Author Archives: Wyatt O'Brian Evans

Welcome, 2017!

     I want to wish each and every one of you a fulfilling, joyous and prosperous New Year!  Now, let’s make 2017 a meaningful and rewarding adventure.

     2016 was another banner and stellar year for me, and I thank God and Jesus Christ for the continued blessings.  I’m truly humbled.

     I’m elated that through WYATTEVANS.COM, I continue to reach and touch more and more of you in substantive, engaging, informative and entertaining ways!  I’m proud to say that LGBTQ folk and their Allies from all walks of life in over NINETY Countries visit my on line home.

     And speaking of WYATTEVANS.COM, my Community of Guest Columnists— LaToya Hankins, R. L. Norman, Buster Sly and Carlton Smith—continue to deliver their timely, progressive, thought-provoking and unique insights and POV’s on issues that impact LGBTQ individuals and their Allies.  I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their amazing creativity and efforts!  And later in 2017, I’ll add more Columnists to the roster.

     This year, I’m embarking on an exciting, critical and much-needed project:  I’ve been selected as Special Consultant for ViiV Healthcare’s “Positive Affirmations—ACCELERATE!” Initiative.  The project is a bold community engagement effort targeted to Black MSMs (men who have sex with men) who reside in and around Baltimore, Maryland.  To learn more about The Initiative, visit:  wyattevans.com/its-all-about-positive-affirmations/

     And, “Good Golly, Ms. Molly!”  On January 12, 5 PM ET/ 2 PM CT, I’m back on the airwaves!  My new radio program, entitled “WYATT’S MAN CAVE,” is produced by the highly-regarded and popular LesBe Real Media.  My new show  explores and tackles men’s relationship and wellness issues.  HOT guests come into my Domain.  “WYATT’S MAN CAVE” is provocative, raw…and real!  To get the scoop, visit: wyattevans.com/enter-wyatts-man-cave/

     As you know, the exhilarating, decidedly DEE-LI-CIOUS and explosive brand new installment in my “NOTHING CAN TEAR US APART”series of novels has just been released!  Entitled “FRENZY!”, it’s a real roller coaster ride–and is continuing to receive rave reviews!  My national “FRENZY! Book Tour–2017” rolls on through the New Year—along with my Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) seminars and workshops.  For the 411, visit: wyattevans.com/nothing-can-tear-us-about-frenzy-book/

     Along with all THAT, I’m finalizing some kick-ass projects that I’m not allowed to speak about right now!  But when I can, you’ll be the first to know.  (LOL) Stay tuned, ‘cause they are gonna freakin’ blow your collective mind!

     I wholeheartedly plan to make 2017 my absolute B-E-S-T!  Make sure you do the same.

      And have BIG FUN doin’ it!!!

Hot Tea and Ice 10

Looking Back to Move Forward

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins

 

    Greeting and Salutations, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!  Can you believe it has been an entire twelve months since we were introduced? My, doesn’t time fly! For those whose 2016 has been filled with all kinds of shiny and new things, I send thoughts of congratulations and celebrations.

    For others, this has been a year filled with losses and setbacks. For you, I offer a virtual hug and hope things are looking better and brighter.

    We only have to look at the in-memoriam ticker running on our TV news programs to realize that a lot of our great talents and loved ones shed this earthly coil and became the dearly departed.  Also, depending on how your voter’s registration card looked, the election results may not have been your preferred outcome.

    But in a few weeks, an electronic apple, peach, acorn, or whatever your municipalities use to mark the transition will drop, and 2016 will be in the record books–and a new year will be on deck.

    2017 is a blank slate right now. It awaits our actions to define how it will be remembered. Will this be the year our greatest hopes will be realized?  Or will this year be filled with disappointments so profound that it makes the heart heavy? Who knows?

    The new year is ripe with potential to inspire, impress, and improve our lives in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. But with all this looking forward, let’s not forget how we got here.

    There is a saying about what happens when you don’t remember past mistakes. It implies that forgetting incorrect actions results in those actions being repeated. No matter what happened during the past 365 days–be it good, bad, or indifferent–we should not let the lessons learned to stay in the past. We need to bring them forth, and be prepared to put them to good use.

    For me, 2016 provided so many opportunities! I began writing this column, reconnected with three friends through social media who saw me through the best and worst of times, and pursued an opportunity to enlarge my family unit.

    The year also resulted in me losing a member of my family who helped influence my view of what a true man should be–lover of family and friends, faithful to his church and community, and not afraid to get his hands dirty when the time called for it.  That family member was my great-uncle, who after serving in the Korean War, was both a gardener and garbage man.   

    I also bade a final farewell to one of the LGBTQ Pride organizers I had worked with for the past seven years. She was an inspiration and influence to so many dominant lesbian women in the Durham community.

    As well, she was someone I considered a friend. Her influence was so strong that my fiancee asked her thoughts about proposing to me—along with asking my mother for my hand in marriage.

    And through the evolution of two of the organizations I work with, I also came to realize that my leadership styles needed to be tweaked in order to be successful and faithful to the causes I supported.

    In short, 2016 gave me the opportunities to learn so many lessons. The challenge for me, for you, for us all is to take those lessons and move forward with them. Sometimes, unlike Lot’s wife, you have to look back to appreciate where you are going.

    We have to realize that while the erroneous steps we took in the past can’t be wiped out, we can still move forward in a better direction if we apply the lessons our mistakes provide us. 

    There is no shame in admitting that our actions weren’t always the best and that the outcomes weren’t always good. While dwelling in the past never saved anyone, seeing where you went wrong and avoiding doing the same thing again is a solution that doesn’t cost. Your experience is proof of bill paid.

    Time should allow us to see more clearly what went wrong, and that a new year is the opportunity to take that insight and move forward. Reflect on the situations, retain the lessons you learn–and realize you can move forward.

    Many of us begin the New Year with a list filled with things we are going to do differently. That’s great!  But accept that one of the best ways to be successful is to acknowledge the times you failed, so that you can take that knowledge to strengthen your resolve to get it right this time.

    I hope to learn from my past to let people know when I appreciate what and how they do things, instead of assuming they know how I feel. I also want to be more diligent about being open to other people’s ideas instead of operating in the following way:  that just because director/president goes behind my name, it  doesn’t mean I can’t be challenged and open to different methods of doing things. 

    My motto for 2017 is this:  as long as I can open my eyes on a new day, there is a chance to improve on my mistakes and avoid making new ones. Part of that plan is to think about what I have experienced so I can appreciate and handle what is coming for and to me.  I encourage us all to reflect and be open to using that knowledge to shape what lies ahead.

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 La Toya at her on line home, www.latoyahankins.com; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com; Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins; and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

Wyatt's Man Cave

Enter Wyatt’s “Man Cave!”

COME INTO MY DOMAIN!

On Thursdays @ 5 PM ET/2 PM CT, I’m back on the Airwaves with a brand new radio program!

As some of you know, my former radio program, The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Show, had been on hiatus. And then, the dynamic, highly respected and always on the move LesBe Real Media afforded me a FAB-U-LOUS opportunity to create Wyatt’s Man Cave, which I wholeheartedly accepted! I’m delighted to now be part of the LesBe Real Family. One helluva way to kick off the New Year!

Wyatt’s Man Cave centers on gay/SGL men’s relationship and wellness issues. And, noteworthy, distinguished and diverse LGBTQ individuals and their Allies are gonna join in to talk the talk with me!

And guess what? I’ll have an UN-DE-NIAB-LY raucous and wild co-host dropping in from time to time: Ms. Caroleena Devereaux CumshotDrag Queen Supreme!

Wyatt’s Man Cave is kick-azz EARGASM to curl Grown Folks’ toes…and tantalize their fantasies! And, it’s truly awesome that it’s comin’ to you from LesBe Real Media, whose mission is to “provide news, views, arts and entertainment supporting the LGBTQ community and its allies.” And in just three years, LesBe Real Media has reached over two million households.

And guess what? If you miss “Wyatt’s Man Cave” LIVE!, you can hear it on mixcloud.com/wyatt-obrian-evans/

It’s gonna be like, well…Freakin’ YOWZA!!!

So, “git yo’self” ready for Wyatt’s Man Cave! Click on the formal announcement:

LGBTQ, holidays!

Ditch 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!

santa-bro-2

     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.”

Muchos Gracias, M3!

     I wanna thank the MALE MEDIA MIND (M3) for having me as Special Guest on their Google Hangout Podcast!

     And kudos to host Mark O. Estes for asking entertaining and hard-hitting Qs!  Topics included my journey as a journalist and author–and my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  As well, I gave advice to aspiring authors who are driven to be successful.

     The in-depth interview was an awesome experience!  To view on YouTube, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBuf1hapY4E

Making a “Great Escape” from an Abusive Relationship

     I have ab-so-lute-ly outstanding news to share!  The Advocate, the premier—and Number One–international on-line and print LGBTQ media outlet, has just published my commentary on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A). 

     In this important piece, I discuss my very own personal experience with IPV/A– and how it has impacted me.  Additionally, I reveal why—as both a journalist and author—I’ve made this demeaning, demoralizing and potentially life-threatening behavior my clarion call.  IPV/A is the overarching theme of my “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels.  “FRENZY!” is the brand new installment.

     Thank you Advocate for assisting me in continuing to shine a bright light on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse!  To read my commentary, visit:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2016/12/06/making-great-escape-abusive-relationship

Me & M3

        The “FRENZY!-fication” just keeps rollin’ on and on…and on! 

        On Friday, December 9 @ 7 PM ET/4 PM PT, I’ll sit down for an extensive interview at The Male Media Mind (M3) Hangout.  The Male Media Mind unifies the Black Bear Community through dialogue, insight, creativity and knowledge.  

           Being a “Bear Aficionado,” I’m elated to be M3’s very special guest!  So on Friday, join host Mr. Mark O. Estes and me—and get freakin’ “FRENZY!-fied!”

       For more info on how to be a part of the festivities, visit www.malemediamind.com and the Male Media Mind/Wyatt O’Brian Evans Event Page on Facebook.  

The “FRENZY!-fication” Is Soooo International!!!

     I’m delighted that I’m the special guest on the Carry on Harry Radio Show, Wednesday, November 30th @ 7 PM ET/ 4 PM PT

     Join host Harry Johal and I on this dynamic online international radio show originating from the Republic of Singapore.  Carry on Harry features celebrities and experts. 

     I’ll discuss my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, my work in the field of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, my journey as an authorand so much more! 

     To tune in, visit:  www.carryonharry.comYou don’t wanna miss this special event!

ALL Bear

Feel the Intense ‘FI-YAH’ of the “FRENZY!”

     Yo!  FEEL the “Fi-Yah” (fire)! 

     The latest issue of ALL BEAR (November/December 2016) magazine is now available!  With its informative, real…and erotic features, I’ve bestowed upon ALL BEAR the title, “The Playboy of the U. K. (United Kingdom).”

      What’s wayyyyyyy cool about this issue is that I sit down with Mr. Colin Gunn, publisher, for an in-depth and engrossing interview, which includes the lowdown on my brand spankin’ new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”   And as a bonus, there’s a sensual and sexy excerpt from “FRENZY!”  This is a red-hot, not-to-be-missed ALL BEAR exclusive! 

     To read all about it, visit: www.all-bear.co.uk.

The “FRENZY!-fication” Continues!!!

     R U ready to be “FRENZY!-fied” once again?  In that case mark the date: Thursday, DECEMBER 1 @ 7 PM ET, 4 PM PT! 

     I’m ab-so-lute-ly elated to be the very special guest of LesBe Real Radio Talk (LesBeRealRadio.com), hosted by Ms. DeAnn Cox.  It’s a witty, candid and informative online and FM based program that features guest/celebrity interviews, and focuses on trending topics, reviews and music—all for the LGBTQ Community and its allies. 

     So on December 1 @ 7 PM ET/ PM PT, it’s gonna be one helluva ride on LesBe Real Radio Talk– ‘cause it’s gonna be ALL about The “FRENZY!”   TRANSLATION:  be prepared to be, like…ALL Caught Up and To-Ta-Lee Swept Away! 

     For more info, visit:   https://www.facebook.com/events/1200988573287880/ And to listen LIVE!, visit:  www.LesBeRealRadio.com

Black Love

It’s All About “Positive Affirmations!” 

    I’m so very pleased and proud to announce that I’ve been selected as Special Consultant to ViiV Healthcare’s “Positive Affirmations–ACCELERATE!” Initiative, a bold community engagement effort targeted to Black Gay, Bisexual and Other MSM who reside in and around Baltimore, Maryland.

     The overarching goals of Positive Affirmations 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.
  3. And 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.”

     In particular, I’ll be lending my expertise regarding 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 Taylor-Wilks Group (TWG) is administering the Initiative, in collaboration with The Center for Black Equity Baltimore.

The “FRENZY!” Is Now ‘Across The Pond’!

     News Flash!  “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” has become international!  The riveting novel has traveled “across the pond,” to the United Kingdom!

     BlackOut UK (blkoutuk.com) has just written a major feature on “FRENZY!”  Created by a collective of Black gay/SGL men, BlackOut UKis an influential, non-profit enterprise.  BlackOut UK “recognizes and celebrates the diversity of experience and views among black queer men in the UK (extending even to what we call ourselves) and are seeking to create spaces to explore and reflect on our commonalities and differences.”

     To read the feature in its entirety, visit:  https://blkoutuk.com/2016/11/05/read-actions-speak-louder-wyatt-obrian-evans/

The Rainbow Times Has The “FRENZY!”

     Ab-so-lute-ly outstanding news!  The Rainbow Times, the largest and most influential publication dedicated to the LGBTQ community and its allies, has penned a cover story on Yours Truly—and my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” 

     It was truly an awesome experience!  I want to thank Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief, and Gricel Ocasio, Publisher, for this exceptional opportunity.

     To read the full article, visit:  http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/frenzy-reveals-provocative-insight-gay-men-color-ipva-bullying-mental-illness/

The “FRENZY!” D.C. Launch

        The “FRENZY!-fication” continues!

         It all goes down on Monday November 7, at 6 p.m., and is hosted by BRUHS (Book Reading Uplifts His Spirit)!  I’ll perform selected readings from my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”

        This special event is free and open to the public.  And, I’ll be signing copies of “FRENZY!”

        The event location is The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street, N.W., D.C., at Lower Level A, Room A5.

        Don’t miss the festivities, ‘cause I’m gonna whip y’all UP into a freakin’ “FRENZY!” 

        For additional details, utilize the contact information at:  wyattevans.com/contact/

Frenzy! Atlanta Launch

The “FRENZY!” Atlanta Launch

     Wanna “git all ‘FRENZY!-fied’?”  You can do just that at the “FRENZY!” Atlanta Launch!

     Date and time:  Friday, November 4, from 7 to 9 p.m.  Location:  The Rush Center, 1530 DeKalb Avenue, N.E., downtown Atlanta.  I’ll perform select readings from “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  As well, I’ll conduct an Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) seminar.

     In The Life Atlanta (ITLA) is sponsoring this special event, which is free and open to the public.  And, I’ll be signing copies of “FRENZY!”

     Don’t miss the festivities, ‘cause I’m gonna whip y’all UP into a freakin’ “FRENZY!” 

     For additional details, utilize the contact information at:  http://wyattevans.com/contact/

Hot Tea and Ice 9

Family Matters:  Not the TV Show

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins 

     Greeting and Salutations, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!  The holiday time is upon us with all the trappings that come with it. Travels plans will be made. Diets will be broken. And of course, the holidays are also the time that the concept of how much family matters is held up as a standard.

     For many of us, family is a mother who complains either you put on too much weight, or it looks like you aren’t eating enough. It is that cousin who needs to borrow money and promises to pay you back when she gets her income tax check. Don’t forget about that one aunt who never misses a chance to ask when you are going to find a good woman and settle down, totally ignoring the fact that you have brought Darryl as your plus-one for ten years to every family gathering.

     The coming together of those who share your last name and some of your facial features takes place throughout the year–but really starts being a constant factor during the latter half of the year. We gather around Thanksgiving tables, Christmas trees, Kwanzaa mkekas, and plates of pork and greens to mark the New Year. The families we are born into share laughs about old memories, shed tears for those no longer with us, and swap differing viewpoints about issues.

     For every one of us who looks forward to spending time with our assigned families, there are those who shiver at the thoughts of spending one hour, minute, or second with our relatives. Those families shame, shun, and silence those who don’t meet their expectations.  As the saying goes, no one can hurt you more than your family.  And for so many, this is especially true during the holidays.

LaToya Hankins

     This year will mark the fourth holiday I will spend with my partner and my forty-fourth one with my mom. This year, however, will be my first one with a trio of young people I hope will become part of my larger family unit.

     My partner and I recently went through foster parent treatment, and are looking to open our hearts and homes to a set of extended relatives seeking a safe place to grow and thrive.  We are in the process of starting our own version of family.

     We all have created families that go beyond the ones we are born into. For some, family is the neighbor who looked out for your place when you traveled out of town; and in return, you blessed that neighbor with the outpouring of your kitchen. For others, it is your work buddy, her wife, their kids and the baby daddy who makes the bomb mac and cheese–so they let him come around during the holidays. Still, for some, it’s your “boys” who have been with you through one wife, two boyfriends, three jobs, and more nights spent at the club that either of you will ever want to admit.  However family shows up, the point is that it’s a family that we create.

     I encourage us all to be open to redefining our views of family, and challenge us to keep that definition fluid as life changes. Accept what life hands you, and shape it to ensure that you always have someone around you that supports and nurtures you.

     In creating a new family structure, embrace the fact that you don’t have to spend extraordinary amounts of time with folks who don’t love you for who you are at this stage in your life. There are too many ride-sharing programs and public transportation options to spend a minute more with someone who doesn’t celebrate you. Family obligations are burdens that sometime have to be carried, but guard your spirit as much as you can to avoid it breaking you.  While Uncle Skinny is going on about whatever his liquor is telling him to talk about, turn your mind toward the gathering you are going to have with the family that loves you.

     The key to the family is not if you all look alike or even think alike. The value of creating your own version of family is that you understand each other and want the best things possible. I challenge us to respect the family we have created, and flourish from the strength it gives to accept ourselves.

      So this year, when I grasp hands to say the traditional Thanksgiving recitations of things for which I am grateful, there will be three extra names and experiences I will list.  And, I will do this surrounded by someone who shares my last name, someone who shares my home, and someone who shares my hope for a future filled with great things.

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 La Toya at her on line home, www.latoyahankins.com; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com; Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins; and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

Structural Inequality Fuels HIV in Black MSM

   A brand new—and perhaps controversial—study has uncovered that economic insecurity, housing instability and stigma largely shape the sexual relationships of many African-American men who have sex with men (MSM).  According to this study, these structural inequalities influence the kinds of relationships and sexual behaviors that men have.

     It’s a fact that the bulk of HIV prevention interventions and studies focus on the individual. However, according to Columbia University’s Caroline Parker in an article published in Culture, Health and Sexuality, “Our research underlines the continued need to attend to the structural drivers of HIV among Black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.”

     Before we drill deeper into the study, let’s define the term structural inequality. It’s the condition where one category of individuals are ascribed an unequal status in relation to other categories of persons.  This relationship is perpetuated and reinforced by a confluence of unequal relations in roles, functions, decisions, rights and opportunities.

     Between 2013 and 2014, Parker and her colleagues conducted a qualitative, ethnographic study in New York City.  Roger Pebody states in his Aidsmap.com article, “Structural Inequalities Create Vulnerability to HIV for Black Gay Men in New York,” “In-depth interviews were conducted with 31 black MSM and participant observation was conducted in locations frequented by black MSM (such as parks, community organizations and house parties).  In addition, 17 community advocates and healthcare professionals were interviewed.

     “Amongst the men interviewed, whose average age was 29, social problems were common.  Ten had spent time in prison, 15 were unemployed, 16 had housing problems, and nine had no health insurance.  Five men told the researchers that they were living with HIV.  Whereas half identified as ‘gay,’ the others described themselves in a variety of ways, including bisexual, straight, discrete and having no sexual identity.”

      According to the study, men who struggle with housing instability and unemployment sometimes used sex to meet their material needs.  They described exchanging sex for shelter, food, clothing, the payment of phone bills and taxis, alcohol and drugs.  Some used dating app profiles to sell sex.

     And, the men’s precarious circumstances constrained their ability to negotiate condoms.  One man explained:  “’Okay.  If you are eating and you have clothing, you have shelter, you’re probably going to resist it and a very blatant resistance.  But if you are hungry, that’s a different ballgame.  I can sit here and tell you I’m a very proud person but you let my stomach rumble for more than three days, okay, you can call me’.”

     Pebody wrote, “While sex without a condom put men at risk of HIV, a lack of food or shelter might have a more immediate impact.  Men made choices which made sense to them in their current circumstances (for example, having multiple partners to access temporary housing and other resources).  Interviewees with fewer economic problems had different approaches to sexual relationships which did not reflect these pressing economic considerations.”

     The researchers took note of the way in which different places and environments formed men’s sexual relationships.  Some of the interviewees stated that they had experienced disapproval or homophobia in their family homes.  As a direct result, four of the men were made homeless. 

depression-20

     As well, many men did not introduce male sexual partners to family members; consequently, sex was more likely to occur at a partner’s home or in a public space.  Recalled one interviewee: “’I couldn’t bring any company over or they couldn’t stay overnight or whatever, (but my brother) could bring girls over and there was discrimination towards me with my mom’.”

     According to Pebody, “Some men who lived independently also avoided bringing male partners home because of homophobic reactions from landlords or neighbors.  Men sometimes felt unsafe in their own homes.

     “Many respondents met partners and had sex with them in parks, streets, sports clubs, trains, supermarkets and restaurants.  This was particularly the case for men with unstable or no housing, and for men who identified as straight or discreet.  These meetings might be arranged on apps like Jack’d and Grindr. 

     “These interactions were usually rushed—men were afraid of being observed by other people, being assaulted or being arrested. The rush meant that condoms were less likely to be used.”

     Respondents of the study stated that they went to gay bars and nightclubs, particularly those frequented by Black and Latino men.  According to the respondents, they felt that these settings were safer places to socialize and meet other MSM (men who have sex with men).

     “For men who sold sex, bars provided some protection against the police,” wrote Pebody.  “Men with housing difficulties sometimes went to clubs to find ‘a generous friend’ with a place to stay. However, commercial venues did not always feel welcoming to men who did not have money for drinks or the right clothes to wear.”

     The researchers concluded:  “’Among most of the men in this sample, the pursuit of same-sex relationships took place in a social context characterized by economic insecurity, housing instability, and widespread stigma and discrimination.  We draw attention to how men’s position in a social structure configures their opportunities, restrictions and priorities in sexual relationships and how these shape their choices and behaviors in health-relevant ways’.”

Louder Than The Silence!

      WESURVIVEABUSE.COM, the well-respected and go-to-it domestic violence and abuse online resource, has honored Yours Truly by featuring my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  The overarching theme of “FRENZY!” is Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A),which is domestic violence and abuse within the LGBTQ Community.  IPV/A–demoralizing and potentially life-threatening behavior–significantly impacts the LGBTQ Community.

        Tonya GJ Prince is the founder of Wesurviveabuse.com.  An expert in both domestic and sexual violence issues, Ms. Prince has more than two decades of experience in these critical arenas. Her particular emphasis is crisis counseling and education.  Herself a survivor, the prolific Ms. Prince is an author, advocate, counselor, motivational speaker and mentor.

tonya-2

     To read the feature, visit:  www.wesurviveabuse.com/2016/10/the-forbidden-truth-about-intimate.html  Tonya, thanks for your invaluable, continuing support!

Thanks, Big Boy Project!

      I want to thank Mr. James Butler, Founder of The Big Boy Project (BBP) and Mr. Mark O. Estes for having me as their very special guest for an exclusive LIVE! interview!

      The experience was outstanding!  It was substantive, full of energy!  We got all caught up in the“FRENZY!”—which is my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  As well, I discussed my writer’s process, my coming out experience…and MORE! 

      See the entire Wyatt O’Brian Evans Interview LIVE!  on YouTube!  Here’s the link: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6uJ_hYWeuA

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 13

“Hands Down, Hands Up” 

Guest Writer:  R. L. Norman 

      As I sat in the back of the car waiting, I was blinded by all the flashing lights. Vehicles were slowing down as they passed by, with the drivers trying to get a glimpse of what was happening. With all the people who were trying to get a look at me, you would have thought I was a movie star!

     I will admit that the scene did look like something out of a movie–as I sat there with my head down, trying not to show my face.

     I was nervous as I waited for what seemed like an eternity. And who wouldn’t be nervous as they sat handcuffed in the back of a police car like I was?

     You see, in a split-second, my life was turned upside down.

     An hour ago, everything was fine! I was at a bar hanging out with some friends. We were having a great time laughing, joking, meeting and greeting.

     During the evening, the bartender approached and placed a drink in front of me. He motioned across to a handsome gentleman.

     I picked up the free drink, looked towards him, and nodded, “Thank you.”

     He smiled back! And within minutes, he was sitting next to me–hypnotizing me with his dark brown eyes.  

     We talked for a while as I tried to envision him naked. I tried to picture him and me in our “birthday suits,” rolling around the bed exploring each other’s bodies–and feeding our sexual desires! As he was staring into my eyes, he was taking over my mind. That’s how intrigued I was. 

      At one point, I was so worked up that the bulge rising in the front of my pants was becoming obvious. So, I excused myself.  I told him I’d be right back as I made my way to the restroom.

     When I returned, my new friend had bought me another drink.

    After a while, my friends came up to me, saying they were ready to leave.

     Of course, my new friend wanted me to stay.  However, I declined:  mainly because I’d had my three-drink limit. One thing I never, ever do is drink and drive. I know my limit and when to go straight home.  That’s what I intended to do.

     After exchanging phone numbers, he was rather persistent in wanting to walk me to my car.  I figured that he wanted to place his sweet lips on mine and kiss me goodnight. But my friends intervened, and we all walked out together.

     And the last thing I remembered was getting into my car! After that, the next thing I knew was that the police were knocking on my driver’s side window, asking me to get out of the car.

     I was so dazed and confused that I didn’t know where I was! As I got out of the car, I noticed the one in front of mine. It was obvious that I’d hit this vehicle because there was damage to both cars.

R.L. Norman

    I stood with my hands up as the cop kept asking me for my license and registration.

    “OMG, what did I do? I hope I didn’t hurt anyone.” Those were the thoughts ringing in my head as I struggled to remember what had transpired.

     After I told the cop several times that I didn’t know what had happened, he told me to put my hands down as he handcuffed me.  Then, he put me in the back of the police car.

     As I sat there looking at all the chaos that was happening around me, I tried to recall the events of the evening. The police assumed that I was a drunk driver that crashed into another car.

     Luckily, my case turned out well. First of all, thank God no one was hurt! But my precious mini-cooper did have serious front-end damage. After the police investigated, they realized that I was not driving drunk– but instead had been drugged. You see, the man I met at the bar spiked my drink. He was a con artist who tried to walk me to my car and have me pass out so that he could rob me–and then steal my car.  Thankfully, the police caught him.

     But during this entire ordeal, I was not scared of the cops. The police treated me well. I did not feel threatened. They did not harass me or overexert their power. They were simply doing their job.

     That happened thirty years ago, in 1986. During those days, we were not afraid of the police. And the police were not openly afraid of us as black men.

     But now, in the year 2016, times have changed. It seems like every day we hear about another senseless killing of a black man by a white cop. It seems like every day we hear about a white cop pulling over a black driver–who ends up dead.

     It’s funny how times seem to come full circle. Back in the day, black slaves were afraid of their white masters. They would try their best not to cause any problems, in fear of being hurt or even killed by their masters.

     It seems like that is what is happening now. We, as black men, have to be afraid of the white police officer.  We are in fear that we will wind up on that long list of black men being murdered by the law.  And, we fear that the police have a “shoot to kill” attitude instead of shoot to wound.  As well, there’s that fear that we are being executed to slowly diminish the black population.

    Just like the black slaves were afraid to be killed by their masters, we are afraid that we will be murdered by the very ones who are supposed to protect and serve us. And afraid that slowly it will be us against them–a test of survival.

    However, all cops are not bad. But unfortunately these days, we can’t tell who is good or bad. We have to be careful because it appears that if we make the slightest movement while in the presence of an officer, it will result in the “stamp of approval” to murder us.  

    So, it seems that we are going back to the days of slavery where we as black men have to fear the so-called master–now the police.

    These days, hands down we have to be afraid of the police–with our hands up. God help us all.


        R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  The latest installment entitled, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask I Won’t Tell,” is now available in e-book format.  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.”  And his Podcast, “Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else,debuted January 1 on itunes.  All of these endeavors are part of his production company, Honey Let Me Tell You.  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.

The Big Boy Project

Kickin’ It With BBP!

     I’m proud to announce that The Big Boy Project (BBP) has got me for an exclusive interview!  It all goes down on Monday, October 17, @8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. CST on Google Hangouts. 

     BBP, the popular and celebrated infotainment website, is an “oasis for bigger guys!”  And of course, I’ll be whippin’ up a “FRENZY!”—among other “thangs!”  It’s an experience you won’t wanna miss!

     RSVP at The Big Boy Project Event Page, at thebigboyproject.comSo, c’mon:  let’s all “git our ‘FRENZAAAYYYYYY!’ on!!!

Old fashioned Microphone

Thanks, Big Meach!

     I wanna thank Mr. Demetris Dennis Taylor, aka “Big Meach,” for my recent appearance on his nationally-syndicated and wildly popular radio program, “Dishing Tea With Big Meach!” 

     We dished all “thangs” “FRENZY!” —and a whole host of other amazing topics.  It was lively, substantive, full of energy—with mucho cray-cray craziness!

     For the entire show—uncut and uncensored—visit:    

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dishing-tea/2016/10/12/wyatt-obrian-evans-has-now-put-us-into-a-frenzy.

     Now, go on “wit yo’ badddd self—and git yo’ ‘FRENZZZAAAYYYY!’ on!!!

Just Dishin’ It With Big Meach!

     On Wednesday, October 12 @ 1 p.m. EST, I’ll be the special guest on Dishing Tea with Big Meach!  This mah-va-lous-ly and wildly popular nationally-syndicated radio program goes down each and every Wednesday on Blog Talk Radio.

     Yours Truly will be dishin’ “all thangs”  “FRENZY!”…and MO’!  It’s gonna be one helluva raucous, raw and no-holds barred experience!  And oh so real.

     To get in on the action, visit:  www.blogtalkradio.com/dishing-teaOr, call in and be a part of the cray-cray craziness on 347-205-9183!

Wyatt Evans

“FRENZY!” Media Kick Off Event

     I want to thank host MS. SANDY RODGERS for having me as this week’s very special guest on Life Love Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show—the popular, inspirational and empowering nationally-syndicated radio program!  We had an absorbing conversation about my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  Life Love Wellness was the “FRENZY!” Kick Off Media Event.

     Since Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)–also known as domestic violence and abuse–is the overarching theme of “FRENZY!”, we also discussed this horrendous and potentially life-threatening behavior. 

     The experience was AWESOME!  It was a huge slice of engaging, informative and lively radio! Here’s the link to the uncut program:  http://tobtr.com/s/9509123 

     Life Love Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show!  Every Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CST!  Call in on 516-531-9819 or online at blogtalkradio.com/sandyrodgers to be a part of the conversation!

“Ferraris & Football”

“Ferraris & Football”

     Yo!  Guess what?  I’ve just had the super-cool opportunity to create and write a short saga exclusively for Mr. James Butler’s The Big Boy Project (BBP)!  And the exhilaration of crafting“Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” provided me with such consuming waves of creativity and energy!   

     As you know, BBP is a dynamic and cutting edge infotainment site that is specifically designed for larger men—and those who have an affinity for themIt truly is an oasis for bigger guys.

     My short saga is entitled “Ferraris & Football (F & F),” and there’s a hell of a lot behind the meaning of that catchy title!  It’s the story of Shon and WAR, two masculine, big muscle bear boyz who “git all caught up” in a tangled and quite messy “LUV THANG.”  

      “Ferraris & Football” is a fast-paced, masculine romantic adventure.  And of course, it has that Wyatt O’Brian Evans signature mix of rich drama, intrigue—and sexual “hawtness!”  And Lawd and Geesus:  there’s one twist of a breathtaking cliffhanger!

     And who knows:  Yours Truly very well might turn “F & F” into sumthin sumthin regular!  Only time will tell….

     So, jump on over to The Big Boy Project, and get your “Ferraris & Football!”  Visit: www.thebigboyproject.com/blog.

The Sandy Rodgers Show

“FRENZY!” In the Evening!

     On Tuesday, October 4 @ 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST, I’ll be the Special Guest on Life Love Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show—a popular, inspirational and empowering nationally-syndicated radio program!  Sandy and I will have a conversation about my brand new novel, “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  

     Since Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)–also known as domestic violence and abuse–is the overarching theme of “FRENZY!”, Sandy and I will discuss this critical and potentially life-threatening behavior.  Some of the questions we’ll answer include:  What causes IPV/A to happen? Should the victim stay in the marriage/relationship–or seek safety on the outside?  What are the warning signs?  What’s “Separation Assault” all about? 

     We’ll also talk about my journey as an author, what moves me…and much, much more!  And, I’ll entertain questions from callers. 

     Do join me on the evening of Tuesday, October 4 Be prepared for a slice of engaging, informative and lively radio!

     Life Love Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show!  Call in on 516-531-9819 or online atblogtalkradio.com/sandyrodgers to be a part of the conversation!

Frenzy!

The “FRENZY!” Is In Total Control!!!

     Ahhh, yeahhh!!!  As Little Richard says, “Good Golly, Miss Molly!”

     “FRENZY!”, the brand new installment in the “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels, hasjust arrived!  And, it’s well worth the wait!

     “FRENZY!”  is the continuing hawt saga of Wesley and Antonio, who struggle to nurture and maintain their romantic relationship against the odds—and the challenging and daunting obstacles that come their way!

     Now, here’s the 411 on “FRENZY!”

     What would you do after the man of your dreams battered you because he believed you’d been unfaithful?  Could you forgive this man to whom you’ve given every piece of your heart? 

     Then, what happens when a tragic accident causes you to split, to become another personality—one that’s deadly to the very core?

     And on top of that, what secrets are buried deep inside your soul mate?

     This is the continuing saga of Wesley and his partner Antonio, in “FRENZY!”– the latest installment of the popular, provocative, and mind-blowing “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels!

    So, does Wes reclaim his true self?  Can Wesley and Antonio work their way back to one another? 

     And, can they still vow that “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart?” 

 

     The rave reviews on “FRENZY!”  are already coming in!  Visit:  wyattevans.com/what-folks-are-sayin-about-frenzy/

     Hey!  Don’t get left out of all the rich drama, masculine romance, action, intrigue, twists and turns—and sexually-charged, provocative situations!  From start to finish, “FRENZY!”  is one helluva breathtaking, thrill ride! 

     “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”  is available at online retailers.  However, to receive your very own special 20 percent discount, make sure to order “FRENZY!” right here at Wyattevans.com.  Here’s the link:

wyattevans.com/nothing-can-tear-us-apart-frenzy-book/ 

     So, Y’all,  just “do it to it”: go on with yo’ baddddd selves, and git yo’  “FRENZY!”  on!!!

Jonathan Towslee

Jon Towslee: Supreme “FRENZY!”-aholic

     I’m happy to announce that Mr. Jonathan Towslee has become the President of the Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club!  Actually, one of the refrain’s from The Pointer Sisters’ megahit “I’m So Excited!” better describes my feeling.  Openly gay and hailing from Boston, Mr. Towslee is a financial industry executive and community activist. 

     I’m proud and privileged that Jon has come on board!  And to formally introduce him to everyone, I decided to present the following clever little tete a tete.  Here it is:

     WYATT:  Jon, welcome to WYATTEVANS.COMThanks for taking on the role of President of the Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club. 

     JON:  It’s my pleasure, Wyatt.

     WYATT:  Now Jon, you’ve been one of my earliest supporters.  I thank you for that.  So, why did you assume “The Presidency?”  (LOL.)

     JON:  As you know, I came to find out about you through some mutual connections on Facebook. Once that happened I went and visited your web site, listened to your radio shows and read your books and blogs.

     I realized right away through your various outlets, you were doing some powerful and important work in an area that often gets swept under the rug.  So, I took on the role of President because I immediately became a strong believer and supporter of what you’re trying to accomplish.

     You and I have had many conversations on where you envision your brand going, and I am honored to be there to help support and get you there.

     WYATT:  Jon, as MJ (Michael Jackson) might have said, “Tito…gimme a tissue.” I’m just joshing—I really appreciate your sentiments. 

     WYATT:  Now, I’m curious.  What three words best describe me?

     JON:  Jovial, Genuine and “Cocksure” (Sorry; the last one was just too good not to use!).

     WYATT:  LMAO!!!

     WYATT:  As President, what is your mission? 

     JON:  My mission is to keep you and your audience connected.  The next twelve months in particular will be huge for you.  As an Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) Advocate and Specialist, you’ll be conducting seminars/workshops across the country on this issue, which tends to be taboo in the LGBTQ Community.  As a Motivational Speaker and Lifestyle Coach, you’ll be speaking on substantive topics including depression and how to get the life you really want.  In several months, you’ll be relaunching your provocative radio program, “The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Show.” And of course, there’s your launch of “FRENZY!”, the latest installment in your “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart” series of novels.  I have a major role in planning the “FRENZY!” book tour and contests—and more.  So everyone:  stay tuned to WYATTEVANS.COM for news and updates. 

     WYATT:  Jon, in 50 words or less, give everyone the 411 on “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” 

     JON:  It’s a wild/crazy ride involving a couple who have gone through some deep/intense/emotional stuff, together and alone.

     WYATT:  Tell us:  Who are Wes and ‘Tonio, the main characters of “FRENZY!”?  Just who are they?  What kind of guys are they, anyway?

     JON:  Wes and ‘Tonio, the two compelling leads, are both very intense individuals who have gone through a lot of stuff in their lifetimes.  Collectively, they are soul mates, but have faced many challenges that often get in the way of keeping them together.

     WYATT:  Jon, what character trait of each man is most appealing to you—and why?

     JON:  For Wes, it’s his loyalty to the ones he loves.  For ‘Tonio, it’s his passion/dedication–even though that often gets him into trouble.

     WYATT:  Why does “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!” appeal to you?

      JON:  Great question, Wyatt.  Well, I have to say that “FRENZY!” has universal appeal—it resonates with such a broad audience.  Be you gay, straight, bisexual or transgender, you can relate toWes and ‘Tonio because these are two individuals who are deeply and passionately in love with each other on many levels, and are pushing back against the obstacles that throw their monogamous relationship in dire jeopardy.  These men are grounded in reality.

     Also, the reader is like a “fly on the wall.”  You feel that you are very much a part of what Wes and‘Tonio experience. 

     Additionally, “FRENZY!” explores topical and critical societal issues (including IPV/A, child sexual abuse and mental illness) without being “preachy.” And then, there’s rich drama!

     WYATT:  And what about the provocative, sexually-charged situations?

     JON:  The situations in this book, compared to your others, seemed to be much more extreme.  I’m specifically referring to when Walker and his crew are “auditioning” people for their new business adventure.  I won’t give away just who Walker is.  However, I will say that Walker is very, very closeto Wes.

     WYATT:  If you could create a character for the series, who what he/she be?  How would he/she interact with Wes and ‘Tonio?

     JON:  This question is very hard, because no matter what I say is going to give something away about the story. 

     I’d love to see a character that benefits greatly from the non-profit organization that Wes and ‘Tonio decide to create at the end of the book.

     I’ll leave it at that, so I don’t give anything away.

     WYATT:  Tell us, Jon: why the need for LGBTQ literature?

     JON:  Because there is such a vast market for it.  There are many of us in the LGBTQ community who love to read books about characters going through the same things we face in life.

     I also think it’s important because those outside of the LGBTQ community who elect to read this genre are able to learn more about and therefore better understand what LGBTQ life is like, and the challenges we face.

     WYATT:  What are your favorite literary genres?

     JON:  When I was a kid, my favorite was horror.  I was obsessed with Stephen King.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve gravitated more towards biographies about music artists.  I’ve loved music my whole life, and in recent years, many artists I’ve listened to throughout my life have written books. It’s been very insightful, and a lot of fun to read and learn about their lives.

    WYATT:  what are your favorite authors—and why?

     JON:  My all-time favorite author is Stephen King.  There are a lot of reasons behind this.  For one, I grew up in a very small town in Vermont.  The majority of King’s books take place in Maine, in a small town.

     To me, King has always perfectly captured what small town life is like.  It was something I could always relate to, outside of the “horror” aspect of the book.

     As a kid, I also have fond memories of my grandmother (she passed away in 2003) around Stephen King.  Throughout my whole life, she always gave me a book for my birthday.  It started out with books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary.

      And as I got older, she always gave me the latest Stephen King book in hardcover.  I still have all of these books today.  Anytime I see them, I remember her fondly.

     Dennis Lehane is also a favorite author.  The last book my grandmother ever gave me was his“Mystic River” in hardcover.  That was the first book I read of his, and I was instantly hooked.  Most of Lehane’s books take place in Boston (where I live).  He captures Boston life perfectly.

     A few years ago, I had the good fortune to meet Dennis Lehane at an event at a local community library.  Of course, I brought my copy of “Mystic River” with me.  And after he was done speaking, he came over to me and asked if I’d brought a copy to be signed.

     My answer was, of course, “Yes!”  I also took the opportunity to share with him the aforementioned story:  about how my grandmother always gave me a book for my birthday and Christmas, and that this was the last one she ever gave me.

     Lehane was deeply touched by the story, which was a great moment.  I’ve always been an avid reader because of my grandmother.  It meant a lot to have an author I love appreciate my memory of her.

     Last, but not least, another favorite author is, of course, you!  I’ve loved all three of your books. However, I take the most value from your various articles/interviews/blogs.  You often touch on very sensitive issues that many are afraid to talk about.  I feel this is very important and a great value for many within our community.

     WYATT:  Jon, such a touching experience you had with Mr. Lehane!  And, I really appreciate your sentiments regarding me.

     WYATT:  Now, let’s get “up close and personal.”  What are you passionate about?

     JON:  Music, my dog, reading, community, the Boston Red Sox.  I’ll only elaborate on the Sox here as the others are touched upon in other questions.

     One of my favorite memories as a kid is listening to the Red Sox on the radio with my parents and grandmother.  My town in Vermont didn’t get cable until I was a freshman in high school.

     I loved just sitting outside in the summer listening to the games with family members.  I still sometimes do it today, even though we have HD TV.  There’s just something about listening to a Sox game on the radio.

     When the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, I cried such happy tears!  My parents and I have been Sox fans our entire lives.   

     I also had a very special moment remembering my grandmother, who was the biggest Sox fan I knew!  She passed away during the first round of the MLB playoffs in 2003.  And, she was born in October of 1918 (days after the last time the Sox won the World Series before 2004).  Therefore, she never got to see the Sox win the World Series. 

     I had a Red Sox hat that I wore for years, but never wore again after the night the team won the World Series in 2004.  I still have the hat, but it sits in a box with other memories of my grandmother.

     WYATT:  You are a community activist.  Tell us about that.

     JON:  Growing up, my mother was always very active within our community, serving on the school board, helping run community events, etc.  Her actions became instilled within me.  Though as a child, I never really thought much about it.  

     Prior to moving to Boston in 1997, I always did volunteer work, etc. for various organizations. After I made the move here, I continued. 

chessie-the-one

     Throughout my career in banking I’ve conducted countless financial literacy seminars for all types of organizations/non-profits.  A few years ago I was asked by someone at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to start doing conducting seminars at their jail.

     Being candid, I was very nervous to do so, as I’d never set foot in a prison before.  After doing my first session there, it became one of my favorite places to go.  The men I do the seminars for are all due to get out between 3 and 6 months.  The majority of them were very excited to have another opportunity to get back into society and do right by themselves and their family.

     Another thing I’ve done, with the help of two community partners is an annual FREE community Thanksgiving dinner.  We do it every year at my friend’s restaurant.  We started this back in 2011, and served around 25 dinners to the community.  Last year we served over 175!  Our goal this year will be to break the 200 mark.

     I also spend a lot of time volunteering and raising money for the Boston Living Center.  The BLCis a nonprofit community and resource center that fosters the wellness of all HIV positive people and responds to the changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community through education, treatment information and support services.

     They also do an annual Thanksgiving event where I volunteer as a “TIPS” server.  I, along with many others raise money through donations for the Boston Living Center.  A week before Thanksgiving, the Boston Living Center hosts a huge Thanksgiving dinner for all of their members and their families.  As a “TIPS” server, you will serve them the entire meal.  This has become my favorite event of the year.

       Another thing I’m proud of is 2 years ago I created a radio show called “Our House” for a local radio station, TOUCH 106.1 FM.  The show discusses various events going on in the community, along with various banking topics to help educate the local community. I spend a good deal of time educating many within the “inner city” of Boston on how to make themselves “bankable” (again), to build/establish credit, set a budget and even buy a house.

     WYATT:  Are you a proponent of marriage equality?  Why or why not?

     JON:  I am absolutely a proponent for marriage equality.  No matter whom you love, you should have the right to marry the person you love. 

     I often struggle with this subject (and many others around equality).  On the surface, we are making great strides.  However, because of that progress, the amount of hate from people who are against it also seems to be growing.

     You and I have had many discussions around this.  People have become so divided around so many issues.  In the end, I still believe love will conquer hate.

     WYATT:  This is the presidential election year.  Jon, if you were elected president, what three issues would you zero in on and try to pass in your first 100 days?

     JON:  Gun control, income equality/poverty, and LGBTQ Rights.

     WYATT:  In “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, you see that I’m enamored with eyes.  Yours are so expressive, with wonderment and promise of the future.  Do you believe that eyes are the “windows to the soul?” 

     JON:  Thank you for that compliment.  Many people have told me something similar about my eyes.  Yes, I do believe that eyes are the “windows to the soul.”  When I meet someone for the first time, I instantly can tell the type of person they are from their eyes. 

     In “FRENZY!”,  I think you did a phenomenal job showing how this is true.  That’s all I’ll say as I don’t want to “give the book away” to those who haven’t read it yet. 

     WYATT:  What are the keys to success? 

     JON:  I think the most important one is to find something you’re passionate about, and put everything you have into it.  So many of us, spend the majority of our time in a career/job we are not happy with.

     I know this is easier said than done, but there are countless stories of many who have done it. You’re doing it now!

     WYATT:  Your “sidekick” is Chessie, your “wonder dog!”  I call her “Madam Diva.”  Share her interesting back story. 

     JON:  I’ve always loved dogs.  Chessie is the fifth dog I’ve had in my lifetime.  Nine years ago this past July, I rescued and adopted her.  Chessie was in a high kill shelter in South Carolina. 

    Before Chessie, I’d rescued Bea.  Unfortunately I had to put Bea down two years after I’d adopted her.  She was an older dog and developed bone cancer.  Bea was a Brittany Spaniel/Beagle Mix.  Once she was put down, I vowed never to get another dog again.  The heartbreak was just too much.

     Though about a year later, I casually reached out to the New England Brittany Rescue Association (where I got Bea from) to see if they had any dogs that were similar to Bea, but much younger.  Right away they responded, “You won’t believe this, but we just found out about a dog in South Carolina who is the same mix as Bea (Brittany Spaniel/Beagle), about 3-4 years old.”  It was Chessie.

      Next, they informed me of Chessie’s situation (being in the high kill shelter), sent some pictures and told me that I needed to act fast.  Because of how long she’d been in the shelter, she was due to be put down the next day.

     I immediately became emotional and said, “I’ll take her!”  I knew I was her last chance.

     It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Chessie is the sweetest dog I’ve ever had (Unless you’re another dog and try to get her food!).  I don’t know her full story, but my guess is that she came from a good family, as she was well trained and behaved.  I think she was either lost or abandoned.

     Going back to eyes being the window to the soul:  I’ve never seen a dog that has eyes as intense as hers!  You can immediately tell what she’s feeling when you look into them.

     WYATT:  So, what’s your most fav thing to do while on VACAY?

     JON:  Go to the beach.  I can stare at the ocean for hours; it fascinates me.  As well, I love to walk the beach.  And, I spend lots of time reading there.

     WYATT:  Hey!  You’re a “Pearl Jam-Aholic?” 

     JON:  Most definitely! But I’m equally obsessed with the Dave Matthews Band (DMB).  I’ve seen DMB 63 times, Pearl Jam 33.  I love both bands equally; the difference in the amount of times I’ve seen each comes from DMB touring every year–and always playing in my area.  Pearl Jam has toured almost as often, but tend to only do a certain part of the US. 

     In the last few years, I have traveled to see Pearl Jam.  And they were just in Boston, at Fenway Park (my favorite place in the world).  Their two shows at Fenway was on this past August 8 and 9. Honestly, it’s been an amazing year going to so many shows!  I’m truly blessed by the number of wonderful people I’ve met from all over the world who have the same passion for the band as I do.

     Both bands helped me through some very dark times with their lyrics.  Allow me to share one specific story, it’s around a Dave Matthews song called “Dancing Nancies.”

     When I was 23, I went through a very dark phase dealing with my sexuality.  I became very depressed and thought about suicide a lot.  Wyatt, as you know, I’m not one to express my feelings. Music has always been my escape/outlet to deal with any issues I’m having.

     There was one night where I couldn’t stop crying and wanted to die.  I put “Dancing Nancies” on repeat and managed to cry myself asleep.  The song’s about someone wishing their life was different and they could be somebody else.  In short, what I thought and wished for pretty much every second of the day. 

     “Dancing Nancies” also talks about how we all need to just take a step back and appreciate the powerful, yet simple beauty of the world we live in.  When I woke up the next morning, I was still depressed–but not nearly as much as I was the night before.  The lyrics are what got me through what was the darkest point of my life. 

     I don’t know how many times I’ve seen DMB perform this song, but anytime I see them do it, I get choked up.  I always go back to that night.  I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through without that song.

     WYATT:  Amazing!  I’m so glad that song helped you to “make it through the storm.”

     JON:  Thanks, Wyatt.  As I stated earlier, my grandmother passed away in 2003.  During the funeral, the priest talked at length about spiritual immortality; his words provided comfort in my time of sadness.  When we left the service, the first song that came on in the car was Pearl Jam’s“Immortality.” I immediately became choked up (again) about the loss of my grandmother.

     I was a pallbearer at the funeral.  The weather that day was cold and rainy.  Most everyone stayed in their cars as we went to lay my grandmother to rest.  It was myself, some cousins and uncles.  Of course, we were all quite emotional.

     When I returned to my car, my sister told me that the song that came on the radio while we were walking my grandmother to the grave was “Gravedigger” by Dave Matthews. 

     After breaking down for a few moments, something hit me.  I realized by hearing both “Immortality” and “Gravedigger” (songs by my two favorite bands), it was a sign that my grandmother was okay.

     My closest Pearl Jam friends know this story.  I was with them at the last show (at Wrigley) of the band’s 2016 Tour; we all started the tour back in April in Ft. Lauderdale.   Each of us had general admission tickets, and were able to all hang out together. 

     When the band starts to perform, we know within seconds which song is being played.  As soon as the opening chords started, my friend–who was behind me– immediately put his hand on my shoulder. 

     I’ve experienced many bonding moments like this over the years at both Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam concerts.  Ultimately, I think that’s what draws me the most to these bands, and keeps me going back year after year.  It’s the community you always have around you, and who all have the same love and passion for these acts.

     WYATT:  Jon, thanks so much for sharing such personal and poignant experiences.

     WYATT:  Now, let me ask you:  if you were on a deserted island, what three things would you need or/and want?  Would a certain individual be part of that list?

     JON:  If it’s need, it’d be food, water and shelter.  If those bare necessities were already there, I’d then pick my iPod (that somehow runs on solar power), Chessie and my grandmother. 

     WYATT:  You’re devising a “What Makes You Go ‘FRENZY’!” Contest for my fans.  Tell us, Jon:  what makes you go “FRENZY!”???

     JON:  PASSION!  Anytime I become passionate about something, or see someone I love/care about become passionate, I go…ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     WYATT:  YOWZA!  Any parting words?

     JON:  Everyone should get ready for the Official Release of “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, which will occur this coming Saturday, October 1On the same day, the “FRENZY!” Trailer debuts everywhere on YouTube and other social media platforms. 

     And, stay tuned for upcoming tour dates, contest details and other news.  You can do this by visiting WYATTEVANS.COM; FACEBOOK (www.facebook.com/wyattobrianevans; The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club); TWITTER (www.twitter.com/MisterWOE).

     JON:  Wyatt, thank you for presenting me with the opportunity to become President of The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Official Fan Club!  I’m truly honored, and will do everything in my power to help you reach your fans and expand your fan base.

     WYATT:  Actually, my friend—Thank Y-O-U!!!  I appreciate it more than I can adequately express.  What I will say (again) though is, “Ohhhhhhh Tito—gimme (anotha) tissue!!!”  (LOL!)

Hot Tea and Ice 8

“Grown Folks’ Friendships”

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins 

 

Greeting and Salutations, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!  Sending wishes, and hope fall is doing right by you. For many of us, it is time to move away from shorts and open-toe shoes to sweaters and sturdy footwear. Nights are getting longer, temperatures are dropping and before you know it, store aisles will be decorated for the winter holidays.

For those keeping score from my last column, I am now five years from fifty. My partner threw a phenomenal surprise birthday party for me. In attendance were co-workers, fellow writers, and folks I consider friends. Those in attendance have seen me through a few ups and downs. The get-together was a great experience not only because of the presents received, but also for the faces in the place.

Looking around at the diverse group that makes up my circle, I realized the power of grown folks’ friendships is often underrated. Many of us had ‘best friends’ when we were younger.  Mine were named Charlotte, Vicki, and Jodi. Those friends were the ones we swapped lunches with at schools, took turns spending time at each other’s homes, and got into trouble when we ”acted like we were grown.”

 For a lot of us, friendships formed through neighborhood or educational settings helped us pass a class, get that special someone’s phone number, or exposed us to worlds unlike our own. My friendships introduced me to different religions, family structures, and racial differences.

Friendships formed before the age of consent are fine. I celebrate those who have childhood friends they still hold dear. But I would venture, it is friendships formed once reaching adulthood that really help us become better people.

I consider myself lucky to have been blessed with the friendship of several people who helped me rise to a higher level of being an adult. Those friendships sparked me to start and end relationships by pointing out things I willfully ignored. My friends supported my visions when I was reluctant to stretch out. 

My adult friends are risk takers and empire builders. They have traveled the world, started empowerment projects for women from scratch, and refused to let their assigned gender keep them from expressing themselves as God intended.

We have taught each other so much by living our lives and allowing each other to be a part of the journey.

LaToya Hankins

Having the opportunity to see how other “grown folks” handle their business gives us the push to be on our game.  Adult friendships are the fuel that keeps the best of us moving forward. However, so many of us don’t take care with our adult friendships. We fail to realize once friendships are formed, they also need to be cultivated and nurtured in order to be successful.

We schedule dental appointments and get our hair/nails/feet done, but how often do we schedule time to support our friends?

Adult friendships allow us to not be “Daddy,” “Miss Hankins” or “Juror 91871.” We can be ourselves and share our ambitions and hurts in an environment that provides the support to get up when the world knocks you down.

Adult friends are invaluable resources, and you should ensure that they stay strong. I admit I have taken some of my adult friendships for granted. I didn’t take the time to make the calls just to check in or return that email in a timely fashion.  Friends I considered quite close soon faded away; and as they became “chance glimpses” on social media, I read the postings of their accomplishments.

In a life filled with little regret, my failure to maintain some of my adult friendships is one I carry.  I have a feeling I’m not the only one who shares that thought.

Unlike friendships when we were younger, adult friendship take work to maintain. People have schedules, family, and ten thousands things that need to be done. Still, the rewards are worth it.

The media is filled with portrayal of adult friendships. From The Best Man to Noah’s Arc toWaiting to Exhale. Challenge yourself to incorporate those portrayals into your own life.

My birthday wish for my readers is to reach out to those in your friendship circle to make sure that ties that bind stay strong. Make time to connect over coffee, cocktails, or whatever is legal in the state you reside in. No judgment: part of the fun of being an adult. My hope is that the payoff will be great, and it helps the rest of your adult life go a little bit better.

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 La Toya at her on line home, www.latoyahankins.com; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com; Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins; and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

Slyer Than A Fox 3

Time: That Most Precious Commodity 

 Guest Writer: Buster Sly

     This past year has been challenging on a very personal level. After spending so much time away in Europe last year, I returned to the States when I find out that my mother had just been diagnosed with third stage cancer.  That came on the heels of the passing of my grandmother, uncle, stepmother and “baby” brother.

 

     As I struggled to work through the multitude of feelings caused by this succession of calamitous events, I retreated from work and friends.  I felt guilty for not being there for my family; you see, I’d been so focused on work and all that which went with it–including the long and involved hours spent sifting through data, maintaining my various social media sites, etc.  Consequently, this guilt weighed heavily on me.  And I’m continuing to wrestle with and sort out that–as well as the multitude of feelings I mentioned earlier. 

 

     I determined, therefore, that a balance is what I must seek, where family and friends are not taken for granted.  Putting off a call to a loved one for another day so that I can meet another deadline is no longer acceptable. 

 

     What it comes down to is priorities–along with accepting my limitations.   For instance, I will not travel abroad until there’s a viable solution, one that reduces my workload on the computer and allows me to focus on the things I do well and are necessary for financial survival and betterment.  I understand that this might rankle some fans, but it cannot be helped.

 

      This extended break was long overdue.  A while ago, someone whom I value and learned to listen to when she spoke of her life experiences posed this question:   “Do you live to work, or do you work to live?”   Food for thought, eh?

 

      After pondering that question, I came to the distinct conclusion that we all have a finite time on this planet.  As a result, my options these days are quite clear:  stay on the path I am on, and resentment will be front and center, while my quality of life takes a nosedive.  

 

     There will be many who may not understand why I have not responded to their messages. No matter what I say, there is no reference point for me to start that would give them a clear understanding of how futile it would be to try answering each and every message.

 

     We all should remember the following important tenet:  time is such a precious commodity!  I’m learning to respect and celebrate it.  Therefore, going forward, I vow to manage my time more efficiently. 

 

     It is essential–and my duty–to first offer time to those individuals whom are important to me.  And of course, this includes those I have grown to care for—and love.


Buster Sly is an in-demand Adult Entertainer and Model, who has worked for a number of diverse companies including Dark Alley Media/Raw F**k Club, Forbidden Funk Media, Oh Man! Studios, and SX Video.  Just last year, he had a months’ long, extremely successful European tour–which included live performances in clubs and modeling assignments for top photographers throughout Europe.  This year, Buster has several major projects on the horizon—including filming for the iconic Lucas Entertainment. You may follow Buster at his on line home, www.bustersly.com.   There you can find news, features, and how to contact him  for booking dates and more.

Countdown: FRENZY!

     What would you do after the man of your dreams battered you because he believed you’d been unfaithful?  Could you forgive this man to whom you’ve given every piece of your heart?

    Desirable, wealthy gay African-American celebrity Wesley (Wes) Laurence Kelly yearns for a gratifying and enduring love.  Unfortunately, it has slipped through his fingers.  Repeatedly.

    Enter Antonio (‘Tonio) Miguel Rios, a deliciously muscular gay Puerto Rican whom Wes has hired as his bodyguard.  He, too, has failed at love.  Miserably.

    But without warning, that magical, irrefutable and irresistible force known as chemistry totally engulfs the pair!  They forge a strong bond.  However, they’re still too afraid to act on their escalating romantic feelings and sexual urges.

    Soon though, Wes and ‘Tonio break down and profess their love!

    However, a mysterious individual throws their monogamous relationship in dire jeopardy!  This vicious entity manipulates ‘Tonio into believing that Wes is being unfaithful.

    Taking the bait, the FRENZY!-ed bodyguard physically brutalizes his soul mate!  This results in Wes kicking ‘Tonio to the curb.

    And that–along with childhood sexual abuse–cause Wes to split, to become another personality: “Walker”!  The polar opposite of Wes, Walker has a heart of ice!  And, Walker’s deadly to the very core.

    Does Wes reclaim himself?  And, what secrets are buried deep inside ‘Tonio?

    But, most importantly: can Wes and ‘Tonio work their way back to one another?  And, can they still vow that “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart?” 

     The above is the 411 on “FRENZY!”, the latest installment in my “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart”series!  I’m elated and proud to announce that “FRENZY!” is nearly ready to hit the streets:  itsOfficial Release Date is Saturday, October 1

     Now, if you thought that “RAGE!”—the current installment in my “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart”series—was a to-ta-lee unpredictable HOT thrill ride, you ain’t seen (actually, read!) nothing yet!

     And, the reviews are already coming in for “FRENZY!”:  Here are some— 

     “There are some stories that eat us alive internally as long as they remain untold.  Thank you, Wyatt, for telling a story that can be used to open overdue dialogues for healing our community.”–Bobby Smith (“Bits of BS”), Founder, Know No Oppressive Thinking (K.N.O.T.), Inc., an Atlanta-based community organization.

     “Once again, author Wyatt O’Brian Evans turns up the heat to 11 in his new novel, ‘Nothing Can Tear Us Apart–FRENZY!’  Following on from the events in his highly successful ‘Nothing Can Tear Us Apart–RAGE’, ‘FRENZY!’ hits the floor running and does not let up!  Continuing the story ofWesley and ‘Tonio, ‘FRENZY’ is destined to be remembered as the story we have all been waiting for. Get ready to be worked up into a ‘FRENZY!’”–Colin Gunn, Editor, ALL BEAR Magazine.

     “’FRENZY!’, the latest installment in Mr. Wyatt O’Brian Evans’ Nothing Can Tear Us Apart’series, is sexy and bold!  Get ready for a front-row seat to rich and compelling drama–not to mention the twists and turns!  ‘FRENZY!’ is both an educational and rewarding experience!”—Carlton R. Smith, Executive Director/Founder, The Center for Black Equity-Baltimore; Founder, Baltimore Black Pride; Columnist, “Conversations With The Duchess.”

     “‘Nothing Can Tear Us Apart – FRENZY!’, is a delectable read. The story deals with so many relevant current day issues of child abuse/violence, unresolved emotional traumas and the solid love in a relationship between two people.

    “The gripping dialogue kept me spellbound in the explicitly-narrated scenes. It was hot, steamy, sexy and mesmerizing while dealing with the pains of childhood abuse and bullying. Unresolved issues will always creep its ugly head back into our adult lives as clearly illustrated by the character of Wesley/Walker. 

    “Intimate Partner Violence and (IPV/A) is alive and well in all segments of society, and every human is affected in some way–either directly or indirectly. ‘FRENZY!’ deals with this communal issue in a raw yet provocative style. It grabs your attention and maintains it throughout the entire manuscript. Well- written, the story pulls you in like quicksand and never lets you get away. You are caught, hook line and sinker. Masterfully detailed and beautifully written. You get to know each character intimately: I felt like I was present as the story unfolded!   I was totally entwined in the happenings, literally living every word and unable to abandon the work until the end.

    “Wyatt, thank you so much for taking on the task of dealing with such an important topic, adding ‘real life’ to it, and also showing us the beauty of true LOVE between two people. My deepest admiration.”–Rev. Sandy Rodgers, Author, Educator, Minister and Radio Personality (“Life, Love, Wellness: The Sandy Rodgers Show”).

    “Mr. Wyatt O’Brian Evans confronts a plethora of important issues head on in ‘Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!’  Great continued character development and command of storytelling, while describing physical and mental conditions that make this a worthy sequel to ‘Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE!’   Mr. Evans keeps the dialogue lively and the action moving along. This book has something to impress nearly all readers!”—Khalid El-Bey, Activist; ONYX Mid-Atlantic; Leatherman of Color 2016.

     “In the compelling and highly-satisfying ‘FRENZY!’, the latest installment in the ‘Nothing Can Tear Us Apart’ series, Wyatt O’Brian Evans gives the reader strong and relatable drama, even more nuanced character development, and twists and turns.  And, kudos to Mr. Evans for confronting critical societal issues.  ‘FRENZY!’ certainly has universal appeal! –BRUHS, Book Reading Uplifts His Spirit.

clock-1

     So, the clock is tickin’:  the “FRENZY!” Official Release Date is Saturday, October 1!  In the days to come, I’ll share the “FRENZY!” Official Cover and Poster, bonus graphics—as well as the ab-so-lute-ly hawt TRAILER!  Stay tuned…

     And check this out:  during the month of October, I’m giving a 20% percent discount on each copy of “FRENZY!”—that is, if you order from my on line home, WYATTEVANS.COM!  It will be very easy to do.  So, be sure to regularly visit WYATTEVANS.COM for continuing details on “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”   Freakin’ YOWZA!!!

     Y’all, get ready for OCTOBER 1!!!  It’s one helluva Main Event.

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 12

“The Master Plan” 

Guest Writer:  R. L. Norman 

      I was standing on the side of the stage out of the line of sight from the audience. From my vantage point, I could only see a few people in the front rows. I had no idea how many people showed up for this event–my debut.

     You see, this was my very first public appearance of my one-man stand up show based on the character of “Norman” in my “Honey Let Me Tell You” book series.

     I planned to make the audience think, smile and laugh about life, love and relationships. It was my dream about to come to true. I’d planned to amuse them with the brief story of Norman‘s life with music, singing, dancing, jokes and language that will make you grab your non-existed pearls as your mouths falls open.

     So, I was standing there, reviewing my notes as I was about to go on stage. Nervously, I waited for the moment of truth to arrive! And then, I heard the announcer say;

     “And now, welcome to the stage, debuting his one-man show titled, “Norman’s One Night Stand,” …here’s Mr. R.L. Norman!”

     As I heard the applause, several people behind me wished me good luck.  Next, I proceeded to the stage’s center.

     As I looked around the room, which was filled to capacity, all eyes were on me. I was shocked that the place was packed!

     Who would’ve known that these many people wanted to see me, or even that they knew where Fort Washington, Maryland was?  And then, I stared back at all the people who were staring back at me.

     “R.L.? R.L.?”  Several people were whispering my name from the sidelines of the stage. 

     “Are you okay? What’s wrong? Norman?” they were asking.

     I simply could not move!  In my mind, I really wanted to leave the stage, run all the way home, jump in my bed, pull the covers over my head and hide.

     That’s because I was frozen with fright! 

     Stage fright that is.

     I stood there holding the microphone to my open mouth like I was deciding whether to talk into it–or lick it like an ice cream cone.

     I couldn’t move…

     I felt like my hopes and dreams were slowly disappearing right before my very eyes.

     I suddenly started thinking back to the first time I actually had to do public speaking. It was in my eighth grade history class. I had made a model of a ship, the Santa Maria, one of Christopher Columbus’ ships. I was supposed to talk about the voyage of Columbus.

     I stood in front of the class, staring at my peers. I was frozen and could not move or talk. Just like now, my teacher was saying my name, asking me if I were okay.

     I could not respond.

     It was the first of three presentations I was supposed to do for that class, and couldn’t. Eventually, I failed history and had to go to summer school: simply because I couldn’t speak in front of people, and express what I had practiced in front of my mirror several times–with no problem.

     Another time was when I was in college. I was majoring in architecture. I’d wanted to be an architect since the ninth grade. I’d already designed both my dream and summer homes by the 11th grade.

     I was on my way! Or so I thought.

R L NORMAN NEW COVER DESIGN

     We had to design an office building and present it to the class as if they, along with the professor, were the clients. Basically, we had to sell our own designs.

     Like I always do, I practiced my presentation in front of the mirror numerous times. I knew it by heart. I was ready.

     When the professor called my name, I slowly walked to the front of the class and placed my building model on the table.

     As I faced the class, a couple people expressed approval of my model.  I was elated; I felt like this was the first step of realizing my dream of becoming an architect.

     Until I froze…once again! 

     Like always, the professor was calling my name, asking me if I were  okay. 

     And once again, I could not answer.

     Sadly, I realized that I could not speak in front of people! 

     Because of that, I had to switch my major to engineering. There was less of a chance of having to address individuals.

     As a result, my dream of becoming an architect slowly faded away.

     But life is full of many surprises–and I had a new dream!  One to make people think, smile, and laugh about life, love and relationships.

     And this dream came out of nowhere! Well, I should not say “nowhere.” Actually, it must have been one of God’s plan all along. I say this because I worked several years as an engineer and loved it. So, I also believe that was in God’s plan.

     But now, he has a new plan for me!   One to inspire people to think about life. A way for people to search their deepest feelings. I believe that God has given me the talent of helping people walk in“Norman’s” shoes as he goes through the “Miss-Adventures of Being Miss-Understood” when it comes to life. To make people realize they are not alone in their journey to true happiness.

    You see, first came the books. I have written five so far. And that was not planned. It was a personal journal that I turned into books.

     And then came “Norman’s One Night Stand,” which I wrote, created and now was trying to perform.

     That was definitely not planned. I would never have planned to stand up in front of people and perform a 40-minute one man show, one in which many people can actually feel the character’s struggle, pain, triumph and happiness in achieving his goal of being happy with himself.

     My friends suggested and encouraged me to do it.

     So I stood there, frozen with stage fright once again.

     However, I also remembered something else that happened to me a few days prior.

     You see, at a cookout, I met two new friends who made me recall certain events that happened in my life.  They were newlyweds with five adopted children. As if that were not impressive enough, they told me they never planned on adopting children. It just happened! It was “God’s Plan” is the way they put it to me.

     They had met by chance; and the next thing they knew, they were a family. They didn’t think they would succeed, but they never gave up. They informed me that God has plans for our lives and we should follow our hopes and dreams to the fullest.

     Remembering this as I stood on the stage, I bowed my head. I closed my eyes, quickly praying for God to give me the strength and confidence to make this dream a reality.

     I opened my eyes and said, real loud, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”

     The audience came alive! And for the next 40 minutes, I made them smile, think and laugh about life, love and relationships. It was the first of seventeen shows I have performed so far over a five-year span.

     My dream came to life! My dream became reality. 

     We all have hopes, dreams and goals in life. We should pursue them with vigor and tenacity.  

    We should all reach for the sky! And if you fall short, keep trying at whatever is in your heart to achieve your destiny. To bring your dreams to life. To follow God’s Plan.

     Because Honey Let Me Tell You, I have arrived.  God has made me the master of my hopes and dreams–which are now the reality of my life.


        R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  The latest installment entitled, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask I Won’t Tell,” is now available in e-book format.  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.”  And his Podcast, “Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else,debuted January 1 on itunes.  All of these endeavors are part of his production company, Honey Let Me Tell You.  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.

One Step Closer To The Cure

     Outstanding news! Just recently, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) was awarded a contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help advance the development of potential AIDS vaccines.

     IAVI is a global, non-profit, public-private partnership that works to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent HIV and AIDS. The Initiative researches and develops vaccine candidates, conducts policy analyses, serves as an advocate for the HIV prevention field, and engages communities in the trial process and AIDS vaccine education.

     While emphasizing the need for new AIDS prevention tools, IAVI takes a comprehensive approach to HIV and AIDS that supports existing prevention and treatment programs of the virus. And, the initiative works to ensure that future vaccines will be accessible to all who need them.

     The contract earmarks $98 million over seven years. And specifically, IAVI will provide various services to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—part of NIH—in its mission to manufacture HIV envelope protein immunogens that can prevent infection. These immunogens are being developed to induce a protective immune response that wards off HIV. The hope is to manufacture immunogens and then test them in human clinical trials.

     Mark Feinberg, IAVI president and CEO stated, “’IAVI is dedicated to expediting the development and global availability of an effective vaccine, and is committed to supporting the success of the overall efforts of the HIV vaccine field. Building on IAVI’s experience in the characterization and production of HIV envelope vaccine candidates, our efforts to advance the work of NIAID-supported investigators will also provide additional opportunities to develop and share insights and innovations into how to make the HIV vaccine production process as reliable, robust and timely as possible’.”

     Continued Feinberg, “’Given the imperative to accelerate HIV vaccine development efforts, this new partnership with NIAID promises to facilitate meaningful progress and impact towards this goal’.”

     2016 is a banner year for IAVI: it marks two decades that The Initiative has been searching for an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Chris Dickerson—“Profile in (Fierce) Courage”

“What a man, what a man, what a man…What a mighty good man…” –Whatta Man,” by Salt-n-Pepa with En Vogue. 

     When I was growing up—as my gay identity was forming and burning brightly within–that’s what I ascribed to African-American bodybuilder Chris Dickerson, an IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) Mr. Olympia legendOn a number of levels, I was intrigued by and enamored with him.  And being a bodybuilder enthusiast intensified my “crushing” on the handsome and virile competitor, known for his heavily muscled, symmetrical physique:  at 5’6”, he had a competition weight of 184 pounds.

     And then there was Dickerson’s “mad” skills on the posing dais that elevated his impeccable musculature, and helping him excel as a bodybuilder.  His study of acting, dance, music and gymnastics always made his routines pure theatre.  As a result, he’s widely considered as one of the best posers the sport has ever known. 

     Actually, “Whatta Man” fits Chris to a tee because he was the very first bodybuilder to come out as gay/SGL (same-gender-loving).  That took such amazing chutzpah, intestinal fortitude and “brass balls” because of the era: the late 1970’s. 

     One of the world’s most titled bodybuilders, Dickerson’s competitive career spanned 30 years and 50 contests.  And, he became one of the greatest ambassadors the sport has ever known.   

     This maverick, this man before his time, turns 77 on August 25.  So, Happy

B-DAY, Mr. Henri Christophe “Chris” Dickerson!  This is your life.

CHRIS DICKERSON 6

 

Beginnings 

     Chris was born on August 25, 1939 in Montgomery, Alabama, the youngest of a set of triplets, which included Alfred and John.  His mother, Mahala Ashley Dickerson, was a legend in her own right.  Counting the Civil Rights trailblazer Rosa Parksas a lifelong friend, she chalked up a number of firsts:  Alabama’s first Black female attorney in 1948; Alaska’s first Black attorney, admitted to the bar in 1959; and the first Black president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, from 1983-1984.

     Mahala remarried and the family moved to Indianapolis when Chris was 13.  According to www.davidgentle.com, a website dedicated to the history of physical culture, “Chris attended Quaker school.  And after high school in 1957, he went to the New York Academy of Dramatic Art and studied acting, dramatics and music, aiming to sing opera.  His singing coach later suggested that weight training would help to improve his chest and lungs, and therefore his singing voice.”

     The website continued, “He then went on to California to visit his aunt, and saw a photograph of Bill Pearl (the iconic bodybuilder champion of the 1950’s and ‘60’s; named “World’s Best-Built Man of the Century”) in a muscle magazine.  The picture inspired him enough to take the plunge into the world of weights, and visit Bill’s gym to seek guidance from the top.”

     Now 24 (which today is considered rather “late in the game” to start a bodybuilding career), “Chris first began his quest for the impossible dream of a short, black man to win the top bodybuilding accolades,” stated the site.  “So in September 1963, Chris went from his L. A. home to Bill Pearl’s gym on Manchester Boulevard where he was personally coached and also encouraged by Bill, at first training three times a week, whilst then working at an L. A. hospital as an orderly.”  

 

The Competitive Life 

“’Sometimes, I feel disappointed with bodybuilding.  To be able to have such big muscles, I feel, should make man’s character strong, but sometimes, this is not the case’.”

     Now, fast forward to October 1965.  Chris entered his first contest—The Mr. Long Beach—and placed third.  He later said, “’To this day, this trophy remains my sentimental favorite.  I was never to be the same again after winning my first trophy’.” After returning to the East Coast in 1966, he captured a total of 12 titles in 12 months, including the Mr. New York State, Mr. Eastern America, and Junior Mr. USA. 

     And according to davidgentle.com, “All the while, his acting abilities, dance and mime from dramatic arts complemented his posing to make the most of presenting his ever improving physique, along with his now famous diamond-shaped calves, which Chris admits were a gift of genetics.  Asked then of his views on what constituted an award-winning physique, he said, ‘The ideal physique is one with broad shoulders, a small, tapered waist, shapely and developed legs.  The neck, arms and calves should all measure the same or close to it.  It is equally important to work on your posing in order to show off what development you have attained to your best advantage’.”

     While emerging as a successful competitor, Chris worked as a physique model, appearing in all the physique mags.  As well, he posed for a multitude of nude photos–including some for the iconic Colt Studios.  Of course, this was a huge factor in his popularity within the gay/SGL community.

     In 1967, Chris won the Mr. California—assisted by those FAB-U-LOUS calves, which caused a considerable stir.  Rarely did this competitor train his lower legs; instead, he devoted most of his efforts and energies to abs, arms—and, of course, posing. 

     “It was after his Californian win that his real dream began, that of winning Mr. America,” according to the site.  “He tried at first in 1967 placing 6th, and in 1968 placed 3rd.  In 1969, Boyer Coe beat him by the closest margin in bodybuilding history—just a quarter of a point!”

     “(But then in 1970) his dedication, persistence and long training under Bill Pearl had come to fruition, and Chris had achieved his impossible dream to become the first Black bodybuilder to win the Mr. America.”  The win allowed Chris to travel extensively, give lectures, and book guest appearances and TV spots.  Along with that came an invitational posing tour of Japan.

     His advice to beginners?  “’Be prepared, have your poses down pat, practice, practice and practice.  Expect to be nervous, but try to enjoy yourself on stage; and if you do not place number one, blame yourself and not the judges.  Keep in mind no one will remember your losses.  People only remember the winner’.”

CHRIS DICKERSON 8

 

The Mr. Os:  The Controversy and “The Vindication” 

“’Being a competitor can be really rough.  Physique competitions are difficult to judge.  Learning to win is easy but knowing how to lose is a much truer test of the stuff we are made of.  Being a competitor can bring out the very best and the worst in our nature’.”

     In 1980, Chris had to really cling to that statement after the Mr. O (Olympia), the most prestigious–and the ultimate–bodybuilding tournament.  You see, Arnold Schwarzenegger–who was retiring and “in less than perfect shape” and still riding the crest of the success of “Conan the Barbarian”–beat out Dickerson.  Actually, many observers believed Chris should have won the title.  According to bodybuilding.com, Bill Reynolds of Muscle and Fitness magazine stated, “’Arnold wasn’t in his best shape but fairly good shape at the 1980 Olympia’.”  He added, “’Not bad after a five year retirement…whipping himself together in such a short period of time’.”

     And in the following year, Chris placed number two.  Once again. 

     But ahhh…the winds of change were a-comin’…

     For finally in 1982, at age 43, Dickerson became the first African-American, the oldest, and first openly gay Mr. Olympia. Although he had lots of fame and was living rather comfortably (his own line of gym apparel, lectures, travel, etc.), he stated that “the real money” never came.  Unfortunately, the advertising contracts and lucrative deals eluded him.

     In 1994, Chris won first place in the 50+ category at the IFBB Masters Olympia, his last contest.  Discontinued in 2003, the competition was designed as a venue for former champs past the age of 40.  And in 2000, he was inducted into the IFBB Hall of Fame.    

 

Afterlife

     What’s Chris up to today?  Well, he’s an active Florida retiree writing his memoirs (having had three serious relationships). A personal trainer, he works with an older, more mature clientele looking to live a longer and healthier lifestyle.  And, he continues to lecture.

     Even after seeing much and having been through a lot (he’s undergone knee, hip and shoulder replacement surgeries), he maintains his optimism. 

     As I stated in the intro: “What a man, what a man, what a man…What a mighty good man…!”

 

Attachments

Hot Tea and Ice 7

“Age Is Just a Number”

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins 

 

     Greeting and Salutations, Hot Tea and Ice Sippers. I hope this month finds you all in good spirits–and staying cool. As for me, I’m coping with the heat by drinking plenty of cool beverages–some of them adult–and trying not to exert myself too much. I believe that a true lady shouldn’t appear slick from sweat by simply walking from her car to the door; but sometimes, temperatures in the upper 90’s cause strange things to happen!

     My body’s reaction to the heat is just one of the many ways I feel that my numerical age is starting to creep up on me. When I was younger growing up in my small North Carolina hometown, I could spend hours riding my bicycle or playing with my cousins without any regard to the summer heat blazing down. Now if I’m outside for any length of time, I feel “mugged” by the heat.  It seems that my tolerance has decreased for those bright sunny days.

     Still, I can’t use my advancing years as a crutch to shy away from being involved and active in life. I urge my readers sporting a few graying hairs to resist the urge to shirk opportunities to try new things. I’ve always felt that one shouldn’t be held back by the number of birthdays you’ve celebrated.You are never too old to reach out and grasp your heart’s desire and your mind’s potential.

     A little over a month from now–provided the creeks don’t rise–I’ll celebrate my forty-fifth year on God’s green footstool, or what we call Earth. A lot has transpired from the time I drew breath that early Saturday morning. I graduated from college, explored at least five different career paths, buried loved ones, found love, and accomplished at least three goals on my life’s To-Do List.

     Still, I don’t plan to rest on my laurels; I plan to continue to strive forward by embracing opportunities.  I realize that until I close my eyes for that last time, there is always more to do. I shouldn’t let the fact it may take me a little while longer to get back up when I “drop it like it’s hot,” to keep me from getting my groove on, to getting things done.

     We can’t let the fact that we’re getting older keep us from branching out and stretching toward our full potential. Our life’s experiences are the best tools to conquer the unknown. Every disappointment allows us to develop the sharper vision to see and achieve the goals we want to scratch off our To-Do List.

LaToya Hankins

     Those of us who have been there, done that, and have the scars or stories to prove it have the tools to conquer new adventures or create opportunities to stretch ourselves in different ways. Getting older is a blessing to those of us lucky enough to experience it–and should embrace it fully. Step out of your comfort zone and explore different horizons.

     The longer we live on this earth, the more we realize that it doesn’t hurt to try something different at least once. If we don’t like it, then we don’t have to do it again. If we do like it, then we have found something which brings even more joy to our lives.

     Since 2016 began, there has been so much sadness, and things no one ever expected we would live long enough to see. We have followed the hashtags, seen the social media posts, and participated in the town halls, marches, and vigils to know that so many of us will not be able to enjoy their next birthdays. We owe it to those snatched away by violent circumstances to challenge ourselves by dipping our proverbial toes in different ponds. 

     Just like many of us have moved away from having the birthday cake with the candles we feel pressure to blow out with one breath, we have to think about how we approach the process of getting older. We can no longer view it as an excuse for slowing down! This is when we need to rev up and move forward.

     Now, I’m not saying that you have to explore bungee jumping or running with the bulls, if extreme sports aren’t your thing. I’m suggesting that you be open to new things if they come your way, and not staying stuck in how things used to be.

     I have changed in so many wonderful ways, and I’m looking forward to changing so more. I wish the same for all those looking to add to their list of enriching encounters when they find themselves trying something they never expected.

     It could be walking into the role of activist, serving as a parental figure to a younger person in need, or simply switching that hairstyle you have worn since LL Cool J and Queen Latifah were known for simply being good rappers.

     So, I leave this birthday wish for you all:  Let this upcoming year be filled with great adventures and tremendous and unique experiences! As for me, I plan to enter this next stage of life with high hopes and big plans to challenge myself.

     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 La Toya at her on line home, www.latoyahankins.com; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com; Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins; and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

The Big Boy Project: The Oasis For Bigger Guys

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”—Milton Berle, iconic comedian/actor.   

     This is the mantra that James Butler lives by.  Mr. Butler is the founder of The Big Boy Project (BBP), a dynamic and cutting edge infotainment site that is specifically designed for larger men—and those who have an affinity for them. 

     According to Butler, who is 28 years old and openly gay/SGL, The Big Boy Project is “about bears/big boys of color coming together to express our opinions on world news, gay topics, and pop culture news.”

     As you’ll soon learn, BBP was born out of Butler’s poignant and at times uneasy journey of self-discovery.  Just recently, I had an exclusive sit-down with the engaging and driven founder of this fascinating, growing and evolving enterprise.  

 

     EVANS:  James, welcome to Wyattevans.com!  I appreciate you taking the time.

     BUTLER:  Certainly!  It’s good to be here, Wyatt.

     EVANS:  Well let’s jump right into things by getting personal.  You grew up in Leesburg, Georgia? How far is that from “Hawtlanta” (Atlanta)?

     BUTLER:  (Smiling.)  Leesburg is about three or four hours away from Atlanta;  all depends on the traffic.  (LOL.)

     EVANS:  So, what was growing up like in Leesburg?

     BUTLER:  Growing up in Leesburg was an interesting experience!  I had to deal with two types of people:  the southern hospitality side and the southern racist side. To make things short, it was a roller coaster ride.

    EVANS:  James, you’ve stated that you “detested school.”  Why?

     BUTLER:  I was so shy and awkward in high school, which made me an easy target for bullying and ridicule–as well as dealing with teachers who did not want to teach.  They just wanted to collect their paychecks.

     EVANS:  That was unfortunate.  James, you’ve also stated, “Being in the South, racism and bullying were also a day-to-day battle.”  

     BUTLER:  Some people in the South are still stuck in that old-school mentality that people of color are beneath them; so at school or work, I had to hear ignorant statements about me and my skin color, which caused me to keep to myself.

     EVANS:  Exactly why were you bullied?  Was it because of your size and/or sexual orientation? 

 

     BUTLER:  The answer to that question is “D”–all of the above!  (He takes a deep breath.)  I was a fat, awkward Black boy with acne and sexual identity issues.  I was a very easy target.

    EVANS:  Needless to say, that had to be traumatic.  What was the impact of the bullying and racism?  How did it affect you emotionally, mentally?

     BUTLER:  Oh, I hated myself!  I believed everything the bullies told me about myself; so much that I often cried when I got home from school. I remember eating lunch in an empty classroom to avoid being picked on, thinking that no one wanted me around.  (His eyes acutely expresses those memories.)

     EVANS:  James, when and how did you come to the realization that you were gay/SGL?   How did that impact you? 

     BUTLER:  The 11th grade was the year I fully realized I was gay. It was a confusing time for me. I didn’t have people to talk to about my gay feelings. My parents were not any help; so basically, I had to learn things on my own by doing research online–as well as by physical trial and error.  (LOL.)

     EVANS:  Would you say that this realization–along with the bullying and racism–caused you to become more reclusive? 

     BUTLER:  Yes, I became extremely reclusive.

     EVANS:  I see.  How did you deal with and manage the hurt and pain?

     BUTLER:  By reading and drawing, which were my two forms of escape. Later, writing came into play.

     EVANS:  You’ve said that the Internet was instrumental in your self-validation.  You’ve stated, “The answer to my problems was the Internet; finding gay social sites like BGC Live and Bigger City was a life saver for me. Interacting with gay men was an amazing experience, but one site named Kingz Place made me want to have something of my own. A website dedicated to bigger black men, Kingz Place was where you could create your own groups, chat with black bears, have intelligent conversation–and so much more. It was my go-to place for acceptance and I loved it.”  Can you elaborate?

     BUTLER:  Sure.  The Internet was a big help. When I had questions that I couldn’t ask out loud, I’d always go to it for the answers.   (He smiles.)  So one day I was looking up something crazy–I forgot what it was–but I remember clicking on a link that took me to BGC Live, and I was in heaven!

    Seeing gay men like me in one place was amazing!  From there I also discovered other social sites like Bigger City; my favorite site at the time was Kingz Place.

     EVANS:  And, you created your own group on Kingz Place?  What was it called? 

     BUTLER:  I really don’t remember the name of the group; I just remember that it was dedicated to chubby nerds.  (LOL.).

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     EVANS:  With that experience, you created The Big Boy Project.  You’ve said that blogging was instrumental in its formation? 

     BUTLER.  Correct.

     EVANS:  According to you, “Throughout the years, blogging became my therapy where I could write and discuss the issues I wanted to, and express my feelings on certain topics. Blogging has opened so many doors in my life: from meeting experienced writers, interviewing musicians, talking to dancers, etc.”  Please expound.

     BUTLER:  Even though I’m not a professional blogger, blogging became freedom. I could say what I wanted and talk about what I wanted; and over time, blogging coincided with YouTube, where I could express myself on camera.

     EVANS:  James, what’s BBP’s purpose and mission?

     BUTLER:  Our purpose and mission are to become a brand that gives gay men of color—and particularly bears/big boys of color–a voice.  You don’t see bear/big boys of color discussing topics that relate to us.

     EVANS:  As founder, what are your duties and responsibilities?

     BUTLER:  I do the editing and graphics for all of the shows on The Big Boy Project YouTube channel, and I manage The Big Boy Project website.  And, before any ideas are executed, I make sure that everyone is on the same page.

     EVANS:  James, let’s give your staff and contributors shout-outs and some “luv!”  Tell us who they are and what they do.

     BUTLER:  They are:  Jose, Lynx, Tamon, Mark, Eddie, Adrian, JaWon, Cecil, Tony, Ali, and Elvis. As you can see, it’s a large cast of individuals that help with the content for The Big Boy Project brand. We don’t have positions or titles. We all work as a collective, but each person has specific skills and experiences that channel different perspectives to certain topics.  

     Jose has extreme knowledge of nerd culture and technology. Lynx is well- versed in coding, graphics and nerd culture.  Tamon is a writer and film director. Mark is a writer for some of the well-known blogs.  Eddie and Adrian reside in L.A., and bring different perspectives on gay culture and events.   JaWon is a writer and gamer.   Cecil is a therapist who brings his own expertise and perspective.  Tony is a music artist and an advocate for Bears of Color.  Ali knows the bear culture like no other, and is a huge comic book enthusiast.  And last but not least is Elvis, who is a YouTube brand film major.  So many different backgrounds and so many different opinions makes The Big Boy Project so great!

     EVANS:  Is there any difference or distinction between the terms “bears” and “big boys?”  Do they overlap?

     BUTLER:  It’s all depends on whom you ask.  So many people have different definitions for the terms “bear” and “big boy.”  The bear community is a welcoming and understanding group; however, some of the bear communities neglect to show other ethnicities and cultures in their events, ads, and other media– which makes bears of color feel unwanted. 

     That’s the main reason why the term “big boy” originated.  The big boy community was created to cater to thicker men of color.   In a lot of ways, bears and big boys do indeed overlap.  But their motivation started the same–to have acceptance.

      EVANS:  Great points, James.  Now then, let’s take the racial aspect even further.  A few years back, I wrote a multi-part, syndicated series on racism in the LGBTQ community entitled, “The Cancer That Slowly Consumes Our Very Souls: Racism.”  So, here’s my question:  is the white bear/bigger men community altogether welcoming to black bears and larger guys?

     BUTLER:  The bear community is dominantly white, and with any group there will be people that don’t want to fuse the races. However, there are many prominent bears of color who are changing the dynamic of what bears are.  The big boy community was created to counteract the lack of racial diversity.  

     EVANS:  Let’s talk about body image pressures on gay/SGL men, which is a huge and pervasive problem.  Research shows that on the whole, gay/SGL men don’t like their bodies very much.  This is because gay/SGL men spend a lot of time in places that ascribe a premium on physical appearance: bars, gyms, and sex clubs. 

     Sadly, we live in a sexualized subculture that places an emphasis on physical attractiveness.  What’s your take on this?  Do you believe that bear/bigger men organizations and clubs are a response to, as well as a safe haven for body image pressures?

     BUTLER:  A lot of gay men do not like their bodies because all we see are overly photo shopped men in the media. We try to live up to those standards, and it’s simply not possible. The bear/big men culture are more accepting when it comes to body image.  However, because sex sells, we sometimes use the same tactics and show certain body types over others.

     EVANS:  Your “Bear Talk” episodes on YouTube explore and dissect cutting-edge issues and feature guests who make a difference.  What was the impetus behind your creation of “Bear Talk?” 

     BUTLER:  I wanted to create the “Bear Talk” series to bring something different to YouTube, and to discuss topics and issues from a bear/big boy point of view.

     EVANS:  This is the perfect segue way for perspectives and points of view; so, let’s tackle some. First, are you an advocate of marriage equality?  Why or why not?

     BUTLER:  I’m a big advocate for marriage equality. We have the right to marry whom we love. We pay taxes, we have children and loved ones, and we are people. This nation says “the land of the free,” and it’s about time we live up to the name we so represent.

     EVANS:  Georgia is hard hit by HIV.  For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta has an HIV epidemic comparable to that of third-world African countries.  Therefore, would you date a HIV-poz guy if he were undetectable and healthy? 

     BUTLER:  Of course I would date someone with HIV.  That’s not an issue for me at all because I’ve done my research and know what HIV is. People still think HIV is a death sentence when it’s not. It’s disappointing to see and hear people bypass beautiful people because of one mistake or something out of their control.

     EVANS:  My sentiments precisely.  Now, what’s your take on both interracial and intergenerational dating?  Would any factors preclude you from dating outside your race and/or age bracket?

     BUTLER:  My answer is pretty simple: love is love. People are going to have their qualms about interracial or intergenerational dating. As long as you’re dating for the right reasons and the person is of legal age, I don’t see the issue. To answer your second question, the color of your skin doesn’t matter to me; and as long as you are of legal age, then we can see where the adventure goes.  (He’s smiling.)

     EVANS:  James, what drives you?

     BUTLER:  What drives me to do what I do is to make a change in how the world sees the bear/big boy community.   What also drives me is to spread awareness on gay culture as a whole, and to show that gay men are more than what the media presents us as. 

     EVANS:  Let’s talk achievement and winning.  What are the three most important “weapons” one must have in his/her “arsenal of success?” 

     BUTLER:  Motivation.  You have to know what you want to do with your brand, and how to stand out from the others.  Knowledge.  To be the best at anything in life, you have to study and research. That’s how you grow.
Humbleness.  When people reach a certain level of success, an ego can arise and make you forget your goals.  Staying humble keeps you grounded to your true purpose.

     EVANS:  Does The Big Boy Project educate the larger gay/SGL community about bears/bigger men?

    BUTLER:  Yes, I believe we educate men of the plus-size nature; however, we also want to educate gay men in general.  We educate by talking about certain topics from a bear/big boy perspective, as well as interview people who are from the bear/big boy community.  We always try to shed some light on the plus-size community.

     EVANS:  What’s on the horizon for The Big Boy Project? 

     BUTLER:  (Grinning.)  OMG! A lot of things.  New video segments for the channel.  We’re working on shirts and merchandise.  And hopefully in the future, we’ll create our own events. There’s a lot to look forward to!

     EVANS:  Outstanding!  So, how do we connect with and follow you?

     BUTLER:  Our website is www.thebigboyproject.com.  There, you can find something for almost everyone–from fashion and hygiene, to the latest bear news and updates…and much more.

     And, you can contact us three ways: on our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/c/thebigboyproject1 or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thebigboyproject.  And of course, our website.

     EVANS:  James, thanks for such an enlightening and informative interview. 

     BUTLER:  It was my pleasure, Wyatt.

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 11

“I Will, I Won’t, I Do” 

Guest Writer:  R. L. Norman 

 

 

“I object!” the man shouted as he stood up in the back of the church.

I can’t believe this is happening! How dare someone object to my marriage?

I know that some people in my position would not get married; but I am doing what my heart feels.

You see, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Several years ago, I was living in Washington, D.C., and there was a terrible snowstorm. People panicked so much that you would’ve thought the world was coming to an end.

Now, me being from New Jersey, I was accustomed to snowstorms. I was used to waking up at any given day during the winter, and not being able to get out of the house. That was because the snow was so high that we couldn’t even open the door!

I remember as kids we would sit around the kitchen table hoping for a snow day.  We’d listen to the radio or TV, and just wait and wait for the announcer to say: “Whittier Elementary School closed.” Oh, how my two brothers and I waited with anticipation for that wonderful news! 

And on those days, we would yell and scream and act like we had won the lottery. My parents would tell us to calm down.  And then, of course, they’d tell us the rules we had to follow while they were at work. Oh, those were the days…

So as I said, I was used to snowstorms. But it was obvious that the D.C. government was just not used to such acts of nature.  They’d shut down the whole city!  The only other time I remember that happening was when I was in college in Tuskegee, Alabama–and they had a covering of snow. They shut down the city as if the world were coming to an end!  It was crazy and funny–especially because the snow melted the very same day.  

So, I was in D.C. and the city was closed. I was out of orange juice for my cocktail. I had plenty of food and stuff, but no OJ! And if I were going to be stuck in the house, I had to “get my drink on.”

I called around to see if any store was open. After several minutes, I discovered that the 7-Eleven was open, which was about a fifteen minute walk from my house. Then, I put on my heaviest and warmest winter coat and boots, and made my way to the store.

As I got closer and closer to that 7-Eleven, I saw another person in the distance. And as continued his approach, I surmised that maybe he had to get some orange juice, too. As came nearer and nearer, I realized that this was one cute, sexy man!

He was dressed in a big yellow ski coat with matching gloves. As we faced one another, I peered into his sexy brown eyes–and the pretty white teeth behind his smile.

 Passing one another, we nodded and smiled at each other. After taking a few steps I turned around–and noticed that he’d done the same!

After a few seconds, he walked back to me.   And for a good half hour, we stood there talking in the middle of a snowstorm.  While the city was shut down, we were getting to know one another.

Later on, I realized how romantic that was!  And, I am a hopeless romantic. 

Before I knew it, we were dating. And after a while, I went from admiring him, to liking him…and to loving him!  I not only loved him, I was in love with him. Who would’ve thought that I’d find the love of my life in the middle of a snowstorm, while going out to get orange juice for my cocktail? 

 And now, we’re getting married!  I’m thinking about all of this while standing at the altar.  I know that at the age of 55, a lot of people wouldn’t get married.

Last June was the one-year anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage in the United States. And during the past year, several of my friends have gotten married.  They’re all over the age of 50.

R L NORMAN NEW COVER DESIGN

Some people didn’t understand. You see, some of my friends said that they would not get married. They claimed that they just didn’t see the point. At that age, it’s a lot of hassle to figure out who changes his name.  And then there’s the changing of health and life insurance, driver’s licenses, credit cards, etc. 

Some of my friends said they would simply live together, and continue to love and support each other.

But then, others said they would get married, and make it a small affair. The last wedding I attended, the couple went to the justice of the peace, and then had a big reception after the wedding. It was a great time had by all as the couple was showered with love and support from family and friends. The wedding I went to before that was at the couples’ home, with only about ten people attending.  

And then there’s me! I’m standing here in a big church with my five groomsmen.  As I’m staring into the eyes of my future husband, we’re holding hands. The church is decorated in silver and white, with flowers everywhere. Afterwards, there will be a big reception in a rented ballroom, complete with ushers, waiters, caterers, music, etc.  And after this grand affair, we’ll be on our way to London and Paris for our honeymoon.  We truly are celebrating our love for each other.

Now, some of my friends objected, saying that we were too old to be doing all of this!  However, others thought that it was absolutely wonderful.

Here’s the bottom line:  the legalization of gay marriage is really the legalization of love for everyone. I believe that people should be able to show their love anyway they want regardless of age, race, gender or sexual preference. People should be able to love whom they want, and get married to whomever that want. Love is a powerful thing at any age. Without love, this world would be a terrible place.

Suddenly, I was roused out of my daydream by the sound of someone actually objecting to our nuptials!  Next, I was shocked back into reality as that person walked from the back of the church towards us.

And as he got close to us, he yelled, “I love you, Norman!”

At first, I couldn’t see who it was because the back of the church was dimly lit. But as soon as he stepped into the light, I was shocked to see that it was my very first love who’d disappeared out of my life!  You see, after college, he enlisted in the Air Force and was deployed to California.  We lost contact for about 25 years.

But as soon as he was upon us, someone else jumped up and said,“I object!”

OMG!  What’s going on?

Well, to find out, read my “Honey Let Me Tell You” book series! It’s all about my misadventures of being misunderstood.


        R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  The latest installment entitled, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask I Won’t Tell,” is now available in e-book format.  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.”  And his Podcast, “Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else,debuted January 1 on itunes.  All of these endeavors are part of his production company, Honey Let Me Tell You.  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.

Broken Bones, Broken Dreams—An Update

Cover photo by Don Gillard     

Towering over me and yelling at the top of his lungs, Antonio, my 6’4”, 280 pound muscled life partner, had me pinned against the wall–his huge, clammy left hand now grasping my neck!  I couldn’t move.                                          

    All the while, the following thoughts flashed in my head:   “This can’t be happening!  How can the man who’s repeatedly professed his undying love be doing this to me?  How can he hurt me this way? HOW???” 

    And then, Antonio…!    

    These are excerpts from my latest novel, Nothing Can Tear Us Apart–RAGE!”  The two protagonists are ‘Tonio and Wes, who are in a monogamous relationship 

     Tragically, ‘Tonio allows old demons and vicious manipulations to cause him to snap.  As a result, he batters Wes—committing the horrendous act of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A).    

     “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!”, the riveting and searing sequel, drops in October. “FRENZY!” continues the saga of Wes and ‘Tonio, delving even deeper inside the psyches of these two men.  You, the reader, will find out what buried traumas drive these men.  And, get ready for more masculine romance, rich psychological drama, intrigue, action, twists and turns—and provocative sexual situations. 

     Right after the release of “Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—FRENZY!,” I embark on a national book tour and IPV/A seminars/workshops.  Stay tuned right here at Wyattevans.com for news and details.

     Nearly two years ago, I interviewed Kyle, a victim of Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse.  His was a raw and revealing story.

     Fortunately, he made his “Great Escape” from this life-threatening situation in just the nick of time.  I decided to follow up with this survivor, to find out how life has been treating him.

     Before sharing “life after,” I’m recounting his horrific experience with IPV/A.  But first, let’s understand exactly what this abusive behavior is…and its ramifications.  

So:  Just What Is “Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A)”? 

     In the LGBTQ community, domestic violence/abuse is generally referred to as Intimate Partner Violence/Abuse (IPV/A).  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs defines IPV/A as “a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the abuser or batterer) to exert and maintain control, through fear and intimidation, over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate, loving and dependent relationship.” 

     Anyone—and I do mean anyone–can become a victim of domestic violence and abuse, regardless of size, strength, age, gender, or sexual orientation.  I’m an IPV/A survivor, and know of others who’ve experienced this dysfunctional and destructive behavior first hand. 

      Statistics show that this form of behavior 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.  It is estimated that each year, between 50,000-100,000 lesbians (or more) and as many as 500,000 (or more) gay men are battered.   About one in four LGBTQ relationships/partnerships are abusive in some way—about the same as in heterosexual relationships. 

     However, IPV/A is often overlooked, excused, or denied.  And according to psychologists/authors Jeanne Segal and Melinda Smith, the emotional abuse component is a larger problem than you believe.   They state, “Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive.  Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked, even by the person being abused.”  Examples include using offensive/derogatory names, racial epithets and homophobic language.

     As I stated in “It’s (Just) the Way That I Love You:  Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse in Same-Sex Relationships,” the multi-part series I researched and wrote exclusively for Huffington Post Queer Voices, there are numerous signs of IPV/A.  The most telling is fear of your partner, that you feel you have to “walk on eggshells” around him/her.  Other prominent signs:  excusing frequent injuries as “accidents;” agreeing to everything your partner says/does; being forced into sexual activity; isolating you; threatening to “out” you; blaming you for his/her actions.    

     Now, here’s the “universal Q”:  Can abusers really control their behavior?    Yes!  Typically, according to Segal and Smith, they reserve their actions for those whom they profess to love.  Abusers carefully choose when and where to strike, and cease their destructive behavior when it’s advantageous for them.

     And then there’s the story of Kyle.  

Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse 8

 

Kyle’s Story

    Kyle, a twenty-eight-year-old Caucasian, 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 thirty-year-old African-American, horrifically abused him for nearly two years.   

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

     KYLE:  (His eyes light up.) It was in mid-January 2011, at a Sprint store in Laurel (Maryland). Our eyes locked, and the chemistry was instantaneous! 

     KYLE:  He initiated a conversation, and we walked out of 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 absolutely 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!

   KYLE:  (Pause.)  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 f**k 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.”) 

   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! 

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

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

    EVANS:  Kyle, why did you stay as long as you did?

    KYLE:  Out of fear, shame and the stigma.  (He gulps.)  And definitely a serious lack of self-worth.   

    Kyle’s moved out of the area, and is in counseling.  And, Derrick?  Well, he’s doing jail time.  

 

Fast Forward…To Now 

     EVANS:  Kyle, it’s been awhile since we last spoke.  How have you been getting along?

     KYLE:  Well Wyatt, I have to admit that in the beginning it was rough!  What Derrick put me through shook me to my very core.  (Pause.)  Actually, shattered me.

     EVANS:  And speaking of Derrick—is he still in prison?

     KYLE:  Yes.

     EVANS:   Do you know when his sentence ends?

     KYLE:  Actually, in the not too distant future.  I’m going to get confirmation on that soon. 

     EVANS:  How do you feel about his impending release?

     KYLE:  (Dread washes over his face.)  Not good!  Not good at all.

     EVANS:  You began therapy right after you relocated, correct?

     KYLE:  I did.

     EVANS:  Kyle, how did that work for you?

     KYLE:  Well, I had to go through two counselors before finding the right one for me.  She’s amazing!

     EVANS:  Are you still seeing her?

     KYLE:  Off and on now.  In the beginning, I saw her once a week—sometimes twice—for a little over a year.  It was a struggle, but well worth it.

     EVANS:  You know, I’m a strong advocate of psychological counseling.  At various points in my life, I’ve been “on the couch” for different issues—including IPV/A.  It was invaluable.

     KYLE:  Wyatt, my therapist saved my life!  She helped me deal with my issues, repair my self-worth and self-esteem.  Because of her, I’ve been able to put my life back together. 

     KYLE:  (Next, he smiles.)  Well, more or less.

     EVANS:  Kyle, I’m so happy for you!  Are you dating now? 

     KYLE:  Actually, I am!  One guy.  I’m taking things slow, however.

     EVANS:  Excellent!  Kyle, what words of encouragement and wisdom do you have for victims who are trapped in an abusive relationship?

     KYLE:  First and foremost:  no one deserves to be abused!  Second:  it is NOT your fault!  It never is.  Third:  you must tell as many people as possible, people whom you trust.  Somehow, you must make your “Great Escape,” the phrase you’ve coined.  But keep in mind:  you need a well thought-out plan and strategy before attempting to leave your abuser.  That’s critical. 

     KYLE:  I will never again allow myself to be in an abusive situation!  I’ll run like hell as soon as I see the warning signs.

     EVANS:  Thanks so much, Kyle.  Your story is an inspiration!  Continued good luck to you.

     KYLE:  And thank you, Wyatt. 

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).  And always remember:  it ain’t (just) the way that he/she loves you.

One Million Dollars in Prevention

     Last year, I wrote an article for Wyattevans.com entitled, “The Quiet Invader within Native Americans.”  In it, I reported the unfortunate and harsh reality that HIV testing, treatment and care are not reaching Native Americans the same way as they are other U. S. citizens. 

     Fortunately though, much-needed assistance is on the way.  According to The Associated Press, The Indian Health Service (IHS)–the federal Native-American health care organization—and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are awarding up to $1 million to Native-American tribes and organizations for HIV care and prevention.  The funding may also be allocated to organizations like Two-Spirit, a Native-American LGBTQ group.

     The grant comes at a time when HIV-positive Native Americans have poorer survival rates compared with other races and ethnicities.  The mission of IHS is three-pronged:  to decrease transmission of the virus, reduce the number of new infections, and increase education and discussion about HIV in the Native-American community.

     Rear admiral Sarah Linde, MD, the IHS acting chief medical officer, stated, “IHS data shows that as many as 26 percent of the American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) people living with HIV infection do not know it.” 

    And according to Lisa Neel–a program analyst at the HIV Program for IHS, there are an assortment of reasons why.  “Poverty, which limits access to doctors and can put health concerns on the back burner for those struggling to feed themselves, is an all too common problem for Native Americans.”

     Neel also states, “That compared with other racial and ethnic groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives have higher poverty rates, have completed fewer years of education, are younger, are less likely to be employed, and have lower rates of health insurance coverage.”

     Often, this results into individuals not getting tested; therefore, scores are oblivious that they are in fact HIV-positive.  Tragically, this results in some of those infected not getting needed treatment until their HIV advances to the point that they experience symptoms.

     Neel is concerned that “cultural stigma faced by some gay and bisexual Native American men could also be discouraging testing and treatment,” and cites the higher rates of alcohol and drug use among all American Indians and Alaska Natives.

     She concludes, “Although alcohol and substance abuse does not cause HIV infection, it is an associated risk factor because of its ability to reduce inhibitions and impair judgment.  Compared with other racial/ethnic groups, AI/AN tend to use alcohol and drugs at a younger age, use them more often, and in higher quantities, and experience more negative consequences from them.”

     The funding will be distributed over the course of five years, with up to $200,000 being granted per year.  To receive funding, tribes and nonprofits must apply by August 28

R.L. Norman

R. L. Norman: The Old School Romantic, Part Two

     Recently, I had the distinct pleasure to sit down with Mr. R. L. Norman, exclusively for the Huffington Post Queer VoicesArguably, Mr. Norman is that quintessential Renaissance man:  he’s an entrepreneur, videographer, performer, columnist, internet host, and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  

     His fifth and brand new installment in the series is, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask And I Won’t Tell.” In Part Two of my series on Norman, he shares his heart-wrenching experience with Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse, visibility of people of color in the media…and more!

     Visit:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wyatt-obrian-evans/rl-norman-the-old-school-_1_b_11071600.html

You’re Just Not My “Cup of Tea”

     Several years ago, I penned an influential and award-winning series entitled “The Cancer That Slowly Consumes Our Very Souls: Racism.”  Syndicated in numerous print and on line media outlets, it explored racism and discrimination within the LGBTQ community.  You can find the majority of the series at:  bilerico/lgbtqnation.com/2009/03/racism_the_cancer_that_slowly_consumes_o.php.

     One of the issues I detailed was how race influences and plays into the formation of gay identities.  This has a deep, profound and telling impact on whom we choose to date, have sex and partner with—and who does the same regarding us.

      With the sharply escalating racial violence occurring in this country, I decided to revisit this particular issue.  Therefore, without further ado, I present:

 

      “They Don’t Want To Cruise Your Type”

 

     In Part Four of “The Cancer That Slowly Consumes Our Very Souls: Racism,” I referenced the paper, “They Don’t Want to Cruise Your Type: Gay Men of Color and the Racial Politics of Exclusion,” written by Chong-suk Han and  featured in the publication Social Identities. Exceptionally researched and written, as well as being theoretically sophisticated, Han’s treatise effectively and overwhelmingly demonstrates how white supremacy within the LGBTQ community marginalizes and negatively impacts its minority populations.  Dr. Han states, “In this paper, I examine the forms of racism that are found in gay communities and show how race is implicated in the construction of gay identities.  Particularly, I focus on subtle and blatant forms of racism that negate the existence of gay men of color and how racism affects the way we see gay men.”

     An associate professor of sociology at Vermont’s Middleburg College, Dr. Han also is a researcher, whose highly regarded work in particular points to how sexual and racial stereotyping and internalization combine to put gay Asian Pacific men at greater risk of HIV infection.  He has been widely published in theoretical social science journals and in health research/social work periodicals.

     Warning:  Dr. Han’s assertions, which are candid and not sugarcoated, might rankle and “get under the skin” of some of you.  Therefore, you may beg to differ.    

     However, throughout this article, I’m featuring images of loving interracial couples.  This gives us hope and inspiration.

     To retain the robust flavor of Dr. Han’s landmark, eye-opening “They Don’t Want to Cruise Your Type,” I’ll present excerpts, mostly word for word.

Interracial One Interracial Gay Dating

     In the introduction, Dr. Han states, “Despite the civil rights dialogue used by the gay
community, many ‘gay’ organizations and members of the ‘gay’ community continue to exclude men of color from leadership positions and ‘gay’ establishments, thus continuing to add to the notion that ‘gay’ equals ‘white’.  Likewise, gay men of color experience homophobia within their racial and ethnic communities.”

     Next, he speaks about a “forum on race” that he attended.  “As the audible levels of conversations begin to wane, organizers urge the audience of some 200 men, and a handful of women, to take their seats so we can all begin.  Within minutes, a representative of the host agency lays out ground rules of discussion—most noticeably that we will not, given the limited time, try to define racism while quickly offering that, ‘everyone is capable of racism’, a definition that many men of color in the audience would, if given the chance, vehemently dispute.

     “Perhaps it wouldn’t have been such an issue if members of the community who were invited to help plan the forum hadn’t spent weeks arguing for the need to discuss racism in the gay community, rather than focus solely on race.  Or perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a slight if they were asked to provide an alternative definition of racism, particularly who is able, within the larger social structure, to practice it rather than being left with only one definition of it.  In fact, the title ‘Race Forum’ was specifically chosen, against the suggestions offered by members of the community, so that the focus could be on ‘race’ rather than the trickier topic of ‘racism’.”

Interracial Two A Colorful Queers

     Dr. Han continues.  “’It’s like they didn’t hear a thing’, a member of the ‘community’ told me immediately after the announcement.  ‘Why did we go to meetings?  It’s like we weren’t even there.  We might as well be invisible’.  Though flabbergasted, he also told me that ‘It’s no surprise’.  It seems that for this member of the community, speaking up and being ignored has come to be a common occurrence.  After all, being a gay man of color is to experience the unnerving feeling of being invited to a potluck while being told not to bring anything since nobody would be interested in what you bring, and then not being offered any food since you didn’t bring anything anyway.”

     Next, the sociologist and researcher expands the discussion by asserting, “gay America has given a whole new meaning to the term ‘whitewash’.”  Dr. Han writes, “Whiteness in the gay community is everywhere, from what we see, what we experience, and more importantly, what we desire.  The power of whiteness, of course, derives from appearing to be nothing in particular.  That is, whiteness is powerful precisely because it is everywhere but nowhere in particular.  When we see whiteness, we process it as if it doesn’t exist or that its existence is simply natural.  We don’t see it precisely because we see it constantly.  It blends into the background and then becomes erased from scrutiny.”

     This whiteness is imposed from both outside and inside of the LGBTQ community.  And in the heterosexual mind, the community is overwhelmingly portrayed as being “white and well-to-do.”

Interracial Three Cute Gay Couples

     Explains Dr. Han, “While mass media will often use stereotypes to sell minority characters to majority audiences, the gay media are no less to blame for the promotion of the ‘gay equals white’ misconception.  Even the most perfunctory glance through gay publications exposes the paucity of non-white images.  It’s almost as if no gay men of color exist outside of fantasy cruises to Jamaica, Puerto Rico or the Orient.”

     He adds, “And even then, they exist only to fulfill the sexual fantasies of gay white men. ‘Exotic’ vacations to far-away places are marketed to rich white men, and poor colored bodies are only another consumable product easily purchased with western dollars.  As such, gay men of color, whether found within western borders or conveniently waiting for white arrival in the far corners of the globe, are nothing more than commodities for consumption.”

     (Rich) food for thought, eh?

R.L. Norman: The Old School Romantic, Part One

     I had the distinct pleasure to sit down with Mr. R. L. Norman, exclusively for the Huffington Post Queer VoicesArguably, Mr. Norman is that quintessential Renaissance man:  he’s an entrepreneur, videographer, performer, columnist, internet host, and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” 

     His fifth and brand new installment in the series is, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask And I Won’t Tell.”  In Part One of my series on Norman, he dishes about his series, what drives him…and what makes him a diehard romantic.

     To get all the scrumptious “411,” visit:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wyatt-obrian-evans/rl-norman-the-old-school-_b_10822892.html

Conversations With The Duchess 3

“PRIDE: A Celebration of Liberation” 

Guest Writer:  Carlton R. Smith 

     President Barack Obama has just designated the area around the Stonewall Inn in New York City as the nation’s first national monument to LGBTQ rights.  As you know, The Stonewall Uprising is largely regarded as the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ movement for civil rights.  And our PRIDE celebrations grew out of that movement. 

     During the 1960’s, very few establishments welcomed openly LGBTQ individuals.  Therefore, there weren’t many places for us to socialize.       

     Then, at 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, eight police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, located on the famous Christopher Street in the city’s Greenwich Village.  In 1969, police raids on gay bars occurred regularly.  It was illegal to serve LGBTQ persons alcohol, or for them to dance with one another.  During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, customers were lined up and their identifications checked.  Those without ID or who dressed in full drag were arrested.  Oftentimes, patrons would be roughed up.  And, those arrested had their names printed in the newspaper, which resulted in some losing their jobs.   

     It was simply another risk of being gay. 

 

     During that early morning, approximately 200 people were in the Stonewall.  The raid that early morning was the bar’s third during that week; and as always, the police entered with search warrants.  

     However, this time, those 200 patrons did not cooperate.  They resisted and fought back. They were people of color, including Puerto Rican drag queens, Black hustlers, bartenders and some “butch lesbians” (who are not always mentioned in the narrative of what transpired.)

     While others were lingering outside the bar, the police were escorting patrons into the paddy wagon. Suddenly, a fight broke out and the crowd started throwing cobblestones, bottles and garbage at officers, who retreated back into the bar as the crowd grew massive.  As the rioting crowd spilled into the streets and alleyways, the police was forced to call for reinforcements.  The uprising continued for two more nights.

     It was the birth of a liberation movement.

     The Stonewall Rebellion didn’t have “identifiable leaders.”  However, it had  community stakeholders who took a stance against oppression–resisting their oppressors.  It was collective action.  Stonewall became a model, a touchstone for gay liberation groups.  A revolution had begun across the nation.  

CARLTON SMITH  the one

     Now, having said all that, I have some pertinent questions:  shouldn’t the Black Queer Lives Matter Movement be as revered and respected as the Stonewall Uprising?  Shouldn’t it matter just as much?   Where’s the love for people of color who are constantly traumatized by oppression and hate?

     Moreover, Black and Latino trans individuals often face bigotry and violence as they try to live their lives like the rest of us, while too many of us take being exempt from it for granted.  

     On Sunday, June 12th, a gunman entered Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub and killed 49 people. This tragedy has claimed more lives than any other mass shooting in modern day American history–namely the lives of Black and Latino LGBTQ people.  However, mainstream media, politicians and others routinely continue to ignore the implications of race, citizenship and class in narratives about the Orlando tragedy. 

     Actually, the “whitewashing” is nothing new.  Storytelling about Stonewall and other acts of LGBTQ resistance has routinely been told without acknowledging the central roles of brown and Black queer folk–especially transgender women of color.

     Although this is rather disconcerting, together we must combat ignorance and hatred in our daily lives—even after the media spotlight dwindles, and then moves on.  I have to keep in mind to love my enemies according to the Scriptures. However, know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not retreating back inside any closets, for that would be a spiritual and emotional death.  

     Remember:  love is our greatest victory–and I’m in it for LOVE! 

His Royal Highness,

Duchess

 


     Carlton R. Smith has advocated on LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS issues for many years, placing emphasis on the African American LGBTQ community– specifically men who have sex with men (MSM).  Mr. Smith has served on various committees providing leadership and outreach, and continues to represent the needs of LGBTQ individuals at the local, state and federal levels.

     Carlton’s resume is both substantive and stellar:  currently, he is the Executive Director and one of the founding members of The Center for Black Equity-Baltimore (formerly Baltimore Black Pride, Inc.), now in its 14th year of operation.  Also, he is a member of the JHU CFAR community participatory advisory board at the John Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research. 

     As well, Carlton serves as community co-chair of the GBISGLRT Response Team (convened by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), and is one of the co-founders of “Sankofa” Community Conversations on Black Same-Gender Loving Men, established in 2014.

     Carlton also is a former member of Maryland Moving Forward Network,  National Minority AIDS Council, National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (membership chair/member of its executive committee), and was Vice-Chairman of the Greater Baltimore HIV Health Planning Council

     And, Mr. Smith is an ordained deacon with Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore.  You can connect with and follow Carlton on Facebook at Carltonraysmith; on Twitter: @BmoreBlackpride, @Duchess_WitTea; on Instagram and Vine, Baltimore Black Pride.

Precum & Blood: Hand in Hand

     As result of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, poz men who have a fully-suppressed viral load (as determined by blood testing) also have an undetectable viral load in their precum (pre-ejaculatory fluid).  Researchers in the United States studied 60 sexually active males with HIV who were on a stable antiretroviral regimen for at least three months.  All participants provided precum, semen and blood samples. 

     Aidsmap.com reported that the researchers (who published these recent findings in AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society) stated, “’Our study provides the first evidence that pre-ejaculatory sexual secretions in men on ART (antiretroviral treatment), unlike those from untreated men, do not contain detectable HIV’.”

     There is now overwhelming evidence that those who are on a stable ART regimen that suppresses HIV in their blood to undetectable levels are extremely unlikely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners.  However, persistent HIV replication has been detected in the semen of men on treatment that suppresses the blood’s viral load.

    The virus has been detected in the precum of infected men not on ART.  Pre-ejaculate is considered to be a possible source of HIV transmission. According to Aidsmap.com, the researchers “wanted to see if HIV-replication persists in pre-ejaculatory fluid in the context of treatment that suppresses viral load in blood and also to establish if there is a relationship between detectable viral load in semen and viral shedding in pre-ejaculate.”

     Of those 60 sexually active men participating in the study, eight had detectable viral loads in their blood (a range of 80-640,000 copies/ml); therefore, they were excluded from the principal analysis.

     The remaining participants all had blood viral loads below the limit of detection (40 copies/ml).  Their median age was 43, 96% reported sex with other men, and 44% stated that they had engaged in insertive unprotected anal sex within the past three months. 

     And of the 52 males with undetectable viral loads in their blood, ten (19%) had low level HIV replication in their semen (59 to 800 copies/ml). However, none of the men’s precum contained the virus.

     The conclusion:  “’Our study provides the first evidence that pre-ejaculatory sexual secretions in men on (ART), unlike those from untreated men, do not contain detectable HIV’,” stated the researchers.

What Happens When Love Turns To Abuse?

     On Tuesday, June 28, I had the pleasure of being the Special Guest on The Sandy Rodgers Show–an insightful, empowering and popular national radio program!

     The show’s topic was, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LOVE TURNS TO ABUSE???”  I explored questions including:  What causes this to happen? Should a person stay or seek safety outside of the marriage/relationship? Does abuse cross the line? What are the warning signs of domestic violence/abuse, intimate partner violence/abuse–or any other violence between two people?

     Here’s the link to the full show:  http://tobtr.com/s/9032153

The Sandy Rodgers Show

     On Tuesday, June 28, @ 9 p.m. EST/ 6 p.m. PST, I’ll be a Special Guest on The Sandy Rodgers Show–an insightful, empowering and popular national radio program!

    This week’s topic is WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LOVE TURNS TO ABUSE???”  Per a special request from some listeners, this segment is dedicated to real talk around marriages/relationships that have crept into the realm of abuse.

     We’ll address questions including:  What causes this to happen? Should a person stay or seek safety outside of the marriage/relationship? Does abuse cross the line? What are the warning signs of domestic violence/abuse, intimate partner violence/abuse–or any other violence between two people?

    This is an open invitation for experts in the field to join the conversation and share some insights and wisdom with us as we explore this phenomenon that professes to begin in love! Or is that even a fair assumption?

     Do join me on Tuesday, June 28, 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST for an engaging discussion of a critical…and potentially life-threatening issue that touches all of us in some way. 

     LIFE LOVE WELLNESS, THE SANDY RODGERS SHOW!  Call in 516-531-9819, or online blogtalkradio.com/sandyrodgersand be a part of the conversation!

Hot Tea and Ice 6

“The Power Of Pride”

 Guest Writer: LaToya Hankins 

 

     Greetings Hot Tea and Ice Sippers!   Hope you are staying cool in this summer heat. Although I consider myself a proud daughter of the South, even I sometimes find the rising temperature a little bit too much to take. Days of ninety plus weather leaves me praising the person who invented air conditioning—and mastering the art of sweet tea.

     For many in the LGBTQ community, June is the month we fly our Pride flag freely. We attend festivals where we eat, drink, dance, march, flirt, and triumph in the sheer bliss of being out and about.   But unfortunately, on June 12, forty-nine members of our community enjoying the freedom of being themselves were taken from this world by an atrocious act of a misguided and angry soul.

     That Sunday morning, hearing the news of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history rendered me speechless. My heart and mind battled to reconcile the reality of what had taken place in Orlando.  I joined the millions around the world wavering between anger and grief. Viewing pictures of vigils and hearing the voices of survivors, family, and friends almost made me exit social media. In order to guard my heart, I retreated from my ritual of listening to the news.

     But then, I remembered:  June is LGBTQ Pride month!  By definition, pride is “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

     For thirty days, the LGBTQ community celebrates the power we possess that allows us to thrive when others want to diminish us. That power comes from acknowledging and living authentically as the person you were meant to be–instead of what society expects. The Power of Pride empowers hundreds of men, women, and those who reject labels to walk in their truth–be it in sensible shoes or stilettos.

     While some point to the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 as when the Pride movement started in full effect, the reality is that the Power of Pride has always existed. It is the force that allowed members of the community to rise above the rejection of family and friends. Pride is what kept us going and moving past tragedy.  

     Now, more than ever, we have to seize the Power of Pride in ourselves and those who have gone before us to shake the dust off our feet–and keep pushing forward.

     The LGBTQ community, and by extension anyone who has been discounted for being who they are, have endured far worse and risen. We have survived and thrived! No one is strong enough to snatch away the many victories we have worked so hard to achieve.

     The massacre in Orlando should encourage us to dig deep and harness the Power of Pride so that we can continue to hold our heads up, reach out to others to help strengthen them, and continue on the path of being the individuals we are meant to be.

     Claiming the power that lies within isn’t always easy. Sometimes barriers such as shame, sexism, racism, and just sheer lack of self-acceptance block our power from coming through at full force.  But know that we are powerful when we embody our Pride.

LaToya Hankins

     While June is LGBTQ Pride month, the achievements which earned us the right to hold our heads high are something we should celebrate year-round.

     Unfortunately though, being powerful in our Pride won’t prevent obstacles.  Dark forces gather when communities seen as powerless try to assert their natural power.  We saw it in Charleston, S. C. last year when a killer gunned down nine church members during a mid-week service. We saw it in Los Angeles during the riots of the 1980’s when decades of mistreatment boiled over in majority-minority communities. We saw it across the South in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement when men, women, and children were arrested and killed simply for exercising their rights.

     The powerful cannot back down. We have to harness our Pride to push back the forces that want to diminish our shine. We can’t concede and allow those misguided, ill-informed and just plain wrong individuals to define and defile us.

     It is good and necessary to grieve for those who have been snatched away by and through hate.  But we have to lift our heads and walk strong with our Power of Pride.

     So I know it may be difficult, but I encourage everyone to unleash their Power of Pride this summer. Don’t limit yourself to the calendar. Go beyond the thirty days and use the Power of Pride for good. If we all unleash our power, perhaps it will defeat or weaken those who seek to derail our accomplishments.

     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 La Toya at her on line home, www.latoyahankins.com; email, latoya.hankins@yahoo.com; Facebook, www.facebook.com/latoyahankins; and on Twitter, @hankinslatoya.

 

Interview With An Escort:  An Update

     A little more than a year ago, I published “Interview With An Escort,” a raw and revealing interview I conducted with an exclusive and popular NYC gay male escort.  This is an update.

     I will never share his website and contact information because this article is not about advertising or promoting his services.  Instead, it’s to give you, the reader, insight into what tends to be a sexual choice/option for more than a few in the gay/SGL community.

 

     A few 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.”

     Kirk is far from the only man, be he young or not-so-young, who’s amongst the ranks of “the oldest profession.”  On one of my recent trips to Manhattan (NYC), I sat down with arguably one of that city’s most popular escorts.  To “get into his head,” I asked him a wide range of questions. 

     I’m not using his real name (or the “handle” he uses, for that matter) because it’s not my purpose to give him free promotion.   My purpose is to give you some insight into the life of an escort.    

     Actually, “Jase’s” (short for “Jason”) 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 nearly seven years now. 

     The uncommonly handsome, dominant and very self-assured Jase, 30, exudes raw sexuality.  And, let’s not even talk about swagger!

     At 6’2”, 228 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, he’s very accessible.  His dazzling white smile and smoldering eyes are disarming. 

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

     Ya see, he’s all about the money.

 

     WYATT:  Jase, thanks for this interview.

     JASE:  No problem, glad to do it.

     WYATT:  Let’s just jump right into it.  Why did you become an escort?  Did childhood experiences somehow coerce, force you into it?

     JASE:  Oh, hell no!  Although you hear that a lot about other folk, that wasn’t the case with me.  For me, it’s all about money:  after the economy imploded in 2007, there’s a “whole new world order.”  You’ve had to find different streams of income.  I was drowning in student debt, and I believed that escorting was the best way of quickly getting the most cash possible.  (The stud has one helluva deep, melodious voice.)

     WYATT:  And you continue to escort even after you paid down your debt, after you graduated and found a decent job?

     JASE:  As you know, graduates have tens of thousands of debt.  It’ll take almost forever to wipe it out.  That’s the new world order.  And even though I was lucky to get a good job, it still doesn’t pay what I would like.  So, I decided to continue “seeing” guys.  (Then, he flashes a wide grin.)  Besides, I enjoy it!

     WYATT:  Well, what appeals to you most about escorting?

     JASE:  I’m highly—and I do mean highly—sexual!  I like the thrill of being with multiple guys—of different ages, races, body types, personalities.  And man, look at me (hearty laugh)—people should pay me to sleep with ‘em!

     WYATT:  Jase, do you sleep with guys and not get paid for it?  Like, “recreational sex?”

     JASE:  Nope.  Not at all.

     WYATT:  Really?

     JASE: (Very seriously now.)  Really.

     WYATT:  I see.  Are you gay, or gay for pay?

     JASE:  Totally gay, totally into men.  Been there and done that with women!  A woman can’t do anything for me.

     WYATT:  Jase, describe your clientele.

     JASE:  Although I’m open to all races/ethnicities, my clientele is mostly white, professional, well-to-do, married.  The percentage breakdown is, like, 65 (white)/25 (black)/10 (Latino).

     WYATT:  You appear to be pretty exact!

     JASE:  Mos’ definitely!  I’m a professional, very methodical.  I treat “everythang” (everything) in life as a bizness.  You have to.

     WYATT:  Do you use drugs with your clients?

     JASE:  Hell no!  If a client wants to when he’s with me, that’s cool.  However, I refuse to indulge.  For my safety, I can’t afford to be mentally impaired.  (Pause.)  And where anal sex is concerned, it’s condoms all the way!  None of this bareback crap.

     WYATT:  I assume you’re top?

     JASE:  Oh, so totally. 

     WYATT:  Well Jase, exactly what do you do in bed with your clients?

     JASE:  I’m a top, both anally and oral.  Lots of body contact.  I like to deep kiss—as long as there are no breath issues.  Heavily into licking and sucking nips.  And, I just love tossing salad…before I give my client the main course, if you catch my drift!    Also, I get into role playing: daddy/son, prison guard/inmate, etc., etc.  

     WYATT:  What sexual act with a client do you most enjoy?

     JASE:  Hmmmm…getting my dick s**ked.  Hands down!  Bro, how I “LUV” the feel of a slick, wet, hot mouth up and down and all over my throbbing, rock hard, juicy “thang.”

     WYATT:  Jase, our readers and I wanna know:  just how BIG are you?

     JASE:  Nine and a half.  Wide and “phat” (fat).  Nice mushroom head.  Curves to the right.  (He chuckles:) Yo, he’s my Buddy!  My money maker.

     WYATT:  Whoa.

     JASE:  Lemme stop talking about this!  I can get hard at the drop of a hat. 

     WYATT:  On the average, how many clients do you see a week?

     JASE:  Three, sometimes four.  I have a good deal of regulars.  

     WYATT:  So, you get your clients via the internet?

     JASE:  Definitely.  That’s the safest, most efficacious way to go.  As you know, I have an elaborate website.

     WYATT:  You certainly do. Have you ever been busted by the cops?

     JASE:  Not once, knock on wood!  I’m very low key, if you will.  If you’re sane in this bizness, sure, you have concerns.  You’re must always be vigilant.  And, I put potential clients through a detailed, lengthy interview.  After that, I can tell if the guy is “on the level.” 

     Besides, my site specifically states “companionship”—and that’s what the client is paying for.  Companionship.   Now, being consenting adults, if after meeting we decide to have sex, well…

     WYATT:  Jase, have you ever found yourself in a dangerous situation with a client?

     JASE:  Fortunately, no.  My physical size and demeanor prevents that from happening.  However, I’ve had a couple of escort buddies who weren’t so lucky.

     WYATT:  What happened?

     JASE:  Well, one was set up by a cop.  Another was raped by a client and his friends.

     WYATT:  Have you ever been stiffed by a client?

     JASE:  Two times, and two times only!  The first happened the first year I began escorting.  A bounced check! (Jase’s ire is rising.) That’s why I NEVER accept checks from non-regulars; a regular is someone I’ve seen for at least a year. 

     The other time also occurred during my first year.  After the session, the client claimed he “left his wallet at home.”  I remained in his hotel room for hours, having my way with him—if you know what I mean!  (Jase’s expression is simultaneously funny–and scary.)  Lessons learned…   

     WYATT:  So Jase, how long do you plan to continue escorting?

     JASE:  Honestly Wyatt, I don’t know.  It depends on the economy.  However, if I lose my spark, my desire for it, I’ll be done.  I’ll vanish.

     WYATT:  Jase, thanks for giving my audience a window into what’cha do.

     JASE:  It’s all good, Wyatt.  Now, you’ve gotta become a ghost, ‘cause I’ve gotta “break in” a new client in 30 (minutes)! 

 

    A few months after that, Jase took down his escort “shingle,” and pretty much became that “ghost.”

   Just a few weeks ago, I decided to re-establish contact with Jase.  I wanted to find out if he were still out of the “biz.”  The following is the update: 

  

   WYATT:  Jase.  It’s good to speak with you again!  How have you been since our last talk?  Are you still on the, as we say, “straight and narrow?”

     JASE:  “Straight and narrow?”  (There’s his patented hearty laugh!)  A great way of putting it…

     WYATT:  Well?

     JASE:  Wyatt, I’ll be honest…

     WYATT:  I want you to be.  (Now, I’m laughing.)

     JASE:  I’m back in.

     WYATT:  Really?

     JASE:  Yes.

     WYATT:  Whoa!  What happened?

     JASE:  I was fired from my regular gig three months ago.  No severance, no nothing!

     WYATT:  Man, I’m really sorry to hear that. 

     JASE.  Thanks.  I saw it coming, and it was quite messy.

     WYATT:  Any prospects?

     JASE:  I’m interviewing like crazy!  Meanwhile, I got back into escorting.  I refuse to be financially compromised.  I gotta eat, if you know what I mean.

     WYATT:  I feel you.  Let me ask you:  when you find another position, will you continue to escort?

     JASE:  (Hesitating.)  To be honest, I couldn’t tell you for sure.  (Long pause.)  However, if you’d put a gun to my head, I’d have to say, “yes.”

     WYATT:  Really?

     JASE:  Yup.  And you know what?  I missed all the sex!

     WYATT:  Can you explain further?

     JASE:  Look:  as I said when we spoke last time, I crave sex…and with multiple guys!  And I have to admit that I “get off” on being desired…and being in control, sexually.  Point blank period.

     WYATT:  Well, that says it all.

     JASE:  It does.

     WYATT:  Jase, I hope you find a regular job soon, and one that really inspires you.  And, be careful out there.

     JASE:  No doubt, no doubt.

     WYATT:  Thanks for your time.

Sex In Prison, Part Two

Welcome back! In “Sex In Prison, Part One,” I presented the recent study entitled “Incarcerated Black Men Report Sex in Prison, Posing Challenges for HIV Prevention and Treatment” that gave this sobering conclusion: Black men, who are vastly over represented within our prison system, comprise a high percentage of HIV-positive inmates. And according to that study–conducted by the Columbia University School of Nursing–these males pose an infection risk not only to other inmates, but to members of their communities once they are released.

“While sex is prohibited in U.S. prisons, sexual encounters are commonplace and few inmates express concern about getting or spreading HIV,” stated one of the authors, Tawandra Rowell-Cunsolo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Science at the Columbia University School of Nursing.

Now in “Sex In Prison, Part Two,” I’m spotlighting just how prevalent sexual activity (both consensual and forced) is behind bars—vis-à-vis the experiences of male prisoners.

Helping Me Helping You…So to Speak.

Daniel Genis spent ten years incarcerated. In his 2014 memoir, “A Gentleman’s Guide To Sex In Prison,” Genis shares his observations of consensual sex in lockdown:

“I can only speak for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Maybe I’d been incarcerated only in the ‘softer’ corners of the penal system. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability.”

He continues.

“But more common, from what I could see, was an older prisoner taking a young and inexperienced kid under his wing. Most often, this kid has no money and likes to get high; there are many such people in prison, and they tend to burn their bridges early and totally. And so the older man, who has usually already served major time, feeds the kid, and gets him a little something to smoke or snort. Now the kid has become a ‘fish’. They start working out together, then showering together, then there is a massage, and finally, the kid is asked to ‘help’ the older guy out. He’s ‘no homo,’ but he has needs…”

Genis emphasizes:

“Consensual sex between incarcerated men happens all the time. There are rules against it, as it is considered an ‘unhygienic act’, and you can go to the Special Housing Unit (aka the Box) for it. Which is ironic, because then you will be locked in a room with another man for 24 hours a day, with barely any supervision. Solitary, at least in New York State, is not solitary at all, but a deux (for or involving two people)–as it is cheaper to house men this way. If ever there was a venue for either forcible or consensual sex between men, it is therein provided.”

The author adds,

“Openly gay men are not as oppressed as one might fear. The feminine ones are often desired, and there is quite a bit of prostitution going on. I once saw oral sex performed in exchange for two cigarettes and a honey bun…”

The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the United Kingdom (UK). Established in 1866, it is named after John Howard, one of the first prison reformers.

The organization’s recent report, “Sex In Prison: Experiences Of Former Prisoners,” also details consensual sex within the cellblock. According to the report:

“Gay and bisexual interviewees, and other interviewees who became aware of sexual activity in men’s prisons, stated that sexual partners were mostly other gay and bisexual prisoners. Sometimes, however, sexual partners were men who self-identified as heterosexual, some of whom were described as being, in their manner and topic of conversation, ‘macho’ and ‘anti-gay’. Some were known to be sustaining a relationship, through social visits, telephone calls, and letters, with a wife or girlfriend.

“These men would typically request oral sex, or would anally penetrate the gay prisoner. Gay interviewees reported that these partners—men they described as ‘prison gays’, ‘jail gays’, or ‘gay on the inside’, never acknowledged the homosexual nature of what had occurred between them, and would subsequently ignore them on the wing. They were neither surprised nor offended by straight sexual partners, as this interview excerpt illustrates:

Craig: ‘Oh my god, it was like I’d died and gone to heaven! As a gay man, prison was a fabulous sexual experience! I’ve never had so much sex. I was very popular, and I loved it!

‘He’d come in, not say a word, pull his cock out, I’d suck him off, and that was it; out the door again. Never said a word!’

Interviewer: ‘And how did you feel about that?’

Craig: ‘What do you mean?’

Interviewer: ‘Well, did you feel, for example, you had been used sexually?’

Craig: ‘No, not at all! We both got what we wanted’.”

Then there’s Sean, who stated to the interviewer: “’For men, sex is a physical need, a need for sexual release. An erect penis must be attended to. You can deal with it yourself, of course, but if there’s the chance of sex…so much the better’!”

Between a Rock (Actually, a Boulder) and a Hard Place.

PRISON 7

The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Show, my eponymous internet radio program, tackled the issue of sexual assault/rape of incarcerated LGBTQ individuals (with the focus on males) last year. (The Wyatt O’Brian Evans Show returns in a new format later this year. Look for it.) My special guest was the Reverend Jason M. Lydon, community minister for the Unitarian Universalist Church in Boston. A victim of sexual assault while imprisoned, he’s the founding director of Black and Pink, an organization that supports incarcerated LGBTQ persons.

But before I detail Rev. Lydon’s story–as well as the experiences of other imprisoned individuals–allow me to share some facts from Just Detention International (JDI), a health and human rights organization seeking to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. JDI maintains the belief that “rape is not part of the penalty.”

According to JDI, “Sexual abuse behind bars is a systemic, nationwide human rights crisis. It is estimated that roughly 200,000 people were sexually abused in a single year. About half of the prisoners reporting abuse were victimized by staff—the very people whose job it is to keep them safe.”

And get this: “People who are LGBTQ face staggering levels of sexual assault in detention; LGBTQ prisoners were abused by other inmates at a rate more than ten times higher than straight prisoners. On average, each prisoner rape survivor is assaulted three to five times a year.”

And there’s more. “Prisoner rape survivors rarely get confidential rape crisis counseling, even though such counseling is known to reduce the effects of trauma. Incarcerated survivors who speak out are often mocked, ignored, or retaliated against by inmates or staff. Inmates who report abuse were as likely to be punished themselves as to get to talk to an investigator or see their abuser held accountable.”

Lastly, “With limited or no access to medical care and counseling, prisoner rape survivors often develop long-term health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and drug addiction. Moreover, the high rates of HIV and other STDs in detention facilities put survivors at risk for infection. Once released, many survivors turn to self-destructive behaviors that keep them trapped in a cycle of poverty, crime and re-incarceration.”

By providing survivor testimonies, JDI provides a window into the horrors of sexual assault and rape behind bars:

  • Andrew, from Florida. A corrections officer sexually abused him in a Florida prison. When Andrew reported the abuse, the officer retaliated, and the abuse grew worse.
  • Micah, from California. Micah was raped and tortured by law enforcement officers in a police lock-up. He faced many challenges trying to report the abuse, and was denied follow-up services, such as counseling and medical care. Micah has since been released from jail and is struggling to rebuild his life while facing the emotional scars of the abuse.
  • Rodney, from Louisiana. Rodney is an openly gay man who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by inmates in two Louisiana jails while serving time for check fraud. He was sold into sexual slavery from one prisoner to another, and was forced to abandon his male identity as his only way to survive.
  • Rodney, from Texas. At 17, Rodney committed suicide after being continuously raped and abused in Texas prisons.

Rev. Lydon is a survivor of prison sexual assault, who stated that he was strip searched a total of 24 times. During one of those strip searches, according to the reverend, a prison guard used verbal threats to force him to masturbate in front of him. “He then grabbed my testicles, squeezed them, and verbally abused me,” according to Rev. Lydon. “I was fortunate that there was not penetrative violence, etc.”

Did the reverend report the abuse to authorities? “Who would I tell? I didn’t know who to tell. Then, I was placed in solitary confinement, 23 hours a day.” He stated that anecdotal evidence shows that less than 50 percent of victims report sexual assault/rape.

So, just how did he cope? How did he heal? “I compartmentalized it all,” Rev. Lydon responded. Becoming involved with Just Detention International, building Black and Pink, and helping other survivors enabled him to heal.

During that interview with the reverend, I asked if there were a culture of prison sexual assault/rape. Unequivocally he responded, “Yes. Sexual violence is the key to the ongoing functioning of the prison system. Sexual violence is part of the tool box to maintain the control of the bodies of those locked up.”

Is There a “Great Escape?”

Interior views of traditional prison

Interior views of traditional prison

So, are inmates totally “between a rock (actually, a boulder) and a hard place? Are they totally without resources to keep them safe?

Maybe not. There is PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Unanimously passed by Congress in 2003, PREA is the nation’s first federal civil law that addresses sexual violence behind bars. JDI was instrumental in its passage.

This legislation’s signature achievement was the development of national standards to prevent and respond to rape of those incarcerated. And in 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice issued its PREA standards, which include: improved protections for LGBTQ individuals; quality crisis services for survivors; and prisoner education on the right to be safe behind bars.

JDI states that these are encouraging trends. But according to the organization, “we still have plenty of work to do before the standards will result in the dramatic culture shift needed to end prisoner rape. Sexual abuse remains rampant in prisons and jails nationwide. Too many people in detention have not yet seen PREA make a difference in their daily lives.”

However, JDI added, “But prisoners and jails that take the PREA standards seriously are beginning to see results, among prisoners and staff alike. As one prisoner—a former PREA peer educator in California—said of changes on the yard, ‘People used to joke about sexual abuse. They don’t do that anymore’.” JDI collaborates directly with prison officials, assisting them in adopting the PREA provisions.

Rev. Lydon had this advice for those facing sexual violence in prison: “Each individual must weigh which is the best choice or route for him, and then make a decision. Be it reaching out to a guard, reporting the abuse, reaching out to the outside world (Black and Pink, for instance), or fighting back/defending themselves against those sexually assaulting him.

“We all make individual choices to survive. Survival is the goal. Therefore, don’t be ashamed of what you do—and need to do—in order to survive.”

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 10

“Writer, You Say What?” 

Guest Writer:  R. L. Norman 

      He stood across the room from me not saying a word. I was slowly becoming nervous as he just stared at me, looking all seductive. As he walked slowly towards me, I backed up until I could go nowhere.

     I bumped into the desk that was behind me and stumbled for a brief moment.  He took that opportunity to get as close to me as possible.    

     Then he was directly in front of me, blocking my way between the desk and the door to the classroom.  And just as I was about to say something, he suddenly grabbed me, pushing me down on the desk.

    “I want to see if Norman kisses as good as his books state,” he said in almost a whisper as he stared into my eyes.

     At first I said, “STOP!”, with a force in my voice as I tried to push him away. But then, when his lips touched mine, I whispered “stop” because he suddenly had me under his control–and I simply could not deny my sexual urge for him.

     But as he kissed me, I knew it was wrong because of who he was.   

 

     Who would have thought that only an hour before, I was standing in front of a classroom full of students.  And now, I’m having my first “student-teacher conference”–so to speak.

     You see, I was teaching a college creative writing course at Honey University.  And, my job was to give them direction on how to write a book: 

     “Are you one of those people who thought about writing a book, but didn’t know where to start? Or, you hesitated because you didn’t know the first thing about writing? If your answer is “yes,” then this is the course for you!  All you need do is to open yourself up and allow your ideas to flow onto paper.  And the number one thing is that there is no wrong way to writing. Everyone has a different method to make their ideas come alive, if you will.” This is what I told my students.

     Most of them consisted of housewives, businessmen, and recent college graduates.  Their ages varied from 22 (an office assistant) to 67

(a great-grandmother who wanted to write her life story).

     And of course, there was my problem student:  Chauncey Whitmore III!

     I was addressing the class, when in, he walks.

    “During this course, I will give you the basic elements of writing a book. And then I want you to …”

     (The door opens and closes.)

     “Eh, excuse me!  But did the dog break your time clock?” I directed my pointed question to the late arrival.

     “Professor Norman, I am Chauncey Whitmore III, and I can explain why I’m late,” he replied, with a certain amount of arrogance in his voice.

     As he stood there as if to say, “What nerve do you have to question me,” I immediately knew that he was going to be a problem. It was obvious he was a snob. I could tell that just by his demeanor and air of arrogance. 

     But I will admit, he was one sexy man!  Very attractive, he was tall, brown skinned and muscular, with a mustache and shaved head. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties.

     “Mr. Whitmore III, there is a time and place to be a storyteller,” I replied, because it was obvious that he was about to lie to me as he stood there trying to think of an excuse.

     “Ah, Professor Norman, that’s cold! You don’t even want to hear my excuse?”

     I ignored his question and responded, “You cannot be a writer if you don’t have discipline–especially time management. Please sit down.”

     I looked back at my students.  Some had smirks on their faces.  They were obviously amused by our brief banter. 

     After Mr. Whitmore III sat down, I proceeded.   “After that rude interruption, I will now continue.  During this class, we will go through the basic elements of writing from the beginning until the time you submit your work to the publisher.

    “And for the purpose of this class, I will be the publisher/editor.  Any questions?” I looked around the room.

     “Hmm, the man with no sense of time,” I said, peering at my problem student as he was raising his hand. “Yes, Mr. Whitmore?”

     “Well, professor: how are you qualified to teach this class?” he asked with a high and mighty tone, as if he was challenging my credentials.

    “Good question,” I replied. 

    “Well, let me tell you about my experience in writing. I didn’t plan on becoming a writer. I’m an engineer by profession. I didn’t write my first book until I was 50 years old. I am now 55, and have written five.

     “I started writing my first book by accident. I kept a personal journal since I was in college. And every day, I would write a page or two of my thoughts and ideas of the day’s life, love and relationship events. I called it ‘starting small’. I suggest that for all first-time writers.

     “And that brings up another point: what to write.  Write about what you know! The easiest thing to write about is something you know about.”

     Then, the not-so shy great-grandmother raised her hand.

     “Yes, Mrs. Walker?”

     “I’ve read some of your books, and they are about sex!” So I assume that is what you know.”

     The class stared at me curiously, awaiting my reply.

     “Well, my books are really about the ups and downs of someone searching for love.” I tried to refrain from talking about the sex part.

     “But I bet the sex didn’t hurt!  Professor, I’ve read all of your books, and it seems like you’re very experienced,” Mr. Whitmore added, with a smug look on his face.

     Several people in the class muttered comments under their breath.

     “This is going to be a challenge,” I said to myself.

R L NORMAN NEW COVER DESIGN

     “Okay, class. Look at your handout,” I said, once again ignoring another question by Whitmore.  “I’m going to tell you the basics for writing a book; and during the course, we will discuss them in detail.  Now, here’s the list:”

  1. What do you want to write about? As I’ve stated, write about what you know. And, character development is essential:  create a character that your audience will want to know, and know about. That’s half the battle.
  1. Start small. Write little by little. Anytime an idea pops into your head, write it down so you won’t forget it. You can expand on it later.
  1. Develop an outline. As you write, make an outline. Organize your thoughts. Remember that everyone has a different method of writing. I write the beginning and ending, and then fill in the middle. That’s my style.
  1. Set a time to work on your book. Personally, I write whenever the mood hits me. Or I have an idea that I just have to write down, then and there. But if you are naturally a busy person, set a time to record your thoughts. And be accountable for your time. It’s all about setting goals.
  1. Choose a place to write. Pick a place that suits you best to make your thoughts come alive. When I write, I have the TV or radio on. Some people like complete quietness. It’s up to you.
  1. Give yourself a deadline. That’s where time management comes in. Set goals to complete various portions of your book. And that’s important because publishers and editors will give you certain deadlines.
  1. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Make your writing sound realistic. Enable readers to understand what you are saying. As well, make your words come alive for readers, so that they can actually visualize what you are saying. 
  1. Get early feedback. There is nothing worse than writing a book, and then having to rewrite the whole thing. Have a few people close to you help you discern what’s worth including in your book. And regardless of the criticism, stay motivated to finish your book. Because when you do, the rewards of self-accomplishment will be well worth it.
  1. Read, read and re-read your work. Make sure the story flows. The best way to do that is to read it! And always spell check your work. But here’s a little trick because the spell-checker doesn’t always catch everything…read your book backwards! I know it sounds crazy, but you will be surprised by how many errors you catch by doing that. Think about it:  you probably know your book by heart. But by reading it backwards, you see errors that you may have missed.
  1. Embrace failure. Know that everyone is not going to like what you write or how you write. But criticism, good or bad, is part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid of rejection.

     During the whole class, Chauncey was staring directly at me with lust in his eyes!  He was eyeing me seductively, which made me a little tense.

      “Our time is almost up for today,” I announced.  “And during the course, we will discuss each point in detail. But in the meantime, do me a quick favor.  Off the top of your head, record what you want to write about. Hand that in so I have a general idea about your thought process.  This is all to prepare you for the final exam. And, we will discuss the topics anonymously at the next class.

     “Class dismissed,” I said as I walked behind my desk and sat down.  As they left the class, they each handed me a piece of paper with their book ideas. They seemed excited with my class so far. I sat behind my desk, pleased with my first day.

     I got up to leave.  At first, I didn’t notice that Chauncey Whitmore III had stayed behind, and was standing at the door smiling at me.

     “Here is my book idea” he said, staring at me seductively.

     And suddenly, he had me on my desk, kissing me aggressively. The song by Al Green filled my head, “If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t Want to be Right).” 

     I don’t know how long we kissed–or how long the dean of students was standing there watching us!

     But once we were aware of it, reality set in and we jumped up quickly!

As we straightened our clothes, I was speechless.

    “Dean, I can explain!  I was just…..”

    “You don’t have to explain, Professor Norman,” The dean said, interrupting me. “I came because I had a feeling that this was going to happen.”

    “What?” I said with a puzzled looked on my face.

    “Chauncey, you can leave!  And, don’t let his happen again!” the dean said sternly, with a sound of familiarity towards Chauncey.

     Chauncey smirked and didn’t utter a word as he left the room.

     I looked at the dean, waiting to be reprimanded–and possibly fired.

     “Professor Norman, don’t worry about this at all!  It is not the first time he has done this. He can’t seem to help himself.”

     “Oh,” I responded, confused. “He’s done this before?”

     “Yes. And I know that firsthand!  You see, he is my son,” the dean revealed as he walked out of the classroom.

     As I stood there with my mouth hanging open, I was tongue-tied!   Then I thought, “Oh, that’s right! Dean Whitmore. Chauncey Whitmore III!”  I hadn’t realized the connection at first. Wow.

     Well, this will be another chapter for my book, “The Miss-Adventures of Being Misunderstood.”

     And never forget… put your work out there, and see what happens!  And most importantly: NEVER, EVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAM.


   R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  The latest installment entitled, “Honey Hush; Don’t Ask I Won’t Tell,” is now available in e-book format.  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.”  And his Podcast, “Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else,debuted January 1 on itunes.  All of these endeavors are part of his production company, Honey Let Me Tell You.  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.