Author Archives: Wyatt O'Brian Evans

Old School New Kid 6

“Never Give Up”

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham

 

Believe in dreams and never give up.

     For this Old School New Kid author, this motto has seen me through my ongoing journey. July has been a productive month for me, as well as one for fun and some me-time. On the fun side, I took a road trip to northern Minnesota, where I saw Bemidji (Paul Bunyan country), lakes and forests galore, and Grand Rapids, the birthplace of Judy Garland. Those of us men of a certain age may remember the code question we used to identify other gay men in neutral surroundings: “Are you a Friend of Dorothy?” On the productive side, my first draft of The Right to Be has been completed, To Thine Own Self is nearing first-draft completion, and the outline, beginning and ending of the next novel in my series, The Rise of Sherry Payson, is done.

     With that being said, I would like to share with you, Wyatt O’Brian Evans’ followers, a preview of my upcoming novel, Never Give Up, scheduled for release this December.

Prologue: November 6, 2012

     Prentice Delaney-Ross was on a high, cheering in campaign headquarters as news of President Obama’s re-election “rocked the house.” People were hugging, cheering and shedding tears of joy all over the office. Several times he and his husband Trevell embraced and kissed and shouted. There were many good reasons to do so that night. Not only had the president been re-elected, but Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted in favor of marriage equality. Minnesotans had voted down a constitutional ban on marriage equality. Having celebrated their third wedding anniversary barely two weeks ago, the victories were mind-blowing.

     He had no doubt his stepbrother, Jerome Franklin-Edwards, and his husband Ariel were at home with their daughters soaking up all the amazing news, even as they listened intently to the president’s acceptance speech. The same held true for the rest of his family, especially his grandfather, Earl James Berry. Grandpa had always been a huge supporter of President Obama, as well as a staunch ally for equality and a believer in justice. He had retired from the bench in 1996, but his reputation as Judge Berry and that of his lifelong friend, Elijah Edwards Sr., continued to be influential in the circles they traveled.

     “You know, when Barack grows up, he’ll look back on this time and wonder what all the fuss was about,” Prentice said some time later after they stepped out into the hallway to hear themselves upon the conclusion of the speech.

     “I imagine he will,” Trevell concurred. “Right now, he’s probably sound asleep while his grandma and grandpa are keeping up with all the commentary.” Indeed, Prentice’s mother, Linda Berry Delaney Edwards, and his stepfather, Melvin Edwards II, had doted on their newest grandson, Barack Joseph Berry Delaney-Ross, from the very beginning. Trevell’s parents were no better. Although they lived in Green Bay, Tremayne and Darcelle Ross were regular visitors to Minneapolis, showering affection on their first grandchild. A former Green Bay Packer, Tremayne Ross often had an audience and he never failed to talk about his grandson. Trevell strongly suspected his father desired to see Barack make it into the NFL when he grew up. Even at the age of two, the brainwashing had already begun.

     Prentice had witnessed this phenomenon, and he understood it well. Grandpa Berry was not above a little brainwashing himself, setting Little Barack’s sights on an appointment to the Supreme Court. It was a challenge to the couple, diplomatically holding those respective ambitions at bay so they could let their little boy be what he was, a two-year-old who was just beginning to really explore his world.

     Hand in hand, Prentice and Trevell strolled down Hennepin Avenue to the parking ramp, basking in the afterglow of victory, sharing smiles and waves to drivers and pedestrians on this brisk fall night. At one point their eyes met and Prentice felt his heart break out into a melody. Twenty-seven-year-old Trevell had the total package—the matinee idol looks of a young Idris Elba, the solid build of a quarterback and a well-spoken demeanor. Prentice himself had inherited his father’s smooth Duke Ellington looks with a strong dose of Berry genes, which would make anyone stop in their tracks to see if he was real or fantasy. At the age of twenty-eight, at this moment he felt like he was on top of the world.

     They reached the parking ramp near the Target Center, for the moment lost in their own thoughts. Prentice’s mind kept going back to his Grandpa Berry. He and Grandpa Edwards had said President Obama really needed two terms to accomplish what was necessary back in 2008, and they had gotten what they asked for. He had to hand it to them, for they never lost faith that this day would come. Jerome, in fact, said so, not only about the presidential election but all the other issues as well, at a time when none of it seemed possible. Grandpa Berry had known the history behind Jerome’s “gift,” all the way back to the time he and Grandpa Edwards were young men.

     Though he grew up on Milwaukee’s North Shore, a six-hour drive from his grandfather in Minneapolis, Prentice always felt a connection with the man. Like his late father, Prentice Delaney Sr., Grandpa Berry had both a passion for the law and the importance of family. Unlike the portrayals of so many police shows these days, he had never been so driven to the point where he totally sacrificed his family for the sake of his career. On visits to Minneapolis with his parents, Prentice was blessed to see the special side of him, the family man. As a grown man, when he and Trevell made the decision to move to the Twin Cities, he made it a point to spend lots of quality time with his grandparents. Witnessing the love, commitment and devotion they shared after sixty-four years of marriage, Prentice hoped that he, too, would have that kind of a legacy to pass on.

 

     They stepped into their Chrysler 300 sports sedan, listening to an Alicia Keys CD as they left the parking ramp and headed out into the streets of downtown Minneapolis. Cars were honking their horns and people were out celebrating, something unusual for a Tuesday night.

     “You think Sierra and Rashid are still up?” Trevell asked Prentice.

     “Sure. They wouldn’t miss this for the world. The only reasons they weren’t at campaign headquarters was because Destiny was sick and it’s a school night for Little Earl,” Prentice replied, picturing his sister and her husband watching the set and simultaneously calling everyone they knew.

      “You know we’re going to be going through this with Barack in a few years, just like they are.”

     “True. Anyway, since Barack is spending the night with Mom and Mel, let’s stop by and see Grandpa and Grandma.”

     “Aren’t they in Chicago visiting the Christophers?”

     “They were, but they wanted to make sure they were home for Election Day, so they could vote. I’m sure they’re up for the occasion.”

     “OK, but just remember that we have grocery shopping to do tomorrow and I have an early meeting.”

     They passed Loring Park and the Walker Art Center before they turned off on Douglas Avenue, driving through the historic, posh Lowry Hill neighborhood. Just before they reached the Berry estate on Kenwood Parkway, they happened to see a car driving away from it at high speed. “What’s up with that?” Trevell wondered.

     “I don’t know, but I don’t like it,” Prentice answered. “Wait a minute. That looks like Grandpa’s limo over there.”

     Prentice braked quickly and they bolted from their car. The road was normally quiet, but tonight it felt a little too quiet for comfort. Ears alert for unnatural sounds in the cool night air, Prentice and Trevell slowed down as they approached the still Cadillac limousine. Their eyes grew wide with fear as they stepped closer, their night vision revealing the bullet holes in the windows.

     “Nooooooooooooooo!!” Prentice yelled as Trevell frantically grabbed his cell phone to call 911…

 

© 2019 by W.D. Foster-Graham
All rights reserved.


W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

BREAKING NEWS

The Renaissance Man

     Renaissance Man!  That’s what  Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), one of the most influential national LGBTQ media outlets, has just bestowed upon me.  And I like it!

     Read PGN’s portrait on your’s truly at http://www.epgn.com/arts-and-culture/portraits/15009-wyatt-o-brien-evans-man-of-many-trades-and-accomplishments

INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE

The IPV/A Chronicles, Part Five: Just Throw Away the Key

I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on a certain demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community. This is Part Five of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse.

     This dysfunctional, destructive—and potentially deadly—syndrome is known as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), which is domestic violence and abuse (DVA) within the LGBTQ community.

     According to The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), IPV/A is “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.” Every year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay/SGL men are battered. About one in four LGBTIQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way.

     In other words, IPV/A is no joke.

     According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her ‘thumb.’ Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”

     Stigma is largely responsible for keeping this destructive behavior “swept under the rug,” which leads to it being dramatically underreported. Therefore, figuratively, this keeps us (locked) in the closet. Stigma is the albatross around your neck, choking the hell out of you.

     There are multiple signs of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse. The most telling is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her. Other prominent signs: explaining/excusing frequent injuries as “accidents;” agreeing to everything your partner says/does; being forced into sexual activity.

     A couple of years ago, I interviewed Kyle for Wyattevans.com. Kyle’s story didn’t end then; there’s an update.

     But before jumping into that, let’s revisit his story.

 

     The Black and Blue of it All.

     Kyle, a Caucasian in his ‘30s, is an IPV/A survivor. He agreed to sit down with me on the condition that I refer to him by his middle name. Kyle says that “Derrick,” his ex-partner, a few years older, and African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.

     WYATT: Kyle, thanks for agreeing to tell your important story. When and how did you meet Derrick?

     KYLE: (His eyes light up.) It at a Sprint store in Laurel (Maryland). Our eyes locked, and the chemistry was instantaneous!

     KYLE: He initiated a conversation, and we walked outta the store together. He took my number and said he’d call. (Pause.) I couldn’t wait! I was so damned attracted.

     WYATT: Kyle, exactly what was the attraction?

     KYLE: Wyatt, I was very needy. Derrick was easy-going and self-assured and seemed nurturing. And so handsome! He was that “daddy” I was looking for.

     WYATT: When did he call?

     KYLE: Late that night, and we talked for hours! Derrick wanted to see me the next evening, at my apartment. Since he was insistent, I agreed. I was flattered.

     WYATT: And that evening?

     KYLE: Immediately, we ended up in bed. And the sex was absolutely mind-blowing! We became a couple right after that.

     WYATT: How long did the “honeymoon” last?

     KYLE: (He laughs nervously.) Not very long. Derrick became possessive—constantly calling to check up on me. Wanting me with him practically 24/7. Isolating me. He was such an overwhelming presence.

     KYLE: But being needy, I liked it–at first. Thought it was love. I kept saying to myself, “I’m so lucky to have him!”

     KYLE: And the sex was a drug.

     WYATT: Things became even more extreme, correct?

     KYLE: Absolutely! The mind control began. Derrick told me how to think, act, and dress. And my biggest mistake was agreeing to let him move in with me.

     KYLE: (Suddenly, he becomes solemn.) The verbal—racial crap, etc.—started soon after.

     WYATT: And the physical?

     (He takes a deep breath.)

     KYLE: A few weeks after moving in, he accuses me of cheating. Totally ridiculous! Derrick was all up in my face, shouting. I was totally petrified!

INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE man holding bat to another man

     KYLE: Then, he decks me. Hard! I fall to the floor.

     (Kyle begins to sob. I ask him to take his time.)

     KYLE: I was completely “out of it.” Then, Derrick grabs me by the collar, screaming, “You nasty little white whore! Wake tha fuck up! We ain’t done yet!”

     KYLE: Next, he drags me to the bathroom. To the toilet! And then he…”

     WYATT: And then he what, Kyle? (He’s sobbing heavily now, rocking back and forth. He’s in “flashback mode.”)

     KYLE: He…he shoves my head into the toilet! Over and over again! (Pause.) Water’s all up my nose. I’m gasping for air. I felt like I’d pass out.

     (Long pause.)

     KYLE: Actually, I just wanted to go to sleep…and not wake up.

     Kyle stated that the verbal and physical abuse worsened and escalated. Fortunately, another gay couple helped him make his “Great Escape.”

     I asked Kyle why he stayed as long as he did. “Out of fear, shame, such little self-worth. Not to mention the stigma.” Kyle’s moved out of the area and is in counseling.

     And Derrick? He’s doing jail time.

 

     He Just Couldn’t Leave “Well Enough” Alone.

     Eventually, Derrick was released…and hunted Kyle down. The aftermath?

     WYATT: Kyle, thanks for sitting down with me again. I understand there’s more to your story.

     KYLE: Sure. (After inhaling deeply, he swallows.) However, I’m gonna be brief because this shit is still weighing heavily on me. I’m workin’ real hard to put it behind me. Dredging it up is painful.

     WYATT: Understood. (Pause.) Please, just take your time.

     KYLE: (He tries to hold back tears.) You see, I didn’t get word that the mufucka had been released. I was pissed! (He’s choking up.) That blindsided the hell outta me. And somehow, he tracked me down.

     WYATT: Yeah. It’s the classic case of SVA, Separation Violence and Abuse; you know, violence that can occur after leaving your abuser.)

     (Instantaneously, a pall of sadness, grief, and anger gripped Kyle, hanging over him like a shroud. What happened that night leapt from his mouth in a stream of consciousness:)

     KYLE: Okay, okay….it was an exceptionally muggy night, and the humidity was a pain… I live on this relatively quiet street and had just gotten home from grocery shopping. Right after I got outta the car, I was jumped from behind! A sick feeling in my gut told me that it was him, that bastard Derrick. He got me in some kind of chokehold and it was so tight that I could barely breathe…and then, I felt a gun pressing hard into my side…and I just froze! Gawd, now I began to panic…and then, he took that gun and hit me upside the head with it. That fuckin’ hurt! ”Oh, no!” I thought. “I can’t black out now…I have to keep it together if I’m gonna get out of this shit in one piece.” Finally, he spoke: “I’m back, bitch, and I ain’t finished wit you yet! I gotta score to settle. Let’s take a little drive in my ride…” He was enraged, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was in deep shit. Fortunately, the adrenalin kicked in… and that self-defense course I took months ago taught me some moves and I managed to get him off of me…the gun flew outta his hand. That shocked the shit outta him, throwing him off his game. We were both on the pavement…the gun landed in the bushes…I jumped up on my feet…Derrick was right behind me…I was yelling and hollering at the top of my lungs…then, he got ahold of me again…it seemed I’d lost all understanding and track of time. But then like out of nowhere, my neighbors suddenly popped up! They surrounded the asshole, wrestled him down, and held him for the police, who took him away.

     WYATT: And?

     KYLE: Thank God that the judge really took a hard line. Since he was a repeat domestic violence offender, the assault got categorized as corporal injury to a spouse that results in a traumatic condition, i.e. an injury. She (the judge) sentenced the bastard to eight years in state prison. She said she had to make him an example.

     WYATT: So, Kyle, how do you feel? Do you feel vindicated in any way?

     KYLE: (He hesitates.) I’m still numb, you know? (Pause.) He’s gonna get out eventually. (He’s really working hard to hold back the tears.)

     KYLE: (Now, he’s stuttering. Big time.) And uhm…will…will he come after me again? I mean, I really dunno how I feel.

     WYATT: Kyle, thanks for sharing. Your story is continuing to shine a bright light on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse. You’re helping to kick it out of the shadows.

     KYLE: (He could only nod “yes.” He was drained.)

     Know that you CAN make your “Great Escape” from IPV/A. However, it involves careful planning—if at all possible. Utilize any and all resources at your disposal.

     And so importantly: you must not and cannot keep silent! You have to tell. Someone. Anyone who will listen. Keep in mind that silence is the most potent, effective and deadliest weapon in the abuser’s arsenal.

     And always remember: anyone—and I do mean ANYONE—regardless of size, strength, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and/or income, can become a victim of IPV/A.

     How do I know this?

     Because I’m a Survivor.

Sign says: There is no pride in domestic violence

     Until We Return…

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a demoralizing, horrific–and potentially life-threatening–cycle of behavior.

     We Must RISE UP…And Tell! Someone. Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.”

     And, always remember: the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims. Visit: http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

Old School New Kid 5

“Fatherhood”

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham

   

     June is when Pride Month is celebrated. It’s also the month when Father’s Day is observed. For far too long, there’s been a myth that the two are mutually exclusive. As a Black gay man of a certain age (or SGL) who is also a father, I wish to share my own thoughts and experiences on this particular journey of a lifetime.

     Back in the day, those of us who had boyfriends/partners resigned ourselves to the fact that we would never have children, relegated to “the gay uncle” status if we were out, “confirmed bachelor” if we weren’t. Then there were those of us who had children from an opposite-sex marriage or a girlfriend, but that came with the steep price of hiding who we were. Sadly, that legacy is still in part with us today.

     Having come out at 18, it was a trip when, during a heart-to-heart shortly after graduation from college, my father talked to me about having grandchildren and the respectful way to treat women. I understood the first message: don’t make a baby you cannot raise. I never spoke my thoughts out loud, but my mind said, “Dad, didn’t you get the memo? I’m gay. Not happening.” I hadn’t counted on the fact that my Higher Power has a sense of humor, for at the age of 45 I sat down with Dad and said, “I’m ready to be a father.”

     That moment was the start of a three-year journey to fatherhood. To Dad, it was the opening for “Son, welcome to my world.” We had many philosophical discussions and heart-to-hearts about what being a father meant. For me, this portion of the process better prepared me mentally. I also realized that many of the values I grew up with had rubbed off. One thing was certain—every step of the way, Dad had my back.

     My commitment was firm: I was going to be a father whether or not I had a husband/partner. I became part of a new category—the one of families we create, via adoption or surrogacy. Trust and believe, these are the most planned-for children on the planet. Like Dad, I wanted to start from scratch in raising my child. If I were to have only one, I wanted a boy. It was a process I certainly had to be prayed-up for, for I encountered my share of detractors, some of whom were other gay men who considered what I was doing to be impossible.

     My Higher Power, however, had other plans. Wherever I went, doors opened, and I am grateful to every person who was part of the journey. There were false starts as well. However, I went on making space and preparations for my child as though it was already a done deal. At one point, I was down on my knees praying, “Whether You give me this child or not, I will still praise You.” Two weeks later, I received a phone call at work. I was skeptical at first because of the previous false alarms, but they were serious. They had a baby boy for me—straight from the hospital!

     When they brought him to me that evening, my first words were, “Oh, my God,” and fell in love on the spot. At the age of 47, I was now a father. Dad, of course, was over the moon when I called him with the news. My church family was also a strong support system for us. Now the work started; as I have since learned, being a parent is the toughest job on the planet, and it never stops.

     Oddly enough, I experienced a certain form of sexism when my son was a baby. Since he went everywhere I went, there were people around who made comments like, “Oh, you must be babysitting.” When I revealed I was a full-time single father, I was asked, “Where’s his mother?” On occasions like that, knowing that people kept such comments to themselves when addressing a single mother, I put on my Resting Bitch Face and said, “You’re looking at her.” Unknowingly, I became a role model, for some of those very people, after watching my life, commended me for the way I raised my son. Thanks, Higher Power!

     We went through the good times, we went through the rough times, we went through the make-us-pray times. When it came to parenting skills, in addition to my own, there’s a lot of Dad in me. It was imperative for me to be a positive example for my son, hence he knew I was gay early on. One day, at the age of eight, he endearingly told me, “Daddy, I’m going to find you a husband.” A year later, my little matchmaker played a role in my meeting my husband for the first time, in church. Result: the three of us became a modern family.

     At 19, my son has grown into quite a young man. During this time, hearts, minds, and laws have evolved. He’s brought his friends home, plus a girlfriend or two in his high school years. It’s as though I blinked, and now he’s an adult, with dreams and ambitions of his own. When it comes to his family and friends, he’s loyal and protective. He owns up to his new responsibilities. The years of loving on him have reaped a son who says, “I love you” whenever he goes out, which touches my heart deeply. And I have a deeper appreciation for the plans my Higher Power has for me.

     I saw a poster in my local community center that said, “Boys shack up; men get married. Boys make babies; men raise their own and someone else’s.” Black love. And to all the Black LGBT fathers out there, raising your children with love and living your truth: I wish you peace. I wish you power. I wish you strength. I wish you joy.

     Believe in dreams and never give up.

 

© 2018 by W.D. Foster-Graham
All rights reserved.


W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

A Subversive Take On PRIDE? 

     Mr. Aundaray Guess, an African-American columnist for Poz.com, has given his thought-provoking—and perhaps subversive—take on PRIDE.

     Mr. Guess presents what seems to be rather compelling reasons he has chosen NOT to celebrate the June festivities. 

     See what you think.  Visit  https://www.poz.com/blog/5-reasons-celebrate-pride#lid=d5ab18bd98.f61896809a

Old School New Kid 4

“REFLECTIONS FROM A BROTHA OF A CERTAIN AGE”

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham

     When I hear the word “Reflections,” the old school in me immediately thinks of the hit by Diana Ross and the Supremes in 1967. Of course, that was one of Motown’s go-to songs when your man has dumped you and you make a late-night visit to your kitchen, answering the call of a half-gallon or more of Ben & Jerry’s. This would be followed by another of those go-to songs like Brenda Holloway’s “Every Little Bit Hurts” and the Fifth Dimension’s “One Less Bell to Answer.” In today’s thoughts, however, reflections come from my latest visit to my alma mater as an alumnus of 45 years.

     The weekend in question was Pride weekend, which is held in May because the bulk of the LGBT community in this small town is made up of college students. A huge parade down the main street, rainbow flags all over campus and all over town, celebrations in the park and parties downtown. Such was a foreign concept to me during my freshman year as a college student in the fall of 1970. I was one of the very few openly gay Black students on campus, and the Stonewall riots had only occurred the previous year. Sure, there were other LGBT students there, but they weren’t out, and there was no “safe space” for us. The American Psychiatric Association didn’t remove homosexuality from their list of mental disorders until 1973.

     This go-around, I felt like visiting royalty. The LGBT students had lots of questions for me, and more when they realized I was an author. I represented their history, one that they wanted to know more about. For those who, like myself, stood at the intersection of Black and LGBT, I represented hope. Somewhere along the line, I became the role model I wished I had had at 18, and let me tell you, that experience is humbling.

     When I seek images of Black male couples online, I am reminded that our community is still youth-obsessed to a great degree. Sure, I looked great in my 20s, but I can’t look that way now and I refuse to step into the trap. Experience, character, and wisdom helped me step up my game when my looks started changing, plus the desire to keep learning. Every now and then I see such couples whose marriages have stood the test of time (like mine), something I feel younger brothas need to see.

     That, however, has to begin with us. There was a saying I read once—“the darker you are, the harder it is to come out.” Hopefully, that’s changed to some degree. I also remember losing count of the funerals I attended in the 1980s, at the height of AIDS paranoia; so many potential mentors struck down too soon. In 2019, I acknowledge those of later generations who are speaking up, speaking out, living their truth. This, as well as having a son of my own, inspired me to step up to the plate as an elder. Not everyone can do that; some may have been too wounded in one way or another. But for those who can, I give you your props. You never know when you may come across a young LGBT brotha who’s watching your life—it could make all the difference.

W D Newest Book Cover You Never Know Book

     Being a brotha of a certain age, I have noticed that my conversations have changed. With my contemporaries, subjects of health, nutrition, retirement, and grandchildren are more common (no, I’m not a grandfather yet). Given the life expectancy of African-American men today, I am grateful for every day I am blessed with. I have left the corporate world behind; being my own boss as an independent author is, in a word, gratifying. My creativity has grown. I may have learned about them at a later age, but those LGBT trailblazers of color that paved the way for me hold a special place in my heart. And I can still bust a move when the old-school jams come on.

     Yes, I think of times gone by, like my do-wop childhood, my Motown teenage years, coming out in college, nights under a disco ball, travel to whatever hot spots were in vogue in various cities, life in corporate America, becoming a father and husband. When I’m writing love scenes in my M/M romance novels, I turn on Barry White (now you know he was the maestro). With all that, I am yet an ever-learning, ever-evolving, work in progress, which I give thanks for.

     In conclusion, since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, I leave you with this poem. I wish you an excellent day and good success:

1969 teenager living the age of Aquarius hot fun in the summertime

Life impacted by Selma Memphis Huey Newton Viet Nam

Unaware of event halfway across the country altering my life’s course

The voice of Stonewall

© 2018 by W.D. Foster-Graham
All rights reserved.


W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

Workin’ Dat Mic!

     Special Announcement, Y’all! 

     This fall, I’m reinventing and relaunching my radio show!  Entitled Raw N Real with Wyatt O’Brian Evans, it’s gonna be a truly fab-u-lous listening experience–ab-so-lute-ly off da chain and hook, with divine Fi-Yah and desire!  You’ll hear from titillating, tantalizing and provocative guests from all walks of life.

     In other words, it’s gonna be tight like…dat.  Y’all are gonna say, “Dang!  Dat was hawt!”  

     ALERT!  I’ve convinced Ms. Cuntish Cumshot, “Drag Queen Supreme,” to return and join me on the mic!  And Y’all know just how cray-cray she can be.

     So, to whet yo’ appetite, and to git you in the mood and in the groove, I’ll be presenting select episodes from Wyatt’s Man Cave (WMC), the previous iteration of my radio show.  Today’s special selection is my debut WMC installment: “Put the ‘FI-YAH’ Back into Your Relationship.” 

    Ahhhhhhhhh…thoroughly marinate yo’self in the experience and…enjoy!  Freakin’ YOWZA.

     Visit:  https://www.mixcloud.com/LesbeRealRadioTalk/put-the-fi-yah-back-into-your-relationship-wyatts-man-cave/

Old School New Kid 3

You Never Know

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham

“YOU NEVER KNOW”

“You never know what hand in life you’ll be dealt.” That is a motto of the Edwards family, in the next book of my series, ‘You Never Know: A Christopher Family Novel’. Yes, there were Black folks who came from old money—we simply didn’t hear of them because they didn’t get the bulk of the attention. In recognition of such families and bowing to my Midwestern roots, this novel takes place in Minneapolis. Like its predecessor, expect to find history, humor, romance and LGBT family members in prominence here. That being said, I would like to introduce Elijah Edwards, Sr., and the Edwards branch of the Christopher family in this prologue of “You Never Know:”

Prologue: August 1, 2007

     Elijah Edwards, Jr. headed for the office with a sense of satisfaction and excitement after having heard from his cousin, Vickie. One thing that was a given about working for Christopher Electronics; the company knew how to treat its employees as well as recognize them, guaranteeing happy workers and the best results. The testimonial for his father tomorrow was but one example. When Vickie’s father, Allan Beckley Christopher, opened the regional office for the company in Minneapolis in 1971, Elijah Edwards, Sr. was his first choice to manage it, and it continued to be one of the top revenue-producing offices. Dad had since moved on to a seat on the Board of Directors, but Allan never forgot how invaluable his skills and ethics had been back in those early days.

     Eli’s Lincoln Navigator SUV cruised smoothly along Golden Valley Road, a David Sanborn CD lifting his already positive mood. Having been a regional manager for the past ten years, he was grateful to Dad for grooming him so well to assume the position of regional vice president. It had not been an easy task to fill his shoes, given the fast pace of the Information Age and technology. However, the core values and work ethic Dad had instilled in him had encouraged him to stay on the cutting edge, as headquarters expected.

     Sandra had already finalized their travel plans for their trip to Lisbon next week. With the plans for Dad’s testimonial tomorrow that had been keeping him and his staff busy, his wife’s birthday gift to him of this extended holiday was a blessing, and he hoped the Portuguese he learned would hold him in good stead. His soon-to-be fifty-five years had shown up in his salt-and-pepper hair and the laugh lines on his face, the sun deepening his mocha complexion. He was happy to hear his daughter, Veronica, and her family had arrived from London for the festivities. She had been married for eleven years and now a mother to two children, but only in the past few years had he gotten accustomed to her being Lady Moriarty, Viscountess of Rothmere. He still saw her in his mind as the little girl who could get just as down and dirty in the mud and sand as her brothers and cousins. On the other hand, his Auntie Debbi relished every opportunity to tell any new person she met that she had a grandniece who was part of English nobility. She savored the gaping mouths of skeptics after she pulled out clippings from the London Times’ society pages to confirm she was telling the truth.

     The Minneapolis Convention Center had been more than happy to handle the accommodations for Dad’s dinner. It had been gratifying to know that so many of the family would be in attendance. All the Edwardses were preparing for the festivities, not to mention the steady arrivals of Allan’s extended family at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Limousines and personal vehicles had been coordinated by his staff for pickup and delivery, which were transporting his relatives from Chicago and employees from the main office in Evanston to various hotels downtown.

     Eli’s mouth broke into a knowing smile as he pictured his mother, Donna Gray Edwards, wielding her scepter of organization over the social activities during the past few days, with Aunt Xenobia and Auntie Debbi as her stalwart ladies of the court. She would have given Gen. Colin Powell a run for his money in military precision. Auntie Debbi loved this sort of thing as well. She plunged into it with the inquiring mind that wanted to know everything. He grimaced slightly as he pictured Aunt Xenobia’s part in the process. She would grumble, bitch, moan, whine and complain while she was getting things done. Though he felt guilty for thinking it, he sometimes wondered if Uncle Jeremiah’s death was his way of escaping her. Maybe that was why his cousin Douglass never married. Fortunately, Ma had a way of keeping Aunt Xenobia in line most of the time.

     Eli had to give Vickie her props, and not only because of the news she shared with him. When she went into the business with her father, Christopher Electronics was already a Fortune 500 company. Since Allan appointed her CEO, she had taken the company into the ranks of the Fortune 100 and kept it there. She had been profiled in all the major business magazines, interviewed by Oprah, and recognized by such publications as Essence, Ebony and Black Enterprise as one of the most powerful African-American businesswomen in the nation. At fifty-three, Victoria Christopher Mitchell was still so beautiful she had younger men falling all over themselves when she entered a room. However, she always made it clear by word and deed that the only man for her was her husband Travis, and Eli respected and admired their successful marriage and family.

W D Newest Book Cover You Never Know Book

     As for her father Allan, he was already a legend in his own time, standing in the ranks with A.G. Gaston, Madame C.J. Walker, Henry Parks Jr. and John H. Johnson. His was a family success story that had inspired and helped so many people in his lifetime. Who knew that Allan Beckley Christopher, “Little Mr. Fixit,” who came from such humble beginnings in Kansas City, Missouri, would become one of only three African-American billionaires in this country?

     Eli turned onto Theodore Wirth Parkway, appreciating the scenic beauty of its trees and well-tended foliage, a pleasing alternative to the gridlocked freeways of rush hour. He had always loved the summer days when he took his family for Sunday drives around the city’s notable lake and parkway system. Darrell and Veronica looked forward to them when they were little; they always seemed to discover something new along the way. Nowadays Darrell was often busy with his family and his duties as an associate pastor, but not so busy that he didn’t take time out to touch base with his father and his grandparents.

     Even now, every once in a while Eli and his oldest son would take a drive just to “shoot the breeze,” occasionally accompanied by his youngest son Bradley. A recent college graduate, Bradley was enjoying the summer break before he started his position in the graphics department at Christopher Electronics, and Rico, his boyfriend, was a frequent guest at Sunday dinner.

     It didn’t seem so long ago when the men of the Edwards family had their first fishing trip up in northern Minnesota. As the family patriarch his grandfather, Melvin Edwards, was in charge, with Dad, Uncle Jeremiah and Auntie Debbi’s husband Uncle Woody as his assistants. Being allowed to accompany them for the weekend was exciting.

     Eli was nine at the time, and his brothers John and Mel, along with cousins Wayne and Kevin, had been included. His brother Julian and his cousin Douglass were too young to go, and Cousin Darius hadn’t even been born yet. His grandfather owned the cabin, but the family still considered it camping because they all brought sleeping bags along with their fishing gear.

     As difficult as it was to stay still, his vigilance paid off when he caught his first fish. Their most recent trip required three cabins to accommodate everyone, but the spirit of the weekend was, as always, infectious. The men returned loaded with fish and good cheer, and seeing Dad laughing and dispensing his words of wisdom always touched his heart.

     What a day it’s going to be, he thought as he turned off the CD player to catch the latest weather and traffic reports on the radio. Instead, he heard the following: “We interrupt our scheduled broadcast for a breaking news story. The Interstate 35W Bridge across the Mississippi River has collapsed…”

     Will a “gift” that Eli has help him or hurt him when he needs it most? Well, you’ll have to find out. In the meantime, here’s to your excellent day and good success.

© 2018 by W.D. Foster-Graham
All rights reserved.


W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

JOSE ESPARZA

Soul Voyages

Our weakest moments in life often come when faced with adversity. The ability to cope with difficult situations can define who we are and how we go forward in life’s journey.”

     Jose Esparza, an emerging author full of promise, exemplifies—no actually, embodies—these instructive and inspiring words. And this heartfelt and captivating scribe has an engaging, scintillating—and rather impressive—debut with Voyages: Poetic Journeys.

     His brand new collection of poetry feels like a warm blanket wrapped all around you—though just warm enough and not too tightly–making you feel snug, safe, purposeful. And replete with hope.

     Voyages: Poetic Journeys takes you on a wondrous ride of revelation, insight, light, and adventures of the heart. Quite relatable and accessible, Voyages is a triumph for Mr. Esparza, who faces daily challenges of physical disability, and has had to work his way through the premature loss of a life partner.

     Voyages: Poetic Journeys is a must-read. This volume is poignant, sublime. And affecting.

Jose Esparza Book Cover

     Just recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Esparza. So, let’s delve right into his world.

     WYATT: Jose, congrats on your debut work!

     JOSE: Wyatt, thanks for introducing me to your WYATTEVANS.COM audience.

     WYATT: You’re very welcome! So, how have things been for you since the release of Voyages? Excitement? Surprises? And, what were the reactions/support from your fam and friends?

     JOSE: Well, it has been a wild ride of emotions. Actually, my good friend Drew Gray is responsible for challenging me to make this dream a reality. The support from friends and family has been amazing! My dad shared my book with the daughter of the lady who taught me how to write my first poem. And she loved it! I also shared my book with a few co-workers and they all were impressed.

     WYATT: As you know, a title can make or break a book. You’ve said that, and I quote, “The reason I chose Voyages as the title is because I wanted to take the reader on a voyage through the many emotions in my journey.” Now, that’s deep! Tell our readers more.

     JOSE: Ever since my early days as a poet, I have had a metaphorical roller coaster in my mind. I wanted the reader to feel the thrills and chills of each poem. I always try to leave the reader in a state of “What a rush!” Whenever a reader tells me the poem made them feel sad, happy, cry, etc., then I know I’ve constructed a fantastic ride of the mind.

     WYATT: Jose, I know that when I completed my debut work, the first installment of my Nothing Can Tear Us Apart series, I felt I’d achieved the most difficult—yet most rewarding–accomplishment to date. I’d created, nurtured, and given birth to the “baby” that I’d been carrying around inside me for quite some time! To this day, it’s still somewhat hard to fully explain. Did you have similar feelings?

     JOSE: Yes, my feelings are very similar. From a young age, I felt like eventually, I wanted my writing to be out in the world. It was a dream that was stifled by self doubt for a long time. When I finally hit the “publish my book” button on the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) my first thought was “Holy shit! Is this happening?”

     I still think the experience feels surreal. I sold twenty copies my first couple weeks and for me, it felt like a massive accomplishment. I didn’t have a major publisher behind me. No book signing tour in bookstores. Just social media. The fact I sold that many within a month made me swell with pride.

     WYATT: Now Jose, let’s travel back to your beginnings. I understand you’re a California native?

     JOSE: I was born and raised in Northern California, in Sonoma County. I lived everywhere there…ha ha! Not really, but it feels that way.

     I currently reside in Rohnert Park. Just as a point of reference: San Francisco is about 45 miles south of me. I grew up mostly in Cloverdale. I attended K-12 and graduated Cloverdale High School in 2000.

     WYATT: Tell me about your family. How many siblings? Are you the youngest?

     JOSE: I’m the baby. There are only two of us. My sister is actually six years and one day older. We are very close. She was actually the first person I came out to as gay in my family.

     WYATT: So Jose…what kind of kid were you? On the “straight and narrow?” Mischievous? Studious? Athletic? Nerdy?

     JOSE: I was always the “straight and narrow” kid at school. Growing up in a small town where everyone knows your business scared me. My uncle owned a video store in town and that was my small town claim to fame.

      I was also brought up in a very religious home. The expectation was to be as perfect as can be. That meant no cutting school, no premarital sex–you know, all the stuff good little Christian boys aren’t supposed to do. In fact, I hid my sexuality so well not even my closest girl friend knew I was gay.

     WYATT: Jose, I understand that you were born visually impaired.

     JOSE: I was born with a condition that in layman’s terms is water on the brain. As a result, my eyes did not develop correctly. I have 20/20 central vision with glasses in my left eye. I can see just a little out of my right eye.

     I use a blind cane which often makes people curious. I use it because I see right in front of me, but it’s like seeing out of a scope. I can’t see from either side. I also lack a level of depth perception.

     WYATT: How has the disability impacted your life?

     JOSE: This is always a hard question to answer because I was born this way. I wasn’t born sighted and then lost it. It has had its challenges for sure. There are things I will never get to experience: I can’t drive a car. I can’t scuba dive (too much pressure on the brain). Technically speaking, I can’t ride a bike. However, I have experienced riding an adult trike. That was fun until I crashed!

     Work has its challenges. I work in retail with clothes. Sometimes it’s a challenge getting sensors off certain dresses. I also have challenges with public transportation. I’ve learned to just (pardon the pun) roll with it.

     WYATT: How old were you when you first had that life-changing spark to become a writer? Was a certain situation or/and person responsible?

     JOSE: Well, to be honest, I never thought I would become the writer I am today. I had aspirations of ministry work; but at the time, I didn’t realize that I really didn’t want to pursue that profession. You see, I wanted to make my parents proud so I explored the possibility of being a pastor.

     I would say that spark you mentioned happened even before my first poem back in elementary school. I must have been about 13.

Precious

Precious moments are many

Often subtle with no warning

A newborn’s first cry

Like a melody on a mother’s ear

As the tree of life enriches our lives

The more precious each moment

Acquaintances come and go

Precious friends are like gems

Precious moments are many

Often subtle with tears of joy

A goal accomplished obstacle defeated

Like a baby’s first steps in life

A progression through time

Precious moments are many

Savor every one of them

As subtle as they may be

They are diamonds in the rough

©2019 Jose Esparza All Rights Reserved

     WYATT: You began by writing short stories in elementary school, correct? What was that like?

     JOSE: I absolutely loved it! It was in my special education class taught by one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Brennan. Once a month, he would put random pictures on a bulletin board. He would ask us to write a story about any picture we chose.

     He saw that spark you inquired about. He had another project just for me that he put aside. I can’t recall if it was a weekly thing or a couple times a week. I idolized Joe Montana as a kid. He would write little writing prompts “From Joe.” I loved this project, and every entry was like a little mini-story exercise.

     WYATT: In high school, you began writing poems in your sophomore year. Why the transition to poetry?

     JOSE: Believe me when I say it just happened. I had to transition from special-education to the regular English class. My teacher gave us an assignment: to write a poem about somebody we had respect for.

     I freaked out as I did not realize at the time that poems did not have to rhyme all the time. There was a lady from church who always offered to help me with homework. I took her up on this particular assignment.

     Little did I know she would unlock the box of poetry. I remember that she taught me poetry had to have two things: first, it needed to be from the heart. The second is cadence. If it lacked either of those two things, then it wasn’t a poem. After I realized how easy it was to write the poem, I explored my newfound form of words even more.

     WYATT: Intriguing! Jose, you’ve stated that your poems evolved over time into what you consider “multi-layered” poems. Do elaborate.

     JOSE: Wyatt, when I started writing poems, they were faith-based and there was no mistaking them as such. Over time, I learned to write poetry that was open for interpretation. Someone might take a poem and think it’s about one thing, then read deeper into it and see that it could also be about something else.

     WYATT: Now, if we may, I’d like to discuss your coming out process. When did you first determine you were gay?

     JOSE: I would say I knew I was gay at thirteen years old. I remember watching the fitness programs on ESPN before going to school. Instant attraction to the male physique. I didn’t understand it. I grew up being taught God made heterosexuals.

     It wasn’t until I was 27 that I came out, first to my sister…although, I think I really inadvertently came out to my brother-in-law at his bachelor party. I had been talking to a friend of his asking how I should approach my sister, and I suspect my brother-in-law caught wind of our conversation.

     Soon, I came out to my parents. It was hard! They did not handle the news well. Thankfully over time, they came around.

     WYATT: Let’s fast-forward to Voyages. Why a book of poetry?

     JOSE: Poetry is my passion! It’s my outlet of expression. Occasionally, I will write a short story as a means of personal therapy. However, I have yet to use it as a means of a work to publish. Perhaps I will soon!

     WYATT: Just how long had Voyages been gestating within you before you first put pen to paper?

     JOSE: Well, I guess you could say a lifetime! I’ve had a dream to publish something. I did dabble in songwriting. Unfortunately, that venture went nowhere. The collection of poems in Voyages goes back ten years.

     WYATT: What’s your creative process like?

     JOSE: My creative process is rather fluid. Maybe “random” is a better word. Rarely do I ponder an idea for a poem for more than a few minutes before I write. I look for inspiration through anything, from a song to an object. I have a poem (“Mermaid’s Pearl”) that was inspired by a necklace that was given to me.

     WYATT: You’ve said that Voyages “is a tribute to the legacy of persistence,” and that having disabilities taught you to never give up on what you want. Do some of the poems in Voyages reflect on that lesson? If so, how?

     JOSE: Yes. All of them do to certain degrees. My hope with this book is to encourage readers. Many poems are about obstacles one faces in life. My obstacles happen to be the loss of my life partner David and my disabilities. I wrote a poem (“Legends”) that speaks specifically to that. It was inspired by a man who was my physical education coach in collage. He always stressed the point that I am more than I give myself credit for. He always pushed me towards a new personal record.

Legends

When the nights are cold

Stories often are told

While Children hunger for adventure

Grownups long for inspiration

Legends are born through the darkness

They stand when it is easier to sit

Never settle for just the moon glow

Legends are ordinary with extraordinary will

They take the risk determined to win

The woman with no arm and a surf board

The man with no eyes but an arsenal of words

The man climbing out of addiction with purpose

The single parent striving to open doors of opportunity

The teacher that believes in incredible odds

These legendary hearts are heroes destined to inspire

©2019 Jose Esparza All Rights Reserved

     WYATT: You’ve also stated that other poems “reflect on overcoming the traumatic loss of (my) first love to heart disease. This collection was a labor of love he inspired.” Do expound.

     JOSE: Well, this is two-fold. David (his deceased partner) loved my poems. In fact, one evening he asked the question that I still think about. He asked me when I would write another poem.

     I was in a dry spell. I just shrugged my shoulder and said, “Whenever I get the inspiration.” His response was one of disappointment. I, unfortunately, was unable to write a poem before his passing. I decided this collection of work would be my love letter, if you will, to his memory.

     WYATT: How long were you with David, and how old were you when he passed?

     JOSE: David and I were together for fifteen short months, but it felt much longer. There was a significant age gap between us; however, it didn’t matter to us. We had a connection that made it work. I was 32 when he passed. He was three months shy of 60.

     WYATT: What do you most remember about him? What makes your heart and soul smile?

     JOSE: I remember his warm smile the most! David was my rock. Whenever I needed to talk or a shoulder to cry on, he was always there. He always did little things to remind me how much he loved me.

     I remember one day I was not having a particularly good day. I was out running errands before going home. When I got home, he had a bath complete with aromatherapy and candles waiting for me! I remember him saying, “You’re home now. I want you to forget about all your worries and just relax. I made you a bath and after that, I DVR’d something I think you’re going to like.” I have so many memories like that to look back on.

     WYATT: Jose, most aspiring authors never get to the finish line. In your opinion, what are the three most crucial things necessary to get “ovah that hump,” and to ultimately be successful?

     JOSE:

  1. Believe in yourself.

  2. Keep moving forward.

  3. Believe in your writing.

     WYATT: Great stuff!

     JOSE: When I started Voyages, I had a lot of self-doubt I had to overcome. I always shared poems with friends and family but that felt like a safety net. In my mind, friends are supposed to say positive things about your work. Therefore, I felt vulnerable because now I would be sharing my work beyond that safety net. I had moments where I thought it was too intimidating. Too many things could go wrong. All the negative scenarios played in my head.

     Then, there came a point where I remembered something: Walt Disney never gave up on his dream to be an animator–and look at what happened! He became a household name in the entertainment industry.

     I had to be the believer of and in my own work. I had to believe my dream of being a published author was about to become a reality.

     WYATT: Do you see any unique challenges that confront LGBTQ authors of color—particularly those who are Latina/Latino?

     JOSE: Yes, for sure. The majority of the Latino community is Catholic. I myself was raised protestant. My parents were raised Catholic, so I have a vague understanding of the guilt associated with being gay and Catholic. I think times continue to change for the better since my parents grew up, but I still think society within the context of religion has a long way to go.

     WYATT: Any upcoming book readings, events?

     JOSE: None yet. I’m still working on setting a few things up. I’m hoping to do a couple readings here in Sonoma County soon.

     WYATT: Do you have a specific mantra/philosophy for not giving up and continuing to strive for excellence?

     JOSE: Indeed! Some time ago, I saw a motivational speaker who was in a wheel chair. He had no legs and one arm. He wore a ball cap that read HANDI. He said, “The only handicap we have is the one we put on ourselves.

     I will never forget how that changed my mindset! Prior to that revelation, I always felt sorry for myself. I saw myself as the disabled kid who couldn’t do much. Also, I’m a huge Disney fan. When I read up on the history of Walt Disney and his own challenges, it made me appreciate Disney even more.

     WYATT: What’s on tap for Mr. Jose Esparza for the remainder of 2019?

     JOSE: Well, I am currently in the beginning stages of writing my next book. A title and release date are yet to be determined. I’m hoping to have it out in time for Christmas.

     WYATT: Jose, thanks for taking the time to chat with WYATTEVANS.COM! You’re an inspiration to us all. And, much continuing success to you.

     JOSE: It was my pleasure, Wyatt! Thanks.


 You may contact Jose at Jesp81@icloud.com; Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=782318266;

On Twitter: @PoeticVoyages; Instagram: @PosticVoyages.

And, grab your copy of Voyages: Poetic Journeys at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1792168837/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_zdcJCb0JTK0XV_nodl

The IPV/A Chronicles, Part Four: Down the Barrel of a Gun

I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on a certain demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community.  This is Part Four of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse.

     Welcome back.  This installment of The IPV/A Chronicles addresses a recent and disturbing phenomenon:   after nearly four decades of decline, Intimate Partner Violence murders are suddenly on the rise.

     The instruments responsible for these homicides?  Guns.  And just last week, the Huffington Post reported this alarming news.  To read the HuffPo article, visit:

     https://www.huffpost.com/entry/domestic-violence-murders-rising_n_5cae0d92e4b03ab9f24f2e6d?ncid=engmodushpmg00000006

     To note:  fortunately, there continue to be fewer fatalities in those states that have enacted gun control policies with real teeth.      

Until We Return…      

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a demoralizing, horrific–and potentially life-threatening–cycle of behavior. 

    We Must RISE UP…And Tell! Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.”

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.  

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).  

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/ 

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

Old School New Kid 2

Self-Determination

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham

     In my first column, this Old School New Kid mentioned the learning curve as an independent author. When it comes to writing, some see it as a hobby, others their passion, still others a business, and a very few regard it as all of the above. I am one of those few individuals, and I give thanks for this ongoing process.

     Back in the day, before I even considered having my work published, there was only one game in town, and it loomed large: traditional publishing. For those who choose that route, I wish you good success; over time I learned, as a Black gay author, that it simply wasn’t for me. These days, there are so many options for a writer/author to achieve publication, as well as readers who are waiting to read your stories.

     I’m my own boss, and I love it. I remember well the second principle of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), and the call of my community to build our own businesses and support other minority-owned businesses in the fourth principle,Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). Of course, my writing also embraces the sixth principle, Kuumba (Creativity). I applaud such men as E. Lynn Harris, Essex Hemphill, Mike Warren, and Wyatt O’Brian Evans, who refused to sit around waiting for publishers to come around. They chose instead to build their own businesses and publish their own work, to their good success. Romance novelist Brenda Jackson, ignoring the naysayers in the publishing world who claimed there was no market for romance novels featuring Black couples, proved them wrong with the incredible response she received when she self-published her first nine novels.

     Granted, it’s work. It’s not for everyone. And it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve learned the necessity of developing a marketing plan and stepping out there. I soon found that if my father could teach himself how to program a computer and implement that system in his place of work, I could learn new skills like creating my own website, designing my own covers, etc. I also am responsible for budgeting the costs of editing, advertising, publishing the hard copies, tracking royalties, etc., contrary to the naïve notions I had years ago of just putting my book out there and waiting for the sales to come in.

     RewardsCreative control. Shorter turnaround time to publish my books. Meeting and engaging with amazing authors, poets, and readers. The joy and freedom of writing the books I want to read. Learning and developing new skills, something it’s never too late to do. In the present day, there is no one-size-fits-all for authors. It’s about doing the research to determine what is a good fit for you, and above all, to never give up.        

The Book: Mark my words.

     One of the components of a marketing plan for today is (gasp!) social media presence. The old-school part of me moans, “How did we survive without it?” It has, however, yielded some unexpected benefits—a connection with a wonderful writer’s community, and a fun writing exercise called “Very Short Stories 365,” where one creates a story/poem within the confines of a tweet, using a daily prompt word. That being said, here are some of my very short stories, seasoned with my own brand of romance:

      Demetrius’ deep brown skin burned from a molten heart when he beheld Tevin by the pool. Tevin was the personification of the take-charge, take-no-prisoners, hyper-masculine brotha. Nothing prepared Demetrius for his dreams to manifest and his world to be rocked when Tevin kissed him softly and whispered unexpectedly, “Please take me.”

———- 

     There was no mistaking the set in Shauntik’s 9-year-old shoulders as we left the community center. When he made up his mind on something, he’d stick to it. With a conspiratorial glint, he told me, “Daddy, I’m going to find you a husband.”

———-         

     Jalen has the build of The Rock. He can twerk like Beyonce. Man, how he makes me laugh when he reads his critics. I was grinning, watching him strut onstage to receive his Ph.D. Of course, I already put a ring on it.

———- 

     I heard the Isley Brothers, and read on his face what he was telling me—he needed it again. My Kwasi, Fortune 500 CEO, took my hand, placed it on the phatness of his 3-piece, suit-clad backside. Yeah Kwasi, I’ll take you to the next phase.

———- 

     When the Motown revue came to town in the ‘60s its male vocalists sending screaming sistahs into orgasm with their voices

———- 

     Did anyone notice a brotha like me heart throbbing just as bad for those phyne men? Laron  deliberately did Something about him made me keep lovin’ him ever since 

———-

     I wish you an excellent day and good success!


     W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

  His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

     Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

     You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

Tancredo Wedding

A WYATTEVANS.COM Exclusive: Tancredo & Jeff: “Love & Happiness!”

News flash, Y’all! Tancredo Buff—the perennially popular and sizzling adult entertainer (CALIENTE!!!)–and his partner Jeff, the payroll coordinator/accountant for a large and renowned art gallery in Buffalo, New York, recently tied the knot in an intimate ceremony!

  The couple graciously consented to give the exclusive interview to WYATTEVANS.COM! So Y’all: let’s “git tha 411!”

     WYATT: Tancredo and Jeff, thanks so much for giving WYATTEVANS.COM the exclusive scoop!

     TANCREDO & JEFF: It’s our pleasure, Wyatt.

     WYATT: Just when did the nuptials take place?

     TANCREDO & JEFF: On last December 1.

     WYATT: How nice! A Holiday affair.

   TANCREDO: Yes. We decided to do a simple ceremony as part of our annual Christmas party, in our residence. The ceremony was officiated in front of our Christmas tree.

     WYATT: And so dang festive! Do describe the ceremony for our readers.

     TANCREDO: We had been planning this for a couple months. We decided that the best way to do the ceremony when most of our closest friends could be present was as part of our Christmas party. Fortunately, one of Jeff’s friends is a former co-worker whose husband is a county court judge and we asked if he would officiate at the ceremony. He gladly accepted! The next step was to make sure everything was a surprise for as many of our guests as possible. We just mentioned to a couple of people to make sure they would be able to join us. However, there are details I am going let Jeff tell.

     JEFF: The two friends we chose as our witnesses were my boss of 15 years and our dear friend Jim, who owns a floral shop. Several years ago, when New York State passed its Marriage Bill, my boss had asked for the honor of ‘giving me away’ if my partner and I ever decided to get married. She practically jumped over her desk when I asked at the end of October if she still wanted to do it. When we asked Jim, he offered to do ‘special flowers’ and provide our wedding cake as his presents. During my years at the gallery, Luis (Tancredo’s real name) and I have developed a reputation for wearing matching outfits on special occasions. I found matching red velvet jackets, which we wore with matching shirts and black slacks.

     JEFF (continues): However, since the person who was making the cake had to come and set it up BEFORE the guests started arriving, the “element of surprise” had been compromised; but due to the layout of our apartment, and the HUGE floral centerpiece provided by our friend Jim, most of the guests didn’t even notice that the cake, which was decorated with poinsettia leaves and garland, had a topper of two men standing atop the words “Mr & Mr.” It also helped that the people who had been told in advance were all there early to help everything get set up.

     WYATT: Dang! And the plot thickens…!

     JEFF: About 7 PM, I decided that everyone who was going to show up was there, so I told Judge Case to go put his robe on, and Luis and I donned our matching Santa hats. I called for the attention of our guests. I reminded everyone that in our online invitation, I had written that this year there would be a special surprise for everyone. The surprise was that they had all been asked to be present for our wedding vows!

     JEFF (continues): Cheering and applause erupted… We took our places with Judge Case in front of the brightly lit Christmas tree and exchanged our vows! We then gave each other the custom-made wedding rings (that we had helped design) made by another dear friend who is a renowned local artisan. It was a magical evening!

     WYATT: I can tell! Now guys, let’s rewind. Let’s go back in time. When did you first meet?

     TANCREDO: We met on November 4, 2002, about two weeks after I arrived in Buffalo. We started living together in July of 2003.

     JEFF: We spent most of the time from November to June sleeping together at my apartment, except when my sons were visiting. When I took Tancredo to Pride in Toronto at the end of June 2003, I asked him then and there if he would move in with me.

Jeff at PRIDE

     WYATT: I see. Okay, now tell us about the how. And, what was the first thing that caught your eye about the other?

     TANCREDO: I was responding to my messages and received one from a person on a dating website (that no longer exists) that I forgot I had a profile there. I didn’t remember the password, so I requested it in order to access the message. I did, and it happened to be somebody in Puerto Rico that wanted to meet me.

     TANCREDO (continues): I replied that I was no longer living on the island; and after that, my curiosity led me to see who was around my new area. The first profile I saw was Jeff’s. He caught my attention in an instant, and I decided to send a message. I’ll let Jeff take it from here because the story gets very interesting!

     JEFF: On the first anniversary of 9/11, my computer was infected with what became known as the “World Trade Center Virus.’ It took me almost a month to get it cleaned up and restore my basic programs and functionality. Once I did that, I started restoring my dating profiles. One evening after work, I was going through my emails, and there was one telling me that I had a message from someone on a site I had totally forgotten about!

     JEFF (continues): I restored my access to that site and read a message from a handsome Puerto Rican man who had recently moved to Buffalo from the Island. Other than those gorgeous deep brown eyes…well, let’s just say that I was very intrigued by/attracted to this man’s physical assets. After exchanging messages for a few days, we talked on the phone and agreed to meet for dinner on the evening of November 4, 2002, at one of my favorite local restaurants. When he walked in the door, he was even more handsome in person than in his pictures!

     WYATT: Whoa! What was the courtship like?

     TANCREDO: For me, it continues to be a total experience!. Jeff loves details and being very sweet. We like to hold hands, talk sometimes and say “I love you,” even by text. In the tough times, we have stood together.

     JEFF: In my dating website profiles, I used the following phrase: “I hope to find a man who knows the difference between having sex and making love–and when each is appropriate.” With both of us being on very tight budgets, a lot of those early months were spent taking him to all the fascinating (and mostly FREE) things/places/events to see and do around Western NY.

     WYATT: Now, here’s a triple-barreled Q! How long did it take for you to fall in love with one another? How did you know it was love? What specific situation/special moment made you say, “Hey! He’s the one?”

Tancredo & Jeff Wedding

     TANCREDO: There have been different moments; but when cry together, keep view of each other when we have been sick when we argue, and in particular when we say, “I’m sorry” and look at each other faces, that is when I was sure he was the one.

     JEFF: On our very first evening together, we ended up at my apartment. I was showing him pictures of my sons and me that were taken on a trip to NYC in August of 2001, three weeks before 9/11. There was a pause in the conversation at one point, and he looked into my eyes, leaned over slightly (he’s nearly two inches taller than me)–and kissed me. Gently at first, then sensing my response, more passionately. We ended up in my bedroom, where he showed me that he indeed knew the difference between having sex and making love…some time in those first few dates… I fell in love. To this day, when he looks into my eyes that way’… it brings back that first night…and I know all over again how much I am loved. And how much I love him.

     WYATT: Has either of you been in a committed relationship with another before?

     JEFF: I was married to a woman for 20 years before I came out in 1997, and have two wonderful adult sons in their early ‘30’s. I was also in another committed relationship with a man from Spring 1998 to Autumn 2001.

     TANCREDO: I have never been married; though I was in love with a girl in high school. Then later in life, I had three formal relationships, the longest having lasted six years.

     WYATT: What specific situation or special moment prompted you to tie the knot?

     JEFF: I have to admit, it was the sudden death of my ex-wife at the end of that September that was the initial catalyst. With that tragic event came a feeling of release that I had never expected to have, even though our divorce had been finalized for over ten years. But also with it came the realization that I wanted to protect and provide for the man I had spent the last 16 years making a life with. And…to be totally honest, being a “numbers guy,” once I did the math, I realized that it was finally a good thing to do from a financial standpoint as well, because of the changes in the tax laws.

     TANCREDO: I have always dreamed of this moment that I once thought was slipping away. When we walked that evening and he told me about it I said: “it’s time.”

     WYATT: AWww, Sukie Sukie now! Okay—who proposed…and how?

     TANCREDO: Actually, we both did on different occasions. I remember telling him that I wanted to marry him shortly after we started our relationship, but we never thought that same-sex marriage would be legal at that time. We changed our Facebook status to engaged once same sex marriage was legal in the State of New York. But who made the final proposal was Jeff while we were walking our roommate’s dog in a stretch of park near our house.

     JEFF: As we were walking, I told Luis about how I finally felt “released” from my wedding vows of so long ago, and now that I was truly free–not only legally, but emotionally—I asked if he would still want to marry me. I told him that I wanted to marry him before the current federal administration tried to take the right away from us. 

    WYATT: Profound stuff! Let’s continue this thread.

     TANCREDO: These are times when you must secure your well-being and the one you love. Marriage has turned into not only an expression of love and fidelity but a way to validate your relationship and protect it in case something happens. In the past, I have seen friends losing everything thanks to the non-recognition of their relationships.

     JEFF: My feelings precisely! As the one whose lifetime earnings have been higher, if I die before Luis, he can now collect Social Security Survivor benefits based on my earnings, which would get him more than his own earnings to date would. I no longer have to worry about having the “who gets what” of every single thing I own spelled out to protect him from losing them. Not that my sons would ever try to do so, but until I execute my will, before our marriage, my sons would have automatically inherited everything–except the funds in my retirement savings plan, which Luis has always been the beneficiary of. Going forward, it now becomes the opposite. I now must specify which things I want my sons to inherit.    

      WYATT: Is marriage strengthening your relationship, intensifying your bond? If so, how?

     TANCREDO: Wyatt, I was asking myself that question not long ago and found myself smiling! I feel like having his last name makes both our lives that much stronger.

     JEFF: As I look down at the wedding ring on my finger, I know that in all the world, there is only one other like it. Those rings are the symbol of our special, our “custom-designed” bond.

     WYATT: Aight, let’s shift gears. Jeff, when did you first know Tancredo was an adult entertainer? How did you handle it? Has it impacted the relationship in any way?

   JEFF: Actually… I had done my own adult film before we met, which he has watched with me. We’ve even played as a couple with one of the other men who was in it with me. It was no shock, but I was very concerned about his ability to handle the rejection that can happen until one finds one’s niche. There have been times when I’ve asked him to reenact some of his scenes… and I think that his performing has make him a more confident lover.

     WYATT: Jeff, does Tancredo’s porn career “spice up” your sex lives? Does it make your relationship stronger? If so, how? As they say, “inquiring minds…”

     JEFF: As I stated earlier, there have been times when I have asked him to recreate his scenes with me… it also makes us both more confident that when we do have playful company, it is indeed only play. Love is so much more than sex…

     WYATT: Tancredo, would you like to chime in?

     TANCREDO: Well, we had spiced up our relationship long before I started doing scenes; but I have to say that it has made me feel more conscious about sex– and how to not abuse it.

     WYATT: Let’s move into another area, if we may. Any challenges being in an interracial relationship?

     TANCREDO: Not as much as I thought. I came from an interracial family but people here in the States overthink whom you have relationships with. That’s sad.

     WYATT: Tancredo, I copy that.

     JEFF: I am bi-racial myself (Caucasian and Native American). I have never had any qualms about having interracial partners. In fact, over the years, many people have told me how lucky I am to have found such a handsome, loving man as my papi! My most exciting lovers have always been of a different race than me.

     WYATT: Hey, I’ve gotta ask this: what’s your partner’s three most endearing qualities? And why?

     TANCREDO: His perseverance, knowledge, and sense of humor because they practically match with who I am.

Tancredo & Jeff pose at their wedding

     JEFF: His gentle nature – it can be like soothing music at the end of a difficult day, or during stressful times. His sense of humor–indeed, as he says, it’s a match with mine! And, his sexuality…watch him in action! Need I say more?

     WYATT: Well, all I can say is: “Grrrrrrr…WOOOFFFFFFFF!”

     WYATT (continues): Anyway…Tancredo, would you change anything about Jeff? Does he, like, have any annoying habits?

     TANCREDO: I have lived with Jeff more than a decade, so I’ve gotten used to many things. I wouldn’t consider changing anything because that would be controlling; and when/where there is love, there is acceptance.

     WYATT: Jeff, same Q for you.

     JEFF: He’s being far too kind – I can be an absolutely anal-retentive control freak, and sometimes I need to be called out about it, which he does.

     JEFF (continues): I think the one thing that I would change would be to see him be more aggressive in our love-making…and not always wait for me to make the first move!

     WYATT: Guys, has marriage changed the dynamics of your relationship in any way?

     TANCREDO & JEFF: It’s much too early to tell! We’re still trying to figure out what we have to do to get our names changed on Social Security cards, bank accounts, driver’s licenses, etc. Ask us again on our first wedding anniversary…

     WYATT: You got it! Tancredo, career-wise, what’s on tap for the rest of 2019?

     TANCREDO: My first appearance will be at the Ravens Eden Awards in April. It’s the first time these awards will have a ceremony. I am nominated in several categories including Best Versatile Actor. There are conversations for shootings during the year, but nothing confirmed at this moment. All my fans will be the first to know!

     WYATT: Good luck at the awards, my friend! We’re rootin’ for ya!

     WYATT (continues): Tancredo, how can we follow, connect with you?

     TANCREDO: Sure! You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. And, you can write to me at tancredobuff@live.com.

     WYATT: Tancredo and Jeff, thanks so much for sitting down with WYATTEVANS.COM! I wish you much “Love and Happiness!” Lawd, I’m sounding like Al Green, the pop and soul icon!

     TANCREDO & JEFF: Yes, you are! And Wyatt, we are glad to be a part of WYATTEVANS.COM!

THE “FRENZY!” IS UPON YOU.

     I wanna thank Mr. W.D. Foster-Graham, author extraordinaire, for giving a rousing three thumbs up to my latest novel, “NOTHING CAN TEAR US APART—FRENZY!”   For his review, visit:  https://wfostergrahamauthor.com/blog/  

     Mr. Foster-Graham is an original member of the Grammy-Award winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  And, W.D. also has been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best New Poets of 2003.”  You can check out W.D.’s latest exciting and poignant series of novels at https://wfostergrahamauthor.com/my-books/

     I’m proud to have this accomplished individual weigh in on my “NOTHING CAN TEAR US APART” series of novels!  To “git yo’self” all caught up in the “FRENZY!”visit:  http://wyattevans.com/nothing-can-tear-us-apart-frenzy-book/

     The “FRENZY!” is upon you!  Seriously.  Inextricably. So Freakin’ Tow-ta-lee!!!

In Celebration of Black History Month

     Essex Hemphill—the openly gay, African-American poet and author—truly was a force of nature.  Groundbreaking, Mr. Hemphill blazed the way for talents including James Earl Hardy, E. Lynn Harris…and myself. 

     So, in celebration of Black History Month, I pay homage to this gifted artist—who certainly was before his time. 

     And left us way too soon.   

     Despite a relatively short literary career, Hemphill is arguably the most critically acclaimed and best-known contemporary openly gay African American poet and author.   He helped shatter the silence surrounding gay Black experiences and empowered other gay Black men to find their voices.  AIDS snatched this ahead-of-his-time, literary genius away from us much too prematurely–denying us of all the rich gifts I’m sure he wanted to share. 

     Essex and I were good buddies.  But before I reminisce about the personal side of this remarkable talent, let me share what made the man such an undeniable force in shaping and popularizing modern LGBTQ literature as a whole. 

     Born in Chicago on April 16, 1957, Essex grew up in Washington, D.C.  He began writing poetry when he was 14.  “I started writing about and addressing my homosexuality because it wasn’t there in the black text,” he recalled.  “And I needed something to be there to validate that my experience was real for me.”

Essex Hemphill

     Essex earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the University of the District of Columbia.  Believing that poetry should be heard, he regularly performed his work, often in collaboration with other D.C. African-American gay and lesbian artists.  In 1983, he, Wayson Jones and Larry Duckette teamed to create Cinque, a performance poetry group that combined cutting-edge political verse, vivid imagery about gay Black life, and tightly woven harmonies.  

     Quickly, the group amassed a loyal following.  And on one sweltering summer evening in 1985, I attended one of Essex’s performances, which was absolutely mesmerizing—and full of raw sexuality!    

     For me, that night became even hawter!  

     Cinque’s poetic style gained national attention in the next few years.  Today, “poetry slams” are mainstream.  Essex introduced this art form in a profound way—developing and fashioning it.  He gave it crucial visibility.

     In the 1980s, very few publishers were interested in the works of openly gay African-American writers.  Well, Essex didn’t wait for them to “come around.”  Instead, he self-published his first two collections of poetry, “Earth Life” (1985) and “Conditions” (1986).   His profile continued to rise after contributing to various anthologies and publications including the Advocate, Essence, Obsidian, and Gay Community News.

     After his close friend Joseph Beam succumbed to AIDS in 1988, Essex moved to Philadelphia to complete Beam’s anthology, “Brother to Brother:  New Writings by Gay Black Men.”   Published in 1991, it won a Lambda Literary Award, garnering widespread literary acclaim.

     The next year, a major publisher released Essex’s “Ceremonies:  Prose and Poetry,” which won the American Library Association’s Gay and Lesbian Book Award in Literature.  “Ceremonies” provided powerful insights into the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality in America.  The topics it addressed included the sexual objectification of Black men in white gay culture.

     The year 1993 was a virtual bonanza for Essex:  he received a Pew Charitable Trust Fellowship in the Arts and the Emery S. Hetrick Award for community-based activism from the Hetrick-Martin Institute.  And, he became a visiting scholar at Santa Monica, California’s Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities.

     After battling AIDS for several years, Essex passed away on November 4, 1995, in Philadelphia.  He was 38.

     Now, what do I remember about him as a friend?

     We met in April 1984, at the Potomac Electric Power Company, a major service provider in D.C.  Essex was a graphics designer while I was a writer within that utility’s corporate communications department.

     Immediately, “Es” and I connected.  We had things in common:  emotional accessibility.  A sense of free-spiritedness.  The preference for the Artist Known as Prince over Michael Jackson.  And most importantly, a hunger for writing.   We became fast friends.

      Confident in who and what he was, Es was totally unabashed about and firmly rooted in his sexuality.  The brotha had swagger!  His affecting smile and mischievous glint that danced in his eye could win you ovah in no time flat.

     Although Es was a sensitive, caring soul, he took no crap!  As well, he doggedly pushed back against any obstacles, turning his dreams into realities.

     Unfortunately, Es and I lost contact after he moved to Philly.  Although his struggle with AIDS was contracted, debilitating and agonizing, I was told that his spirit remained vibrant and strong.

     Es, you’re sorely missed.  Without you, would there have been an E. Lynn Harris?  James Earl Hardy?  

     Or for that matter–a Wyatt O’Brian Evans?

Latoya Hankins

Hot Tea and Ice 19

Lessons in Love and Loss

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins  

   

     Greetings, veteran Hot Tea and Ice Sippers–and those new to the blend of wisdom I offer!  It has been more than a minute since my words graced this space. A lot has happened to me: some good, some bad, and some I haven’t quite figured out—and how exactly to understand the lessons I learned.

     Two events I am still processing occurred within weeks of each other during the waning weeks of 2018. The first:  after more than ninety years on this Earth, my oldest great-aunt joined her ancestors.  Her departure three weeks before Christmas took place at home, surrounded by her family.

     The second was the loss of my dog, Neo. He had been part of my world for more than fifteen years, and as to be expected, our time together was destined to end sooner than later.  The week before Christmas, Neo “returned to the source,”  cradled in my arms.

LATOYA and NEO

     I have considered myself lucky that death’s visits to my world were somewhat spaced out;  however, as you can imagine, experiencing two losses so close together shook me.  

     I credit my partner for keeping me going. Without her compassion and providing a listening ear and loving heart, I doubt I would have fared as well during the holiday season.

     Now we are in a new year and time is marching on, which requires me to reconcile my feelings. The lessons I learned about myself is that as much as loss can rock the soul, the power of the love tied to it can knit what has been ripped asunder.Those of us dealing with losing someone or something precious in the preceding months must find our way forward. We need to find a way to let go of the pain and anguish holding us back from embracing what is waiting.

     My great-aunt was a woman of her times. She was a housewife who never worked outside her home and bore nine children. She earned a cosmetology degree but never used it beyond doing her children’s and her own hair.

     Yet, she was also an entrepreneur who sold Avon for more than thirty years. From her back porch, she also sold candy and icy treats known as “frozen cups.” My aunt was a long-standing church member who it seemed everyone knew–and she knew them. Her impact in my small coastal hometown was such that when her children threw her a ninetieth birthday party, the mayor presented her with a key to the city. There would never be another LI, as she was known to her family.

     Her life taught me the way you live your life is the currency people use when they pay tribute to you in death. She instilled in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren the following:  carve their niche in the world and to never forget the value and importance of valuing yourself.  She made of point of dressing up every day with full make-up and coordinating outfits because that what she enjoyed doing, and it made her feel special. While I mourn her not being here in the physical, I celebrate the lessons she left behind.

     Neo was my longest relationship and the only male I shared a home with beyond my family. He was there for my joys and sadness and offered me the non-judgmental love only a pet can provide in many cases. He was a faithful companion and TV western watching buddy to my mother. He provided her comfort, and for that I am grateful. He taught me the value of being there for others and acceptance without judgment.

     The fact my great-aunt and pet died so close to each other toward the end of last year isn’t lost on me. Too often we hold on to things, people, and situations because they provide us comfort and impart life lessons. We don’t sense the way they shape us for the better–until they are no longer there.

     The absence leaves us stunned and not sure how to move forward. We have to learn to look inwardly and pull forth those lessons to move forward. We honor the lessons of those who have departed from us by moving–and not dwelling–in the hurt that they are no longer here.

     Grief operates on its schedule, so give yourself permission to process it until it is appropriate to move on, and when it is time to open your hands and hearts to fully to grasp what waits.

     Until next time, “Adios, au revoir and I “holla!”


LaToya Hankins is the author of SBF Seeking, and K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood.  Currently, LaToya is an employee of the State of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services department.  Prior to that, she worked for nearly a decade in the field of journalism.  An East Carolina University graduate, LaToya  earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a minor in political science. 

During her college career, LaToya became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and currently is the president of the Chapel Hill, N.C. graduate chapter. As well, she is an active member of the, The Black Lesbian Literary Collective,a non-profit organization organized in N.C.  The Collective’s mission is to create a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers. 

You may reach LaToya at her on line home, latoyahankins.com ; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com;
Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins;
and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

Old School New Kid

I’m an ‘Old School New Kid’–and I Own It.

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham

     Yes, that’s what my teenage Millennial son would call me in this age of social media, iPhones and Internet branding.  How did I, that 21-year-old version of myself, survive without the bells and whistles of 21st century technology?  But hey, I’m a Baby Boomer and I own it.

     I am always fascinated and intrigued when other authors share their stories; every path to becoming a novelist is different.  For me, it started early on, with countless trips to the library as soon as I could get a library card.  Vivid imagination spurred short stories about animals and their families, where I actually wrote a series of short stories about a family of mischievous seals (go figure).

     As an African American/Native American/LGBTQ man, those stories changed over the years, but my passion for writing didn’t.  How many people have written short stories based on dreams they had–better yet, remembered? I have. Still, life went lifing along, and in the timeless words of Gwen Guthrie, “Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent.”

     I am so grateful for that psych degree I received, for it was a major boost on my road to writing my first novel.  I made up psychological profiles of characters for fun, and a pastor friend of mine read them and said, “Why don’t you put them all together in a book?”  Seed planted!

     Now, the million-dollar question:  what to write about?  One never knows where inspiration comes from, and mine sprang from a need.  Being a man of color in the 1970s and 1980s, I was ever on the search for fiction novels featuring characters who looked like me and came up short.  I was dying to read novels of successful African American men as entrepreneurs in areas other than sports and entertainment.  I knew such men existed in real life, like John H. Johnson, A.G. Gaston, and H.G. Parks, Jr.  However, it wasn’t reflected in fiction.  And as for characters who were also LGBTQ.

The Book: Mark my words.

     Faced with the choice of complaining about this challenge or writing a novel on it myself, I did what my dad would do and chose the latter.  Thus, my concept for Mark My Words and the character of Allan Beckley Christopher.  Thanks, Dad, for being my No. 1 fan and my greatest critic.  Your stamp of approval on this character as representative of your generation meant everything to me.

     Trust and believe, Mark My Words was a novel 17 years in the making.  Between written pages, typewritten pages and what was then a state-of-the-art laptop (oh, those days of floppy disks), it was written in 5 years. The new challenge was the next umpteen years getting it published, and everything that goes with being a new author.  Fortunately, I was blessed with 1) the mantra “Never give up” and 2) a great support system.

     Today, this “old school new kid” has embraced a new learning curve in marketing and social media as a self-published author.  Believe in dreams and never give up.


     W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

  His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

     Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

     You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

Body Builder

Ringin’ In the New Year With “MOE!”

 

Love can be so, so…well, over-rated.

As you know, I write a continuing series entitled, “Interview with an Escort.” The series is a raw and revealing portrait of “Jase,” an exclusive and highly in-demand NYC gay/SGL “Man of the Evening,” whom I first interviewed in March 2015.

Why have I decided to build a series around this individual? Three salient reasons: (1) arguably, the utilization of “specialized” services of escorts is a staple of gay and bisexual male culture; (2) this individual’s continuing saga has been one of the most popular articles on Wyattevans.com; (3) Jase is a fascinating brotha with charisma oozing outta his pores.

I’ll never share his website and contact information because this series is NOT about advertising or promoting his services. And, he fully understands and accepts that. Instead, it’s to give you, the reader, an illuminating bird’s-eye view of his world. One you just might step into one day. Holla!

In this installment, I’m bringing you up to date on what’s been going on in the sensual and salacious life of this primo “scort.” But first, let’s delve into the backstory of Jase, our MOC (Man of the Evening)!

The Why of it All.

Several years ago, a Huffington Post article entitled, “Sex for Tuition: Gay Male College Students Using ‘Sugar Daddies’ to Pay Off Loan Debt,” featured a New York University student who was desperately trying to manage his $50,000 tuition bill.

His solution? Midway through college, Kirk started turning tricks in order to pay the bill.

And even after graduation, the young man continued to escort. According to that Huffington Post article, “He has continued selling his wares on what he describes as ‘virtual street corners’—websites where young gay men seek out the companionship of wealthy older suitors.”

Jase’s story mirrors Kirk’s. He, too, got into the “bizness” to settle his college debts. And like Kirk, even after he earned his degree (in communications; rather apropos, don’tcha think?), the articulate, sophisticated and charming Jase continues to escort. He’s been at it for seven years now.

Uncommonly handsome, dominant and very self-assured, Jase (early ‘30s) exudes raw sexuality! And, let’s not even talk about the swagger.

At 6’2”, and now 240 pounds, this African-American is hugely and thickly muscled. He sports a military haircut, ‘stache and goatee. Being well-groomed is his hallmark.

Superbly masculine, this top man is very accessible. His dazzling white smile and smoldering eyes are disarming.

Although personable, Jase is all bizness! You don’t mess with him, you don’t cheat him.

And, you certainly don’t fuck with him…and him.

Cause, ya see, he’s ALL about dat money! Cha-ching, Cha-ching!

Talk to Me!

When we last met, Jase said that he’d secured a consulting gig. Although he still has it, he continues to escort. And, 2018 was quite profitable for MOE.

Right after the holidays, I had the opportunity to sit down with this imposing man. When he sauntered into the room, my jaw nearly hit the floor! He’d bulked up, but still retained his cuts, his definition. And there was that mesmerizing smile and hypnotic eyes! Lawd.

 

Here’s the interview:

WYATT: Jase, thanks for meeting with me again.

JASE: No prob, my man! You know I enjoy keepin’ your readers in the know.

WYATT: (I had to take a double-take. Actually, two.) Dang, my brotha! You’ve gotten freakin’ bigger!

JASE: (Grinning from ear to ear, flashing a naughty wink, and settling into the plush leather chair.) You like, huh?

WYATT: What’s not to like? (I quipped.) So, how’s bizness?

JASE: Great! 2018 was exceptional. Lots of escort work; meanwhile, I’m still holdin’ down the regular job.

WYATT: Do you ever think you’ll hang up your shingle?

JASE: (Flashing his very own version of the “The Rock’s” patented eye roll/scrunch.) You want an honest answer?

WYATT: Well, “honesty is the best policy,” my man.

JASE: At this point, hell no! Being financially fucked scares the hell outta me! The money from escorting is just too good to turn down. (Pause. Then, he points to his impeccable build.) And “lookit dis!” Guys should pay to sleep with me.

WYATT: As you know, lots of folks look down on what you do…actually, they vehemently disapprove of it! Jase, what do you say to those individuals?

JASE: (Shaking his head.) I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think! As I’ve stated before, I satisfy a need for companionship—and that interaction is not always sexual. And, it’s a transaction between two consenting adults. (Pause.) Clients seek me out; I don’t put a gun to their heads.

JASE: Lemme add that I’m not some cold, calculating bastard trying to roll over and get over on folk.

JASE: (Very matter-of-factly.) Man, everything in life is a transaction! A quid pro quo. (Pause.) Here’s an example. A wife wants her husband to agree to, say, a major purchase, and he doesn’t want to. She then withholds the sex! Eventually, he capitulates, gives in. As I said, everything in life is a transaction.

WYATT: I see. Do you ever have recreational sex? Do you ever make love to someone without dollars attached?

JASE: (Snuggling back in his chair.) Oh no, no, no! Listen: “Love can be so, so…well, over-rated.” And as I’ve said before, I’m a fuckin’ sexual connoisseur! Bottom line: being highly sexual, I fuckin’ crave sex–and with multiple partners. Variety is the name of my game.

JASE: I get off on being desired…and being in control sexually. Mos’ def.

WYATT: Jase, when last we talked, you stated that you were in an exclusive relationship—actually, I should say “arrangement”—with a wealthy German client. How’s that workin’ for ya?

JASE: Oh yeah, Helmut. (Pause.) But that’s been a wrap for more than a minnit. (To delineate and emphasize that point, he swipes his beefy hand across his thick neck, under his Adam’s apple.)

WYATT: I see. Who ended it?

JASE: (Doing his variation of the Rock’s eye scrunch.) Wyatt, U be “The Funny Man’! Me, of course!

JASE: (Continuing.) I have to say that when I was groovin’ with Helmut, it was an exclusive thang…I gave up my other clients. He was my sugar daddy– showering me with money, a new vehicle and credit cards in my name, etc., etc. (Pause.) And indulging in threesomes with him and his wealthy buds kinda quenched my thirst and scratched my itch for variety…if you catch my drift.

WYATT: Dang, and Yowza! (Pause.) Now Jase, inquiring minds wanna know: did Helmut’s buddies pay you for your…ahem, “po-ti-cu-lar” salacious services?

JASE: (Displaying a toothy grin.) Oh, hell yeah!

WYATT: And Helmut had no problem with any of that?

JASE: Well…it really wasn’t really his cup of tea, but he went with the flow.

JASE: (Now, getting a tad defensive.) Hey! He was well aware of what he was signing up for. (Yowling!) I’m an escort, for gawdsakes!

WYATT: (Lawd and Geesus, I’m cracking up!) Jase, clue me in: why did YOU call it quits?

JASE: Well…truth be told, I was fond of Helmut. He’s certainly easy on the eyes, and fuckin’ hawt in bed! As important, he had valuable business opportunities and life experiences that were beneficial. So, for a time, it was a win-win for both of us. And Lord knows he had a man on his arm who’s refined, well spoken, and sophisticated.

JASE: (Exhaling and then inhaling.) But after a while, Helmut began to get possessive…didn’t wanna share me…tryin’ to clock me…making more and more “suggestions” about how I should conduct my life. He started to think that he owned me! No way, Jose.

JASE: (Becoming animated.) You know, that fuckin’ rich Caucasian man’s entitlement shit! He tried to rewrite the script. My life is NOT a fuckin’ movie or TV show that the writer and executive producer creates and changes! I’m the ONLY one in control of my life. No one OWNS me.

JASE: (And then, with outstretched arms and full of bravado.) I mean… seriously? Look at me…just look at me!

WYATT: (At this juncture, I’m LMAO!!! Really.) Okay, okay! I’m lookin’, I’m lookin’…

WYATT: (Now, I’m shifting gears.) Jase, as a ‘scort, what’s the freakiest scene you’ve been in?

JASE: (Pondering, then flashing a broad, toothy grin.) Well, my brutha, “freaky” is relative. (Pause.) I can think of quite a few scenes; however, I’m gonna tease ya by mentioning one of the milder ones. When I write my memoirs, I’ll let it all hang out.

WYATT: Understandably.

JASE: Okay, okay. Once, I was the special “gift” for an interracial foursome–one black guy, three white dudes—for an entire night. It was freakin’ awesome!!!

WYATT: Dang, bro! Tell me a little mo’. (Pause.) Just keep in mind that I run a PG-kind of publication, here!

JASE: (Chuckling heartily.) Lawd man, you be “The Funny Man!” Anyway, here’s just one scenario: two white mouths swallowing my dick, one white mouth slobbering all over my hairy balls. Meanwhile, the brutha’s tongue ws diggin’ all up into my ‘cherryhole’!”

WYATT: Oh, myyyyyy….

WYATT: (Trying hard not to focus on that image!) Any other little “tidbits” you’d like to drop?

JASE: Nah. Buy my memoirs when they come out.

WYATT: True dat. Now tell us…what advice do you have for guys who wanna break into the escort biz?

JASE: First: be sure that it’s what you really wanna do. Second: stay away from drugs! Don’t accept any from clients. Third: be careful and be safe; be wary of law enforcement. Four: stay healthy! Five: save your benjamins, so you’ll be able to leave the bizness when you want.

WYATT: So, what’s next for you?

JASE: Well, since I luv me some monies, I’m gonna ride this gravy train for as long as I enjoy the ride! And for as long as it’s profitable.

JASE: (Howling again.) Yo! I’m coverin’ my black muscled ass in as many ways as I can? Ya feelin’ me?

WYATT: That I do! That I do.

(Suddenly, his phone buzzes.)

JASE: Ahhhh…a client! Gotta hit him back. Any thang else you need to know?

WYATT: Nope, that’s it. Jase, I appreciate your time and opening a window, if you will, for my readers. And as always, it’s been a pleasure!

JASE: Nah, it’s my pleasure, Wyatt.

WYATT: Thanks, my brotha.

Happy New Year 2019

As This Shiny New Year Unfolds…

Yowza!  As 2019 unfolds, Wyattevans.com will be Bigger, Badder and Bolder!

      First, let me thank each and every one of you for making Wyattevans.com the go-to-it online destination for news, views, features, and entertainment for the LGBTQ Community and its Allies!  More than 100 countries visit my online home regularly.  I’m proud and overjoyed! 

     In 2018, Wyattevans.com published thought-provoking articles and provocative features on relationships, HIV, depression, romance, and other critical issues that acutely impact the LGBTQ Community and its Allies.  Of course, this will be a continuing staple and hallmark for the New Year. 

     And let me assure you that my ongoing series of exclusives on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)–known as domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ Community–will be a centerpiece of Wyattevans.com for 2019  

     Sadly and unfortunately, IPV/A is that “elephant in the room,” which means that way too often, this despicable, demoralizing and (at times) life-threatening cycle of behavior is “swept under the rug.”  Therefore, IPV/A isn’t addressed—which results in its perpetuation.

     In this shiny new year, you followers will read even more informative, riveting and inspiring personal stories of IPV/A victims and survivors–as well as continuing news and data on this critical societal issue.  These articles and features will also be syndicated in other publications, including the Huffington Post and WeSurviveAbuse.com, created by Tonya GJ Prince, a leading Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) Advocate, Specialist, Speaker…and Survivor.

     To bolster and spread the message, I’ll be conducting IPV/A seminars and workshops around the country.  My mission is to never stop shining a bright light on this insidious societal ill.       

    And do you know what I’m really jazzed about for 2019?  The relaunch of my radio show!  Due to popular demand, I return to the airwaves this Spring.

     With the working title, “Raw N Real with Wyatt O’Brian Evans,” the program will be uncut and uncensored, presenting diverse points of view.  Probing, insightful, cutting-edge and absorbing, the show will explore and dissect those issues that uniquely impact the LGBTQ Community and its Allies. And guess what?  Ms. Cuntish Cumshot, “Drag Queen Supreme,” returns to mix it up!  Freakin’ YOWZA.

     As well, I’m currently penning two works:  The next installment in the “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels, and a novella that’s somewhat of a departure from what you’re used to from me.  It’s challenging…and exhilarating!  And that’s as it should be (LOL). 

     Before I sign off, I must give one helluva Shout-Out and Thank You! to the so on-point Guest Columnists forWyattevans.com!  These include LaToya Hankins and R.L. Norman.  I’m fortunate that they continue to share their dynamic voices, their wealth of experience, and their unique perspectives with you readers.  And, Wyattevans.com will be adding more of these distinctive voices to the melting pot.

     So, there you have it!  My 2019 is gonna be Bigger, Badder and Bolder!  And Y’all are gonna be the beneficiaries.

     And now…what about your New Year?

     Just Seize The Freakin’ Year!!!

Black Family decorating their Christmas Tree

Happy Freakin’ Holidays, Y’all!!!

     Wyattevans.com and I want to wish You and Yours a Very Merry Freakin’ Holiday!  Honor, Cherish and have Big Fun with your family and friends.  And, make a point to appreciate and savor all the wondrous blessings you’ve received in 2018. 

     Then, be resolute in making 2019 your very “bestest” year!  And speaking of 2019, Wyattevans.com and I have many surprises in store for ya!  Stay tuned…

     Soooooo…kick back, relax with your fav hot drink (or drinks!  LOL.) and wait for Santa to drop down from the chimney with all of yo’ gifts.  In other words, go on wit yo’ badddddddddddd self

     Ho, ho, ho, ho…..!

Merry Christmas

Beating Dem Holiday Blues!

     Ohhhhhhhhh myyyyy gawd!  It’s THAT time of the year! 

     Again.

    Ya see, you’re an LGBTQ brotha or sistah (or whatever the hell your race or ethnicity happens to be.  LOL.) who’s really dreading THAT time of year.

     Soooooo, exactly what am I talkin’ ‘bout? 

     The Holidays, doggonit! 

      Why might you be in a major funk?  Well, maybe you feel you can’t be your authentic self around family:  you’re still closeted.  Or, you might be alone, feeling isolated. 

      All of this can throw you into a nasty tailspin!  And where do you crash land?  Maybe, just maybe, into one helluva funk!  We’re talkin’ major depression.

     Research bears out that the rates of depression and stress definitely increase during the holidays.  To counteract that, here are ten tools to help you vanquish those holiday blues–courtesy of Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a multi-award winning psychotherapist:

  • Keep your expectations balanced.  “You won’t get everything you want, things will go wrong, and you won’t fell like Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’.  Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect and don’t worry about things that are out of your control.”
  • Don’t try to do too much.  “Fatigue, over scheduling, and taking on too many tasks can dampen your spirits.  Learn to say no, delegate as much as possible and manage your time wisely.  If you choose to do less you will have more energy to enjoy the most important part of the season–friends and family.”
  • Don’t isolate.  “If you’re feeling left out, then get out of the house and find some way to join in.   There are hundreds of places you can go to hear music, enjoy the sights or help those less fortunate.”
  • Don’t overspend.  “Create a reasonable budget and stick to it.  Remember it’s not about the presents.  It’s about the presence.”

Lady Dressed as Santa Clause screaming

  • It’s appropriate to mourn if you’re separated from or have lost loved ones.  “If you can’t be with those you love, make plans to celebrate again when you can all be together.”
  • Many people suffer depression due to a lack of sunlight because of shorter days and bad weather.  “Using a full spectrum lamp for twenty minutes a day can lessen this type of depression called SAD (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder).”
  • Watch your diet and remember to exercise.  “It’s normal to eat more during the holidays, but be aware of how certain foods effect your mood.  If you eat fats and sweets, you will have less energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down.” 
  • Be aware of the Post-Holiday Syndrome.  “When all the hustle and bustle suddenly stops and you have to get back to the daily grind, it can be a real letdown. Ease out of all the fun by planning a rest day toward the end of the season.”
  • Learn forgiveness and acceptance.  “If some of your relatives have always acted out or made you feel bad, chances are that won’t change.   If you know what you’re getting into, it will be easier to not let them push your buttons.  If things get uncomfortable, go to a movie or for a drive and adjust your attitude.”

     Sooooooooooo, instead of stressin’, pace yourself!  Remember that you and the Holiday do not need to be perfect!  Cherish your husbands, wives, other family members, intimate partners, and friends.  Have big fun with them!  And, treasure them.

     Appreciate and be thankful for each and every blessing you’ve received this year.  Be easy on yourself.

    And finally:  git the celebration on wit yo’ badddd self!  Jist do it to it!   

   (Now, see how this guy is feelin’?  Be him! ‘Cause ya know you want to….LOL.) 

 

   Merry Freakin’ Xmas, Y’all!  YOWZA…and all dat jazz.

Ferraris and Football

By Wyatt O’Brian Evans

PROLOGUE.

Yo! As y’all know, I’m Wyatt O’Brian Evans, author of the hawt, sexually-charged and action-filled series of novels entitled, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart.” The latest installment is FRENZY!” Check out: wyattevans.com/nothing-can-tear-us-apart-frenzy-book/

Now, due to popular demand, I’m re-presenting a fast-paced, tension-filled and sexxxy short for yo’ reading “pleah-zure!” Entitled “Ferraris and Football,” it’s the saga of two star-struck lovers, Ja’Shon (Shon) Benjamin and Wali Antonio Ramirez (WAR). Instead of a dark and stormy night, it all begins on a bright and sunny afternoon at an upscale Washington, D.C. eatery…but ends (or does it, really?) on a windy and treacherous evening.

Ya see, these two big boyz are all caught up in a tangled and rather messy “luv thang.”

So, let’s down to it and git wit it…!

It was 1:08 p.m. at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse chain noted for its impeccable cuisine and service. And it was an absolutely glorious autumn day in September, with leaves blowing every which way. Although the sun was shining quite strongly and ever so brightly, it was on the rather cool side for that time of year.

Well, Mr. Ja’Shon Edward Benjamin, simply was not on the “cool side”—not one little bit. The President/CEO of JSB P.R., Inc., he kept glancing back and forth at his watch. A prospective client was minutes late, and this public relations guru was thinking, “Ohhhhhhhh, Lawd…here we go! C.P.T (Colored People’s Time) has struck again!” The adjectives irritated and perturbed couldn’t quite come close to what he was feeling, because tardiness was one of this business owner’s pet peeves. Besides, time is (fuckin’) money!

At just 30 years old, this Black native Washingtonian had the bona fides and was quite accomplished and rather connected. His JSB P.R., Inc. was a sought after public relations firm in the nation’s capital; quickly, he was becoming a major player in the industry.

And being from an ultra-respected, upper crust family certainly didn’t hurt, and gave him that “leg up.” (Indisputably, Benjamin believed in the power of “Con-nec-tions.”) His father, Jason Edward, was a trailblazing defense attorney, while his mother, Elizabeth Marie, was a prominent rectal/colon surgeon.

Particularly beginning in high school, the brutha felt like the proverbial football—Mom aggressively tried to coax him into the medical field; meanwhile, Dad mounted a full-court press to pull him into the legal profession. He had dreams of his son joining him as partner in his storied and prosperous firm. And when Ja’Shon was a senior, Dad wanted him to attend “Hawvahd” (Harvard), while Mom wanted Yale.

Defiantly, however, Ja’Shon chose Morehouse. He wanted the experience of a historically Black institution. And besides, being gay/SGL, this brutha wanted to have that “special secondary education”–along with the primary one he was really there for. (Do you catch my drift? Are ya feelin’ me? ‘Sho ya do! LOL.) In other words, he wanted to be “Where The Menz Are.”

Determined, Ja’Shon was adamant about carving out his own destiny. A “news junkie” and very political, he fell in love with journalism and political science. Then, on the precipice of his senior year at Morehouse, he had an epiphany: start his own public relations firm! He certainly had the savvy and the people skills for it.

So after earning B.A. degrees in both journalism and poli sci, he returned to D.C. and entered the Masters of Business Administration program at the George Washington University. He needed that if he were to make a business one helluva smashing success.

Midway during his time at GWU, he got his APR (Accredited in Public Relations) accreditation. And right after graduation, he convinced his parents to release his considerable inheritance early; and with much of it, he put up his shingle.

Sitting at his table in the center of Fogo, this President and CEO peeked at his stately Rolex Oyster Perpetual once again. He was becoming more and more irked and miffed by the second. Part of all THAT had to do with his personality, which was ¼ entitled, ½ confident, and ¼ imperious.

Mr. Benjamin was cerebral, buttoned up, and more than a little closed-off emotionally, tending to keep his cards pretty close to his vest. As well, he had the uncanny ability to adapt to and navigate any situation for the benefit of his clients. And of course, for himself.

The oh-so pleasingly “mas-cu-line” Mr. Benjamin had a dashing side: his beloved cherry red Ferrari California convertible was a testament to that. (By the by, his jet black Mercedes E300 4MATIC Sedan was sitting in the garage of his impressive home in upscale Chevy Chase, Maryland.)

(And, did I mention that the bro was closeted? Yessum! That fact created problems for him–as you’ll see later.)

Truly, Mr. Benjamin was a class act all the way! He was dressed to the nines in a perfectly fitting, black Emporio Armani pinstripe suit, crisp white Armani shirt, and Brioni burgundy tie with slight, white stripes. And to top it off, he was simmering in Chanel Egoiste Platinum—just enough to titillate, to tantalize…to impress.

And so, so very easy on the eyes! Smooth milk chocolate brown. Shaved head. Thick eye brows. Brown, penetrating and piercing “eagle” eyes behind stylish designer frames. Neatly-groomed Van Dyke. Affecting, engaging smile. His Teddy Pendergrass-esque voice added to his presence, his stature—when he walked into a room, he pretty much owned it.

His “dee-li-cious” physique completed the primo package! This beefy, muscled bear of a man was 5’7” and clocking in at a little over 190 pounds. One could see that the gym had been particularly good to him. (LOL.)

Mr. Benjamin, puleeze fo’give me for bein’ late.” The deep, syrupy loudspeaker voice startled Ja’Shon, who seemed to be in another world. As he popped straight up in his chair, his eyes bucked and bulged! Then fluttered. He simply couldn’t believe this mountain of a man who was standing—so tall, large and in charge, like a freakin’ living oak tree. And he was directly in in front of him!

The enticing bass voice—with just a tinge, a smattering of a Latin accent—belonged to the P.R. guru’s prospective client, who followed up with, “It’s been one heck of a day! Had an office emergency, then got all caught up in this dang downtown traffic! And in a rush to meet’cha on time, I somehow forgot my iPhone. Otherwise, I would’ve called ya.”

Then flashing a sparkling, broad smile, he affirmatively stated, “I’m Wali. Wali Antonio Ramirez, your one o’clock.”

Now grinning, he added, “Actually, your 1:15.” He’d taken stock of his watch.

Swallowing hard and rising, the flustered bro replied, “Uh…no worries, Mr. Ramirez. Things happen! Great to meet you.” Immediately, Ja’Shon’s annoyance evaporated! Rapidly, in actuality.

Working to recover his composure, he extended his thick, meaty hand. And when Ramirez grasped it with his own meat cleaver of a mitt, Ja’Shon was in for another helluva surprise!

The prospect’s handclasp was so self-assured, so sturdy, so confident…and so freakin’ warm, almost like a furnace! Sweet, sharp sparks of electricity zipped from one hand to another, flowing all throughout each man’s body.

And then, without warning, that ole wondrous “thang” called chemistry totally enveloped and consumed the pair! Somehow, someway, they immediately knew “what time it was,” that they were “on the SGL”—and in such a fuckin’ hawt, masculine way.

Their eyes were locked and loaded onto each other. And, it wasn’t clear when disengagement would occur—if at all! The prospect uttered, “Ahh…I appreciate that. By the by: call me Wali.”

Ja’Shon thought, “Lawd and Geesus Chryist! What a masculine, ruggedly handsome and built mufuker!” And the Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million cologne he was submerged in certainly added to Wali’s rather intoxicating appeal. Sho’ nuff.

Wali Antonio Ramirez (his nickname was War) was Blatino—his dad was Puerto Rican, and his mom was African-American. At 38, he was medium brown. And at 6’1” and 270 pounds, he was all “stevedore bear” muscle. He wore his dark hair military style (of course he would; he was a former Marine). His ‘stache and full beard were neatly trimmed.

Ja’Shon’s eyes drifted to and lingered on Wali’s full, luscious lips. Next, they darted to the thick black hair peeking out of the top of his partially open azure blue silk shirt.

And dang—the nips, the nips, the nips! They were like twin peaks workin’ to pierce their way outta that fabric! Instinctively, Ja’Shon knew that somebody had nurtured and cultivated “dem babies,” and that he surely wouldn’t mind picking up the mantle! (LOL.) The bruh suspected that Mr. Ramirez was hairy all ovah—from head to toe. Such a fuckin’ turn-on!

Wali was poured into a pair of formfitting designer jeans. He rounded off his ensemble with a pair of truly kick ass, black cowboy boots.

At this point, the only thing that crossed Ja’Shon’s mind was, “The azz! The azz! What does it look like? I’ve gotta see the azz…” Ya see, Mr. Benjamin was an anal top. However, he was orally versatile.

Concurrently, Ja’Shon’s dick was “thinking” the exact same thang! As proof of that, it was growing. Pulsating. Widening. Thickening. Expanding.

Meanwhile, Wali was just as taken with Ja’Shon! He was turned on by his looks, size, and demeanor. Quickly, the construction business owner spied the PR guru’s hefty, now quite visible tool.

Wali mused, “That dick! That dick! That fuckin’ dick! Does he really know how to use it! How does it feel?” Y’all, the openly-gay Mr. Ramirez was a total anal bottom—and who so ab-so-lute-ly loved to suck dick.

But make no mistake: he’d only give himself to a man he really cared for and about. For a number of reasons, this H-U-G-E ex-Marine had difficulty finding a suitable partner because the vast majority of the guys he dated wanted him to top them.

Finally, Mr. Benjamin said, “Wali, let’s sit down.” He followed up with, “Do call me Shon.”

Flashing sparkling eyes and an engaging, infectious smile, Wali answered, “My pleasure…Shon! Great name, by the way.”
“Ah, thanks…Wali.” As Little Richard would say, “Good Golly Miss Molly!” Shon’s gut told him that this guy was gregarious, sensitive, easy going and emotionally open–
unlike himself to a large degree. These qualities made Wali even more intriguing, even more appealing.

Shon didn’t like to admit it, but he was just not the most emotionally open and accessible guy. And he could never figure out why. He constantly kept his guard up; as a firewall to protect his heart.

Lickety-split, the waiter took their orders. Shon began, “Wali, tell me what your needs are.” (Both men thought, “What a helluva loaded question!”)

Wali was the sole owner of Ramirez Construction, located in the urbanized, southernmost part of Silver Spring, Maryland. It’s a major business hub that lies to the north of Washington, D.C. After a stint in the Marines and getting a Bachelors in Business Administration from the Catholic University in D.C., he formed Ramirez Construction. The owner was looking to hire a public relations expert to maximize his business, to take it to the next level.

After a little small talk and when their meals were served, they “got down to brass nails and tacks.” “Ramirez Construction is doing quite well—but it can be doing much better,” stated Wali.

He continued, “I’ve researched your track record. And according to my sources, you come highly recommended. I wanna become a real major player, and I believe you can make that happen.”

So, you’ve done your research, eh?” Shon smiled.

Oh, fuckin’ aye,” Wali shot back. Whoa! Shon liked his ‘tude.

Good man,” Shon responded. “Well Wali, here’s what I’m thinking: construct a PR campaign to level the playing field against the competition. This would include raising your local/national profile. Conduct market research. Write and distribute press releases. Pitch articles about you and your company. Plan special events and increase community involvement, which is critical. Networking/partnering with local businesses.”

Damn. I like the sound of all that.”

When I’m done, you’ll have zoomed past the competition.”

As the conversation ensued, both men had to work to totally focus on the business at hand. “The Chem Factor” was spiking, escalating…intensifying! Corners of their minds were drifting off into…well, other thangs. (You feelin’ me? ‘Sho you are. LOL.)

At the end of the meeting, the contract was signed. “Your campaign begins today, Mr. Ramirez,” Shon announced. “I’m very much looking forward to putting everything into motion.”

With a sly wink, Wali replied, “And, I can’t wait for THINGS to be put into motion, either.” Now, wasn’t that a saucy double-meaning! Shon thought, “This man ‘done did’ it! He’s overtly flirting with me…and I like it!”

Shon got up from the table. With his own style of sly wink, Shon, in his best bedroom voice responded, “No doubt.”

After both men shook hands (Uh, oh! There went that electric, sexual energy again!), Shon said, “I’ll be in touch. Very soon.”

Then, out of the blue, Wali had a brain flash! He said to himself, “This guy wants to see my azz! Lemme give him sumthin sumthin to salivate ovah.”

Thanks, Shon! Gotta take a leak. Have a great day.” And without haste, he turned—marching away.

That mesmerizing sight blew Shon the fuck away! Wali had one gloriously delectable azz! It was muscular. Bubblelicious! Juicy. Perfectly formed. An indisputable basketball azz! And for full effect, Wali was workin’ it to the nth degree. Proud of himself, he was grinning from ear to ear.

Shon whispered to himself, “OMG. That was more than worth the wait…”

With that, the PR guru picked up his leather briefcase and headed out…with nastee, lascivious thoughts running through, and playing out in his head!

And a dick as hard as a slab of concrete.

Over the following weeks, the two men had several meetings about the campaign. In no time flat, they become completely comfortable and at ease with one another. Over and over, Wali thought, “This man is so exuberant, good-natured and self-aware! What an incredible aphrodisiac…”

The exchange of furtive glances. Mutual knowing, and longer than necessary looks. The back and forth of (somewhat) sexually suggestive double entendres. All this fueled their attraction for each other, which burned brighter, stronger—and mo’ and mo’ fierce!

Even though they both were quite hesitant about “mixin’ bizness with pleasure,” Wali had had enough! He had to do something. No longer was there any getting around it.

He said to himself, “Somebody’s gotta make the first move, so it might as well be me. He can only say ‘no’; and if he does, it certainly won’t kill me.”

So early one Friday evening, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, sucked it up and made the decision to call Shon. His oversized hand trembled a tad as he punched in the digits:

Hello, Shon! How’s it going?”

Wali! It’s going well. Did we have a meeting scheduled?” (Now, the meticulous PR guru knew that wasn’t the case. He was trying to be coy.)

Ah, nothing scheduled. (Pause.) Hey…I’d just like to clear the air about sumthin.”

(Shon was somewhat taken aback! However, he sort of knew what was coming.)

Lissen, Man…I’m just gonna come clean. (Pause.) We both know ‘what time it is’: ya see, I’m very much attracted to you! And from the vibes I’m gittin’ from you, you are feelin’ the same. (Hesitation.) Am I correct?”

(You could hear the proverbial pin drop!) “Well, AM I???”

(The flabbergasted shortay gulped.) “Yes, Wali. You ARE right on the money! I’m quite into you.”

(Now, Wali let one helluva guttural laugh rip.) “Well, don’tcha think it’s time we do sumthin about it? To get to know one anotha bettah?”

And Shon—I’m ain’t talkin’ about just sex. I mean, if it happens, it HAPPENS. First though, let’s hang out, and see where things go. Comprende?”

Si papi…si!” (Yo! Those words—in that spicy Latino accent–turned Wali the fuck on.)

Tell ya what: I’ve got tickets to the ‘Skins afternoon game for tomorrow, Saturday! And after that, we can get a bite to eat. Sounds good? (Pause.) You like football, don’tcha?”

It’s cool. And if they paid me, I’ll be their most ardent, enthusiastic cray-cray fan.”

(Wali fell out in laughter). “Well, I’ll have more than enough enthusiasm for the both of us! I’m a rabid fan, particularly where the ‘Skins are concerned.”

Aight Wali—let’s do it. And since you made the offer, I’ll pick you up.”

In the Ferarri?”

Did you really have any doubt? (Shon chuckled.) What time should I pick you up?”

2 p.m works!”

(Then, a bit of awkwardness followed.)

Well…see you then, Wali.”

You got it, ‘Partner’.” (Shon thought, “Did he just say THAT??? And with such a seductive voice?)

Aight now! Game on.

 

It was a close game, with the ‘Skins losing by 3. “What a helluva bummer!” Wali exclaimed.

Afterwards, they headed to La Ferme, an upscale French restaurant with an elegant country-farmhouse décor. The eatery was located in Chevy Chase, a few miles from Shon’s place. Since it was such a gorgeous autumn day, they took seats on the porch.

Suddenly, both men became reticent and reserved. They were dying to jump into bed because they were so into each other physically: each was a muscled, beefy bear who wanted another muscled, beefy bear!

As well, they shared similar points of view and outlooks on life. And, they seemed to have an emotional and mental connection developing. Shon went for guys who were more emotionally expressive and accessible; Wali was into daddies who weren’t quite as free with their feelings—for a while, anyway. You see, he enjoyed the experience of “opening them up,” if you will.

At a point half way through their meals, Shon got super serious. With steely eyes and in a commanding tone, he declared, “Look, Bro: no more playin’ around! I want you, so…”

Let’s do it! NOW!” Wali cut him off, staring back at him with piercing eyes. (Pause.) I was gonna tell you the same thang! You just beat me to the punch.”

Like a machine gun, he followed up with, “Your place is fine. Besides, we’re not that far away.”

Next, Wali reached under the table and gave Shon’s hefty right thigh a firm, sensuous squeeze. That sent shivers up and down Shon. “I’m no longer hungry for food…but ‘hongry’ for you.”

Let’s git the fuck outta here,” Shon grinned.

As Shon’s cherished cherry red Ferrari California convertible roared to its destination, the two bruthas were tight-lipped. They were thinking—no fantasizing—about what was to CUM. However, they were very, very touchy-feely.

Shon, you have an amazing home here!”

Thanks for saying that, Wali.” Then, immediately pulling him into him, Shon moaned, “But you’re the truly amazing one.” And with that, he deftly grasped the Blatino’s thick neck, pulling his face into his.

Ohhhhhhhhhh, Gawd,” Wali purred as Shon’s full lips hungrily and utterly consumed his. And in a hot second, Shon’s tongue entered Wali’s overheated and willing mouth. After their tongues did the swirly-swirl, they did a variety of dances: the mambo, the boogie-woogie, the tango.

Daymn, Shon! Nobody’s kissed me like that in a long time…”

No…daymn yourself, boi!” Shon chuckled as he stroked, and then squeezed Wali’s bubblelicious basketball butt. “What a primo azz you got.” (By the by: Wali got off on Shon calling him “boi.”)

And I know you liked it when you were watching me work it when I walked away at our first meeting.”

Hell yeah! No doubt.”

And, I knew I’d like THIS.” Without warning, Wali clutched…and then pumped Shon’s big-headed tool, which had considerable girth, width and length. A deep, protracted groan flew outta the recipient’s mouth.

Wait here,” barked Shon. “I’ll be back for ya in five minutes.” Turning, he sprinted up the elongated staircase.

In less than that, Wali found himself in the center of his host’s spacious,

darkened boudoir, with its undeniable African influence. The soft, smooth jazz, the burning incense, and the multiple lighted candles strategically positioned in various parts of the enormous room created an intoxicating, sexually-charged atmosphere! And, the mirrored walls captured any and all of the raw and funky action that was to transpire.

As Wali’s eyes adjusted to the candlelight, he found Shon’s warm, slippery—and oh so talented—tongue back into his mouth once again! At the same time, each man was using his hands to explore each other…and they so liked what they were feeling!

Let’s get outta these clothes,” Shon ordered. And in seconds, they were both in their B-DAY suits.

They just stared at each other. Y’all, The Gym had been very, very good to both these guys! They’d put years of HARD work, smarts and sweat into their workouts, which produced beefy, rock hard and nicely proportioned physiques.

There was no need for words, as each man’s eyes (and stiff, straining dicks) showed exactly how much they both approved of –and desired–the other’s body. The bonus for Shon was that Wali’s series of tats heightened his arousal.

Now, they found themselves bumpin’ and grindin’ on the massive waterbed, and it fell soooooooooooo dang good! When Shon discovered that Wali was hairy from head to toe, a big ass, bright smile stretched from one corner of his mouth to the other.

This spurred the brutha to freakin’ devour Wali’s protruding nips, one of the Blatino’s foremost erogenous zones! And after Shon was done, those teats were like cones of flesh, the size of pencil erasers. In the meantime, Wali’s powerful hands were sampling each and every inch of his partner’s smooth, humongous physique.

Both men’s pulsating, meaty and stiff “chocolate sausages” (Don’tcha know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout? Of course ya do…LOL!) were leaking like fuckin’ sieves! Ready to explode at any moment, second, juncture.

Shon’s milk chocolate brown, 5’7”, 190 pound brickhouse of a body continued to slither down Wali’s medium brown, mammoth, 6’1”, 270 pound body. The shimmering candlelight enhanced the effect and impact of the highly eroticized atmosphere. And certainly, let’s not forget “dem” mirrored walls!

Our man Shon licked his plump, inflamed lips. After ogling Wali’s stiff and quivering tool—the size of a torpedo and spurting copious amounts of precum—he clutched, and then stroked that ample sausage with his huge, lukewarm right hand. That motion caused the recipient to tremble, and moan ever so deeply.

And then, without warning, Shon’s slick, spit-filled and searing mouth to-ta-lee consumed the chocolate meat! Down to the fuckin’ root…

Geesus Chryst, PA! Si, goddammit! Suck my motherfuckin’ bicho grande (big dick)!!! I haven’t been eaten in such a fuckin’ long time…” Shon loved it that Wali had called him the “P-word.” He happily went about his work.

As the ravenous “Ultimate Oralist” sucked, slobbered and swallowed, he reached under and gripped his partner’s round, voluptuous azz. Not wasting any time, he inserted one of his thick fingers DEEP inside the warm, quivering—and anticipatory—butthole. “Si, Pa! Si, Si!!!” Carefully, slowly…and deeply, that finger probed the steamy, tight and juicy orifice.

That action caused Wali to grip the Ultimate Oralist’s head and thrust and pump his engorged and still-growing cock in and out of that sucker’s greedy mouth. And freakin’ back again! As well, that swollen cock kept spurting ounce after ounce of slippery and delectable precum all into the ravenous mouth–and down the willing throat!

Gawd Pa—how I’ve needed this…” Smiling to himself, Shon continued to deep throat. Over and over again. (Besides, it was all quite tasty, too!)

All of a sudden, Wali pulled his dick outta Shon’s mouth. Rolling over on his stomach and spreading his majestically muscled thighs, he growled, “Eat my azz, SIR!”

Lickety-split, Shon dove off the bed. He positioned Wali doggy style, with the luscious melons hanging at the very edge.

Without hesitation, he parted the muscle cheeks, spit in the manhole’s center…and jammed his tongue right in! “Ohhhhhhhhhhh FUCKKKKKKKK, Pa! What are ya doin’ to me!”

Lifting his sloppy wet mouth out of the puckering, pinkish brown, anticipatory hole, Shon growled, “What the FUCK you’ve been wanting me to do! (Pause.) Now, enjoy the ride…” And, Wali did just that. For quite some time.

Dammit,” Wali shouted, “Gotta suck you!”

Well, turnabout IS fair play,” Shon howled.

Immediately, the Blatino swallowed him up, pushing his mouth all the way down to the root of the phat, wide, throbbing piece–which also was leaking gobs of thick, slippery precum. Shit! Shon felt as if his rocket had shot from the launching pad. And ready to explode!

After his oral feast, Wali peered up at Shon with shining, piercing eyes. “Shon, take my culo (azz)! Make love to me.”

Are you sure about that?” (Shon swore he spied a tear or two forming in his expressive eyes.)

Yes, Pa. Without a doubt.”

Then he whispered, “Just be easy. Man, it’s been a long time.”

Wali continued. “I feel a special connection between us already! So, I’m ready…more than ready.”

Baybee, I feel it, too.”

Shon then quipped, “Now, don’t worry: you’re in good hands…you know, like Allstate!”

That cracked Wali up. “Yo, you funny!”

At once, Shon got as serious as a heart attack.

His eyes capturing Wali’s, he proclaimed, “Baybee, I promise I’ll take great care of you. My mission is to make our lovemaking an experience you won’t soon forget! Trust and believe.”

Wali’s eyes were still locked onto Shon’s. “Somehow, my heart tells me that that’s the truth.”

Feeling overwhelmed by emotion—which he wasn’t used to—Shon wasted no time generously prepping Wali with the silkiest, most expensive lube on the market. Next, he stretched a purple, extra-large latex condom over his engorged, throbbing…and marble hard dick. Lightly slapping the melons, Top Man growled, “Roll ovah on your belly for me.”

Si, Pa! Fuck my culo…and make love to me.”

Bottom Boi shuddered as Top Man slowly and meticulously glided into him; and concurrently, Top Man’s entire body quaked! Seemingly in one voice, they cried out, “Gawd daymn!”

Game on!

Shon was true to his word: he delivered an electrifying, passionate, and sweaty lovemaking experience! So sweetly special. And, trust and believe: it was not a one-way street, for Wali gave as good as he got!

Their feelings, their connection for one another intensified as their copulation transpired two more times, into the late night and the early dawn.

However, the reality of the situation was that Wali was opening up his heart to Shon more than Shon was opening up his to Wali.

Alas, that would prove problematic for the unfortunate Blatino—causing him a world of pain. And embitter him.

It was now a little after 10 a.m. the next morning, and both men were basking in the afterglow of their sumptuous and stupendous lovemaking. As Shortay was cradling his guest in his bowling ball biceps, his guest’s head was resting on his cavernous chest.

Um, Wali?”

Yeah, Pa?”

Have…have you ever been in a relationship?

Yep, I have,” he smiled up at Shon. “Three, as a matter of fact. You?”

Two.”

Well, if you don’t mind me askin’, what happened between you guys?”

They were too possessive! I felt like there was a fuckin’ choke chain around my neck. Know what I mean?”

I feel ya.” Now peering so deeply into Shon’s eyes, Wali added, “When I’m partnered, I give my guy all the space he needs. I understand that we’re both busy, and that we’ve had lives before we got tagetha. Hey: I don’t believe in smothering a brotha!

That’s good to hear.”

I also believe in healthy compromise. It’s critical in sustaining and nurturing a relationship.”

Next, he added: “However, there’s one thang I NEVER, EVER compromise on.

Shon’s ears perked up. “Wha…what’s that?”

Monogamy! Once we are committed, that’s it! I don’t share.”

I understand. Gotcha ya.” For whatever reason, out of the blue, Shon became uncomfortable. He was feeling the unsettling waves of being overwhelmed. He worked to clear his throat.

Yo,” he exclaimed. “Let’s lighten up this conversation…and do this.” And with that, Shon pulled Wali on top of him…

…and the Hawt Fun began in earnest once again! (Freakin’ YOWZA.)


During the weeks that followed, there were more dates…and mo’ hawt “sexcapades!” Wali became more emotionally invested in Shon; while Shon…well, not so much.

Actually, as Wali was opening up his heart to Shortay more and more, Shon was pulling back, little by little.

Of course, Wali took notice. Although it confused and irritated him, he played it cool; he didn’t sweat Shon.

And then, tragedy struck a few days after Thanksgiving! Shon’s dad had a stroke, due to years of mounting stress and overwork. Although Shortay’s relationship with his father had been strained for years, he was shaken to his very core. Leveled, in fact.

Wali made a beeline to the hospital as soon as he found out. “Come with me, baybee,” he whispered, escorting the nearly broken man to a quiet corridor.

Look at me,” he continued. “It’s gonna all work out. And besides, you’ve got me. I’ve got your back, and I’m right here by your side.”

In tears, Shon looked up at Wali. “Thanks…I know my dad and I don’t see eye-to-eye often, but I can’t lose him! I just can’t…”

And you won’t! I promise,” Wali vowed, wiping Shon’s swollen eyes.

Seconds of silence went by. Then, with his eyes transfixed on Shon’s, Wali declared, “Shon, I love ya…and am in love with you.”

Shon was shocked! But then again, he really wasn’t.

This admission, this utter and complete baring of Wali’s heart, frightened Shon to no end! You see, it had always been nearly impossible for Shortay to receive true and pure love from an intimate partner—and to return it in kind. That’s why he tried never to get to close, never reveal too much.

But wasn’t this man, Wali, different? Couldn’t he take the chance?

Suddenly and without another word, Wali gathered Shon up into his boulder-shaped arms…and held onto him. For what seemed like an eternity…and a day.

 

Shon couldn’t handle it. Any of it. As a consequence, he pulled away from Wali. Abruptly. Sharply.

During his dad’s illness and convalescence, he claimed he was “simply too emotionally drained” to be involved romantically. So, the only real interaction they had was on the telephone, conducting business.

Po’ Wali! He was befuddled, perplexed, bewildered, exasperated, and hurt. Big time! His gut told him that the issue was so much more than Shon’s father being ill.

He kept asking himself, “Did I do something wrong? Was it my fault?” The second-guessing was driving him cray-cray. And, he couldn’t take it any longer.

So, one evening a few days shy of Christmas, he decided to pay Shon an unexpected visit at his house. Needless to say, Shortay was…well, blindsided.

After Shon gave mucho obfuscation and a litany of lame excuses, and did the “avoidance dance,” Wali blew his top.

Dang, bro. I just figured you out.”

Staring him dead in the eyes, he proclaimed, “You’re deathly afraid of emotional intimacy! You’re simply too petrified to let someone in. Why? Why?”

Turning away from Wali, Shon announced, “Wali, lissen…even though I enjoy you tremendously…in soooooo many ways…and Lawd knows I do…I want the option to see others.

Po’ Wali! He was floored, his mouth left hanging open.

I…I’m just NOT ready to settle down with just one person.”

But Shon! Look at all that we’ve shared! It was more than just sex…for me, anyway.”

Shortay was stone-faced; he was becoming disengaged, turning colder by the second.

So, you wanna be a man-whore? Is that it, Shon? Dammit, I told you I wasn’t into playin’ around. After what we shared, I really thought you wanted sumthin monogamous, too.”

Now, that “po-ti-cu-lar” adjective really rubbed Shon the wrong way, got under his skin! “Yo bro–I never agreed that we’d be monogamous,” he shot back.

Wali was incredulous! Working to fight back tears, he sniffled, “OMG. I just thought…oh, how wrong I was…AM!

Shaking his head, he moaned, “I’m such a freakin’ idiot! I’m burned again.”

Reaching out for his arm, Shon sighed, “Puleeze…don’t say that, man.”

Don’t fuckin’ touch me, you fake ass!” The Blatino swatted the hand aside. “And you know what else? You really don’t wanna be OUT! Why can’t you be open and honest about your sexual orientation—who you really are?

I mean, you don’t have to wear it on your sleeve! Just stop workin’ so damn hard to hide who you really are!”

Now, that commentary, that assessment, stung…no rankled Shon! “I ain’t ready to do that! And I don’t feel bad feeling that way!”

Shit man, you NEVAH will be ready! Never.”

There’s no getting through to you,” the dejected Wali mumbled. “I’m done.”

Wali’s resignation produced one of the strongest visceral reactions Shon could ever remember having! As the Blatino began to bolt to the door, Shon shouted, “Wait, baybee!”

Facing Shortay, Wali growled, “For freakin’ WHAT???”

Can’t we just…well, you know?”

F.W.B.? Friends with benefits?”

Yeah,” gulped Shortay.

You MUST be cray-cray! No dice.”

Then glaring at and eyeing the beleaguered man up and down, he declared, “And, I will not work with you anymore.”

Shon’s composure was completely shattered! “Don’t…don’t do that, Wali. C’mon now..,”

But Wali wasn’t hearing any it. He charged outta the door, nearly slamming it off its hinges.

And po’ Shon! He slumped down to the floor, head in his hands…

and crying some big ole crocodile tears…

 

Christmas was an ab-so-lute-ly horrible time for both men! Wali was off licking his wounds, and trying to make the best of a fucked-up situation.

Surprisingly, Shon was taking the breakup the worst. He just couldn’t get Wali outta his head! His gut told him that the Blatino was on the money about pretty much everything.

And Lawd knows he missed Wali! This included all the emotional, mental—and definitely physical—“goodies” that came with the “package.” Fo’ real.

So, near the end of January, Shon sought counsel from Carlton, one of his best buddies.

A shrink.

Shon, you need to look within yourself. Really examine why you put up the barriers that you do.”

I…I don’t know if I can,” Shon dropped his head. He began to sob.

Shon…from what you’ve been telling me, Wali is everything you’ve ever wanted! Why push him away? And, why do you keep pushing folk away?”

I don’t know…”

Well, you need to find out soon. I’m going to refer you to a solid pro so he can help you do just that. Because we’re friends, I won’t see you in a professional capacity.”

Cool. I need to do this.”

Yes, you do. And there’s no time to waste.”

So, Shortay immediately made an appointment—which led to others. Shon began to explore and deal with feelings and certain truths. And one of those major truths was that he needed, wanted…and loved and was in love with Wali.

Therefore, Shon proclaimed: “I’m gittn’ my man back!”

 

Wali…I’m soooooooo sorry! I was wrong…”

Look, man! Don’t call me again! EVER.”

Puleeze, Wali…lemme explain.”

Just fuckin’ STOP IT! You’re wasting my valuable time, and I ain’t havin’ it.”

Wali, will ya hear me out? Will ya gimme a chance to explain my behavior?”

I’ve fuckin’ moved on, Shon! It’s a wrap.”

What do ya mean, ‘moved on’?”

It’s just what I said.”

Wait, Wali! Dammit…”

And then, the phone went, “click.”

Geesus Chryst! Shortay’s panic morphed into a RAGE! Actually, a FRENZY! As a result, the to-ta-lee undone bro decided to do what Wali had done weeks earlier—confront.

So, he jumped into his treasured and much-adored cherry red Ferrari California convertible and screeched outta the driveway. In mere moments, he’d made it onto the interstate.

It was a windy and bone-cold winter evening. The falling sleet caused poor visibility. The slick pavement, covered with patches of snow and ice, was treacherous.

Shon didn’t have his full attention on the road, for all he could think about was Wali—and what could have been.

And now, what might NOT ever be!

Lost in regret, pain, and emotion, his Ferrari got wayyyyy too close to the grey Cadillac Escalade right in front of it.

Ohhhhhhhh, shit!” Shon shouted. You see, he’d just plowed into the back of that vehicle! And as his head lurched back, he would be able to see the imminent impact of the extra-large, red and white U-Haul van directly behind his beloved Ferrari…

Lights out, Y’all.

 

Wali. This is Carlton.”

“’Sup, Carlton. Lissen—if you’re on this phone to plead Shon’s case, well…”

Wali, I don’t mean to interrupt you. I’m calling because Shon’s been hurt.”

HURT??? What…what are ya talkin’ about?”

He’s been in a horrible car accident.”

HOW? What happened?”

Lissen—just get down to Georgetown (hospital). I’m here already, in emergency.”

Carlton, tell me? How was he hurt? How bad is it?”

It’s mighty bad! He was rushing to see you! He plowed into a vehicle, and then a truck hit him in the back. He probably didn’t have his mind on the road…”

Oh, God! Oh, Gawd…I’m on my way!”

Inhaling deeply and shutting off his iPhone, he bounded out of the house.

With tears in his eyes, and like a bat out of hell…

To Be Continued…?

The IPV/A Chronicles, Part Three:

Understanding and Annihilating the Beast

I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on a certain demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community.  This is Part One of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse. 

    This particular dysfunctional and destructive cycle of behavior is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A), which is domestic violence and abuse (DVA) within the LGBTQ community.   

     According to The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), it is “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.”  Each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay/SGL men are battered.  Again, IPV/A is no joke.

     According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only:  to gain and maintain total control over you.  Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her ‘thumb.’  Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.  The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”

     Stigma is largely responsible for keeping this destructive behavior “swept under the rug,” which leads to it being dramatically under-reported. Therefore, figuratively, this keeps us (locked) in the closet.  Stigma is the albatross around your neck, choking the hell outta ya.

It’s All About CONTROL—and I Ain’t Talkin’ Janet (If You’re Nastee!)

      There are multiple signs of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  The most telling is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her.  Other prominent signs:  explaining/excusing frequent injuries as “accidents;” agreeing to everything your partner says/does; being forced into sexual activity.

     Segal and Smith write that abusers employ a variety of methods and schemes to manipulate you and wield their power.  These include:

  • Dominance.  Abusers need to feel in charge of the relationship.
  • Humiliation.  Abusers will do everything to make you feel worthless; therefore, you’re less likely to leave. 
  • Isolation.  In efforts to increase your dependence, abusers will cut you off from the outside world.   
  • Intimidation.  Your abuser may use a number of tactics designed to frighten you into submission. 
  • Threats.  Abusers commonly use threats to keep you from leaving or to scare you into dropping criminal charges.    

     What’s complete cycle of IPV/A?  According to the psychologists, it usually works like this:

  • Abuse.  It’s a power play intended to “keep you in line, and show you who’s boss.”
  • Guilt.  After abusing you, your partner feels guilt—but not over what he/she’s done!  The abuser is more concerned about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences.
  • Excuses.  Your abuser rationalizes what he/she has done, devising a string of excuses or blaming you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
  • “Normal” Behavior.  The abuser does everything to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship.  Your abuser may act as if nothing has occurred.  His/her apologies and loving overtures in between abusive episodes can make it difficult for you to leave.  Your abuser may make you believe that you are the only person who can help, that things will be different, and that he/she truly loves you.  However, the dangers of staying are very real.
  • Fantasy and Planning.  Your abuser starts to fantasize about abusing you again, spending a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done “wrong” and how he/she’ll make you pay.  Next, the abuser devises a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.  

          A common question I receive in my seminars and workshops is, “Can abusers really control their behavior?”  Well, my answer is:  Oh, yes they can!”  

  • Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse.    
  • Abusers carefully choose when and where to strike.   
  • Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t be seen. 

And:

  • Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them.  When it’s to their advantage, they immediately end their abusive behavior (for example, when the police arrive).

A Cold, Harsh and Bitter Reality   

     The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has found that people of color (POC) comprise 77% of the reports of LGBTQ and HIV-affected IPV homicides.  As well:

  • Transgender women were three times more likely to report experiencing sexual and financial violence.
  • LGBTQ survivors with disabilities were two times more likely to be isolated by their abusive partner and four times more likely to experience financial violence.
  • There was an increase in the percentage of undocumented survivors from 4% in 2014 to 9% in 2015.
  • Forty-four percent of survivors attempting to access emergency shelter were denied and 71% reported being denied because of their gender identity.
  • Out of the total number of survivors who interacted with law enforcement, 25% said that the police were either indifferent or hostile, and 31% of LGBTQ survivors who interacted with police said they experienced misarrest.    

     It is critical to consider the multiple identities and experiences of LGBTQ victims and survivors because they substantially impact their incidences of IPV/A.  According to the NCAVP’s findings, the bias and discrimination that these communities experience everywhere–from workplaces to shelters–both makes them more vulnerable to IPV/A and creates unique barriers to accessing services.   LGBTQ and HIV-affected people often experience workplace discrimination, making them less financially secure. Abusive partners often take advantage of financial insecurity to control their partners, as seen in the high number of survivors experiencing financial violence.

     The findings also include survivor stories that illustrate some of the complicated, nuanced and intersectional ways LGBTQ individuals experience IPV/A.  “We must start listening to the experiences of LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ undocumented people, LGBTQ people with disabilities, and transgender and gender nonconforming individuals to learn more about what these communities need to feel safe,” stated Tre’Andre Valentine from The Network/La Red.  (A few years back, I featured this Boston organization in Huffington Post Queer Voices. 

     Valentine continues.  “We must protect, uplift, and center those within LGBTQ communities who have been traditionally isolated and shamed for their identities and experiences.  It’s only with their voices at the center that we can truly begin the work of ending intimate partner violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people across the country.”

     Now, major highlights from those NCAVP findings: 

  • LGBTQ People Experience IPV/A in Different Ways.  Transgender women were three times more likely to report experiencing sexual violence and financial violence compared to survivors who were not transgender women.  Additionally, LGBTQ survivors with disabilities were two times more likely to be isolated by their abusive partner and four times more likely to experience financial violence when compared to LGBTQ survivors without disabilities.  “It’s vital that we understand the unique vulnerabilities to IPV and the unique barriers to accessing services for LGBTQ communities, particular LGBTQ people of color, LGBTQ people who are undocumented, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and LGBTQ people with disabilities,” stated Julia Berberan from SafeSpace at Pride Center Vermont. “We need to make sure we’re reaching all survivors and supporting their specific needs in a survivor-centered way.” 
  • LGBTQ survivors often experience discrimination when trying to access IPV/A services.  Twenty-seven percent of LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors attempted to access emergency shelters.  Of those survivors who attempted to access emergency shelter, 44% were denied, with 71% reporting being denied for reasons relating to gender identity, highlighting the negative consequences of sex-segregated emergency shelter options for LGBTQ survivors. “Shelter access issues most often impact transgender survivors—particularly transgender women—and cisgender men, who are often denied shelter at historically sex-segregated shelters that only serve cisgender women,” stated Lynne Sprague from Survivors Organizing for Liberation in Colorado.  “Survivor-centered and identity-affirming housing options must be made available to all survivors.” 
  • LGBTQ survivors experience violence and criminalization from the police.  LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors reported experiencing misarrest, verbal harassment, and other hostile behaviors when interacting with law enforcement.  Out of the total number of survivors who interacted with law enforcement, 25% said that the police were either indifferent or hostile.  In 2015, 31% of LGBTQ survivors who interacted with police said they experienced misarrest, meaning the survivor was arrested rather than the abusive partner, up from 17% in 2014. “Negative and violent experiences with law enforcement where survivors are revictimized are exacerbated with LGBTQ survivors of color, LGBTQ survivors with disabilities, undocumented survivors and other communities that hold multiple marginalized identities which are frequently subjected to violence by police,” said Aaron Eckhardt from BRAVO in Ohio.  “Police must be trained to recognize signs of IPV in LGBTQ relationships.  Moreover, we must also seek and create alternatives to the criminal legal system, especially for the safety of those whose identities are already criminalized in our society.”
  •  IPV/A can be deadly for LGBTQ people.  According to Beverly Tilery of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, “The lack of awareness and visibility in the media of LGBTQ victims of IPV contributes to this issue being ignored as a national problem.  Transgender victims are frequently misgendered and misnamed in media reports, and the intimate partner relationships of same gender couples are often reduced to friendships in media accounts of these homicides.  This needs to change.”

SEPARATION VIOLENCE AND ASSAULT (SVA) 

     Unfortunately, leaving doesn’t usually put an end to the violence and abuse.  Time and time again, this can be the most dangerous point in a relationship.  This period is what’s called Separation Violence and Assault.  Its acronym is SVA.  

     According to www.aardvarc.orga respected domestic violence information website, “Instead, (leaving) actually increases dynamics of violence and can initiate new levels of violence and new forms of retaliation from the abuser to the victim.  In fact, many abusers believe that the victim ‘belongs’ to them and that as such, they are fully justified in doing whatever it takes to make sure that ‘their property’ remains theirs.”  In an attempt to force the victim to reconcile with him/her, an abuser may escalate the violence. 

     But there is light at the end of the tunnel.    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections for LGBTQ survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  “In 2013, the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act created the first federal legislation to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  VAWA-funded services like emergency shelter, crisis counseling, and attorneys are essential to helping survivors of IPV regain security,” said Justin Shaw from the Kansas City, Missouri’s Anti-Violence Project.

Makin’ Your “Great Escape!”

     So, just how can you make your “Great Escape,” the term I’ve coined for my national seminars and workshops? 

    The Women’s Justice Center (www.justicewomen.com), which is headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, outlines various steps: 

  • Your struggle to escape is heroic.  Continually remind yourself that yours is one of the most worthy and difficult struggles of all.   
  • Reawaken your dreams.   Oftentimes, IPV/A or DVA can snuff out all of your hopes and dreams.  However, to free yourself, you’ll need those hopes and dreams to help carry you through the obstacles and tough times of escaping. 
  • Dealing with fears, risks.  The majority of IPV/A victims feel fear, which can immobilize them from acting on their own behalf.  However, you can help alleviate your fears by having the courage to tell anyone who will listen.    
  • Don’t be ashamed if you still love him/her.   At the same time, however, be mindful and determined that the violence and abuse must be stopped—because the abuser’s not going to stop on his/her own. 
  • Often, the best strategy for breaking free of IPV/A is the exact opposite of the strategy for surviving it.  In order to survive IPV/A, the victim usually does everything possible to avoid offending or upsetting the abuser, and exposing him/her.  However, freeing yourself from IPV/A requires the exact opposite strategy. 
  • You deserve help.  You need it.   You can find it.  It’s important to remember that it’s the abuser who caused you to feel this way and that it’s his/her behavior that’s criminal and unacceptable—not yours. 
  • Know your legal rights.  You have a right to equal protection of the law, and to live free of any kind of abuse.  Do your research!   
  • There are officials and institutions that can help you safely escape IPV/A.  These include the 911 operator, police, county jail, district attorney and victim assistance.  Become knowledgeable about, and avail yourself of these critical resources.           

     So, you CAN make your “Great Escape” from IPV/A.  However, it involves careful planning—if at all possible.  Utilize any and all resources at your disposal. 

     And so importantly:  you must not and cannot keep silent!  You have to tell.  Someone.  Anyone who will listen.  Keep in mind that silence is the most potent, effective and deadliest weapon in the abuser’s arsenal.

     And always remember:  anyone—and I do mean ANYONE—regardless of size, strength, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and/or income, can become a victim of IPV/A.        

      How do I know this? 

     Because I’m a Survivor.

                                          Until We Return…      

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a demoralizing, horrific–and potentially life-threatening–cycle of behavior. 

    We Must RISE UP…And Tell! Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.” 

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.  

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).  

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/ 

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

October is Domestic Violence Month

The IPV/A Chronicles, Part Two:

                   The Power of the Purple!  

I’ve made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on a certain demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community.  This is Part Two of the ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse. 

      It’s purple month!    

     Now, you may ask: “What’s that?”  

     Allow me to explain.  You see, we wear purple—actually, a purple ribbon—as a symbol used to honor victims and survivors of domestic violence/abuse (DVA), which can include sexual violence. In the LGBTQ community, DVA is referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A).  October has been designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

     Statistics show that IPV/A occurs with similar frequency as in heterosexual relationships.    Additionally, new research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously thought.  And each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered, and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way. 

     Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence and abuse are growing problems.  What makes matters worse:  incidences of IPV/A often are underreported–particularly amongst same-sex couples

     Let’s drill down even further.  In the U.S., about 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experience some form of intimate partner sexual violence, intimate partner physical violence, and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetime. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. For one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

     For more stats that illustrate the full picture of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, visit:  http://wyattevans.com/the-ipva-chronicles-part-one/

     In celebration of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I want to share with you how this observance came to be–and how it has grown. 

    National Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity, which was established by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in October 1981.  The intent was to connect battered women advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. 

     Soon, when a range of activities was conducted at the local, state and national levels, the Day of Unity became a special week.  These activities were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors–but had common themes:  mourning those who had died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who had survived, and connecting those who worked to end violence and abuse.

     Then in October 1987, the inaugural Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed.  In that same year, the first national toll-free hotline was initiated.  And in 1989, the U. S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112, designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

     In October 1994, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in conjunction with Ms. Magazine, created the “Remember My Name” project, a national registry to increase public awareness of deaths due to domestic violence and abuse.  And on October 11, 2003, the U.S. Postal Service issued their “Stop Family Violence” stamp. A young girl, who expressed her sadness about domestic violence, created the design of this first-class stamp.  Profits from the sale of the stamp were transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist domestic violence programs.

 

     Until We Return…      

     As stated earlier, I’ve made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a demoralizing, horrific–and potentially life-threatening cycle of behavior. 

    We Must RISE UP…And Tell! Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.”

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE. 

 

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901). 

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

Alarming:  Young MSM Discontinuing PrEP

     Breaking—and alarming–news:  a third of young MSM (men who have sex with men) who take PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) discontinue it within six months.  This is according to U.S. investigators in AIDS and Behavior, a peer-reviewed medical journal established in 1997 that covers aspects of HIV/AIDS research.  Common reasons for this discontinuation included being unable to get a doctor’s appointment and insurance coverage problems.

     The investigators write, “’The two most common factors for discontinuation of use…are systemic barriers, indicating that more needs to be done to increase PrEP for those who are at high HIV risk.  One potential solution may be to enable service providers, such as local health departments, to incorporate proactive services for high-risk HIV-negative individuals’.”

     What’s really disturbing?  That none of the men who discontinued PrEP reported 100% condom use, and over 40% said they never used condoms after stopping.  

     PrEP is a highly-effective method of HIV prevention.   And if taken consistently, it can reduce HIV infection risk by over 90%. 

     Since little is known about why men discontinue PrEP, investigators crafted a study analyzing rates and reasons for PrEP discontinuation and sexual behavior after stopping the drug.  The study involved young sexually active MSM PrEP users in Chicago.

     Study participants were between 16-29 years of age.  The men were asked at follow-up appointments if they’d taken or discontinued PrEP in the previous six months.  Those who reported stopping PrEP were asked why.  A subset was asked about condom use after discontinuing PrEP.

     The study occurred between 2015 and 2017.  During that timeframe, 197 participants reported using PrEP in the previous six months.  A third (65) stated that they had stopped using the drug by the time of their follow-up interviews.  Black and Hispanic men were significantly more likely to report discontinuation than white men. 

     “’These findings are particularly concerning given that Black and Hispanic MSM are also those at greatest risk of HIV’,” the researchers stated.  “’These emerging racial disparities in discontinuation may be due to structural differences between populations, for example, differences in access to healthcare facilities or access to or cost of insurance’.”

     A total of 29 persons were asked about discussions they had had with their medical practitioners concerning PrEP usage.  Most (79%) hadn’t spoken to their physician before ending treatment.

     Thirty-five men were asked about their sexual behavior after discontinuing treatment.  More than half (58%) said that they continued to engage in anal sex, with 41% reporting that they never used condoms, 35% stating that they used condoms less than 50% of the time and 24% reporting that they used condoms most of the time.  None said they always used condoms. 

     What were the common reasons for discontinuing PrEP?  These included:

  • being unable to get a doctor’s appointment (22%);
  • insurance problems (20%);
  • individuals no longer perceiving themselves as being at risk for HIV (19%);
  • side effect concerns (9%);
  • adherence (8%); and
  • stigma (6 %).

     The authors conclude, “’We observed several important factors which must be considered and addressed if PrEP usage is to continue to rise.” They then added, “’Further research must be conducted to look beyond medication adherence and develop a better understanding about which other prevention strategies are used following purposeful PrEP discontinuation’.”

IPv/a

The IPV/A Chronicles, Part One

I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on a certain demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community.  This is Part One of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of abuse. 

     So…just what is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)?

     Well, it ain’t some exotic sounding acronym.  It’s one helluva serious, potentially life-threatening public health concern that impacts millions of Americans. 

     Specifically, IPV/A describes the physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological harm perpetrated by a current or former partner or spouse who is LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning). 

     Because it’s continually “swept under the rug,” IPV/A tends to be dramatically underreported.  Fortunately, however, this abhorrent, abusive cycle of behavior is preventable.

     This type of insidious violence also can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence and abuse are growing problems; and as I just stated, incidences of IPV/A often are underreported–particularly amongst same-sex couples

Disturbing Data

     Telling and chilling evidence underscores the heavy toll of this behavior, and its negative health conditions and impacts:

     In the U.S., about 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experience some form of intimate partner sexual violence, intimate partner physical violence, and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetime. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. For one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

     Equally as alarming, nearly 23 million women and 1.7 million men have been the victims of completed or attempted rape at some point in their lives. 

     In this country, more than 27% of women and 11% of men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime and have experienced an intimate partner violence-related impact.  The CDC reports that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. And get this:  on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) accounts for 15% of all violent crime.  According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of the female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. Of these, 45.4% of female rape victims and 29% of male rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.

    And the following gives one pause:  a study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders. This study revealed that 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder-suicides are female. Moreover, further studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence, and depression and suicidal behavior.

A Critical—No, Urgent–Societal Issue

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) is a real social health concern.  However, often it is the topic that we avoid or simply overlook because it does not affect us directly.  Additionally, for Gay or same-gender-loving (SGL) individuals, there has been very little academic studies or statistical information collected. There is also very little information collected about Black SGL men in any of the scholarly works. A recent study highlights this by stating that the medical community has responded to the public health problem of IPV/A with a range of efforts, from screening reminders in the electronic medical records of female patients to hospital-based IPV/Aprograms. While such efforts are necessary and important, they are notable for whom they exclude. Indeed, male victims of IPV/A, including SGL male victims, have received little attention in the healthcar+e field.

     The IPV/A screening instruments across the country generally do not have specific questions that address men or same-gender-loving males. Unfortunately, this has resulted in void, under-reporting, and silence–particularly with SGL men.  This also leads us to not really understanding the importance or the impact that IPV/A is playing in the Gay and bisexual male communities throughout the United States. 

 

     “Broken Bones, Broken Dreams” 

     The following is a sit-down I had with an abuse survivor some time ago.  His experience merits retelling because it’s a classic case of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.     

    A thirty-something Caucasian, he agreed to share this story only on the condition that I refer to him by his middle name, Kyle.  He said that “Derrick,” his ex-partner, a thirty-year-old African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.   

    Here’s Kyle’s story. 

 

     Evans:  Kyle, thanks for agreeing to tell your important story.  When and how did you meet Derrick?

     Kyle: (His eyes light up.) It was at a Sprint store in Laurel (Maryland).  Our eyes locked, and the chemistry was instantaneous! 

     Kyle:  He initiated a conversation, and we walked outta the store together.  He took my number and said he’d call.  (Pause.)  I couldn’t wait!  I was so damned attracted. 

     Evans:  Kyle, exactly what was the attraction?

     Kyle:  Wyatt, I was very needy.  Derrick was easy-going and self-assured and seemed nurturing.  And so handsome!  He was that “daddy” I was looking for. 

     Evans:  When did he call?

     Kyle:  Late that night, and we talked for hours!  Derrick wanted to see me the next evening, at my apartment.   Since he was insistent, I agreed.  I was flattered.

    Evans:  And that evening?

     Kyle:  Immediately, we ended up in bed.  And the sex was mind-blowing!  We became a couple right after that.

     Evans:  So, Kyle, how long did the “honeymoon” last?

     Kyle: (He laughs nervously.)  Not very long.  Derrick became possessive—constantly calling to check up on me.  Wanting me with him practically 24/7.  Isolating me.   He was such an overwhelming presence.

     Kyle:  But being needy, I liked it–at first.  Thought it was love.  I kept saying to myself, “I’m so lucky to have him!”  

     Kyle:  And the sex was a drug.

     Evans:  Things became even more extreme, correct? 

     Kyle:  Absolutely!  The mind control began.  Derrick told me how to think, act, and dress.  And my biggest mistake was agreeing to let him move in with me. 

    Kyle: (suddenly becoming solemn.)  The verbal—racial crap, etc.—started soon after. 

    Evans:  And the physical?

    (Kyle takes a deep breath.)

   Kyle:  A few weeks after moving in, he accuses me of cheating.  Totally ridiculous!  Derrick was all up in my face, shouting.  I was totally petrified!

   (Pause.)

   Kyle:  Then, he decks me.  Hard!  I fall to the floor. 

   (Kyle begins to sob.  I ask him to take his time.)

   Kyle:  I was completely out of it.  Then, Derrick grabs me by the collar, screaming, “You nasty little white whore!  Wake tha fuck up!  We ain’t done yet!” 

   Kyle:  Next, he drags me to the bathroom.  To the toilet!  And then he…”

   Evans:  And then he what, Kyle?  (He’s sobbing heavily now, rocking back and forth.  He’s in “flashback mode.”) 

IPV/A

   Kyle:  He…he shoves my head into the toilet!  Over and over again! (Pause.)  Water’s all up my nose.  I’m gasping for air.  I felt like I’d pass out. 

   (Long pause.)

   Kyle:  Actually, I just wanted to go to sleep…and not wake up.

   Kyle stated that the verbal and physical abuse worsened and escalated.   Fortunately, another gay couple helped him make his “Great Escape.”  

   I asked Kyle why he stayed as long as he did.  “Out of fear, shame, such little self-worth.  Not to mention the stigma.”  Kyle’s moved out of the area and is in counseling.

   And Derrick?  He’s doing jail time.  

 

Until We Return…    

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on IPV/A, a demoralizing, horrific–and potentially life-threatening–cycle of behavior. 

    We Must RISE UP…And Tell! Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.” 

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.  

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901). 

 

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that includes resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/ 

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

Announcing! A Very Special Continuing Series on IPV/A

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on that demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) 

     On July 1, I roll out Part One of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of violence.  Entitled “The IPV/A Chronicles,” this series will be informative.  Thought-provoking.  Challenging. Riveting. 

     “The IPV/A Chronicles” will be featured on my Blog Section.  Don’t miss it…’cause IPV/A ain’t no joke.

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A). 

Announcing! A Very Special Continuing Series on IPV/A

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on that demoralizing, insidious and horrific cycle of behavior that continues to be a growing concern within the LGBTQ Community: Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) 

     On July 1, I roll out Part One of an ongoing series that will address this potentially life-threatening cycle of violence.  Entitled “The IPV/A Chronicles,” this series will be informative.  Thought-provoking.  Challenging. Riveting. 

     “The IPV/A Chronicles” will be featured on my Blog Section.  Don’t miss it…’cause IPV/A ain’t no joke.

Back in The Day…

     It’s my twentieth anniversary!

     Now, I’m not talking about marriage or anything like that.   You see, in 1998 (Yo!  How time flies…) I had the starring role in The New Detectives, the popular documentary true crime TV series that featured forensic science cases.  My appearance on the show is one of the highpoints in my communications/entertainment career.

     The New Detectives, which lasted nine seasons, was an international hit.  Anthony Zuiker, the creator of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, got the idea for his show from The New Detectives.

     My episode, “Traces of Guilt,” was the second and most popular of season 4.  I played David Middleton, a former policeman who became a serial killer.

     After being arrested for kidnapping and sexual assault, Middleton was convicted of false imprisonment and battery.  He was given two concurrent five-year sentences.

     Released from prison after serving two years, he made his way to Reno, Nevada.  And somehow, he became a cable installer! Middleton used that access in order to rape and subsequently murder a string of female victims. 

     In August 1997, Middleton was convicted of a smorgasbord of offenses.  Fast forward to 2010, when he lost and exhausted all his appeals to the state of Nevada.  Currently, he’s languishing on death row in the Ely, Nevada state prison.  

     I had a blast doing The New Detectives!  The director, producer, and crew treated me like gold. 

     And talk about a “blast from the past:”  I had hair in 1998!  (All courtesy of the Hair Club For Men…LOL!!!) 

    As you’re watching “Traces of Guilt,” be patient:  I make my grand entrance at 8:58.  However, to fully understand the story, watch the eppy from beginning to end. 

     Here’s the video:

     So, go on wit yo’ bad self!  Grab your popcorn and drinks, settle in, kick back…and freakin’ ENJOY!  (And, don’t you dare miss my very last scene….!)

Hot Tea and Ice 18

Loving U Is Beautiful

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins  

     Greetings, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!  I send you all springtime wishes of non-allergy inducing days and seasonably warm nights.  This is the time of the year we spring forward and make plans to shed our winter woes and embrace a new season of potential.

     One thing I encourage everyone to put away with the long-sleeves, coats, and gloves is doubting yourself and all that you have to offer to the world. Full disclosure:  if comparing your worth and achievements to others and finding yourself lacking were an Olympic sport, I would’ve helped the United States snatch more medals in South Korea!  Sometimes, I’m guilty of looking around and thinking harshly about what I haven’t done and why my to-do list is increasing with each passing year.

     Then I stop and realize: in so many ways, not appreciating the gifts I have and put into play is very disrespectful and counter-productive. I need to love myself–faults and all.

     We are all unique and extraordinary in our own way. To grow and thrive is to realize and walk with that knowledge! Celebrate yourself in ways that feel natural and authentic. Be your own cheerleader.

     When others second-guess your choices, it’s natural for some of us to automatically assume they are right. Many of us have people in our lives who can help us see blind spots, and that advice is often spot-on and needed. They can and should call us on our half-stepping and not living up to the potential that lives within us.

     Then, there are some in our lives who find great glee in knocking our proverbial hustles. They see how we do things and attempt to diminish our efforts to be our best selves.  

     And we let them.

     Some of us put aside the appreciation of our wonderful selves in order to appease others. We sacrifice our shine by shrinking into someone else’s shadow.

     Don’t.  Be brave enough to love yourself when others try to make you feel otherwise, and you know that you are on the right. If that means keeping a journal and writing down everything good you have accomplished and not dwelling on the negative, then go for it!  

     If finding that sweet spot of self-adoration requires reconfiguring your circle, give them the walking room they need to exit stage left.  And if it takes seeking the time of a trained professional to help guide your path to realizing how perfect, whole and complete you are, then take that step.

     In this new season, shake off the dust of doubt and move forward to loving the splendid being that occupies the place where you sit reading these encouraging words. When you love yourself and accept your shortcomings as well as successes, you will find a phenomenal new way of thinking.

     Admittedly, embracing loving your faults and all may not be as easy as just making that decision. Too many of us have been hard-wired to doubt ourselves.

     However, I know we all can be better at cherishing ourselves–which will help others to do the same. We all have something special going for us.

     Recently, we celebrated a holiday dedicated to love. So many of us focused on getting the right thing to show how much we value and appreciate others. I challenge us to celebrate every day by loving ourselves–and the highs, lows and  in-betweens.

     Until next time, “Adios, au revoir…and I holler!”


LaToya Hankins is the author of SBF Seeking, and K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood.  Currently, LaToya is an employee of the State of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services department.  Prior to that, she worked for nearly a decade in the field of journalism.  An East Carolina University graduate, LaToya  earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a minor in political science. 

During her college career, LaToya became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and currently is the president of the Chapel Hill, N.C. graduate chapter. As well, she is an active member of the, The Black Lesbian Literary Collective,a non-profit organization organized in N.C.  The Collective’s mission is to create a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers. 

You may reach LaToya at her on line home, latoyahankins.com ; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com;
Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins;
and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

The HIV/Syphilis Connection

     Conclusive data now bear out that among men who have sex with men (MSM), those infected with HIV have a much higher syphilis diagnosis rate than those who are HIV-negative.  This disparity varies widely between states, which could be as a result in part by more frequent testing among MSM living with the virus.  Or, the disparity could be minimized by more sexual contacts between the two groups.

     Recently, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers unveiled their findings of the analysis of MSM syphilis diagnosis rates at the 2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston.

     According to Poz.com, “Before conducting this analysis, which provided the first estimate of the ratio of syphilis diagnoses among MSM with HIV versus those without, the CDC researchers already knew that the majority of syphilis diagnoses between 2012 and 2016 were among MSM.  During that period, between 48 percent and 57 percent of annual diagnoses among MSM were seen in those who had HIV.”

 

The “Skinny” on Syphilis

     Syphilis is a bacterial infection (Treponema pallidum) that is most often spread through sexual contact.  Usually, this infection causes the disease over several years.  In its early stages, syphilis causes disease of the genitals, mucous membranes, and skin.

     And if not treated, the infection can lead to serious problems including heart ailments, neurological issues (neurosyphilis), blindness, dementia—and even death. 

     Since 1996, syphilis rates have been increasing in the U.S.—notably among MSM. 

     Red alert:  if you’re infected with HIV, syphilis can hit you harder.  And faster. 

 

Delving into The Findings

     The researchers reviewed national case report data on syphilis diagnoses from 2014. For their purposes, that included information on the sex of the individual diagnosed, the sex of that individual’s sex partner, and the men’s HIV status.  They limited their analysis to the 34 states that provided data that classified at least 70 percent of the syphilis cases as women, MSM or men who have sex with women only.

     Among all MSM, the diagnosis rate per 100,000 persons across all 34 states was 237.7, ranging between 35.1 in Montana and 618.3 in Mississippi.

     Overall, those HIV-diagnosed MSM had a syphilis diagnosis rate nearly eight times that of their HIV-negative counterparts.  The statewide diagnosis rate per 100,000 persons among HIV-poz MSM ranged between zero in South Dakota and 2,035 in Arizona.  And among HIV-negative MSM, the statewide diagnosis rate per 100,000 persons in this group ranged between 27 in Montana and 496 in Mississippi.      Therefore, in each state, the ratio of HIV-positive versus HIV-negative syphilis diagnoses varied extensively (excluding South Dakota, the one state with no diagnoses). 

     In conclusion: “The CDC researchers speculate that the disparity in syphilis diagnosis rates may be driven in part by a greater rate of testing for the sexually transmitted infection among those MSM living with HIV compared with HIV-negative MSM,” according to Poz.com.  “Additionally, they conjectured that in states with lower syphilis diagnosis ratios between MSM with and without the virus, more sexual interactions between these two groups might have spread the STI more evenly between them.”

   

Hot Tea and Ice 17

Taking All the Time You Need

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins  

 

     Greetings Hot Tea and Ice Sippers, and Happy 2018!  Trusting the New Year has treated you well and the novelty of snow days hasn’t worn off.  It’s amazing how a weather occurrence that brought many of us so much joy when we attended elementary and middle school evokes so much misery now.

     One by-product of weather limiting our activities beyond our four walls is that we find ourselves having to slow down our pace. Since we are sometimes limited to only our driveways or walk-ways, we find ourselves unable to run around and do so much for other people. That’s actually a good thing, although it may not seem like that at the time.

     Too many of us feel so tied to a clock or a list of responsibilities that we must adhere to that we lose sight of the sheer pleasure of taking the time to just be. Depending on whether you are a fan of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” or Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar, sometimes you need to take a break and sit down.

     Recharging your batteries by being still or applying your energy to something that ignites you is priceless–and something we just don’t do often enough. It could be something as simple as being tranquil for five minutes when you are not on your phone, looking at a screen, or updating your social media profile. It also can be taking up a hobby or habit that is strictly for you.

     Take time to treat yourself with the time to do something that feeds you.  Taking time for myself is a New Year’s resolution that everyone should consider adding to their list. It doesn’t require a membership or expensive equipment.  Simply, it’s a matter of saying that taking care of yourself is important–and should be factored into one’s daily life.

     Now, for some full disclosure.  For so long, I was one of those people always on the go who didn’t take enough time for my needs.   Last year was filled with dancing to someone else’s melody, someone else’s tune.  I spent the first quarter of 2017 tending to my mother who was hospitalized most of March.  And, I was balancing the requirements of serving as a sorority graduate chapter president, working a full-time job and nurturing a relationship.

     The rest of the year was pretty much more of the same. When November arrived, I had burned through all my vacation and sick time and could count on one hand the time I spent away from work doing what feeds my soul.  Fortunately, December arrived, presenting the opportunity to take time for myself. 

      I dove into doing not much. I slept late, caught up on movies, and generally lolled around.  

     And it was wonderful! The freedom of it all helped me realize how important it is to take time for myself.

     Not everyone can take a month off the work grid. For some of us, it would be an hour when we send all calls to voicemail. It could be a day where you binge on your favorite foods in your favorite lounging clothes in your favorite chair.

     Maybe you can steal away, go outside, and enjoy some fresh air where the only chatter comes from the birds! The key is to find that place where you can take the time to take a break…and just be.

     Until next time, “Adios, au revoir…and I holler!” 


LaToya Hankins is the author of SBF Seeking, and K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood.  Currently, LaToya is an employee of the State of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services department.  Prior to that, she worked for nearly a decade in the field of journalism.  An East Carolina University graduate, LaToya  earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a minor in political science. 

During her college career, LaToya became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and currently is the president of the Chapel Hill, N.C. graduate chapter. As well, she is an active member of the, The Black Lesbian Literary Collective,a non-profit organization organized in N.C.  The Collective’s mission is to create a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers. 

You may reach LaToya at her on line home, latoyahankins.com ; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com;
Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins;
and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

NATHANIEL OCTAVIUS-NERDO

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 17

Are You Wearing a Mask?

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman  

       We ran down the dirt road to the little store to buy candy. It was me, my little brother and my cousin. My grandfather had given us each a dollar. He made us promise not to tell my grandmother because she would have said it would spoil our dinner. 

     We ran as fast as we could because we wanted to get back in time to see my grandfather feed the hogs & chickens and milk the cows. It’s one of those things that farmers did in South Carolina in the year 1967.

      At the age of seven, I got a kick out of spending the summer with my grandparents because growing up in New Jersey, we didn’t have hogs, pigs, and cows. So, this was a whole new world for me. My parents grew up here on the farm and wanted us to live our roots so to speak.

     We entered the store and searched the candy aisle trying to decide what to buy. Eventually, my brother bought a box of Cracker Jacks. My cousin brought Now or Laters. And I purchased a box of Good and Plenty. These were popular candies during that time. And we decided to share with each other.

     As we ran out of the store, I bumped into a man that was coming in.

     “Watch where you’re going ni**er,” the irate man yelled at me.

     I stood there frozen with fear as I stared at this white man looking down at me. Not just because of the way he said it but because of what he said. I have never experienced anyone calling me a nigger to my face.

     We ran back to the farm as fast as we could, and I told my grandfather what had happened. He was not surprised at all, as he explained the mentality of south people in the south. He explained that some people do not wear a mask to hide behind.

     That’s because, in New Jersey, the prejudice people would wear a mask to hide the fact that they were bigots. They would never show their true colors like this man did.

     And that incident reminded me of Halloween. When I was a kid, we looked forward to wearing a costume and a mask. It was our way of becoming someone else for the day. We would dress up as cowboys, Indians, ballerinas, and angels. We even dressed up as Batman and Superman fighting the bad guys. We lived in out fantasy world as kids and our reward was candy. Lots and lots of candy.

     And that’s all it was: costumes, masks, and candy.

     And as time went on, people became more tolerant and understanding of different races, cultures, etc. Slowly people starting mingling together. socializing, dating and even marrying each other. Racism was slowly kept behind closed doors. There was no need for masks.

     But now it’s the year 2017 and it appears that people are slowly taking off their masks. Racism is slowly becoming the norm. People are slowly showing their prejudice right out in the open.

     In Oklahoma, a white woman police officer shot an unarmed black man who had his hands above his head. She said she feared for her life which is why she killed him. She was found not guilty of murder. But some believed she is guilty of racism. She wasn’t wearing a mask as she shot that man.

     In St. Louis, a black police officer was killed when he ran out of his house to help a fellow white officer chase carjackers. That white officer was found not guilty due to friendly fire. The white officer was not wearing his mask to hide his racism.

     At the University of Maryland, a black man was accused of spraying swastikas on garbage cans. He thought he got away with it until the cops arrested him while he was not wearing his mask of hate.

     In D.C., nooses were found hanging at an elementary school, a college campus and at the African American Museum. Racist people wanted us to go back to the days of hanging blacks. They probably were not wearing their hoods when they did it.

     In Walmart, a white cashier would not touch any money received by any person of color. Instead, she would make the customer put the money on the counter and return any change the same way; being careful not to touch their skin. She was fired because she took off her mask of bigotry.

     And in Las Vegas, a white man booked a hotel room and shot numerous people thru the window. He didn’t care what color they were. When they finally caught him, he had killed himself and was not wearing his mask of hatred.

     And on the other side of the world, people are blowing themselves up as suicide bombers just to kill others who think differently from them.

     Every day, someone is taking off their mask and showing their true colors. The color of hatred. The color of bigotry. The color of down-right stupidity.

     Are we slowly going back in time?  Back to the days of slavery when it was obvious that white people hated black people? Like it was obvious that that white man hated me for being black. Or that some people hated Jews and burned them in human ovens. Or people hated the so-called red-skinned Indians who had different beliefs.

     Today people have forgotten to wear a mask to hide their bigotry. The racist people are slowly taking off their mask and showing how divided this world is.

     It is amazing how people judge each other just by the color of their skin, religious belief or something as simple as someone choosing not to stand for something they do not believe it such as the national anthem.

     Should we hate people because their skin is darker or lighter than our own? Should we hate because someone prays to Jesus instead of Allah?  Or should we hate because someone does not stand up for something that they do not believe in? Instead deciding to kneel.

     It’s time we think about what is really important in life–unity, understanding, and tolerance of others. The world is slowly taking off their mask and showing who they truly are. What they truly believe in. Is this a good thing?

     On the one hand, we will know exactly what people are standing up for. Therefore, we would know what to expect. But on the other hand, wearing a mask might be the best way to keep the peace in this world of hated, senseless killings and downright craziness. If everyone kept their mask on, maybe there would be more peace because everyone would be hiding.

     But now it’s about to be Halloween. Will everyone put on their mask and hide? On will it be a day when we take off the mask and show the world our real selves. Because what’s the point? It appears no one is dressing up anymore. The true man is slowly being revealed.

     What do you stand for? Are you wearing a mask? Or are you going to kneel down for something you don’t believe in? Or stand up and decry bigotry and hatred?


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

And As This New Year Unfolds…

     Yowza!  As 2018 unfolds, Wyattevans.com will be bigger, badder and bolder!   

     First, let me thank each and every one of you for making Wyattevans.com the go-to-it online destination for news, views, features, and entertainment for the LGBTQ Community and its Allies!  More than 100 countries visit my online home regularly.  I’m proud and overjoyed! 

     In 2017, Wyattevans.com published thought-provoking articles and provocative features on relationships, HIV, depression, romance, the escorting biz, sex in prison, and other issues that acutely impact the LGBTQ Community and its Allies.  Of course, this will be a staple for the New Year. 

     And let me assure you that my ongoing series of exclusives on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)–known as domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ Community–will be a hallmark of Wyattevans.com for 2018  

     Sadly and unfortunately, IPV/A is that “elephant in the room:” way too often, this despicable, demoralizing and (at times) life-threatening cycle of behavior is “swept under the rug.”  Therefore, it is not addressed.  This results in the perpetuation of this cycle of abuse.  Over and over again.    

     In this shiny new year, you followers will read even more informative, riveting and inspiring personal stories of IPV/A victims and survivors–as well as continuing news and data on this critical societal issue.  These articles and features will be syndicated in other publications, including Huffington Post Queer Voices and WeSurviveAbuse.com, created by Tonya GJ Prince, a leading Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) Advocate, Specialist, Speaker…and Survivor.

     Now, lemme give one helluva Shout-Out and Thank You! to the so on-point Guest Columnists for Wyattevans.com!  These include LaToya Hankins, R.L. Norman, Carlton R. Smith.  I’m so fortunate that they will continue to share their dynamic voices, their wealth of experience, and unique perspectives with myself and you readers.  And, Wyattevans.comwill be adding more of these distinctive voices to the melting pot.

     So, in addition to being the creator of, and writer/editor/reporter for Wyattevans.com, what else is Yours Truly up to in 2018?

  • IPV/A seminars and workshops across the country.  I will continue to shine a bright light on this horrendous cycle of behavior.
  • Radio Show.  My broadcasts will return later this year, in its current incarnation…or something brand new!  I’ll welcome an array of diverse, exciting and compelling guests—with their unique points of view. 
  • “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels.  I’m feverishly (LOL) crafting and penning the sequel to “FRENZY!”  Get ready for more provocative, gripping, explosive—and tasty (AHEM!) entertainment!  I want to thank all of you for making this groundbreaking series (including the current “FRENZY!”)  such a success and conversation piece. 
  • Surprises, Collaborations.  More news and details to come. 

     You know, 2017 was quite the challenging year for the minority and LGBTQ communities, largely because of the shocking election of “The Orange One.”  His  destructive policies are shredding the social safety net.  Meanwhile, his divisive attitudes are pushing Americans back to a time of racial unenlightenment.  And, his attitudes appear to make it easier for certain Americans to exhibit these backward perspectives and points of view.

     So, how can we thrive and succeed?  Last year, I wrote “Refuge from the Storm,” an inspirational and empowering piece about how you can do just that.  Check it out at wyattevans.com/refuge-from-the-storm

     There you have it.  My year is gonna be bigger, badder and bolder!  And Y’all are gonna be the beneficiaries.

     Seize The Year!!!

Kick Those Holiday Blues!

     Oh, “Gawd!”  You’re an LGBTQ guy or gal simply dreading THAT time of year—the holidays! 

      Why might you be in a major funk?  Well, maybe you feel you can’t be your authentic self around family:  you’re still closeted.  Or, you might be alone, feeling isolated.  All of this can throw you into a nasty tailspin.  And where do you crash land?  Into one “helluva” depression!

     Research bears out that the rates of depression and stress definitely increase during the holidays.  To counteract that, here are ten tools to help you vanquish those holiday blues–courtesy of Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a multi-award winning psychotherapist:

  • Keep your expectations balanced.  “You won’t get everything you want, things will go wrong, and you won’t fell like Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’.  Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect and don’t worry about things that are out of your control.”
  • Don’t try to do too much.  “Fatigue, over scheduling, and taking on too many tasks can dampen your spirits.  Learn to say no, delegate as much as possible and manage your time wisely.  If you choose to do less you will have more energy to enjoy the most important part of the season–friends and family.”
  • Don’t isolate.  “If you’re feeling left out, then get out of the house and find some way to join in.   There are hundreds of places you can go to hear music, enjoy the sights or help those less fortunate.”
  • Don’t overspend.  “Create a reasonable budget and stick to it.  Remember it’s not about the presents.  It’s about the presence.”
  • It’s appropriate to mourn if you’re separated from or have lost loved ones.  “If you can’t be with those you love make plans to celebrate again when you can all be together.”
  • Many people suffer depression due to a lack of sunlight because of shorter days and bad weather.  “Using a full spectrum lamp for twenty minutes a day can lessen this type of depression called SAD (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder).”
  • Watch your diet and remember to exercise.  “It’s normal to eat more during the holidays, but be aware of how certain foods effect your mood.  If you eat fats and sweets, you will have less energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down.” 
  • Be aware of the Post-Holiday Syndrome.  “When all the hustle and bustle suddenly stops and you have to get back to the daily grind, it can be a real letdown.  Ease out of all the fun by planning a rest day toward the end of the season.”
  • Learn forgiveness and acceptance.  “If some of your relatives have always acted out or made you feel bad, chances are that won’t change.   If you know what you’re getting into, it will be easier to not let them push your buttons.  If things get uncomfortable, go to a movie or for a drive and adjust your attitude.”

Now:  go on “wit yo’ badddd self”…and have yourself a Merry Little XMAS!

Hot Tea and Ice 16

Appreciate, Don’t Hate

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins  

     Greetings Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!  I trust you are well.

     The temperatures are dropping, clothing is getting thicker, and we are getting into that holiday frame of mind. Even if you do not subscribe to a particular faith, the remainder of 2017 should offer you at least one day to spend time with loved ones, do some shopping–or smile at someone who has to work while you enjoy a day off.

     One major break in the monotony of daily life that approaches is the fourth Thursday of November. For one day, we are supposed to give thanks for all the good things we have in our lives. That is in between gorging on carbs, plotting a way to drop sums of money at retail stores, and watching television in between power naps.

     Thanksgiving means different things to different peoplehaving one day to be thankful is okay, but I would say expressing appreciation should be a year-round event.

     And what is the difference between being thankful and the appreciation of thankfulness?  Being thankful is the actual expression of gratitude, while the latter is the tendency to recognize the worth of someone or something.

     Sometimes, we are so caught up in the swirl of our affairs that we neglect to recognize those who avail themselves to make our paths clearer. We tend to see past people’s good deeds and do not let others know that we see their good works– and appreciate them for doing things they do not have to do.

     A popular train of thought that has chugged through many of our lives has been the adage “in life, no one owes you anything.”  Yet, so often, so many of us benefit from things we are given.  But unfortunately, we do not take time enough to show appreciation.

     I will be the first to admit that I do not often show my appreciation for those around me for making my life easier. For the most part, when I wake up in the morning, my partner sets the coffee maker for me so all I have to do is press “on,” and “voila!”  When I exit from the shower, my morning addiction greets me. Because of our differing work schedule, she arrives home before I do, and dinner often greets me when I get there. Those gestures make my day flow so much better; however, I on occasion neglect to let her know much it means to me that she does those things.

     While she never has to worry about the dishwasher being unloaded and clothes making it from the laundry basket to her closet, it still would be a nice gesture for me to recognize what she does to make my morning and evening better.

     Imagine how much better life could be if we simply let people know that we appreciate them for being kind and helpful. We teach children to say “thank you;” but how often do we incorporate that into our own grown-folk conversations?

     I refuse to accept that we cannot appreciate other people’s goodwill; or for that matter, we do not understand that when someone does something nice that they aren’t necessarily doing it for the applause– but because it is just the nice thing to do.  Sometimes, it’s the simple “I see what you are doing and I appreciate it” that makes such a difference.

     If you want to go full-out with floral arrangements, sweet treats, or power ballads to let people know you are appreciated, then that’s cool. However, sometimes the simplest gesture gets the message across just as well.

     All of us should be more proactive about letting people know we appreciate them in minor and major ways that fit the situation. It may be a simple wave of appreciation when the driver on the expressway lets you in his/her lane, or the smile and head nod when someone with a cart full of groceries lets you and your three items go ahead of them.  

     It could be as grand as a day when all your partner has to do is get up– because you have taken care of everything.  And, friends aren’t exempt from showing appreciation. Show that bestie who always “has your back” or a spare twenty dollars until payday.  In turn, you can appreciate the gesture by treating your bestie to lunch or cocktails.

      The simple act of appreciation doesn’t cost anything, but it can actually add value. Try it sometimes, and feel how good it makes you feel. True, it doesn’t compare to that slice of pie your aunt only makes this time of year; but it’s still a good thing, nevertheless.

     Until next time:  Adios, au revoir and I “holler!”


LaToya Hankins is the author of SBF Seeking, and K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood.  Currently, LaToya is an employee of the State of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services department.  Prior to that, she worked for nearly a decade in the field of journalism.  An East Carolina University graduate, LaToya  earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a minor in political science. 

During her college career, LaToya became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and currently is the president of the Chapel Hill, N.C. graduate chapter. As well, she is an active member of the, The Black Lesbian Literary Collective,a non-profit organization organized in N.C.  The Collective’s mission is to create a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers. 

You may reach LaToya at her on line home, latoyahankins.com ; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com;
Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins;
and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

Tancredo Buff: Shining the Light on IPV/A

     Every October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DWAM).  It evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  In recognition of DVAM, Wyattevans.com has been presenting a very special series of articles and features throughout this month. 

     Within the LGBTQ community, domestic violence and abuse is referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A).  This atrocious cycle of behavior is such a critical societal issue because it is more pervasive and frequent than was once believed.  And, stigma is key in keeping IPV/A cloaked and enshrouded in darkness. 

     As a journalist and advocate, I have listened to the horrific and heartbreaking personal stories of IPV/A victims and survivors.  And because Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse can be so taboo in the LGBTQ community, I felt that it would be more palatable–and not such a “bitter pill to swallow”–if it were addressed in the form of a work of fiction.  That’s why as an author, I pen the popular and well-received “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels, which has IPV/A as its overarching theme.  “FRENZY!” is the latest installment in the series.  

     In my national workshops and seminars, I emphasize the following important takeaway:  Anyone—and I do mean ANYONE—regardless of size, strength, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and/or income, can become a victim of IPV/A.   

    This horrendous and vicious pattern of behavior happened to Mr. Tancredo Buff.  In my exclusive interview with the popular gay adult entertainer and activist, he opens up and bares his soul about his harrowing experience with IPV/A.

     WYATT:  Tancredo, welcome to Wyattevans.com!  I can’t thank you enough for being part of the month-long recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

     TANCREDO:  I’m very happy to do it, Wyatt.

     WYATT:  So, let’s get started.  Just how old were you when you first became a victim of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)?  

     TANCREDO:  I was 32, and 6’2” with a slim build.

     WYATT:  And your abuser?

     TANCREDO:  He was 28, 5’11”, with a stocky build.

     WYATT:  Tancredo, if you would, take us through your experience.

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse

     TANCREDO:  Sure.  He and I met one night when my friends invited me to go out.  At the time, I had been separated from my partner of six years, and recently finished an on and off relationship with a very insecure individual. 

     In the beginning, everything was cool.  He called me every day to make sure I was doing fine.  Sometimes he stopped by my work with lunch.   Sometimes, he even showed up at 6 AM to my house with a bouquet of flowers.  He was sweet and always said, “I love you.” 

     However, things started to change when we moved in together.  Every time he had   a bad day at work and when things were not done his way, he started shouting at and belittling me.  I tried to comfort him, but sometimes that made things worse.

     And, he was so uncooperative!  He’d drink away his share of the rent money.

     I remembered one time I was asking him about something, and he replied, “Shut up!”  One night, as guests were leaving, an argument erupted between us.  I ended up out in the street with just my pants on and no shoes, and no wallet.  He locked me out of the house until past Noon the next day. 

     From that moment on, the love began to slip away, and my desperation to get out was increasing.  He always was looking to be forgiven, and I was weak because I thought I was in love with him. 

     Little did I know that I was being codependent?  You see, I gave him all my control.  I felt trapped!  Many arguments occurred. 

     There was another time when he tried to repeat the lock-out; but this time, it didn’t happen.  I slept on the couch instead of in the bed with him.  We didn’t speak for several days. Finally, he apologized.   

     WYATT:  The most telling sign of IPV/A is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him.  Did you experience that?  If so, how did that make you feel?

     TANCREDO:  I can relate to that.  He made me feel like a nobody!  Everything was about him and how “famous” he was in town because of his political involvement.  I’d lost myself; one time, a friend said something to that effect.

     WYATT:  You know, abusers employ a variety of methods and schemes to manipulate you and wield their power, which include:  Dominance, Humiliation, Isolation, Intimidation, and Threats.  Which of these did you experience?

     TANCREDO:  Dominance and Intimidation were the order in my house.  He made sure that everybody recognized him as the head of the house and that I was just a shadow.  He was a master of verbal abuse.  Once, he tried to hit me; but  when he saw I was going to strike back, he stopped.

     WYATT:  Whoa.  Tancredo, oftentimes an abuser uses sex as a ploy to keep  the victim in the relationship.  Did that happen with you? 

     TANCREDO:  What he did do was force me to have sex.  I had to be his bottom.

     WYATT:  There are three types of IPV/A:  physical, emotional, and mental.  Did you experience all three?  Can you break it down in percentages?

     TANCREDO:  I would say 1% physical, 50 % emotional, and 49 % mental.

     WYATT:  Tancredo, what was the “last straw” that pushed you to make your Great Escape, the phrase I’ve coined for my national IPV/A workshops and seminars?

     TANCREDO:  It was something that happened one week before a planned business trip.  As I was on the talking to a friend on the phone, my partner was in a horrible mood. Suddenly, he marched up to me, grabbed my left hand and snatched off a ring that he’d given me for my birthday.  

     Next, he closed the bedroom door and prevented me from going to my bed.  I’d had enough.  So, I called a friend to arrange to stay with him until I found my own space.  I packed up my belongings and locked them in a room. 

     He broke the lock and took my bed and several of my things.  For a year, I was without a bed—but I didn’t care.  I got the hell out and didn’t look back.

     Now, there’s a part two to the saga.  A year later, he tried to reconcile.   Because I wanted to move again, I accepted his invitation to stay; but only with the guarantee that we would never get into another relationship. 

     However, he thought that because I’d moved in with him, we were actually in a relationship.  When he finally realized that that was not the case, he asked me to leave. 

     So, I packed up and moved to another space.  And after that, I emigrated from Puerto Rico to the U.S.

     WYATT:  Tancredo, too many people still believe that Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse is really not that important, and have the mentality that “boys will be boys.”  What’s your take on this?

     TANCREDO:  They are misguided.  If they experienced what I and many others have, they wouldn’t think that way.

     WYATT:  In order to make your Great Escape, you must truly understand that you deserve help, you need it, and that you can find it.  And, it’s important to remember that it’s the abuser who caused you to feel this way and that it’s his/her behavior that’s criminal and unacceptable—not yours.  Your thoughts?

     TANCREDO:  In part, I feel guilty for having allowed it. I did not fully value myself during the relationship, and somehow should have stopped the pattern of abuse from the beginning. 

     However, I was lucky to not allow it escalate further like other personal stories I have heard.

     WYATT:  Tancredo, what is the most important, the most critical thing a victim needs to do to escape the abusive situation?

     TANCREDO.  Telling someone is most important.  Silence is the most effective weapon the abuser uses against you.  

      WYATT:  Did you undergo psychological counseling/therapy to accelerate your healing process? 

     TANCREDO:  Eventually, I did.  But most of the healing came from within myself, and from the support of friends.

     WYATT:  What lessons have you learned from your IPV/A experience? 

     TANCREDO:  I learned that if you don’t value yourself, there is no way you’ll have a healthy and successful relationship.

     WYATT:  Tancredo, what words of inspiration can you give victims still trapped in these abusive relationships?

     TANCREDO:  Love yourself, grow yourself…and get outtttt! 

     WYATT:  Mr. Buff, thank you for an empowering chat.

     TANCREDO:  It was my pleasure, Wyatt.

 

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on this demoralizing, horrific, and potentially life-threatening cycle of abusive behavior.  We must Rise Up…And Tell!  Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.”

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.  

    If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).   You can reach Mr. Buff at tancredobuff@live.com.

    I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that lists resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/ 

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse

The Hushed Whispers of IPV/A

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) is a serious, potentially life-threatening—but preventable–public health problem that impacts millions of Americans. Specifically, IPV/A describes the physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological harm perpetrated by a current or former partner or spouse who is LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning). 

     This type of violence also can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples, and does not require sexual intimacy. Sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence and abuse are growing problems, but are often underreported–particularly amongst same-sex couples.  The data below underscores the heavy toll of this violence and the negative health conditions/impacts associated with these forms of violence throughout the United States.

      In the U.S., about 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men experience some form of intimate partner sexual violence, intimate partner physical violence, and/or intimate partner stalking during their lifetime. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime.   

      Equally as alarming, nearly 23 million women and 1.7 million men have been the victims of completed or attempted rape at some point in their lives.  An estimated 6.8 million men were made to penetrate another person in their lifetime.

     In this country, more than 27% of women and 11% of men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and have experienced an intimate partner violence- related impact.  The CDC reports that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. And get this:  on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

Man with a black eye

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) accounts for 15% of all violent crime.  According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. Of these, 45.4% of female rape victims and 29% of male rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.

    And this is alarming:  a study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders. This study revealed that 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female. Moreover, further studies suggest that there is a relationship between intimate partner violence, and depression and suicidal behavior.

     Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) is a real social health concern; however, often times it is the topic that we avoid or simply overlook because it does not affect us directly.  Additionally, for Gay or same-gender-loving (SGL) individuals, there has been very little academic studies or statistical information collected. There is also very little information collected about Black SGL men in any of the scholarly works. A recent study highlights this by stating that the medical community has responded to the public health problem of IPV/A with a range of efforts, from screening reminders in the electronic medical records of female patients to hospital-based IPV/A programs. While such efforts are necessary and important, they are notable for whom they exclude. Indeed, male victims of IPV/A, including SGL male victims, have received little attention in the health care field.

     The IPV/A screening instruments across the country generally do not have specific questions that address men or same-gender-loving males. Unfortunately, this has resulted in void, under-reporting and silence–particularly with SGL men.  This also leads us to not really understanding the importance or the impact that IPV/A is playing in the Gay and bisexual male communities throughout the United States. 

     I have made it my ongoing–and fervent–mission to continue to shine a bright light on this demoralizing, horrific, and potentially life-threatening cycle of behavior.  We must Rise Up…And Tell!  Someone.  Anyone Who Will Listen. We must make our “Great Escape.”  

     And, always remember:  the most powerful weapon the abuser has in his/her arsenal is…SILENCE.  

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901).  

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that lists resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/ 

     The time is NOW to break the cycle!

It's OK to be Gay #Pride

B-MORE Swaggers with Its PRIDE!

     Baltimore Black Pride has arrived!  The yearly—and much anticipated—celebration kicked off on October 3 and ends the 9th

     I managed to “get my hands” on Mr. Carlton R. Smith, the influential and well-respected gay rights activist.  Mr. Smith is the Executive Director/CEO of the Center for Black Equity (CBE) and Co-founder of Baltimore Black Pride.  Having resided in Baltimore for decades, many (including myself) have affectionately bestowed upon him the title of “Mr. Mayor.”  

     Here’s my rundown with “Mr. Duchess” (another one of Carlton’s many titles.  LOL).  We discuss the impact of CBE, the importance of Black Pride—and more.

CARLTON SMITH

     WYATT:  The Center for Black Equity (CBE)—of which you are a founding

member–began as Baltimore Black Pride, Inc.  What was the impetus behind you helping establish this storied organization?

     CARLTON:  There was a sense to be connected to the African American LGBTQ community and social life.  And, there was such a need to rapidly respond to critical health issues (including HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, and diabetes) among gay/same gender loving (SGL) and bisexual men. 

     CARLTON:  There was also a definite need for the artistic community to know the larger Black LGBTQ community.  And lastly, it was a vehicle to foster working   together to transcend racial and cultural boundaries, while simultaneously celebrating diversity. 

     WYATT:  What’s the vision and mission of the CBE?  

     CARLTON: Our vision is to eradicate social inequality of Black LGBTQ persons.  And, our mission is to improve the well-being and quality of life of Black LGBTQ individuals and their allies by setting the standard of excellence in the Black LGBTQ community through health and wellness, spiritual and economic empowerment, social justice, and coalition building.  

     WYATT:  What are the three major goals of Black Prides?

     CARLTON:  Well, they vary from city to state.  The International Federation of Black Prides (Center for Black Equity Leadership Forum) organizers merged as a coalition of Black Prides to promote a multinational network of LGBTQ Prides dedicated to building solidarity, promoting unity, and ensuring the development of education and economic empowerment. These are similar to Kwanzaa principles.

     WYATT:  Is there a continuing need for Black Gay Prides?  Actually aren’t we discriminating when we hold our own?

     CARLTON:  Baltimore Black Pride’s focus and commitment have been to take the lead on not only the needs of our own African-American LGBTQ community– but the community’s needs as a whole. In fact, we collectively have been involved with voter registration, same-sex marriage, trans-equality, and housing assistance.  We want the community to have a better understanding of the political process and impact within the Black community.  #blackgaylivesmatter!  

     WYATT:  Carlton, what’s been on tap for this year’s B-MORE Black Pride?

     CARLTON:  Well Wyatt, I’m not giving away specifics; however, we have an entire slate of exciting events that appeal to everyone.   You gotta be there!

     WYATT:  Carlton, some folks say that Prides are just one big “partay!”  Any truth in that?

     CARLTON:  Well, that’s a matter of opinion, and who’s going to the party!  My generation (he’s 54) considers Pride a great way to socialize and see friends or acquaintances that they have seen in years.  The younger generation will consider it “a party for the masses.” 

     WYATT:  Bruh, let’s say that a Brotha From Anotha Planet with a mocha complexion and workin’ a HAWT bear physique crash landed on earth in the middle of Baltimore Black Pride!  Now, what would in the world would he think?  What would be his takeaways?

     CARLTON:  So, I would like to think that this Brotha From Anotha Planet would be a non-binary being.  They would probably get into their groove first and then invite the humans into the space ship like Parliament Funkadelic, and jam into the morning!  And meanwhile, spraying the humans with some kind of space mist that keeps their kink up before leaving the spaceship! The rest I’ll leave to our readers’ imagination.

     WYATT:  Mr. Smith, what is your special Pride message?

     CARLTON:  I personally want to THANK the community for their patronage, and for supporting the leadership of Baltimore Black Pride throughout 15 years.  And remember: “We Embrace and Celebrate Our Blackness Every Day.”   This affirms my love and legacy throughout the SGL communities. 

     WYATT:  Mr. Mayor, Mr. Duchess—thanks for taking the time to drop by Wyattevans.com. 

     CARLTON:  My pleasure, Wyatt!

The “FRENZY!” of IPV/A 

     Just what does the (possibly) a little odd, a tad exotic acronym “IPV/A” stand for? 

     Well, it refers to Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, which is generally known as domestic violence and abuse (DVA) within the LGBTQ community.  Sadly and unfortunately, this demeaning and horrendous cycle of behavior is an ongoing serious societal issue.   And more prevalent than was once believed.     

     As a journalist, I’ve extensively researched and reported on this urgent social problem.  And as a radio personality, motivational speaker, advocate, and an interviewee/guest of numerous print, broadcast and online media, I vigorously promote awareness by continuing to shine a bright light on this insidious and corrosive cancer that impacts our society in so many, many ways. 

     October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DWAM), which was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  In recognition of DVAM, I’m presenting a very special series of articles and features the entire month of October.  It’s my mission to continue to shine a bright light on this heinous cycle of abuse–which can be life-threatening. 

     Since Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse can be taboo in the LGBTQ community, I felt that it would be more palatable–and not such a “bitter pill to swallow”–if it were addressed in the form of a work of fiction.  That’s why as an author, I pen the popular and well-received “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels, which has IPV/A as its overarching theme.  “FRENZY!” is the latest installment in the series. 

     The following is an excerpt from “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” that puts Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse front and center.

     So, without further ado, I present “The Battering.”      

        ‘Tonio and Wes have become a monogamous couple.  Unfortunately for them, they face daunting obstacles to and serious struggles in their relationship.  Making matters worse is a devious and deadly individual who masterfully manipulates ‘Tonio into believing that Wes has been unfaithful!  Of course, Wes has remained true to his partner.  Unfortunately, as a result, ‘Tonio physically confronts Wes.  

     Never in my wildest dreams could I ever have imagined what would happen next!   ‘Tonio, my bodyguard, my life partner, my soul mate—all 6’4” and 280 pounds of magnificently chiseled muscle– towered over me.  And in a heartbeat, in a flash, in less than a blink of an eye, BigGuy (‘Tonio) jerked me up by my tee, and then slammed me directly into the wall!   Gawd, the pain that ripped through my body!   At the same time, my head snapped back, also smashing into that surface.

     “Why’d ya haveta hurt me like dis?  I wish we’d nevah gotten ‘tagetha’ (together)!” ‘Tonio railed, growling like some rabid dog.  He actually seemed to be foaming at the mouth!  Next, he smashed me into that wall once again. 

     Then all of a sudden, the instances of abuse I suffered as a child fast-forwarded through my brain!   All of the humiliation, the torment, and the tears were revisited.  My body went as limp as a frayed, wet, overused dishrag.

    BigGuy had me jacked up and pinned against the wall, his huge, clammy left hand now grasping my neck.  I couldn’t move!  My brain cells were in overload.  I was having difficulty breathing.  

     He continued yelling, “How could ya do dis ta me?  How?  How?”  His grimace was undeniably monstrous!   He was a man possessed, thoroughly having lost touch with reality.                                                                   

     All the while, the following thoughts played in my head:   “This cannot be happening!  How can my soul mate, the one who’s professed his undying love over and over, be doing this to me?  How can this man who’s vowed to protect me, kick my ass like this?  HOW???”   

     BigGuy continued to loom over me.  “When we hooked up, I told ya we had ta be monogamous!  And you agreed!  (Pause.)  What tha FUCK’S wrong wit’cha anyways?  Huh?  Huh?”  He repeatedly shoved one of his thick fingers in my face.

     Finally, I shook myself from my stupor!  My survival instinct had kicked in. 

    Once more, I tried logic. “I…I’ve kept my promise–my solemn vow, ‘Tonio!  Please stop this!  We promised that no matter what, we wouldn’t physically abuse one another.  Remember?” 

    My appeal didn’t faze him!   Not one iota.  ‘Tonio wasn’t hearing or listening to me because his overwhelming fury and all-consuming wrath were at their peak, their tipping point. 

   “And ya promised you’d NEVAH cheat on me!  Rememba dat?” 

     Next, in no time flat, he aimed his thick, steely right hand squarely at me.

     My internal alarm blared!  I whimpered, “ANTONIO!  No!  Don’t!  Wha…what are you doin’?”  I tried to fend him off. 

     But that was futile. 

     “Bitch, don’t you…!”   

     And then…! 

NATHANIEL OCTAVIUS-NERDO

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 16

Love Is Not Always Blind

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman  

       I stood at the door to the apartment, preparing myself for the mystery that was in store for me.  

     “Behind this door might be my perfect soulmate,” I thought.

     I checked my clothes, my breath, my hair—everything.  I had to make sure that I was totally “on point.”

     My hopes soaring, I got up the nerve to knock on the door. A voice told me to come in.  So, I opened the door and slowly walked into a dimly lit room. I hesitated just a bit to give my eyes tine to adjust to the darkness.

     As I got closer and closer, I noticed a man sitting on a chair in the middle of the room. I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized that the man was completely naked.

     “Norman, is that you?”

     “Yes. Are you Jimmy?”

     “Yes.”   I just stood there as he made small talk, recounting our previous conversations via phone and text messages.

     Suddenly, I heard some noise coming from another room!  Quickly, I stepped back because I assumed we were alone. And then in a blink of an eye, another person came into the room.

     Also naked! 

     Befuddled, perplexed–I took another step back.

     “Norman, meet Timmy,” Jimmy announced.

     Timmy was his twin brother!  It was then I realized why Jimmy always said something about “two tons of fun.”   Next, they informed me that they wanted to have a threesome.

     I didn’t know what to expect–but I was not expecting this!  Unfortunately for them, I couldn’t even handle one ton!  (LOL.)   I quickly declined, and left.

     Blind dates are a trip.

    As I walked to my car, I was wondering if this was the best way to find a man. I drove home disappointed yet again, and climbed into my lonely bed.

     As I lay there, I started thinking about my previous dates.  You see, this was another date that I had made on line through one of those dating apps. I don’t normally do the blind dating thing–but what’s a lonely man to do?

     And I was a lonely man.

     I had a regular routine of work, home, cooking dinner, watching TV and going to bed. And the next morning began the “rinse and repeat” cycle.  I’d been single since my divorce three years ago. I was used to it, though. 

     To an extent.

     But do you know the worst part?   It was at night, when I had to face the reality that no one was laying on the other side of my bed.   And only my six pillows against my back were helping me imagine that there was a man right next to me.  

     There was no warm body to cuddle up with, and to hug and hold during the night.  And sometimes, the pain of loneliness would be so bad that the tears would well up in my eyes.  I’d grab my pillows tight to try not to face the fact that I was scared of being lonely—and alone–forever.

     However, I discovered how to solve the problem to find that perfect soulmate. On the weekends, I would peruse the so-called “dating” sites for that temporary fix:  holding, cuddling and possibly having sex with someone–if even for a moment. 

     I was looking for someone to give me that temporary feeling of love.

    But at the same time, I’d hoped to meet the man of my dreams!   

     I remember Tracey, a guy I met on Adam4Adam, one of those dating apps.  I would say to myself, “There’s just got to be someone on this app who’s looking for more than just sex!”

     I’d been talking to Tracey for months, and the vibe between us was great! My only issue was that he was twenty years my junior. And you know those young guys have those famous lines: “I like older men” or, “I can’t relate to men my own age.”

     Eventually, I visited him at his home.  As we conversed and drank for a while, we developed an awesome connection–everything was going rather well!

      Until slowly, he revealed his true intentions. 

     He began asking about my income, house, car, etc. Suddenly, he seemed more interested in material things.  Bottom line:  he was looking for a sugar daddy!   

     I couldn’t afford to take care of me; so there was no way I could take care of him.  That “relationship” ended before it started.

     Next, there was James, the man that changed my name!  And it was not that he had a short memory span: he just decided to call me by different names.

     I met James on the Tango app.  I always thought it was to video chat between friends and family. Who knew you could also pick up men!

     Before meeting in person, James and I spoke for months.  We had so much in common that we spoke particularly every day for hours.  He had my heart. Or should I say that his voice had my heart.

     Finally, we decided to meet in person. I was so excited!  I knocked on his door, and this “phine,” sexy man greeted me.  As they say, “tall, dark and handsome.”

     I followed him to the living room, and that’s when it happened. He suddenly turned around, and before I knew it, he was kissing me–tongue and all!   He was doing such a good job that I just gave in and returned the favor. And I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly, my clothes fell off!  And there we were on the floor, exploring each other’s manly bodies–and in more ways than one.

     During that encounter is when he changed my name. It was not Norman anymore. It was Baby, Honey, Sweetie, etc.  And he added “love you” to that numerous times.  Either I was good at what I was doing, or he was crazy!  I would like to think I was good.  Come to find out, it was both.

     But after some time, I had too slowly disappear out of his life. He was moving to fast. He was calling me constantly, and actually started stalking me. I made the mistake early on in giving him my address. He popped up everywhere, and knew my every move. It got scary.

     So, tell me:  what does a lonely man do? Does he continue to search the internet for love and affection? Or does he just continue to live alone and lonely? There are so many lonely people in the world that I figured that sooner or later, I’d find him or he’d find me.

     So I continued my search.  And one night, I knocked on another door.

     It was opened by a very nice-looking man.  He was about 6′ 2″, 220 lbs. of muscle.  Brown skinned, he sported a mustache, beard and bald head.  

     And let’s not forget his beautiful smile!  He was my kind of man.  

     His name was Lenny.

     He led me into the living room that was dimly lit by a fire burning in the fireplace.

     I noticed a blanket and a picnic basket on the floor in front of the fireplace. Also, there was some wine and a platter which consisted of mixed strawberries, grapes and melon.  What a delightful surprise!

     Lenny and I stretched out on the blanket, eating and drinking particularly all night long, as songs filled the room. We talked, laughed and cuddled.

     The first kiss happened while we were listening to Teddy Pendergrass singing “When Somebody Loves You Back.”  It was then I was in heaven!  It was then that I knew I’d met my perfect stranger. This date made up for all the disastrous ones I’d gone on.

     After reflecting on all the blind dates I’d had, I would never have believed meeting him was possible!   But I had gone from loneliness to happiness. And Lenny was my happiness because this was the anniversary of our first date two years ago.

     But now, here’s the funny thing:  I didn’t meet Lenny via an app, or on line.  Actually, I met him in line–at a grocery store!  He just started talking to me.  And then he asked me out for a drink, right then and there.

     And now here we are.

     Now, I’m not discouraging people from doing the “blind on line dating thing” because I’ve met some very wonderful people in the process.  Just keep your options open, because your partner might be in the grocery store also.

     I’m simply saying that loneliness is hard at times. It’s probably the hardest thing to deal with in life. Because regardless of your circumstances, being lonely and alone make your situation seem ten times worst.   

     Your perfect stranger is out there somewhere, and you will find each other. Just be patient, and one day you’ll turn around and he/she will be right there.

      So you see, love is not always blind. You just have to open your eyes and keep the faith, and let your Lord fight your battle of loneliness.  You simply have to keep your mind and heart open. Trust and believe that your God has your back.

     As singer-songwriter and record producer Faith Evans says, “Keep the Faith.”


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

Peeling Back the Curtain On IPV/A

       IPV/A, the acronym for Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, is generally referred to as domestic violence and abuse (DVA) within the LGBTQ community.  Sadly and unfortunately, this horrific behavior continues to be a critical issue.  

     What makes matters worse is that stigma is a driving force that keeps this demeaning and demoralizing cycle of abuse “swept under the rug.” It’s the “elephant in the room.”  This leads to IPV/A being notoriously under-reported.

     As a journalist, I’ve extensively researched and reported on this urgent social problem.  And as a radio personality, motivational speaker, advocate, and an interviewee/guest of numerous print, broadcast and online media, I vigorously promote awareness by continuing to shine a bright light on this insidious and corrosive cancer that impacts our society in so many, many ways. 

     Since Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse can be taboo in the LGBTQ community, I felt that it would be more palatable–and not such a “bitter pill to swallow”–if it were addressed in the form of a work of fiction.  That’s why as an author, I pen the popular and well-received “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels, which has IPV/A as its overarching theme.  “FRENZY!” is the latest installment in the series.

 

     The former is my mission statement.  Listening to the heartbreaking experiences of scores of victims and survivors have urged me to become a fierce IPV/A advocate.    

     This heinous cycle of abuse can be potentially life-threatening.  More than we’d like, we continue to hear and read about individuals being emotionally and mentally scarred, physically assaulted, or/and murdered by their partners.  So you see, Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse is serious business.  Deadly, in fact.

     And there’s another reason why I’m so passionate about IPV/A.  I’m a  survivor.  You can read about my experience in an exclusive commentary I wrote for The Advocate, the oldest, largest and most influential LGBTQ print and online publication.  Visit:  https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2016/12/06/making-great-escape-abusive-relationship 

     Every October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DWAM).  It evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  In recognition of DVAM, I’m presenting a very special series of articles and features the entire month of October.  It’s my mission to continue to shine a bright light on this heinous cycle of abuse– which can be life-threatening.

 

The Straight Dope on IPV/A 

     The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs defines IPV/A or DVA as “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.”  

      New research suggests that a greater percentage of LGBTQ individuals are living in fear of an abusive partner than previously thought.  And each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered, and about one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way. 

     According to psychologists and authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, “Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only:  to gain and maintain total control over you. 

     “An abuser doesn’t ‘play fair.’  Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her ‘thumb.’  Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.”

     Here’s the bottom line:  abusive behavior is never acceptable.  You deserve to feel respected and valued.  And most of all, you absolutely deserve to be safe.

 

It’s All About CONTROL. 

     There are multiple signs of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  The most telling is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her.  Other prominent signs:  explaining/excusing frequent injuries as “accidents;” agreeing to everything your partner says/does; being forced into sexual activity.

     Segal and Smith write that abusers employ a variety of methods and schemes to manipulate you and wield their power.  These include:

  • Dominance.  Abusers need to feel in charge of the relationship.
  • Humiliation.  Abusers will do everything to make you feel worthless; therefore, you’re less likely to leave. 
  • Isolation.  In efforts to increase your dependence, abusers will cut you off from the outside world.   
  • Intimidation.  Your abuser may use a number of tactics designed to frighten you into submission. 
  • Threats.  Abusers commonly use threats to keep you from leaving or to scare you into dropping criminal charges.   

 

     What’s complete cycle of IPV/A?  According to the psychologists, it usually works like this:

  • Abuse.  It’s a power play intended to “keep you in line, and show you who’s boss.”
  • Guilt.  After abusing you, your partner feels guilt—but not over what he/she’s done!  The abuser is more concerned about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences.
  • Excuses.  Your abuser rationalizes what he/she has done, devising a string of excuses or blaming you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
  • “Normal” Behavior.  The abuser does everything to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship.  Your abuser may act as if nothing has occurred.  His/her apologies and loving overtures in between abusive episodes can make it difficult for you to leave.  Your abuser may make you believe that you are the only person who can help, that things will be different, and that he/she truly loves you.  However, the dangers of staying are very real.
  • Fantasy and Planning.  Your abuser starts to fantasize about abusing you again, spending a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done “wrong” and how he/she’ll make you pay.  Next, the abuser devises a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.  

 

     A common question I receive in my seminars and workshops is, “Can abusers really control their behavior?”  Well, my answer is:  “Oh, yes they can!”  

  • Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse.    
  • Abusers carefully choose when and where to strike.   
  • Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t be seen. 

And:

  • Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them.  When it’s to their advantage, they immediately end their abusive behavior (for example, when the police arrive).   

Makin’ Your “Great Escape!”

     So, how can you make your “Great Escape,” the term I’ve coined for my seminars and workshops?

    The Women’s Justice Center (www.justicewomen.com), which is headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, outlines various steps: 

  • Your struggle to escape is heroic.  Continually remind yourself that yours is one of the most worthy and difficult struggles of all.   
  • Reawaken your dreams.   Oftentimes, IPVA or DVA can snuff out all of your hopes and dreams.  However, to free yourself, you’ll need those hopes and dreams to help carry you through the obstacles and tough times of escaping. 
  • Dealing with fears, risks.  The majority of IPV/A victims feel fear, which can immobilize them from acting on their own behalf.  However, you can help alleviate your fears by having the courage to tell anyone who will listen.    
  • Don’t be ashamed if you still love him/her.   At the same time, however, be mindful and determined that the violence and abuse must be stopped—because the abuser’s not going to stop on his/her own. 
  • Often, the best strategy for breaking free of IPV/A is the exact opposite of the strategy for surviving it.  In order to survive IPV/A, the victim usually does everything possible to avoid offending or upsetting the abuser, and exposing him/her.  However, freeing yourself from IPV/Arequires the exact opposite strategy. 
  • You deserve help.  You need it.   You can find it.  It’s important to remember that it’s the abuser who caused you to feel this way and that it’s his/her behavior that’s criminal and unacceptable—not yours. 
  • Know your legal rights.  You have a right to equal protection of the law, and to live free of any kind of abuse.  Do your research!   
  • There are officials and institutions that can help you safely escape IPV/A.  These include the 911 operator, police, county jail, district attorney and victim assistance.  Become knowledgeable about, and avail yourself of these critical resources. 

 

     So, stay tuned and glued to Wyattevans.com the entire month of October.  It’s imperative that we fully understand how serious this demoralizing, demeaning and life-threatening cycle of abuse really is, the ramifications, latest statistics, etc.        

    And, I’ll feature engrossing and riveting stories from Gay/SGL (same gender loving) IPV/A survivors who are accomplished in their respective fields of entertainment.   

     You CAN make your “Great Escape” from IPV/A.  However, it involves careful planning—if at all possible.  Utilize any and all resources at your disposal. 

     And so importantly:  you must not and cannot keep silent!  You have to tell!  Someone.  Anyone who will listen.  Keep in mind that silence is the most potent, effective and deadliest weapon in the abuser’s arsenal.

     And always remember:  anyone—and I do mean ANYONE—regardless of size, strength, age, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and/or income, can become a victim of IPV/A.         

      How do I know this? 

     Because I’m a Survivor.

 

     If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901). 

     I have a special IPV/A section right here at Wyattevans.com that lists resources to assist victims.  Visit:  http://wyattevans.com/lgbtq-domestic-violenceabuse-making-your-great-escape/

     The time is NOW to break the cycle.

Hot Tea and Ice 15

Roll With Being A Role Model!

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins  

     Greetings, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!  Trusting you are well and staying cool this summer. I’m currently giving thanks every day for air conditioning, cool beverages, and lightweight clothing.  Although I’m a Southerner by birth, this heat is something else!

     Despite the high temperatures, I spent this past Fourth of July outside surrounded by my extended family. I considered it a blessing to be in the company of five generations ranging from my great aunt–who recently celebrated her 93rd birthday–to my twin third-cousins from Virginia who was spending the summer with their grandmother.  I ate too much, sipped on something…and had a chance to bask in the stories of days gone by.

     One thing I realized between bites was that I have so many role models within my family. My great-uncle, who has spent over fifty years being the only black barber in Brunswick County, North Carolina, sat beside his nephew, a U.S. Army veteran, retired fire captain and the father of two exceptional daughters. Across from them sat my younger cousin who, in her forty plus years, has lived several lifetimes:  she’s been a college student and ferry boat worker, and currently earns her pay as a nuclear power plant worker. She’s a devoted wife, exceptional big sister–and knows how to stunt on a motorcycle like nobody’s business!

     Too often, we look to celebrities and big names to be role models. We sometimes forget just being the people we are–lovers, friends, and family members–we are setting examples for others to follow. Celebrate that by doing what you do and doing it well:  this inspires others to step their game up. Roll with being a role model.

     I would venture that if you sit down and really think about all that you have done in life, you’d realize that you have accomplished at least three things no one expected to do. Because of that, you have the potential to encourage someone to push him/herself to be better.

     Two of my biggest role models are young men who live vastly different lives in two different states, but they each inspire me to do better. Calvin was a high school football stand-out who had potential to make it big. Instead, he decided to be a family man who nurtures and shapes the lives of his daughter and sons.  His social media pages are filled with pictures of his children, his wife and his family.   

     Calvin is a devoted family man who works hard to provide when so many of his former teammates are living it up. Despite having a frame that made an opposing player drop the ball rather than be tackled during a high school game, he is so gentle and affectionate with his children that it leaves me in awe.

     Leslie spent the first thirteen years of his life as a young Black boy in a small coastal town where he was the only Black student in his pre-K program.  He  spent his early education years being one of a few–if not the only–student of color in his advanced classes. Now he’s a globe-trotting, MBA-having, Eagle-Scout who “handles his bizness” for a Fortune 100 company.  And, he still keeps me cracking up with well-timed texts and social media posts.

     And then there’s Laura. Of Caribbean heritage, her family immigrated to America from Canada when she was eight. She worked hard, and earned her Master’s in community agency counseling in two years in a hostile educational environment. Laura works with children with mental health issues, takes splendid care of her friends and pets–and is the only person I know for sure who has read everything I have written in the past four years.

     We are all somebody’s role models. Own it and hold your head high because your actions help prove to someone else that whatever you want is possible. No setback is permanent, and we should see obstacles as opportunities.

     Walk in the reality that you are someone’s role model…and stay cool.

     Until next time, Adios, au revoir, and I “holler!” 


LaToya Hankins is the author of SBF Seeking, and K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood.  Currently, LaToya is an employee of the State of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services department.  Prior to that, she worked for nearly a decade in the field of journalism.  An East Carolina University graduate, LaToya  earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a minor in political science. 

During her college career, LaToya became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and currently is the president of the Chapel Hill, N.C. graduate chapter. As well, she is an active member of the, The Black Lesbian Literary Collective,a non-profit organization organized in N.C.  The Collective’s mission is to create a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers. 

You may reach LaToya at her on line home, latoyahankins.com ; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com;
Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins;
and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

HIV VIRUS

The “Undetectability” Of It All, Part Two

     This past March, I penned “The Undetectability Of It All,” for Wyattevans.com.  The article stated that the AIDS United Public Policy Committee declared that it has “strongly affirmed the conclusive evidence proving that people living with HIV who have achieved a sustained, undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners.  This evidence-based declaration reinforces AIDS United’s programmatic, policy and advocacy work to expand access to antiretroviral medications to all people living with HIV.”  AIDS United is the largest and longest-running national coalition of community-based HIV/AIDS organizations.

     And now, there’s additional evidence that supports the AIDS United declaration.  But before we examine those findings, let’s answer the question:  what does it truly mean to be undetectable?   

     Well, it doesn’t mean that the HIV-positive individual is cured.  However, it does mean that antiretroviral treatment is being effective, and that the amount of HIV in the blood is so low that even the best available tests don’t detect it.

     To have an undetectable viral load means that there are fewer than 20 copies of the virus in one milliliter of blood.  Typically, the tests of those who have just been diagnosed and not having undergone treatment show millions of copies in the exact same sample size.

     Now, let’s examine the new study that supports the AIDS United proclamation.  The findings demonstrate that there were no transmissions of the virus within mixed-HIV-status couples when the partner living with the virus was on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and had a fully suppressed viral load.

     This study, entitled Opposites Attract, was comprised of gay/SGL (same gender loving) couples that had nearly 600 cumulative years of follow-up data and about 12,000 reported acts of condomless penetration.  These acts excluded any for which the HIV-neg partner was taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).

     Based on the Opposites Attract data, the investigators were able to estimate that the annual risk of HIV transmission in which only one infected partner with an undetectable viral load is between zero and 1.56 percent.

UNDETECTABLE8

     According to Poz.com, Andrew Grulich, PhD, an HIV epidemiologist at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and chief investigator of the study, stated, “’We think this is a really exciting result and adds to a body of research that HIV is not passed on in the context of undetectable viral load, even with high rates of sexually transmitted infections’.”

     Opposites Attract did not restrict potential participants according to whether they used condoms or had undetectable viral loads.  By the end of last year, the study had enrolled 358 gay/SGL male couples in which one partner was poz (158 from Australia, 105 from Thailand, 96 from Brazil).

     So, just how was the study conducted?  “Researchers collected information about sexual behaviors from the HIV-negative partner at each study visit,” stated Poz.com.  “These partners received HIV testing along with sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing upon entering the study and at all subsequent study visits.  The HIV-positive partners received viral load and STI testing at each study visit.

     “The investigators defined an undetectable viral load as less than 200.  For all new HIV infections in the initially HIV-negative partners, generic testing was conducted to determine whether these men likely contracted the virus from their partner in the study.

     “A total of 343 couples made at least one follow-up visit, contributing 591 cumulative years of follow-up data.  (Each year of data on a couple counted as one year of follow-up.)  The men reported anal sex with any man beside their study partner at 57.4 percent of these visits.”

     The online publication continued.  “Upon their entry into the study, 79.9 percent of HIV-positive men were on ARVs and 77.9 percent had an undetectable viral load.  A total of 75.2 percent of the men on HIV treatment maintained a fully suppressed virus throughout their participation in the study.

      “Overall, 14.3 percent and 11.7 percent of the HIV-positive and -negative men, respectively, were diagnosed with an STI during the study.

     “A total of 73.8 percent of the couples reported engaging in condomless sex during the study.  These men provided 318 cumulative years of follow-up data on periods when they reported engaging in condomless intercourse within their study partnership, including a total of 16,889 reported such acts.”

     Grulich concluded the following about the Opposites Attract findings.  “’This is life-changing news for couples of differing HIV status’.” 

     However, the chief investigator of the study cautioned, “’But it is important that the HIV-positive partner is under regular medical care and does not miss any of their antiretroviral medication in order to ensure they maintain an undetectable viral load.  Our data add to previous studies that show that there has never been a recorded case of HIV transmission from an HIV-positive person to their HIV-negative sexual partner when the HIV-positive partner had an undetectable viral load’.”

Not a Box of Crayons, Yo 

     For most of the long Independence Day Holiday, I was “takin’ a (generous) bite outta” the Big Apple! (LOL)  And at one of the parties I attended, an incident got deep under my skin and really rankled me.

     This particular soiree was interracial:  roughly, the breakdown was 50% Black, 30 % Caucasian and 20 % Latino/Blatino.  And, it was mostly a “singles thang;” which meant that more than a few of the “menz” were “on the prowl!”  (LOL)

     As I socialized, I heard inane and nauseating crap like:       

     “Oh no, dahling!  I can’t get down (in more ways than one, if you catch my drift!) with that one!  He’s much too dark.  Now, if he wasn’t, well…”  A brotha with a paper-brown complexion uttered that insulting drivel to his buddy.

     “Nah, that guy’s much too ‘black’ for my tastes!  (Pause.)  And don’t you think his features are too…‘African’?”  A white guy delivered that assessment to his group of “flamers.”

     Shaking my head, I ruminated:  “’Gawd, dang’!  We are in the year 2017, aren’t we?”   After I shook my head a couple of times, my spirit rejoined the “ju-say par-tay,” filled to the brim with mucho eye candy.

    However, what I heard became lodged in the recesses of my fertile mind.

     The term colorism sounds innocuous, a little exotic—you think?   

     Well actually, not by a long shot.

     Colorism is an insidious form of racial discrimination that continues to be waged against African-Americans.  Born during the advent of slavery, colorism is the practice of using the differences in complexions to pit one group of oppressed people of color against another—a strategy of “divide and conquer.”  It was an effective “skin tone scheme” that the slaves had to adopt in order to survive.

     Colorism is a form of racial discrimination in which individuals are accorded different social status and treatment based on skin color. As well, the term is used to label the phenomenon of persons discriminating within their own ethnic groups. 

     When African-Americans level it against one another—weaponize it, if you will—they are practicing self-hatred.  It’s racism internalized.  You see, these Blacks believe that anything white is superior, the best of the best.

      Now, let’s delve deeper into this crippling, destructive malady. 

We Definitely Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Crayola Crayons Here

     Colorism is based on the ideal that an individual’s worth is directly related to the color of his or her skin, valuing lighter hues over darker ones.  Armstrong Williams, conservative African-American columnist, media personality and entrepreneur, has stated, “This brand of racism is particularly insidious because it is subtle.  Unlike the time when racists donned pointed hats and stomped down the streets, the colorist is subtle, their contempt concealed beneath the still waters of social etiquette.”

     In “The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African-Americans,” co-author Dr. Midge Wilson traced the origins of colorism, and laid out its devastating implications and ramifications.  “To understand the root of this deviant behavior, we have to go back to when slavery was in full effect,” she wrote.  “Fair-skinned slaves automatically were selected for the better jobs, which were located in the master’s house.  After gaining the trust of their masters, many of these fair-skinned slaves traveled throughout the nation and abroad with their masters and families, therefore affording them the opportunity to be exposed to the finer things, and many became educated as a result.”

     Dr. Wilson continued, “The darker-tone peers labored relentlessly in the fields.  They were the ones who were beaten, burned and hanged, the ones permanently condemned to be the lowest of the low in U.S. society.  For them, even the three ‘Rs’—reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic—were illegal.  Consequently, these actions resulted in a caste system.  It seems the closer you were to your master, the better off you were—‘good’ hair, good clothes, good jobs, and an education were an inevitable result from those actions.”  Prior to the Civil War, social status among Blacks was strongly associated with skin color.

Blue Veins…and Paper Bags 

     Twelve years ago, the ABC news program “20/20” aired “Skin-Deep Discrimination: Colorism Shows We’re a Long Way from a Color-Blind Society.” The program reported that historians state that friction between Blacks of different skin tones originated during slavery because light-skinned Blacks—often the children of slaves and their white masters—received better treatment.  “They were the ones who maybe worked in the house, as opposed to the darker-skinned Africans who worked in the fields who were beaten more readily,” explained historian Anthony Browder.

     The program featured Marita Golden, author of “Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex,” who stated that the lighter skin began to be associated with privilege and beauty.  She added that after emancipation, skin color continued to divide Blacks.  And then, light-skinned Blacks formed exclusive clubs.

     “These groups of people were called Blue Vein societies, because in order to ‘belong,’ the test of how light you were was could you see your blue veins through your skin?  And if they could, you were in,” she commented.

     Golden also referred to the “paper bag test,” a criterion one had to pass to get into some churches, fraternities, and nightclubs.  “The paper bag would be held against your skin.  And if you were darker than the paper bag, you weren’t admitted,” she said.

     “Animosity had to grow out of that unfair relationship,” Browder added.  “Darker-skinned Blacks began to resent light-skinned Blacks who were given opportunities to succeed.”

     Let me simply close with this:  Traditions—particularly discriminatory, self-defeating, odious and hateful ones—sometimes die hard. Or not at all. 

     You think? 

CLAIMING YOUR BEST LIFE!

          Wyatt’s Man Cave makes its grand return to the awesome LesBe Real Radio Talk and Mixcloud in one helluva H-U-G-E way, tackling a critical societal issue with a very special guest!

         That individual is Mr. HARTSEL C. SHIRLEY:  author, vocalist—and Intimate Partner Violence & Abuse (IPV/A) survivor.  Mr. Shirley reveals just how he overcame his harrowing experience with Intimate Partner Violence & Abuse—and then claimed his Best Life!   

     Then, Hartsel dishes about his captivating latest novel and slammin’ new CD.  All in all, it’s engrossing, riveting and inspiring talk! 

     To hear the uncut show, click on the link:

https://www.mixcloud.com/LesbeRealRadioTalk/claiming-his-best-life-hartsel-c-shirley-enters-wyatts-man-cave/?

     And, to hear the complete Wyatt’s Man Cave Library, visit:  www.mixcloud.com/wyatt-obrian-evans/

NATHANIEL OCTAVIUS-NERDO

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 15

“Four Simple Words of Comfort”

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman 

     It was so dark in the room that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It was so dark that I could probably hear a pin drop; that’s if a pin did drop. I know that if I were a kid, I would probably be scared, calling for my mommy.

    But I wasn’t scared! I actually felt safe. I felt like nothing or no one could harm me. I felt like I could handle anything in life. But that wasn’t always the case.

      A friend of mine told me this one day while we were having lunch. I have known Kevin since our college days at Tuskegee University. After graduation, he went into the military and traveled all over the world until he settled down in North Carolina and became a stock broker. I went to New York and became an engineer. And, we’ve kept in touch over the years and became great friends.

     During the years, we talked several times a month; and due to our busy schedules, we’d see each other occasionally.  And from time to time, we’d get together for weekends–either in North Carolina or New York.

     But this particular weekend, we decided to meet half-way and spend the weekend in Washington, D.C. We both had never been there, and were excited to see Obama’s House: the White House.

     So, on this particular Friday afternoon, we met in the lobby of the same hotel we were booked in.  For almost two years, I hadn’t seen him face-to-face; therefore, I was understandably excited.

     I arrived at the lobby first, anticipating the arrival of my old friend. I stared at the elevator doors, waiting for them to open for what seemed like an eternity. As I waited, I was thinking about the first time I met HIM. He was dating my slut of a roommate who was cheating on him with every Tom, Dick–and sometimes John. I felt bad for Kevin, and befriended him once he found out the truth by catching my roommate in bed with another guy! That was so long ago, and there we were.

     When the elevator doors finally opened, I was surprised to see that my once broad-shouldered, 220 pounds, 6’2” friend was now practically a skeleton of a man!  Now, he was about a “buck fifty,” bald, very slim–and walked with a cane. I tried my best not to show the surprised and concerned expression on my face.  However, I’m sure he immediately noticed it.

     As we did our welcome embrace, I was afraid I was hugging him to hard. I thought I might break him because he seemed so fragile. We stood there for a while and did out usual laughing and joking. It was just like old times except for the fact that I could not help but have the thought in the back of my mind that something was terribly wrong with him.

     We decided to go to lunch before we began sightseeing.  After that, we had dinner before we did the D.C. nightlife, looking for men.

     At lunch, we did our usual catching up on each other’s lives. He told me about his job as a stock broker, which he truly relished.  He loved “playing with other people’s money,” as he put it.

     I told him about working on Park Avenue in New York.  He remembered that I’d always dreamed about working there. And I told him that I was single mainly because I worked a lot—which he also did.  But on this trip, we both decided to forget about work and do a lot of playing.

     After some chit-chat back and forth, and laughing about this and that, he got silent for a moment.  I just stared at him because it was obvious that he had something on his mind. 

     The silence was eventually broken when he said “Honey, I have to tell you something.” He was smiling as he stared at me for another brief moment.

     “Sure, what’s up?” I replied, a concerned tone enveloping my voice. As I listened with great interests, he told me his story.

     “Well,” he said,” one day out of the blue, I woke up with chest pains. I didn’t think much of it. I just thought it was something I ate the night before. The pain would come and go, and still I didn’t think that it was serious. And you know how most of us Black men are; we don’t want to go to the doctor. We are supposed to be big strong men that can handle anything. But of course, sometimes that’s not true. Women are the strong ones and I commend them for that.

     “Anyway” he continued, “after a few weeks I decided to go to the doctor. I finally made it after canceling several appointments, thinking and praying my pain would go away.

     “After many tests, I went back to the doctor for my results. That’s when he informed me that I had lung cancer and that it was serious.”

     Needless to say, Kevin’s revelation took me aback!  But not just because he divulged this like he was telling me some “everyday event in his life.”  It was because he told me this with such a positive attitude, confidence and smile on his face.   And, I was especially affected by him adding that even if the radiation and chemo didn’t work, he’d “one day pass away to heaven.”

     Kevin admitted that he hesitated to tell people–especially his closest friends–because they immediately treated him differently. Obviously, I was concerned and sad when I realized the seriousness of all that he said. After a few comforting words from me and some words of assurance from him, he was still smiling like he was on top of the world; while I, on the other hand, tried my best to smile.

     I asked him:   “How can you be so upbeat about this?” 

     He responded that from time to time, he’d let the world stand still and listened to God tell him the four little words of comfort. I was confused by what he meant.

      Until he explained it.     

     He said, “When I first received my diagnosis, I sat on my couch numb from shock! I sat there for what seemed like hours. It felt like time stood still as I sat there alone. And I felt like I didn’t have anyone in the world…and I was scared!  Scared of what the future may hold or should I say, ‘may not hold’.

     “Finally I went into my bedroom and drew all the curtains to make the room completely dark. Then I lay on my bed. It was so dark in the room that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It was so dark that I could probably hear a pin drop; that is, if a pin did drop. I know that if I were a kid, I’d probably be scared and calling for my mommy. I wanted to shut the world out for a while. To make it seem like the world stood still while I came to grips with the reality of my situation.

     “I laid there for what seemed like an eternity until suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore. I actually felt safe!  I felt like nothing or no one could harm me. I felt like I could handle anything in life.

     “That’s because suddenly, I swore I heard God whisper in my ear the four simple words of comfort.  He whispered, ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’.

And then the Bible verse of Philippians 4: 6-7 filled my mind. It basically reads, ‘I can do anything with God who strengthens me if I just have faith’.

     “After a while of thinking about those four simple words, I realized that it was true:  “Everything IS gonna be alright’!  I can handle this.

     “And from that moment on, I smiled and enjoyed life the best I could. I realized that some things in life are going to be a test of faith: a test to make us stronger in life’s ups, down, trials and tribulations.

     “I decided that I was going to be strong and think positive. That’s why every day, I wake up with a smile on my face and count my blessings. Even though sometimes the chemo or radiation is so bad that I can hardly move. And sometimes, I get real sick and can’t get out of bed for a while. But I know everything’s gonna be alright.

     “So eventually, I got up, opened the curtains and let the sun and the world back into my blessed life.

     “But of course, like anyone else, sometimes I get down and lonely. Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and whisper in my ear, ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’. 

     “Sometimes we go through stuff and don’t tell anyone. We keep it locked away because we don’t want to be a burden to anyone.

     “But sometimes, we just need for them to give us a hug and whisper in our ear.”

     At that moment I stood, pulling Kevin up with me. I then hugged my dear friend and whispered in his ear, “Everything’s gonna be alright.” 

     It was such an extraordinary moment!  As we both exhaled, it seemed as if his positive energy was transferred to me  It seemed like the precious feeling of God’s love flowed through our bodies as I suddenly felt like I, too, could handle anything.

     That was five years ago. And today, Kevin is doing well. And from time to time, we still meet and chase men.

     Thinking back to that day, I realize that a positive attitude does indeed make a difference.   That’s why I always try to have a smile on my face to share with the world. A smile to let people know that life is great; and hopefully, that positive attitude will make someone’s day.

    To all the people out there who are going through trials and tribulations in their lives, you are not alone. Your God is by your side. 

    And it’s those people that we should give such simple things as a hug and a whisper of those four simple words of comfort in their ear.

    So hug someone today and whisper, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

Hot Tea and Ice 14

Parents Are People, Too!

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins

     Greetings, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers! I send a virtual shower of confetti and a round of kudos for the college graduates and their family members partaking of this month’s literary offering.  Regardless how long the journey took, you made it to the end and you should be celebrated.

     Along with college graduations, May meant Mother’s Day. Based on the cascade of profile pictures which blanketed social media, a lot of you have pretty fly mothers who know how to accessorize and strut. I also realize that for every picture of Momma and Mini-Me, there are those whose posts about that second Sunday reflected mothers who didn’t have the time, inclination or ability to be there for their offspring. Many people are estranged from their mothers due to old hurts, and the fresh pain of rejection.

     For many of us, that distance is necessary for our mental–and sometimes physical–safety.  But for others, it’s because they are clinching too tightly to things that happened in childhood.

     For many years, I was in the latter category. But this spring day, my advice to you is that sometimes, we have to let some of that stuff go.  If possible, we need to see our parents as persons now that we are adults–and stop seeing them with the eyes of a child.

Parents

     This is not to diminish the hurt, or disregard the damage done. But in order to heal, we have to really see and then try to understand the choices our parents have made.    Being adults ourselves, you know that adults make mistakes all the time; and if possible, we need to extend understanding and grace to our parents so that we can move beyond the past. 

     When I was six months old, my mother and I parted ways.  She sent me to my grandmother and great-grandmother to be raised in my hometown while she worked and attended school in the District of Columbia.  My mom wasn’t there when I lost my first tooth–or second or third, for that matter. She didn’t teach me how to ride a bike.  Nor did she stand by my side when I got my first library card.

     She was there when I had major surgery when I was five–but only for a brief period before she headed back to D.C. We didn’t reconnect until I was eight.  That was when my grandmother died and she came back home to live with my great-grandmother and me.

     My mom and I didn’t live together on our own until I was eleven.  Unfortunately, her reaction to something that occurred just added to my feeling of disconnection from her.  It was an incident with a neighborhood boy who simply didn’t understand that “no meant no.”

     You see, I loved my mom; however, I just didn’t like her that much. After all, you really can’t like someone whom you don’t know.

     So many times, we have trouble understanding the motivation behind our parents’ actions because we can’t see them as people.  We give more credit to people who cross our paths than to the woman who gave us life. Depending on the circumstances, I would like to suggest they deserve better.

     Getting to know the woman she was before she became your mother sometimes helps clear up misunderstandings, and helps form a bridge that will allow you to move closer together.

     Because so much of my early years was not spent with my mother, I never fully appreciated her and the sacrifices she made until I was well into my adult years. My mother–like so many others–sacrificed her time, talent and treasures in order to make a better place in the world for herself and myself.

     So last year, we began talking about who she was before, during, and after I made my appearance into the world. We addressed misgivings and hurt feelings and began building a stronger relationship.

     It is not going to be an easy fix, but I feel it’s worth the effort to start understanding the woman that is my mother. I encourage others who are ready to entertain the thought to reach out.

     Until next time, Adios, au revoir, and I “holler!”


LaToya Hankins is the author of SBF Seeking, and K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood.  Currently, LaToya is an employee of the State of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services department.  Prior to that, she worked for nearly a decade in the field of journalism.  An East Carolina University graduate, LaToya earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, with a minor in political science. 

During her college career, LaToya became a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and currently is the president of the Chapel Hill, N.C. graduate chapter. As well, she is a co-founder and currently serves as the chair of Shades of Pride (SOP), a LGBTQ organization that hosts a yearly event in the Triangle area. SOP’s mission is to create opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of North Carolina’s LGBTQ communities. 

You may reach LaToya at her on line home, www.latoyahankins.com; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com; Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins; and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

The “Electric Eroticism” of Aaron Paul

     Wyatt’s Man Cave (WMC) has returned to the awesome LesBe Real Radio Talk and Mixcloud in one helluva H-U-G-E way!

     This very special eppy of Wyatt’s Man Cave is a “Salute to Mr. Aaron Paul!”   I welcome this innovative and sensational British international recording artist, who was discovered by the one-and-only Simon Cowell!

    Aaron dishes about how he met Simon; his continuing musical journey; and of course, “Electric Erotic”–his dynamic, critically-acclaimed new album!  And, my irrepressible sidekick, Ms. Caroleena Devereaux Cumshot–Drag Queen Supreme–mixes it up with Aaron!  All in all, it’s engaging, absorbing and stimulating talk!   

One-On-One With Angela!

     Recently, I had the honor and distinct pleasure of being Angela Stribling’s special guest on her wildly popular radio show, “Pillow Talk With Angela.” The program is “an aural aphrodisiac of provocative relationship talk set to a sexy soundtrack of top shelf R&B, jazz and lounge” music. 

     Arguably, the iconic Ms. Stribling is best known for her TV career on Black Entertainment Television (BET) as host of “Screen Scene,” that network’s premier entertainment news program.  As well, she launched “BET Jazz.”  Her prodigious broadcast career also includes noteworthy positions at WTTG-TV, WJZ-TV, WOL-AM Radio and American Urban Radio Networks. 

     The centerpiece of our in-depth conversation was Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A).  We examined this demoralizing and potentially life-threatening behavior:  its root causes, warning signs, and complete cycle of abuse.  As well, I discussed how victims can make their “Great Escape”— the term I’ve coined for my national seminars and workshops.

     Finally, we “dished” about my latest novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  The overarching theme of “FRENZY!”  is IPV/A.  All in all, it was an informative—and riveting—experience!

    “Pillow Talk With Angela” airs Tuesday through Saturday, from Midnight ‘till 2 a.m., on Howard University Radio (WHUR 96.3 FM and Whur.com).

    To listen to the full, uncut interview, click:  here. 

Accelerate Those Positive Affirmations! 

         I’m  Special Consultant to ViiV Healthcare’s “Positive Affirmations–ACCELERATE!” Initiative, a bold community engagement effort targeted to Black Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With men (MSM) who reside in and around Baltimore, Maryland.  This groundbreaking Initiative is designed to empower these individuals through health and wellness.

         The overarching goals of “Positive Affirmations–ACCELERATE!” are:  “(1) to connect Black men who identify as Gay, Bisexual, Same Gender Loving or practice MSM Behavior to both formal and personal networks of support; 2) to assist in breaking down stigma and isolation; and 3) to tackle challenges related to homophobia, racism, HIV, mental health and substance abuse. The program efforts will also expand Black Gay men’s knowledge and understanding of how to access care, advocate for high-quality HIV prevention, treatment and care as well as assist them in meeting their goals to obtain the best quality health care.”    

         So, “ACCELERATE!” your “Positive Affirmations!”  Join us for our second Saturday’s ManDate Baltimore “Get Together” Meeting which is scheduled on May 20th, from 4PM-7PMat the GLCCB (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center), located at 2530 North. Charles Street (3rd Floor), Baltimore, MD, 21218 (N. Charles & 25th Sts).  Do spread the word, and invite/bring individuals with you.  A delicious meal will served.    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Carlton Smith (carltonsmith@gmail.com) or Duane Taylor (duane@taylor-wilksgroup.com .) Or, call:  443-218-2478.  And, visit the ManDate Baltimore Meeting Event Page on Facebook.

         In particular, I’ll be lending my expertise involving Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) to the Initiative.    As a journalist, motivational speaker and advocate, IPV/A is my signature issue.  And, IPV/A is the overarching theme of my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  To learn what esteemed individuals have stated about “FRENZY!”,visit:  wyattevans.com/what-folks-are-sayin-about-frenzy/

        The Center for Black Equity Baltimore and the Taylor-Wilks Group are administering this crucial Initiative.