In Gratitude

We’re in the season of Kwanzaa, and 2022 is coming to an end. Indeed, it’s had its share of challenges; however, it’s also had blessings as well. As an independent novelist and columnist at this stage of my life, I have so much to be grateful for.

First, I give honor and thanks to God for this gift of writing. Truly, our gifts make room for us.

I wish to express my appreciation to Sandra Govan, my English teacher, who is an accomplished poet. She encouraged me to write the stories relevant to my unique voice during my college years of the 1970s. She furthered my knowledge of Black authors, playwrights, and poets.

To Wyatt O’Brian Evans: thank you for your friendship and the opportunity you gave me to write my first column, Old School New Kid. You are a Renaissance man par excellence!

To Cheryl Barton: thank you for being my first Twitter follower, and an awesome romance novelist in the spirit of Black Love.

To Al McFarlane, wordsmith extraordinaire: thank you for opening the door for me to support other Black authors/poets through my book review column in Insight News, Sharing Our Stories. If we don’t, who will?

To Dorothy Nins and De’Vonna Bentley-Pittman: thank you for being the trailblazers and powerful sistahs who created the space for Black authors and poets here in Minnesota through Minnesota Black Authors Expo. Here’s to continued success and growth; I’m so happy to support you!

To Dr. Artika Tyner: thank you for making such a powerful difference in promoting literacy and creativity for children of color over the years. When we change the narrative, we change the perception.

To Rekhet Si-Asar: your Sankofa events are always empowering, embracing the Nguzo Saba beautifully.

To Rayceen Pendarvis: know that your work and commitment to the LGBT community is deeply appreciated. You are a force to be reckoned with.

To Brenda Lyle-Gray: your column is insightful and thought-provoking, and I value your positive energy and space. Thank you for your kind words.

For those directors of public library systems in Minnesota who took up the challenge to address and increase representation of Black authors and poets in their collections: a hearty thanks to you.

To my family of origin, my church family, and my friends on Twitter: your kind words and support are priceless.

You all have been friends, colleagues, partners, supporters, all of the above in your love for the written word and the embodiment of the phrase, “Representation matters.”

Of course, I could not allow 2022 to go out without once again acknowledging the works of the Black authors and poets I have had the pleasure and honor to review for my column this year. Their unique voices are as amazing as they are diverse, and their works can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Minnesota Black Authors Expo, and personal websites:


Tierre Caldwell (The Art of Sucker Duckin‘, inspirational)

Josette “Jo” Ciceron (Unapologetically Anxious Me, memoir)

Maj. Alphonso Jones and Kim Nelson (Soaring, biography)

Kim Nelson (On Life: Things I Should Have Told You, memoir)

Kevin L.A. Jenkins (Victory Over Kidney Disease, memoir, inspirational)

Latrina Caldwell (I Am “HER”, memoir, inspirational)

Ebony Adedayo (The Gospel According to a Black Woman, inspirational)

Colnese Hendon (Blend In or Fade Out, memoir)

CoWano Stanley (Bet on Yourself, motivational/inspirational)

Kerri-Moseley-Hobbs (More Than a Fraction, historical)

Willie Dean, Ph.D. (Overcoming, memoir, inspirational)


Robert P. Dixon, Jr. (Gumbo Joy, children)

Rosemond Sarpong Owens (The Extraordinary Educator, children)

Donna Gingery (Red and the Egg Pie, children)

Dr. Talaya Tolefree (Grandma Sankofa’s House, The Value Packed Superheroes, children)

J. Darnell Johnson (Ol’ Jim Crow’s Jubilee Day Caper, children)

Juliet “Ms. J” Mitchell (Myah Is Introduced to Etiquette, Manners Are Memorable, children/adult)

Stephanie Shaw (Snippets of Love and Other Pesky Emotions, poetry)

Joe Davis (Poems and Prayers for Graduates, poetry)

Mizz Mercedez (Black to the Future Vol. 1 & 2, graphic art, comics

Michael D. Brooks (Destined: By Choice or Circumstance, sci-fi)

Georgina “Gigi” Kiersten (Fall Into You, f/f romance)

LaToya Hankins (SBF Seeking, f/f romance)

Fiona Zedde (Femme, f/f romance)

Frederick Smith and Chaz Lamar (Busy Ain’t the Half of It, m/m romance)

Jayce Ellis (If You Love Something, Solomon, m/m romance)

Kevin E. Taylor (Jaded, m/m romance)

Roslyn Faulk (You Saved Me, m/m romance)

De’Vonna Bentley-Pittman (Savannah’s Inheritance, m/f romantic suspense)

Brenda Jackson (All He Desires, m/f romance)

M. Sydnor, Jr. (Thirty, m/f romance)

In closing, I acknowledge the people to whom I dedicate all my novels with love: my late father Walter, my husband Edward, and my son Walter.

In the words of Toni Morrison, “If there is a story you wish to read, and it hasn’t been written yet, then you must be the one to write it.”

Role Reversal

 As men of a certain age, especially if we are fathers, we are reminded that being a parent never stops. Sure, my son is 22 and a young adult, but I’m still a dad. I may take a step back, but I’ll always be a dad.

Yes, I’m at the age where grandchildren are in the realm of possibility. But what about the other end of the spectrum? What about those of us who have parents who are still living in their 90s, or possibly 100s?

For those of us that currently do or have gone through it, a role reversal is a fact of life. On the one hand, they’re our parents, the ones who raised us. On the other hand, their bodies and minds are failing now that they’re in their twilight years, and in different ways they are more childlike.

The physical changes are one thing. Their eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be, and we must become their eyes and ears. Advancing age also brings about the use of a cane, a walker, a wheelchair to stay mobile. Some of our parents can accept those limitations; others find it more difficult to do so. Incontinence can be an issue, as well as getting proper rest and what their systems can tolerate for meals.

Mental changes are tougher. Sure, their memories aren’t as good, so it’s important to find activities that will keep their minds engaged. Often times, our elderly parents can remember events from long past but have trouble with short-term memory. Throw dementia and Alzheimer’s into the mix, and the challenge is greater and harder as time goes on. Reminding a parent several times about an appointment over the course of a day can come with the territory. When a parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s hard not to take personality changes personally, but it’s the nature of the disease.

The time will come when hard choices need to be made, whether to allow our parents to stay in their home or place them in a nursing home or assisted living facility. They need us more than we need them, and for those we love it’s important for them to feel secure and loved. At the same time, as their sons and daughters, we find ways to allow them their dignity in this stage of their lives.

Being a caregiver to an elderly parent is a labor of love, but by no means is it easy. Self-care and a support system is crucial to prevent burnout. It also requires soul-searching, depending upon the relationship one has had with the parent/s. As LGBT/SGL men, there are those of us who have had positive relationships with them, and those who haven’t.

In the back of our minds, we may think that our parents will live forever, but sooner or later they will pass away, and the older they are the greater that reality is. Of course, only God knows when that time is, so let us all make sure we give them their flowers while they are here.

Reunion and Remembrance

Over this past weekend, my high school class celebrated our 50th reunion, which was delayed due to COVID. Yep, 50. At the time we graduated, turning 70 was such a foreign concept. But now that we’re here, well…

I missed so many of my reunions, mainly because I moved out of state. On this go-around, I became part of the reunion planning committee. From being an introverted nerd in high school to the out and proud LGBT/SGL man I am today was quite a change. One of the things I learned in life is that when I change, everything around me changes. We as the planning committee got to know each other better and we connected over such things as retirement, health, children, and grandchildren.

Overall, the energy was overwhelmingly positive during the festivities over the weekend. We as classmates worked together well, and we had so much fun. There were some classmates I hadn’t seen in 50 years, yet we had so much to share about who we were back then, and who we are now.

Trust and believe, the LGBT contingent of my class was represented as we lived our truth. Diversity, camaraderie, inclusion, and welcoming was ever present. On many levels, we had that in our graduating class long before it became fashionable. Granted, we who are LGBT didn’t come out until after high school (that was, after all, 1970), but our classmates have since evolved with age, wisdom, and life experiences, and I value them as friends and allies.

I look back at my 17-year-old self, the one who wasn’t out and thought he was the only Black LGBT student in school and the community—at least, until an early LGBT rights group came to our school to speak in my civics class during my senior year. What are the things I would tell him?

The first is something some people scoff at or feel hopeless about, but it does get better over time. I would also tell him to live his truth and not let anyone make him feel less than as a person because of who he loves. I would tell him to demand respect. I would tell him that he is never too old or too young to follow his dreams. I would tell him that change may not happen immediately, but it happens. I would tell him to remember that what he gives is what he receives.

And of course, looking back now as a husband and a father, I would tell my 17-year-old gay teenage self to believe in dreams and never give up.

To Thine Own Self: It’s In His Kiss

Hey, Pride Month is here. Darrell Edwards and Cesare Morelli-Montgomery, the main characters in my upcoming male/male romance novel, To Thine Own Self, have been nudging me to share a little more spice in their story before the book is released. For those of us of a certain age, Betty Everett’s 1964 hit “The Shoop Shoop Song” is definitely relevant to the following romantic excerpt:

“Wow.” Cesare sank into his chair at his law office the next day when Darrell dropped by with the invitation.

 “Is it too short notice?” Darrell asked.

“No, not at all. I’d love to meet them.” If ever there was any question about Darrell having bigger plans for him, this laid them to rest. “Maybe I’m a little nervous.”

“Don’t be. They’re not.” Darrell let out an embarrassed snicker. “They already suspect I’m seeing someone anyway.”

Wow, his kids are quick. “And how is that?”

“Micah overheard me talking on the phone with you. I guess I’m not as smooth about keeping you under wraps as I thought. But you know what? I don’t want to. Not where they’re concerned.”

Cesare’s heart leapt. Now was the time. Darrell had confirmed it. Another clear sign that the man was into him, and he wasn’t about to let this moment slip by unacknowledged. “Bello, come here. There’s something I’ve been thinking about all day.”

Darrell rose from his seat, strolling around the desk to where Cesare stood, facing him. Their lips were only inches apart. “And what is that, babe?”

Cesare returned Darrell’s sexy grin with one of his own, wrapping Darrell in his arms. “This.”

The moment their lips met, Darrell knew he was a goner. Kissing a man was different but hot, and Cesare knew his way around a kiss. He deepened it, their tongues dancing sensuously. Moaning softly as his dick hardened in response, Darrell ground passionately against Cesare’s rampant erection.

 Did time stop? Was he in a free fall of kissing he had every intention of savoring? He didn’t know, and being honest with himself, he didn’t care. One day at a time, he had been falling for this man. Every coffee date; the Daily Grind had become one of Their Places. Every phone call; Cesare wasn’t into texting unless it was for appointments, and Darrell was grateful for that. Every hug, which gave him the opportunity to experience Cesare’s body against his. As a man who’d spent all his adult life with a petite partner, Darrell relished a big, beefy brotha like Cesare. Another sultry moan escaped him as he realized how thirsty he was for Cesare’s kisses, and his body heated with the anticipation of more when the kiss deepened.

Cesare was beside himself over Darrell’s passionate response to him. After all the years he’d been going through fool’s gold for boyfriends, here was the mother lode, the genuine article, his for the taking. Here was his dream man, all 6’7” of him in his arms.

Was it real? Would he wake up and discover it was all like that Temptations song, just his imagination? The exquisite tongue dance, the brawny build, and the hard dick grinding against him in a business suit served as irrefutable evidence to support the case. Under any other circumstances, he would have locked the door and bent Darrell over his desk, fucking him into Nirvana. That would happen, all in good time.

This kiss…this kiss…had an intimacy all its own, something to savor, to cherish. He had experienced men who would do everything with him sexually, yet they balked when it came to kissing him. He gave effusive thanks that Darrell wasn’t that kind of man. 

“Looks like I’m going to be meeting some special people tomorrow,” Cesare purred heatedly after their kiss broke.

“Yeah, I’d like to think so,” Darrell beamed. Cesare would have loved to extend their closeness for a little while longer. “With that being said, I’d better let you go…for now.”

“That’s right, bello. For now.”

After Darrell left, Cesare’s breathing somehow returned to normal. He adjusted himself in his slacks, hoping his erection wouldn’t be too obvious before he put a coat on. He’d probably have to jack off two or three times tonight to calm his body down; even the subtle scent of Darrell’s cologne remained in the air, tantalizing him. As it was, concentrating on work for the rest of the day would be next to impossible. Taking his seat, he opened the intercom to his office manager, Jafari Neill. “Jafari…”

“Yes, Mr. Cesare?”

 “I’m heading out. Can you make sure the Johnson file is updated before you lock up?”


“Thank you. Have a great weekend.”

“You, too.”

Darrell took a walk from Cesare’s law offices in Uptown over to Lake Calhoun, the taste of Cesare on his tongue and lips, hoping the exercise would help his dick go down before he went home. Worked up by their kisses, he knew if they had continued for a few minutes longer, he would have ruined his slacks. How in the world would he have explained that?

All he knew was, kissing Cesare was wonderful, and he looked forward to doing so on a regular basis—not to mention other pleasurable things in the future. But first things first–there was the matter of the other three residents of his home. Finding a bench by the lake, he prayed for the success of tomorrow’s dinner.

Believe in dreams and never give up.

School Daze

Recently, a group of my classmates were in a meeting, planning for our 50th high school class reunion. As we reminisced, the subject turned to high school crushes. For the first time, without naming names, I shared my own crush.

To a certain extent, times have changed due to the greater visibility of the LGBT population and movies like Love, Simon. For those of us of a certain age, having a same-sex crush on another student or a teacher was a minefield during high school, especially as teenagers of color.

I remember well my days as a sophomore in high school, aware but not yet coming to terms with my sexuality and having a crush on one of the seniors. I was an introverted nerd. My body was at that awkward stage, since I hadn’t yet grown into my full height of 6’3”.

To my 15-year-old eyes, this brotha was phyne. In my sports-heavy school, of course he was a jock and a letterman. I considered myself in stealth mode, checking him out when I didn’t think anyone was watching. My creative mind spun fantasies about him. I would see him in the halls or the cafeteria, either with his running buddies or with his girlfriend (yeah, he turned out to be straight), wishing it was me he was with, giving me my first kiss. And there was no one to share it with.

In those days before Stonewall, a brotha couldn’t say he had a crush on another brotha outright, and my gaydar wasn’t fully developed to pick up on those who were like me. There were no safe spaces in school for LGBT students. In hindsight, I know that several brothas in my high school were dating girls to conceal the fact they were gay; it was an eye-opener to discover just how many after I graduated, which was right at the time of the first Pride parades.

Teenagers, as we know, have different ways of handling a crush; some often act like they don’t like the object of their crush. How did I cope? By trying to be something I wasn’t. I couldn’t compete in the arena of sports; I only participated to please Dad. On the other hand, I was a serious contender in the academic arena. The attraction I felt for other men came so easy; with women, it was forced, therefore disastrous. At the end of the day, when I came out at 18, I knew who I was, and that began the journey of living my truth.   

We still have a long way to go when it comes to addressing toxic masculinity in schools; think of the brothas who gave you hell in high school because they were struggling with accepting their own sexuality. And yes, sharing a same-sex crush is still risky business in a number of schools. At the end of the day, however, change starts with the inner strength to live your truth. We all can be role models; looking at my life today, I realized that I became the visible role model I wished I’d had when I was 18.

As for the brotha I was crushing on in high school? I only saw him once since those School Daze long ago, and then only in passing (yes, I have something far better in my husband). I choose to look forward to the LGBT/SGL teenagers of today, as more of them are out and proud; they represent the hope I had at that age. More power to you, and I tip my hat to you.

                “Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act.” – Joseph Beam