Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Marlon James says he was desperate to ‘drive out the gay’ with exorcism

Marlon James wanted to change his sexuality. (Jeffrey Skemp/PA)
Marlon James wanted to change his sexuality. (Jeffrey Skemp/PA)

Novelist Marlon James has said he desperately wanted to “drive out the gay” with an evangelical exorcism.

The Jamaican writer and winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize has said he endured an “extreme” attempt to alter his sexuality.

James, who achieved literary fame with his third novel A Brief History Of Seven Killings, has said he wanted more than anything to change who he was.

The writer said he was unsure of his own sexuality when he was young, and was willing to undergo an intense and nauseating ritual to fit into Jamaican society.

Speaking on BBC radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, James said that his problems were eventually solved when he decided to give up religion instead of his sexuality.

Marlon James on Desert Island Discs
Marlon James with host Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs (Amanda Benson/BBC/PA)

The novelist said that he was sick multiple times during an exorcism at his church which he hoped would change him.

He said: “I really threw myself into it. 

“I was at church almost every day of the week. 

“Homophobia was going to get to me sooner or later. 

“I didn’t know I was gay.

“We’re all repressed together. 

“We’re all ‘let’s just forget all emotion and think God will provide’.

“God is going to provide a wife who is going to understand my quote unquote ‘struggle’.

“I wanted it more than anything. 

“That’s why I eventually had my sort of exorcism to drive out the gay.

Marlon James in the studio for Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4/Amanda Benson/PA)

“It’s extreme ex-gay therapy. 

“Back then I thought they were just driving out demons. It’s a kind of mental control.

“It’s this relentless, everything you say, ‘that’s not you that’s a demon. Be gone Satan’. 

Back then I wanted to believe it really badly.

“Then one did it hit me, ‘what if I got rid of the church?’ And that worked smashingly. 

“I’m too much of a wuss to be an atheist, but I don’t think I have faith anymore.”

James has said that moving to the United States allowed him to write more freely about his sexuality, saying in Jamaica: “I don’t think I would have written the queer parts.”

The writer revealed that he would was not open about his sexuality for many years and operated his own personal “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

The full interview with James can be heard on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4, today at 11.15am.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]