Tag Archives: Honey let me tell you something

NATHANIEL OCTAVIUS-NERDO

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 15

“Four Simple Words of Comfort”

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman 

     It was so dark in the room that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It was so dark that I could probably hear a pin drop; that’s if a pin did drop. I know that if I were a kid, I would probably be scared, calling for my mommy.

    But I wasn’t scared! I actually felt safe. I felt like nothing or no one could harm me. I felt like I could handle anything in life. But that wasn’t always the case.

      A friend of mine told me this one day while we were having lunch. I have known Kevin since our college days at Tuskegee University. After graduation, he went into the military and traveled all over the world until he settled down in North Carolina and became a stock broker. I went to New York and became an engineer. And, we’ve kept in touch over the years and became great friends.

     During the years, we talked several times a month; and due to our busy schedules, we’d see each other occasionally.  And from time to time, we’d get together for weekends–either in North Carolina or New York.

     But this particular weekend, we decided to meet half-way and spend the weekend in Washington, D.C. We both had never been there, and were excited to see Obama’s House: the White House.

     So, on this particular Friday afternoon, we met in the lobby of the same hotel we were booked in.  For almost two years, I hadn’t seen him face-to-face; therefore, I was understandably excited.

     I arrived at the lobby first, anticipating the arrival of my old friend. I stared at the elevator doors, waiting for them to open for what seemed like an eternity. As I waited, I was thinking about the first time I met HIM. He was dating my slut of a roommate who was cheating on him with every Tom, Dick–and sometimes John. I felt bad for Kevin, and befriended him once he found out the truth by catching my roommate in bed with another guy! That was so long ago, and there we were.

     When the elevator doors finally opened, I was surprised to see that my once broad-shouldered, 220 pounds, 6’2” friend was now practically a skeleton of a man!  Now, he was about a “buck fifty,” bald, very slim–and walked with a cane. I tried my best not to show the surprised and concerned expression on my face.  However, I’m sure he immediately noticed it.

     As we did our welcome embrace, I was afraid I was hugging him to hard. I thought I might break him because he seemed so fragile. We stood there for a while and did out usual laughing and joking. It was just like old times except for the fact that I could not help but have the thought in the back of my mind that something was terribly wrong with him.

     We decided to go to lunch before we began sightseeing.  After that, we had dinner before we did the D.C. nightlife, looking for men.

     At lunch, we did our usual catching up on each other’s lives. He told me about his job as a stock broker, which he truly relished.  He loved “playing with other people’s money,” as he put it.

     I told him about working on Park Avenue in New York.  He remembered that I’d always dreamed about working there. And I told him that I was single mainly because I worked a lot—which he also did.  But on this trip, we both decided to forget about work and do a lot of playing.

     After some chit-chat back and forth, and laughing about this and that, he got silent for a moment.  I just stared at him because it was obvious that he had something on his mind. 

     The silence was eventually broken when he said “Honey, I have to tell you something.” He was smiling as he stared at me for another brief moment.

     “Sure, what’s up?” I replied, a concerned tone enveloping my voice. As I listened with great interests, he told me his story.

     “Well,” he said,” one day out of the blue, I woke up with chest pains. I didn’t think much of it. I just thought it was something I ate the night before. The pain would come and go, and still I didn’t think that it was serious. And you know how most of us Black men are; we don’t want to go to the doctor. We are supposed to be big strong men that can handle anything. But of course, sometimes that’s not true. Women are the strong ones and I commend them for that.

     “Anyway” he continued, “after a few weeks I decided to go to the doctor. I finally made it after canceling several appointments, thinking and praying my pain would go away.

     “After many tests, I went back to the doctor for my results. That’s when he informed me that I had lung cancer and that it was serious.”

     Needless to say, Kevin’s revelation took me aback!  But not just because he divulged this like he was telling me some “everyday event in his life.”  It was because he told me this with such a positive attitude, confidence and smile on his face.   And, I was especially affected by him adding that even if the radiation and chemo didn’t work, he’d “one day pass away to heaven.”

     Kevin admitted that he hesitated to tell people–especially his closest friends–because they immediately treated him differently. Obviously, I was concerned and sad when I realized the seriousness of all that he said. After a few comforting words from me and some words of assurance from him, he was still smiling like he was on top of the world; while I, on the other hand, tried my best to smile.

     I asked him:   “How can you be so upbeat about this?” 

     He responded that from time to time, he’d let the world stand still and listened to God tell him the four little words of comfort. I was confused by what he meant.

      Until he explained it.     

     He said, “When I first received my diagnosis, I sat on my couch numb from shock! I sat there for what seemed like hours. It felt like time stood still as I sat there alone. And I felt like I didn’t have anyone in the world…and I was scared!  Scared of what the future may hold or should I say, ‘may not hold’.

     “Finally I went into my bedroom and drew all the curtains to make the room completely dark. Then I lay on my bed. It was so dark in the room that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It was so dark that I could probably hear a pin drop; that is, if a pin did drop. I know that if I were a kid, I’d probably be scared and calling for my mommy. I wanted to shut the world out for a while. To make it seem like the world stood still while I came to grips with the reality of my situation.

     “I laid there for what seemed like an eternity until suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore. I actually felt safe!  I felt like nothing or no one could harm me. I felt like I could handle anything in life.

     “That’s because suddenly, I swore I heard God whisper in my ear the four simple words of comfort.  He whispered, ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’.

And then the Bible verse of Philippians 4: 6-7 filled my mind. It basically reads, ‘I can do anything with God who strengthens me if I just have faith’.

     “After a while of thinking about those four simple words, I realized that it was true:  “Everything IS gonna be alright’!  I can handle this.

     “And from that moment on, I smiled and enjoyed life the best I could. I realized that some things in life are going to be a test of faith: a test to make us stronger in life’s ups, down, trials and tribulations.

     “I decided that I was going to be strong and think positive. That’s why every day, I wake up with a smile on my face and count my blessings. Even though sometimes the chemo or radiation is so bad that I can hardly move. And sometimes, I get real sick and can’t get out of bed for a while. But I know everything’s gonna be alright.

     “So eventually, I got up, opened the curtains and let the sun and the world back into my blessed life.

     “But of course, like anyone else, sometimes I get down and lonely. Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and whisper in my ear, ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’. 

     “Sometimes we go through stuff and don’t tell anyone. We keep it locked away because we don’t want to be a burden to anyone.

     “But sometimes, we just need for them to give us a hug and whisper in our ear.”

     At that moment I stood, pulling Kevin up with me. I then hugged my dear friend and whispered in his ear, “Everything’s gonna be alright.” 

     It was such an extraordinary moment!  As we both exhaled, it seemed as if his positive energy was transferred to me  It seemed like the precious feeling of God’s love flowed through our bodies as I suddenly felt like I, too, could handle anything.

     That was five years ago. And today, Kevin is doing well. And from time to time, we still meet and chase men.

     Thinking back to that day, I realize that a positive attitude does indeed make a difference.   That’s why I always try to have a smile on my face to share with the world. A smile to let people know that life is great; and hopefully, that positive attitude will make someone’s day.

    To all the people out there who are going through trials and tribulations in their lives, you are not alone. Your God is by your side. 

    And it’s those people that we should give such simple things as a hug and a whisper of those four simple words of comfort in their ear.

    So hug someone today and whisper, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 14

“The Power of Prayer”

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman  

  1. I pray that the doctors find out what illness my friend has, and cures him.
  2. I pray that my cousin graduates high school, continues on to college, and stops hanging with the wrong crowd–before he ends up in jail.
  3. I pray that my fifth novel, “Honey Hush, Don’t Ask and I Won’t Tell” (the next installment of my “Honey Let Me Tell You” book series), finally is released because it’s a year overdue.
  4. I pray that my most impoverished relative and friend both be bestowed with many blessings in 2016.

     You see, this list has been in a sealed envelope in my bible since January 1, 2016.

     So, on New Year’s Day 2017, I sat in a comfortable chair in my den. It’s that place in my home where I can relax and be at one with my thoughts. It’s  where I can think about the past, present and future. It’s that one area where I feel a sense of inner peace, and feel closer to God.

     It’s my inner sanctum.

     My understated, cozy den has a large shelf that spans the length of one wall, and is filled with all types of books–including my series of novels.       As the shadows from the fireplace illuminated the room and emanated a sense of calm, I reminisced about the past year.

     I thought about all the things that I had hoped to accomplish:  acquiring a new job and home, earning more money, writing another book–just so many things that I wanted to do.

     Every year we have hopes, dreams and goals for what we want to do in the coming year. We ponder those things that will make our lives better. Every year we make resolutions.

     And then at the end of the year, we sit around and think about what we have actually accomplished, and ruminated about the things we want to do in the next year. 

     We think about getting a new job.  Losing or gaining weight.  Changing our lifestyle, or entering into a relationship.

     We think about what we hope and wish for, and then we set out to accomplish those goals.

     But what do most of us end up doing? 

     For the first month or so, we do the best we can to meet our goals. We think about it, put our efforts into it–and strive to achieve it. We instill the thought of achievement in our minds and go for it.

     We try doing this practically every day until slowly but surely, the thrill is gone. The urge of achieving our goals eventually subsides. Then we forget about it until the next year, when the cycle of making and keeping New Year’s resolutions starts all over again.

     For example, a friend of mine wanted to get into a new relationship so he went on date after date after date. But that didn’t last long.  I suppose that he tired of the “calls answering for the booty.”

     Another friend wanted to lose weight, so every morning he went to the gym and worked out. That lasted for a little over a month. Then he went back to sitting in front of his TV. I guess he missed the feel of his butt print on his comfortable couch! (LOL.)

R.L. Norman     And then, there’s me. One of the things I wanted to do in the New Year was to try to eat right, and become a vegetarian.   But because I missed eating meat, that lasted about two days! (Hmmmmm…LOL!)

     But keep in mind that with all our efforts, if we don’t succeed in meeting our goals, we are not failures. Our intentions are good.

     And for a while, I was one of those people. But for the last several years, I’ve changed my ways.

     Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I make a prayer wish list to my God.

     I compose a list of ten things that I want to happen in the coming year. Five things are for me, and five are for family and friends. Then I seal the envelope, get on my knees and say a prayer to God for these blessings to come true. Then I put it in my bible and leave it there until the next New Year’s Day.

     And on that day, I sit in my comfortable chair, open that envelope, and read the list to see which wishes have been answered.

     Keep in mind that I don’t do this as a test of God’s ability to answer my prayers; instead, it’s an alternative to making resolutions.  Simply, it’s my special prayer list to my God. The power of prayer is wonderful because:

  1. The doctors did find out that my friend has curable cancer. His health is improving by leaps and bounds.   
  2. My cousin did graduate high school. Currently, he’s enrolled in Tuskegee University,with an internship job in electrical engineering.
  3. My fifth book was published, and is doing quite well in sales.
  4. And the biggest miracle was that a friend who’d lost pretty much everything:his money, job and possessions due to identity fraud, is now in a new home and a great job.

     You see, I approach the New Year with encouragement and faith in

myself, others–and especially God.   

     The lesson?  To live day-by-day doing the best we can to be the best we can be.

     And the power of prayer does work!  Prayer is a wonderful thing, but only if we have the faith to believe that we will achieve and succeed.


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 6

“WHAT DO THE LONELY DO AT CHRISTMAS?”

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman 

  It was so silent that we could hear every sound or movement in the house.

     We sat there as still and as quietly as we could, even though we were half asleep. We had waited until we thought our parents were asleep before we went on our undercover mission. 

     It was about 2 a.m., and I and my two brothers, ages eight and four, snuck out of bed and took our places half-way down the steps–waiting.  Being the oldest at 10, I led my brothers on our “grand” adventure. It was just supposed to be me and my middle brother; however, my little brother woke up while we were trying to leave the room, so we had to take him along.

     From our vantage point, we had a good view of the fireplace, which by this time the fire had gone out. The only illumination in the room were the flashing Christmas tree lights. And so far, the only gifts under the tree were the gifts that we had brought for each other!  I remember I’d bought a glove and scarf set for my mother, and a bottle of Brut and Soap-On-a-Rope for my father.  Feeling quite proud, I couldn’t wait for them to open them!

    And there we sat… waiting and waiting and waiting. It was Christmas Eve and we were waiting for Santa Claus.

     It was 1965, and we were determined to see Santa come down the chimney! My youngest brother even had my mother leave “The Big Guy in Red” milk and cookies. We had decided—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that we’d catch him that year.

     The next morning, we woke up back in out beds when our parents came into the room to tell us that Santa had come and gone. We didn’t remember going back to bed, but we didn’t care!  Practically tripping over each other, we ran down the stairs to get to the Christmas tree that now had what seemed like a zillion gifts.

 

     Fast forward to Christmas Day 2015.  My daydreaming has ended.  As I’m watching the kids open their gifts, I sit here thinking that at this moment, I am not lonely.

     Earlier this morning, I was in my living room looking at my Christmas tree that didn’t have a lot of gifts under it like when I was a kid. It only had one.

     The special gift I’d bought for myself.

     I purchased it because I’m single, and don’t have a significant other to exchange presents with.

     That’s one of the pitfalls of being lonely and alone.

     There are many of us around the world that belong to that “Club of Loneliness.”  And unfortunately—and sadly—Christmas can be one of the days to be extra lonely. 

     You see, there are 12 days of Christmas.  Additionally, there are Six Days of Loneliness throughout the year. Six days each and every year that the Angel of Darkness comes knocking harder at our hearts and souls.

     Six days that we lonely people feel the most alone–while others celebrate.

     Six days that the emptiness in our hearts gets heavier.

     Six days when we sit at home and the echoes of silence are so loud, that it rings in our ears—and can almost be deafening. 

     So, just what are those days?  They are New Year’s Eve, when couples celebrate together to ring in the New Year with that first kiss. New Year’s Day, when couples go to brunch/dinner to celebrate.Valentine’s Day, when lovers come closer together to profess their love. Thanksgiving Day, when couples meet and greet each other’s families.  Your birthday, your extra special time when friends and family just don’t seem to be enough to guarantee your happiness.  And of course, Christmas Day.

     It’s on these days that the fact that we are single weighs heavier on our minds–and in our hearts. These are the times when we wish we had a partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, and lover–or at least someone to dream about.

     It’s on these days that life seems that more empty when we wake up with our back towards the empty space in our beds, and we feel that empty space in our hearts. The days when we want to sit in a lonely, bedimmed room, with the curtains drawn, dwelling on the darkness of our world–instead of the brightness of life.  

     Some of us think that we have to be in a relationship to “not be lonely.” But that’s not the case. Loneliness is a state of mind.  It’s all about realizing that you are blessed and that God is good. Whether you celebrate the day with friends and family or with strangers.

     But it’s those lonely days when we should realize that we are not really lonely. We should not forget that we are all loved by someone.  And we should also remember that God loves us.

     And on this Christmas day, I’m smiling as I watch the children having a good ole time opening their presents at the homeless shelter.  Each year, I visit a different shelter, in large part to let the little ones know they are not alone.  And as I observe them, I reminisce about my past Christmases, which were filled with life and love.

    I realized that the joy of life and love filled the emptiness in my heart so much that it was overflowing!  This enables me to ignore the fact that I was supposed to be lonely.

     Not being in a relationship is not the end of the world!  You shouldn’t need a man/woman to be happy. Happiness is what you make it. As well, the level of loneliness is what you make it.

     So on those six days of loneliness, what do we do–particularly on Christmas?   

     The Number One thing is to try not to think about it. Make it through the day the best you can. Always put one foot in front of the other and keep going.   

     We have to think about our lives and what it means to us.   We must realize that we can make a difference.

     As we put a smile on someone’s face, we can put a smile in our hearts. Celebrate FRIENDSHIP… Celebrate FAMILY …Celebrate LIFE…Celebrate LOVE!

     The bottom line:  the moment we encourage ourselves to celebrate life, the loneliness will disappear.  And believe me, that moment can feel like a lifetime.

     Encourage yourself…..   


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 5

“Do You Know Your A, B and Cs?”

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman 

     On a sunny day in June, I was among what seemed to be hundreds of guests at this outdoor wedding.  It took place in the backyard of a mansion in Bowie, Maryland.  Rumor had it that a Washington Redskins football player owned it.  But who knows if that were true.

    When I arrived, a valet parked my car and a well-dressed usher led me to the backyard, which was decorated in purple and white lilacs. There was a large pool, with smaller pools here and there. That, along with several gazebos all around the yard, were quite impressive.

     As I made my way through the crowd meeting and greeting, I was thinking how I never thought I would see the day when one of my good friends, Percy, would be getting married.

     I have known Percy since our college days at Tuskegee University in  Alabama. Back in the day, we used to be very popular on campus. And once we pledged to a fraternity, our popularity increased–especially among the male student population.

    Oh yes, those were the days!  We were invited to all the underground gay parties. You see, in those days back in the early 1980’s, to be gay was basically an “undercover” thing.  This was especially true on college campuses, where you had to be a part of the “in-crowd” to know where the parties were.  So, it was a privilege to be on the so called “C” List.

    And that was one thing I didn’t understand about Percy and this wedding. You see, Percy also was on the “C” List. But he was marrying someone on the “A” List!   

     What do these Lists mean?  Well, I’ll get to that shortly.

     As the announcement was made that the wedding was about to commence, everyone took their seats around the designated areas in the yard.

     The wedding parties came in and took their places in front of the makeshift altar.  Percy looked wonderful in his black-tailored tuxedo and  purple vest.  And, there was a purple flower in the lapel. Actually, everyone looked great.

     As the wedding song began to play, we all stood up and turned toward the mansion doors. We waited with anticipation for the appearance of Percy’s future mate.  And as those doors opened into the backyard, you could hear a pin drop.

     And suddenly, she appeared!  Yes, I said “she.” A woman.  A panty wearer.  A makeup wearer. A high-heel wearer. A dress wearer.

     Even though these days, that could also describe a man; but this was a real woman!  My good friend, with whom I use to go “man-hunting,” was marrying a real woman.  And, someone on the “A” List. 

     Now, this is the appropriate time to explain the Lists to you–or should I say, your A, B, and Cs.

     You see, when you print the letters A, B and C, they have different meanings.  For example, to print the letter “A”, you use all straight lines. To print the letter “B”, you use a line and curves.  And the letter “C” is just a curve.

     Therefore, let’s interpret: A = straight people, B = bisexual people and    C = Gay peoplethe A, B and C Lists.  And basically, everyone belongs to one of the three.

     And this woman was “strictly di**ly”–just like Percy!  She wanted d**k all the way; just like Percy.

      She wanted to be with a man.

     Just like Percy.

     She belonged on the “A” List while Percy belonged on the “C” List. That is why we could not understand why she wanted Percy.

     Or for that matter, why Percy wanted her.

     As she made her way toward the altar, I was remembering the bachelor party the night before.  It was held at this fancy ballroom in downtown D.C.

    At the door, we were given Mardi Gras-type masks that all the guests were wearing.  The object was that you wouldn’t really be able to see anyone’s face.

     Once inside the hall, we were greeted by waiters offering champagne and hors d’oeuvres.  All of them shirtless, they wore purple bow ties—and were poured into little tight black shorts.  It was hard to look at anyone except these “phyne” waiters–who were everywhere! 

     As I filtered through the crowd, meeting and greeting the men at the party, it was obvious from several conversations that there were A, B and C List people there.  So, I guess no one was bothered by the fact that the entertainment included half-naked men and women dancing, singing and flirting with the crowd.

    And Percy was in his glory!  He had men all over him and he was loving it.  It reminded me of our college days–when we both had men all over us.   

     During the night, I had a chance to speak to Percy about his impending nuptials. I asked him why he was getting married.   His response really surprised me. 

     He said, “I’m lonely.”  

     I was confused for a moment–until he “broke it down” for me.  Percy explained that through the years, he dated many men but could never find that one true love.  He was tired of just settling for different men so that he would have someone to wake up to in the morning, and someone to fill that temporary void in his heart.

     The bottom line:  he didn’t want to grow old alone!  So he decided to settle for a woman.

     I thought about this as I stood at the wedding, daydreaming about our conversation. I was thinking about the fact that I, myself, get lonely sometimes; however, I would never settle for just anyone in order to have companionship. That would not be fair to me, or to the other person.  I would rather wake up each morning with my six pillows in my lonely bed, instead of with someone to whom I was not attracted. 

    Percy’s problem was that he was not honest with himself.  

  And definitely not with her!

    In life, we should try our best to be who we truly are–regardless of what society dictates. You cannot just put your name on the “A” List if you truly do not belong there.  I, myself, belong on the“C” List and am happy with that.  I would not try to be on another list because that would make me unhappy and dishonest.

    Jumping over to the “A” List and not being straight not only affects you, but the person you date or are married to. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule; but that all depends on the honesty, openness and communication of the individuals involved in the relationship.

    Suddenly, I was roused from my daydream when I heard the preacher say, “If anyone objects to this marriage, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”

    Everyone got so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. But I was thinking that most people there knew that Percy very much wanted to object.

    After the passing of a few moments of silence, some people coughed and cleared their throats. Those few minutes felt like a lifetime.

    And then, it happened.  Someone said, “I OBJECT.”

    The crowd rumbled a little as everyone tried to figure out the identity of the brave soul who would perhaps save Percy and his bride from a potential life of heartaches and pain when the truth came out about who was on what List. 

     I was relieved–as I am sure most people were–when Percy made that statement. Yes, Percy did the right thing and objected.

     By stopping his own wedding, he was honest with himself and the bride about which List he was on. Of course not everyone was happy about this—particularly the bride.

    And as it turned out, she did not have a clue that Percy was gay.  While he secretly lusted after men, Percy used the excuse of “waiting until marriage to have sex.”

     But today, years later, they are both married to different people. The bride actually married the owner of the mansion, a football player.

     And Percy?  In the wake of the legalization of gay marriage, he married a wonderful man. They have even adopted two children.

     Therefore, in life, if you “keep it real and stay in your lane,” happiness will follow.   Don’t try to be someone you are not: it makes life that much more difficult and it hurts other people. 

     So here’s the question:  “Do you know your A, B and Cs? Or, just what List do you belong to?” 

     Express yourself and be yourself!  It will make you and the world a happier place. 


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rl.norman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.

Honey, Let Me Tell You Something! 4

LaToya Hankins:  Madame Triple Threat

Guest Writer: R. L. Norman

     LaToya Hankins is an author, poet and an activist. Upon graduating from East Carolina University, she earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Journalism and a minor in Political Science.  Currently, she is the president of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority graduate chapter in Raleigh, North Carolina (N.C.) As co-founder of the Shades of Pride organization, she helps create opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of N.C.’s LGBTQ communities.

     Her two books, “SBF Seeking…” and “Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood, focus on the lesbian experience–not just through the eyes of the main character, but also on how North Carolinians react to that main character’s lifestyle. Ms. Hankins’ entire body of work demonstrates that she is an inspiration to us all.

LaToya Hankins

     Just recently, Nathaniel Octavius Nerdo (my alter ego) sat down with the charismatic, enterprising and multi-faceted Ms. Hankins for one absorbing and enlightening experience.

     Nathaniel:  LaToya, welcome to WYATTEVANS.COM!  Thanks for granting me this interview.

     LaToya:  You’re welcome!  It is my pleasure and I am excited to talk to you.

     Nathaniel:  Well, before I inquire about the “LaToya’s World” in North Carolina, I first have to ask you to tell me the story of what happened to you when you were five years old. I found it amazing, creative and inspirational.

     LaToya:  Oh, yes. When I was five years old, I had open heart surgery. And since I was in a small town in North Carolina, everyone knew; especially since I was not in school for a while. And kids, by themselves are curious.

    So I figured: why not capitalize on their curiosity and make me some money for ice cream and candy? So I was charging, I think, a dime to see my scar!  Kids would follow me to the bathroom, and I would pull up my shirt and show them my scar.

     And my teachers got wind of it because every time I went to the bathroom, four or five kids would follow me.  And one day, one of the teachers came in and I said, “Where’s your dime?”  (LaToya and I both chuckled.)

     Nathaniel:  So you just pulled up your shirt?

     LaToya:  Oh, yes… The scar goes from the middle of my chest to my back, so I would just pull up my shirt. The kids got their money’s worth, and I got ice cream and candy.  But it didn’t last that long.

     (We laughed again.) 

     Nathaniel:  Well, thank God you made it through!  You are such an example. And secondly, I think that was a very entrepreneurial idea to have at such a young age.

     LaToya:  Thank you so much!

     Nathaniel:  So what about junior high and high school?  Did you do other imaginative, innovative things?

     LaToya:  I didn’t do too much exciting stuff in junior high school. I basically kept to myself. But in high school is when I started questioning my sexuality, although I didn’t act on it. I started wondering and noticing some things. And I was feeling some kind of way but I never spoke about it.

     However, I did the typical thing:  I had a boyfriend in high school, and we were close. We were friends before we became boyfriend and girlfriend.  And, I had another friend in high school that said there were some things that I said or did then that they would start questioning and wondering about. But they would put their thoughts about me to the side because I was from the era that “nice girls don’t do that; especially nice black girls.”

     Nathaniel:  So in high school you didn’t know or do anything with women?

     LaToya:  Well, no. I am a procrastinator by nature and I just didn’t take the time to do anything about it. I focused more on my school work. I really focused on just being involved with school projects.

     Nathaniel:  So in college is when you came out?

     LaToya:  Well, no. I didn’t come out until I was 25 years old. In college, I didn’t focus on my sexuality. I focused on school work and my career. I had a good friend who was a guy and we did everything together. And he knew his sexuality; that he was gay. But we never discussed it, We were like each other’s cover because everyone thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend.

    But years later, I realized that all the signs were there for something to happen in college with women.  I just never acted on it.

     Nathaniel:  So, was your sexuality an issue when you pledged the sorority?  Did anybody know?

     LaToya:  Well I did an intake into the sorority. So I didn’t actually do the college pledge thing. And at the time, most people didn’t know and it was not an issue. But today, with Facebook and whatnot, I am sure my sorority sisters know.

     Nathaniel:  Did you start writing in college?

     LaToya:  I did!  But I worked for a newspaper and a minority magazine. So it was more featured topics, or should I say, “assigned topics.”  I wrote some poetry and short stories. I did not do fiction writing. I did an internship with a local newspaper, so it was all non-friction writing.

     But I always wanted to be a writer.  I am a big reader, so I appreciated works of fiction.  However, I always thought I was the one to read the books—not actually the one writing the books.  

     Nathaniel:  Do you prefer writing short stories, or writing books?

     LaToya:  Well, I prefer short stories because I like it when you have a definitive beginning, middle and ending. And writing books, you may think you are at the end; however, something comes up and then it becomes another chapter or two.  It’s hard to write a lot of words and make it make sense and interesting.  It takes, craft, dedication and commitment. You have to actually sit still and write, and edit and re-write.

     Nathaniel:  I assume that your books do not mainly focus on the “gay thing,” so to speak.

     LaToya:  They have gay characters.  And one thing I realize is that as gay, lesbian, transgender and people of color, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We have friends, family members and work experiences with people who are not gay. I wanted to make sure that when I write my books, I incorporate gay and straight characters.  I wanted to show that gay people can exist with their family members and friends who are not gay, and that everyone can respect each other. 

     Nathaniel:  Now with your first book, “SBF Seeking…”  You did accomplish that with the coming out scene. I loved the way you wrote that. 

LaToya Hankins

     LaToya:  Yes.  The main character came out to her straight friends and family, and they all had different reactions. And in my second book, “Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood,” one of the line sisters comes out, and it tells how she deals with the rejection from her sorority sisters.

    Therefore, I wanted to make sure that if you read my books and you are not lesbian, you can still find yourself in the pages. You can find a character that you can identify with.

     Yes, you may want to identify with the main character who is a lesbian.  But also, you may be a divorced women with two kids, or a women on her second marriage or somebody’s mama. There is a character for you to relate to.

     Nathaniel:  Now you have two books.  Do you plan on writing another?

     LaToya:  Actually, I am in the process of writing my third book which is initially called “Waterworks Whispering.” I plan on releasing it in January 2016.

     Nathaniel:  Why should people read your books?

     LaToya:  Great question!  Because they are interesting and relevant.  It is easy to find yourself in one of the characters, and they give you food for thought.  I think my books make you see things in your own light and in the light of others. And it gives you a chance to visit North Carolina through my eyes because that is what I write about and where I reside at and from.    

     Nathaniel:  How is food an inspiration when you write books?

     LaToya:  Food is the great “smoother over” for negative emotions.  Because you can’t be mad with anyone with your mouth full of food!  You can’t be mad if your mouth is full of ham and beans.  (She’s smiling.)  You have to swallow your anger.  Also, I think most life decisions are made over a plate of food.  I wanted to incorporate that in my books because everything goes better with food.  If you share a meal, you can break down barriers. And in my books, I mention actual restaurants in the Raleigh area that are black-owned that gay people go to all the time.

     Nathaniel:  Now you are not just the president of the largest graduate chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority in North Carolina, but also the co-founder of the Shades of Pride organization. What’s the organization all about?

     LaToya:  The Shades of Pride organization brings people together to share life’s experiences with being gay. We are an active supporter of LGBTQ issues and address health disparities that affect our community, especially our young people who are coming out younger and younger each day. We need to educate them so that they feel good about themselves and their lifestyle, so that they accept themselves–as well as others accepting them.

     Nathaniel:  What is your message to the LGBTQ community in the South?

     LaToya:  I want to represent the South in a positive manner because we are doing great things in the LGBTQ community here.  We have an “out” lesbian on the city council.  And she is sitting on that council with an “out” black gay man. We have had an “out” black gay senator. We have a lot of out gay black people doing many great things in North Carolina. When you think of the South and gay events, it is not just Atlanta. 

     So my message is “Don’t sleep on the LGBTQ community in the South.”  We are doing a lot of positive things in North Carolina. And I am here to represent, and support and spread the word that we are here and you will hear more and more great things going on down here.

     I try to capture the essence of the African-American Southern experience, and live by the motto, “I don’t weep at the world; I’m too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”

     Nathaniel:  How can people reach out to you?

     LaToya:  At www.Latoya Hankins.com.  On Facebook, LaToya Hankins; on Twitter, Hankins Latoya; on Instagram, Toya Hankins.  My email is Latoya.Hankins@yahoo.com.

     Nathaniel:  LaToya, it certainly has been a pleasure talking to you!  You are in inspiration to the South and the LBGTQ community as a whole.  And, we will continue to look for the inspired, extraordinary writings and works that you do that support our people and the community.


R. L. Norman is a writer, performer and author of the popular series of novels entitled, “Honey Let Me Tell You.” The fourth and latest installment is “Love Is Complicated.”  The sequel will be available soon.  As well, he performs“Norman’s One Night Stand,” a one-man show he conceived and wrote, showcasing the main character of his series. R. L. also is writing a play based on “Honey Let Me Tell You.”  All of these endeavors are part of the production company he’s forming.  You may reach R. L. at his on line home, www.rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; by email at: rlnorman@aol.com; on Facebook at RL NORMAN; on Twitter, @rl_norman; and on Instagram:rlnorman1.