“I’m going to do my best to try and keep this conversation a bit more on track with everything going on, especially in this country at the moment, it’s a lot.”

As American burns, riots rage and curfews are enforced, Star Observer spoke with Akim Bryant, a writer based in New York whom since the age of 10 has wanted to write a novel, in fact it was at such a young age that he began to write the opening chapter.

However, it was only one year ago that his debut novel – Stuck Pages, Vol. 1: Exposing The Heart Of A Heartbreaker – was released. The novel itself is a classic American love story seen through the eyes of a black-gay man.

Akim for a long time has worked in the music industries. At the age of 18 he first interned for Perfect Pair Recording Studios in his hometown of East Orange, New Jersey. Witnessing in his time at the Studios recording sessions by hip-hop royalty, Naughty By Nature.

“I got to bear witness to all that magic being made. It was also the place where Next, their RnB protégé and singing group that they put out through their label, recorded

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Star Observer asked Akim, how his sexuality sat at the intersection of hip-hop, and how it was received by those in the music industry.

It’s something that I am still working through to this day. Early on I can definitely say I was not out.

“I was not comfortable with my sexuality at the time. Not even personally. Not even to have that conversation with myself in the mirror.

“It took me a couple of years to get myself to that place, to explore those things that I like sexually, to pursue my desires.”

With it long being recognised that racism exists within the music industry, Akim reflects on this by saying, “I can say from experience that the music industry is going through some changes, during the Black Out Tuesday moment that we had about 400 members of the music industry get on the phone and discuss how we can move forward, to make changes to help out artists and artists rights.

“I’m really encouraged to see this, racism permeates every single industry that we have, and it has done so in the music for far to long. I’m looking forward to more opportunities for people of colour, the amplifications of other voices.”

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 In Stuck Page’s the main character, Quincy Simmons, graduates college and gets a dream job in the music industry only to realise the life he has may not be the life he really wanted. We were curious to ask Akim how much of his own story was reflected in this narrative.

I’ve paid attention to what was going on with different authors, and some of the best advice I got was to write about what you are closest to, which of course for me, is my experience of being black and gay in America.

I definitely wanted to write about, but not just limit it to my experience. I’ve blurred the lines between what is real and what is not. I can say a good 50 percent of what I wrote is personal, but it’s not easy to work out.

I think the biggest take away for people to receive is about mental health, this is a very intense peek into the mind of someone who comes from where I come from, my background and just what it’s like to navigate life.

“It’s not just about the intimate love of a partner, I wanted everyone to kind of see him when he is with his family, when he is with different types of friends.

“A lot of it reflects my experiences of what I went through early on in my career and hopefully some of those pitfalls can be avoided by reading this story.”

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 Little did anyone know how much the world in some ways would have changed in the short year since Akim’s book was released. Though sadly the death of George Floyd was not a new nor isolated incident, just another bloody chapter in a war that has waged for centuries in Colonialist America.

I can speak from my perspective as a black gay man in America and I think it’s important for everyone to realise that Black People are extremely angry at this point.

They need to realise that we have a right to be angry, a right to be outraged.

In spite of the way it may be coming out, which is not necessarily as pretty as people want it to be, it’s still warranted and there are 400 years worth of reasons for it.

“I’m just hoping in this point in time there is an opportunity to have a real conversation around race and about privilege. I’m hoping that it changes a lot of peoples perspective, we are all human after all.”

 Now, more than ever, the silencing of black voices needs to end. The world over the narratives of People of Colour, instead of being celebrated are instead framed by unjustifiable disadvantage, marginalisation and systemic and structural violence. But what role can literature play in dismantling these systems?

With literature it is almost timeless, it takes a snapshot of that moment in time that is being written about. It remains intact over the years, over the decades, its difficult to change those words.

For me writing was one of the few expressions that I had growing up, I was able to get everything that was in my head, out on to paper. That had a huge difference on the way I was able to process the pain and the anger.

I think right now for everyone, again these times that we are in, we are not dealing with new issues.

“These are issues that have always been written about and my book is just one of many speaking about the experience.

“Everybody and anybody can go out and pick up a book and find some words that speak to them on a personal level, that puts everything into a way that is digestible for them individually.

Stuck Pages is a snapshot into the life and times of a young black-gay man, who is a hopeless romantic, in a rather hopeless place. This trilogy aims to show exactly what it means to be a black gay man in the early 2000s and remind readers that love is love, no matter who the subject is.

For more info head to www.stuckpages.com

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