Author Leo C. Akuwudike discusses his new LGBTQ+ reworking of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Author Leo C. Akuwudike has been interviewed on BBC Radio about his new novel, which reworks Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into a contemporary gay romance.
Romeo & Julio & Friends reimagines the timeless love story into a contemporary tale that celebrates Britain’s LGBTQ+ community.
And in a departure from Shakespeare’s original tragedy, which famously ended with the suicides of Romeo and Juliet, rising Black British-Nigerian author Akuwudike has given his take on the ordeals and heartache of the two ‘star-crossed lovers’ a happy ending.
His story — which follows the rocky relationship of 25-year-old Julio Clifford, a successful gay black British and South African designer, and Romeo Moses, a 29-year-old bisexual white British and Italian Architect/Model — is aimed at promoting LGBTQ+ tolerance at a time when homophobia-related hate crimes continue to escalate.
To counter this, Akuwudike has set out to ‘renormalise’ LGBTQ+ relationships by showing in his novel that the love between people of the same gender is just as “natural and beautiful” as those between men and women.
In Romeo & Julio & Friends, Romeo and Julio are ultimately able to settle down and start a family — but not before having to face prejudice, disapproval, and vicious homophobic assaults along the way.