I posted this on my patreon as a public post, read here or there.
Abroad by Liz Jacobs
It’s the story of an immigrant student, now studying in London who is coming to terms with who he is: as a Russian Jew, as gay and as he figures out where he belongs.
Nick’s story really hit home for me. Although I’m not a Russian Jew, I am an immigrant. Born in Cuba and brought to the U.S. at age almost-3, escaping Fidel Castro’s regime. I can’t tell you how much I identify with Nick’s struggle–as an immigrant, being in a new place and (eventually) coming out of the closet.
I remember being in first grade (or kinder) crying because I didn’t understand what the teacher wanted, because I didn’t speak English well enough.
I remember being ashamed of my mother’s accent, because kids in school teased me about it. We never spoke Spanish at home, as my parents figured we’d assimilate better if we concentrated on English. There were so many cultural differences that I just didn’t get.
My father had wanderlust and we moved house pretty much every year until they divorced when I was 16. We never got a chance to settle and become part of a community and I was always the “new kid;” the outsider. This is something that helped me out in later years, as I find it fairly easy to connect with new people now, but as a kid, it was so very tough.
Coming out as not-straight: a tough one. I’m old enough to be a tail-end baby boomer, and my generation did not just come out. I wasn’t sure how to tell people that I was bi/pan. We just did not talk about our sexualities so freely. Friends knew, especially fannish friends, but family? Not so much. Though, once I finally did say something, my mom told me she’d known for a long time – go figure.
In Abroad, Liz captures the essence of all of these feelings so very well. I’m not a college-age Russian Jewish guy, but I understand Nick deeply and I very much want to get to know him and the other characters better. Can’t wait for the sequel.