Hello everyone! I’m ecstatic to have Romance Author R. A. Padmos with me today. Please say hi and leave her a comment or two below.
What’s there to tell about me? I’m a writer, and it has taken me most of my life to admit that, even if writing has been part of my life since forever. I’m a woman, married to the woman who asked me in October 1982 if I cared for a cup of tea… Now we have one marriage, two sons and five cats.
You can find her at:
A conversation between R.A. Padmos, writer, and Stefan Doffer of Unspoken
Unspoken is the story about a married Dutch working class man, who falls in love with another man in 1935. As the writer I can’t help but wonder what Stefan, the main character, makes of the situation I put him in. So I decided to have a little conversation. And no, you don’t need to tell me I’m actually talking to myself, I already know. Writers seem to do that a lot, talking to themselves, but that’s something for another time.
R. Would you like to tell something about yourself?
S. You’re making a joke, right? You created me.
R. It would make an interesting discussion, whether the author creates the character or the character ambushes the author…
S. Have it your way. Stefan Doffer, in my late twenties at the start of the story, carpenter but most of the time out of a job because it’s 1935, married to Marije, father of two sons and one daughter. Another will be born nine months after… you know what happened. Dutch.
S: And what?
R: You know what.
S: I meet this guy when waiting for a control stamp to get my ten guilders dole at the end of the week. Adri Heyman. That’s how it all starts. Everything.
R. Love at first sight?
S. Looking back on it, I guess so. Took me ages to realize.
R. That musn’t have been easy.
S. You tell me. You have any idea how it was in those days, being that way?
R. You mean with the law, and the German invasion?
S. You damn well know it wasn’t about that.
R. It wasn’t?
S. As long as you kept your paws from minors and later didn’t bother the Krauts, they didn’t bother you. No, it simply crept under your skin, the feeling that you shouldn’t feel what you felt, that you shouldn’t exist as you were. A few effeminate types got beaten up, that’s bad enough as it is, but every single one of us got damaged by the silence. But we weren’t supposed to complain or feel miserable about that, because it could be worse. Instead of being sad that I couldn’t end my marriage in a decent manner and set up a household with Adri, I should be thankful I didn’t land in jail or wasn’t beaten up. Secret meetings in rented rooms was good enough for us.
S. (pauses) You’re that way too, aren’t you?
S. What has being happy to do with anything? But, are you?
R. Happily married to my wife, so yes, I am.
S. Married? Seriously? I wanted to be with him, set up a home, but I couldn’t leave my family. Marije is a good wife, but why was I married when you knew I would fall in love with another man?
R. Because many, if not most gay men were married prior to let’s say the Seventies or even Eighties. Because that’s what the story is about, what it meant to live as a gay working class man in a Dutch town in the nineteen-thirties and forties.
S. I’m a bit of a boring character, aren’t I?
R. Not all homosexuals were artists or writers. Most weren’t arrested, let alone murdered.
S. That makes us pretty much invisible, wouldn’t you say?
R. As far as working class gay men were considered? Absolutely.
S. So how am I supposed to become an interesting character in a story? Terrible things did happen to men like me during the war, so why wasn’t I one of them?
R. You’re referring to the the Second World War? Are you aware that Dutch judges and police hardly implemented the German anti-homosexuality law? Or that there’s no proof of even one single Dutch gay men landing in a concentration camp purely because he was gay?
S. We didn’t know much anyway. There was no organization, no nothing. We only knew what we heard by accident from friends and friends-of-friends. But wouldn’t a story about me being prisoned in a terrible jail, beaten up by the police for loving another man be a much more interesting read? I am a character in a fictional story, after all.
R. But that would be a blatant historical lie. Just because some people seem to confuse German, or even English or American, gay history with Dutch one, doesn’t mean I have make that mistake in my writing. There was no reason to hurt you in such manner.
S. No, you made me a family man with the sweetest wife you can imagine. Now you try explaining to modern folks how much that hurt. However, I have to admit, being with Adri meant the world to me. I would never abandon my family and leave them to poverty and shame, but he’s the love of my life. There you have it, I said it. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. You’re happy now?
R. I am. Thank you.