Title: Our Colors
Author: Gengoroh Tagame
Translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii Publisher: Pantheon
Genre: Graphic novel, LGBTQIA
I honestly wish I had a book such as Our Colors to read and understand myself better as I was growing up gay. It was not an easy time then, and maybe it isn’t now as well, but there is information, there are other people’s experiences, and I would like to think and believe that people communicate and speak with each other about being gay/queer/alternate or different sexuality/sexual identity a lot more now than what they used to, when I came out in the late 90s.
This book is also about friendship and the nature of empathy more than anything. Yes, it is about a 16-year-old’s coming out journey and it is also about identity confusion, of how the world works, of how it views people who are “different”, and what comes after that, but it is also about love, hope, friendship, and what it takes to be yourself.
Tagame’s explores the friendship of between Mr. Amamiya and Sora with so much grace, maturity, and emotion that I couldn’t help but also weep in some places. It was in a sense, that cathartic for me. Sometimes I wonder what would it be like had my father and I spoke about me being gay? How would have that turned out for me? What would it be like to speak with an older gay man as I was growing up? And that’s precisely what technology enables today – the freedom to speak with someone who has been there, but with caution.
Sora could be any teenager but he isn’t. There is something about him that Tagame shows the reader – the way he views the world in colours, of how he categorizes people that way as well, and how his emotions are also connected all with colours. It is beautiful how the entire manga is in black and white, and yet I could picture colour whenever Tagame mentioned it in the text.
The translation of the text by Anne Ishii is sparse, beautiful, and to the point. It is right in beat with Tagame’s illustrations and story-telling. Our Colors is a beautiful book that I encourage everyone to read, cis-het or not. It is wonderful and might even teach you how to view the world differently.