required –
(i) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or decency, or public health; or
(ii) for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons, or the private lives of persons concerned in legal proceedings, preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of the courts, protecting the privileges of Parliament, or regulating telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting, television or other means of communication, public exhibitions or public entertainments; or

(b) that imposes restrictions upon public officers,

and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society

On EuroPride and the concept of Pride as a Protest

The Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) understands the concerns raised by individuals and organisations regarding the government’s position on abortion. On behalf of our committee and our members, we attended and spoke at the Parliamentary Committee against the proposed amended Bill 28 on Monday afternoon. Mere hours later we attended a EuroPride announcement at Castille Square. The irony is not lost on us. In fact, that our participation in EuroPride-related events would raise questions in the circumstances is not a surprise, since it is also a dilemma we have also faced internally.

We feel that withdrawing from EuroPride would not be a productive strategy in our efforts to promote change and advancements of human rights. EuroPride is a platform that can be utilised to create spaces for critical discussions and apply pressure on governments to address a range of pressing human rights issues.

At this juncture we will repeat a clarification we have made many times before. MGRM is not an organiser of EuroPride, which is not to say that we wash our hands of any responsibility. In fact we plan to actively participate in the event and support the Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) fully with respect to this important event. When ARC approached us to ask if we were willing to support their bid for Europride 2023, we were, and remain glad to do so. This however adds to the responsibility which we feel we owe ARC, their members, and our own members. Pulling out now risks the success of the hard work which volunteers within our community have put into this event, and that would be completely contrary to what we stand for.

Pride is and will always be a protest against injustice and inequality. Pride does not belong to the government or any other entity. It does not belong to us or any of the NGOs. It is a platform that belongs to the community, championing solidarity, inclusivity, and progress of our community. By maintaining our presence at EuroPride, we can continue to challenge the government’s positions on various issues, including abortion, and push for a positive change.

Throughout our 22-year history, we have never hesitated to speak out against infringements of human rights. Our recent alliance with the Voice for Choice coalition demonstrates our unwavering commitment to challenging the status quo on reproductive rights. This is in addition to our advocacy with respect to inclusion, education, sexual health, anti-discrimination in the provision of goods and services, sex workers’ rights, pinkwashing, asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees. We will not compromise on either of these principles which we feel strongly about.

We will ensure that our participation in EuroPride, like in every Pride March before it ever since our first march in 2004, will serve to raise awareness and advocate for a comprehensive range of rights, including reproductive rights at a local and international level. The community dialogues we have planned, and every discussion we will chair will be a platform through which we demand accountability and foster meaningful dialogue. All our planned events focus on the creation of safe spaces that are completely free, accessible, inclusive, and which act as a platform for dialogue and conversation on various topics, including abortion and reproductive rights.

We remain open to criticism and suggestions that help us grow and mature, whilst appreciating the ongoing support of our members and our allies.

Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement Calls on Maltese Government and Maltese MEPs to Support Transgender Rights in Slovakia

The Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM) alongside Allied Rainbow Communities, Drachma, LGBTI+ Gozo, Aditus, Checkpoint Malta, Moviment Graffitti and MMSA gathered in front of The Honorary Consulate of The Slovak Republic in Valletta on Thursday 4th May 2023 to show solidarity with the transgender community in Slovakia and to express concern about the proposed bill that would make legal gender recognition impossible in Slovakia. MGRM co-coordinator Cynthia Chircop spoke out against the bill, which would require transgender individuals to undergo a genetic test to prove that their gender was incorrectly determined at birth, a test that would be virtually impossible for most transgender individuals to pass.

Chircop emphasised that the proposed bill would not only deprive transgender people of the opportunity to have their gender identity recognized legally but also goes against the right to self-determination and international human rights law. “The intention of this law is clear; to dehumanise, oppress and erase the transgender community,” said Chircop. “It will increase the risk of bullying, discrimination and violence that they already face. Everyone should be treated equally in front of the law, regardless of their gender identity.”

MGRM called on the Maltese government to put pressure on the Slovak government to reject this bill. “Malta has been a leader in LGBTIQ rights in Europe with the most progressive laws protecting the LGBTIQ community for the past seven years,” said Chircop. “These laws and policies have allowed the transgender community in Malta to live their lives openly, access healthcare and support to affirm their identity, and contribute to society.”

Chircop also highlighted the negative consequences of anti-trans legislation and policies in countries like the US, Hungary, and Poland. “We know what hate and intolerance lead to; violence, erosion of democracy, and destruction. We need to take action today,” said Chircop.

MGRM invited Maltese MEPs and elected officials to take action to support transgender rights in Slovakia, including urging the Slovak government to withdraw the bill. “Being a passive bystander is being complicit to oppression, even if it’s not in our own country. Silence is not an option because transgender rights are human rights. And human rights belong to everyone,” said Chircop.

MGRM believes that the Maltese government, which is responsible for the world’s most progressive LGBTIQ laws, has an important story to tell about how Malta’s laws have led to a better quality of life for LGBTIQ people. By bringing forward tangible impacts that trans legislation in Malta has had on the LGBTIQ community, MEPs and the Maltese government can use their influence and legal powers to persuade the Slovak government to withdraw the bill.

MGRM and other LGBTIQ rights organisations will continue to monitor the situation in Slovakia and call for the protection of transgender rights.

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan – Book Review

Review by Florence Vella

“ACTIVITIES: ought to involve sunglasses.” Well, that’s what it says on Will Grayson’s IM page. 

Will Grayson has three rules. Rule 1: Shut up 2: Don’t care too much 3: Never kiss a girl you like. Being prone to not following these rules, he reminds himself of them walking out the school doors swung open by the hip of his not-so-tiny friend Tiny. The brisk chill of Chicago slivering up the sleeve of his jacket after being sat for hours watching rehearsals for Tiny’s musical that he has to witness ever since Tiny roped him into joining the gay-straight alliance club. Tiny’s flamboyancy is typically a great deal of annoyance for Will, especially when it includes serenading him at his locker for the whole hall to hear or when he sets him up with Jane – the “straight” side of the gay-straight alliance… though he might have been right in the end about that one.

In the meantime, Will Grayson, a self-identified depressive fuck up who runs on coffee he stole off his friend Maura, sits at his computer in his room in the suburbs waiting for a very specific person to go online. Will doesn’t get excited about much, yet when the clock on the classroom wall strikes 2pm, he lets himself be hopeful that the school day is coming to an end, nearing him closer to his only solace, Isaac. Will only knows Isaac though IM – messaging in spurts between Isaac using the computer at the music shop he works at and late into the night. Admittedly, he’s fallen for Isaac, which brings me to the one rule that Will Grayson has: Never wish for things. A rule learnt soon after his dad left when he was a kid. His only exception to this rule is his wish to meet Isaac face to face. 

Then one cold night, when Will finds himself in a most unlikely corner of Chicago after being left by his friends for a concert he couldn’t get into, he crosses paths with a stranger brimming with the nerves of supposedly finally meeting the person he’s fallen for.

Told in alternating voices from two award-winning authors, John Green and David Levithan, this unique collaboration features two teens with the same name unbeknownst to the other’s existence who soon find their lives going in unexpected directions. 

Each alternate chapter is either written from the perspective of either Will Grayson, or will grayson, defined by the latter Grayson having no capitalisation throughout the entire chapter, easily keeping the reader knowing from who’s perspective it is they’re reading.

Included in the pages are some very gay lyrics from Tiny’s musical and thoughts of the teens that will make you, quite literally, laugh out loud. 

Culminating humour, and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high-school stage told in a lively and light-hearted manner, this novel is surely an interesting adventure to read.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is available to loan at our Rainbow Library. Open every Tuesday & Thursday from 3-6pm excluding public holidays.

Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta (book review)

Review by Florence Vella

“If I had not met Amina, who knows, there might be no story to tell”.

In the midst of the 1968 civil war in Ojoto, Nigeria, sits a two-story yellow house guarded by thickets of rose and hibiscus. The roofs of the house covered with palm fronds for camouflage. This was Ijeoma’s home.

It had become routine for them now, emerging from the bunker behind their house once the bomber engines had passed. Walking over fallen tree branches, pieces of zinc and toppled roofs. Only one day, Ijeoma and her mother walked back into their home, over shattered glass, to a sight they will never forget.

Ijeoma stops in her tracks one afternoon under the Udala tree after noticing that she’s being followed by a girl on her way back home from the shop. Amina being a Hausa, the mortal enemies of Igbo’s, the two should be enemies, however, they swiftly become friends. They’d bath out by the tap under the vast night sky together, both of them looking into each other’s faces amongst the grasshoppers hopping, fireflies buzzing, crickets singing their songs, and leaves rustling in the breeze.

Questions like floating bubbles formed in Ijeoma’s head. While everyone at church on Sundays nodded, cried “Amen”, and clapped after everything Father Godfrey said, she would look around, confused as to why no one would ask him to explain anything.

What if Bible stories were just allegories? she thought. Just because one type of event was documented in the Bible, it doesn’t mean all other possibilities were forbidden.

She would rise from her bed and kneel by its edge at night, asking God to help her turn her thoughts away from Amina, to turn her instead onto the path of righteousness. Using prayer as a method of dousing her desires.

Self-purification was now the goal.

As time did what time does, no matter how much we try to go against the truth about who we are, it creeps out in the end. So, when one afternoon, a woman came into her mother’s shop with lingering eyes, Ijeoma could not resist the community she never knew existed. A church converted at night time… soon hiding in a bunker once again. Stood quietly, breathes hushed, but this time they’re not hiding from bombs.

This novel by Nigerian-American author Chinelo Okparanta, set between the 1960s till the late 70’s, is divided into six parts. It follows the story of Ijeoma, a girl growing up in war-torn Nigeria who must come to terms with her sexuality and the conflict this presents in society.

Okparanta’s storytelling is rich and colourful. The story is truly alive and blooming, short of a heartbeat. As she describes the tale of events – some haunting, other’s bountiful with raw beauty, her writing is other-worldly. Think late-night campfire stories with the characters’ voice and image vivid in your mind. Parts will break your heart, other’s will make you want to scream at the top of your lungs, and then, just when you think it’s end, she gives you everything you’ve wanted from the start.

Reading this novel is like the blooming of the brightest yellow flower through all its stages translated into words for us to read.

The book is available, amongst hundred others, at our Rainbow Library, open 3pm-6pm on Tuesdays and Thursday (excluding public holidays). Become a member here

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Tell The Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt (book review)

Review by Florence Vella

A captivating read of grief, love, and growing up set in New York during the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

There is only one person who 14-year-old June Elbus – an observant, medieval-era enthusiast – feels understands her, her uncle and renowned painter, Finn. Not knowing which Sunday will be the last as her uncle grows more ill with AIDS, she treasures the moments spent in his apartment watching him paint a portrait of her and Greta, her older sister. Savouring the smell of lavender and orange in the air, all the while unaware of the hidden secrets right in front of her very eyes. 

June was always the first to arrive home from school, even after her routine course through the woods. With her sister rehearsing for the play and her parents working late during tax season, she’d gotten used to the quiet solitary. Though one afternoon, the phone rings. A man she’s never heard before with a British accent speaks on the other end, telling her that Finn has passed.

Through family secrets, sneaking away on train rides to the city, unlikely friends and mystery letters, June learns that the ones you love are shaped by other people in ways you never knew. 

This poignant tale told through the lens of 14-year-old June as she narrates life before and after her gay uncle’s death far exceeds the average coming-of-age plot.

Brunt’s prose is simple and unadorned, yet undoubtedly engrossing and full of hidden gems. Think romantic with an idealist streak. The plot effortlessly carries the reader through real-time events and recalls memories so wholly that you find yourself grieving alongside the characters.

The written unfiltered thoughts of the protagonist throughout the chapters are full of intricacies and description, and make a large part of what makes this novel a unique experience to read. She takes the reader along through emotionally-charged decisions, unsettling thoughts, loneliness, and love in a compelling way. Strings you didn’t even notice were there pull together and play out as a satisfying chord. 

Indulging the reader in what is loved from a classic coming-of-age story – first loves, sibling bonds, and the turmoil that comes with acceptance – topped off with distinctively clever twists makes this a novel truly unlike any other in its genre.

The book is available, amongst hundred others, at our Rainbow Library, open 3pm-6pm on Tuesdays and Thursday (excluding public holidays). Become a member here