In "Barong Tagalog," the first of 10 essays, Matt Ortile sets the tone for what is to follow in the sharp and insightful The Groom Will Keep His Name. Ortile uses his experience as a "young queer and brown immigrant" as a lens through which to view the world. He picks apart the lasting legacy of colonization and assimilation, the role of the "model minority" and what it means to be persecuted because of your differences. "For me," he writes, "part of decolonizing has been to hold myself more accountable, to think more critically about my actions and experiences as a gay Filipino immigrant; my writing is part of that project."
The Groom Will Keep His Name is an invitation to join Ortile in that critical thinking. What can we infer about belonging if a gay man uses the social networking app Grindr to hook up with men, based not on their appearance but their apartments? What does a scholarship student owe his alma mater, and vice versa? What does it mean to be a citizen of two countries, when neither seems particularly welcoming? Ortile never asks his readers to answer these questions directly, nor does he answer them for anyone but himself. Instead, he weaves together a series of personal stories and reflections--some funny, some sad, some scandalous, some touching. Readers interested in topics of race, identity and relationships (and how the three are inherently related) will enjoy every essay in Ortile's polished collection. Those reading with a critical mind will perhaps find themselves thinking differently about their own experiences, and how they relate to the larger world. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm