“All Boys Aren’t Blue”

I’m not a wine consumer but I do enjoy a good book!

During the doldrums of the winter season, with outdoor temperatures hovering below the “comfort zone,” the scene above epitomizes the notion of reading for leisure. Sitting in a comfortable chair, bare and relaxed, indoors and immune from the rigors of winter weather with a soothing beverage in one hand and a good book in the other. Why not smile and savor the moment?

At the university where I teach, our winter holiday ended on Monday, January 11, 2021, and a new semester began. As commonly experienced for most, new beginnings are frequently accompanied by the all-time favorites: chaos and confusion. Especially now that the coronavirus COVID-19 is in a major rebound. Such is life!

Returning to work renewed my “need to read” in order to retain my sanity from one day into the next. My first selection was the contemporary memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Matthew Johnson. This book, identified by it’s author as a “memoir-manifesto,” was published April 28, 2020.

George M. Johnson (left) and the cover of his book “All Boys Aren’t Blue.”

I like George M. Johnson’s choice of “memoir-manifesto” as a term of description for his book. “Memoir” lets us all know that it is a factual recounting of his youth (childhood, teenager and young adult) as seen through his eyes and in his thoughts. “Manifesto” informs us that his work “…is an exploration of two of my identities – Black and queer – and how I became aware of their intersections within myself and in society.”

He writes of the antics, challenges and incidents of growing up in a family (immediate and extended) in a community (middle-class USA) in a country struggling to find it’s way towards true equality for all persons (African-American, Asian, Hispanic, White, bisexual, gay, heterosexual, lesbian, transgender and an endless number of belief systems).

The author was born in 1985. This indeed places his developing years within the timeline of US society’s turmoil over conflicting dynamics and issues – many continuing into the present. As he notes throughout his pages, resolving these differences may take an entire lifetime.

Three teen muses!

Mr. Johnson enlightens and entertains through the recounting of incidents from his early life in New Jersey, USA, and the impact on his development and growth as a same gender loving man of color. Despite the often applied perception of African Americans as being excessively homophobic, he uses his own extended family to discredit this misconception. Through laughter and love, his acceptance and respect from his own family is constant.

As the author matures through his life, the tales expand from his interactions with his numerous cousins to his growing comfort with solitude as he faces the reality that he is different in not only his personality but also in his outlook on life and his worldview. His uniqueness is expanded as he encounters others beyond his extended family and outside his racial community. He retreats into himself even further upon adolescence and subsequent years.

It isn’t until he begins living at university that he discovers the confidence, courage and pride in being himself. This awareness leads him to the truth that sharing his life with others may help them in their journey to becoming who they are.

None of our lives are identical or even vaguely similar. George Matthew Johnson’s book, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” gives us examples of his life, with the lessons they installed, in the goal that readers may recognize the unfolding message that their own experiences may harbor some valuable truth.

In the end of his book, Mr. Johnson summarizes the title and explains the meaning. That conclusion is offered to everyone now.

When I say I am not “blue,” I mean so much more than a color traditionally designated to represent boy. When I say I’m not “blue,” I’m referring to the blue on the police uniform my father wore. How I’ve watched too many times in that same blue harm Black and brown people. I know for myself that although I respect my father with all my heart, it is my duty to fight against how that institution has harmed us.

When I say I’m not blue, I’m referring to the first time I saw the movie “Moonlight” and how my heart raced with the little boy Chiron, who was being chased by the others because he, too, was different.

Most importantly, when I say that I am not blue, I mean that I have no regrets about how this all turned out. Whether this book is a bestseller or a flop, if one person is helped by my story, then it was all worth it.”

Take care and stay bare!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Monday, April 12, 2021, and the proposed topic is “Daffodils.”

One Year Later!

Face-mask wearing!

One year ago, we were blindly being led into a strange situation that the overwhelming majority of us had never before travelled. Quarantine was upon us and most hadn’t even a vague idea of what that entailed. Unfortunately, there are many, one year later, still unable to grasp the concept.

I have, since renewing publication here, received several emails asking why I was not able to continue publishing here last year. The basic and simple answers are the commitment and the time factors. Those two are the major reasons that I had to pause and adopt a “wait and see” timeframe.

One of the online inquisitors responded to my reply with his own assessment that as an educator and with classes suspended, I had plenty of time to devote to ReNude Pride. As if there were no other issues demanding my concentration and time!

Lounging!

While that may appear to indeed be the case, it was very far from reality. Although the majority of our on-site classes were suspended, online classes were not! I am one of the very first to readily admit that my experience with online education is very minimal. Before the quarantine, I had virtually no reason to even consider anything besides my usual classroom instruction.

One year ago, I faced an unimaginable dilemma. Either “get with the times” (in other words, adapt to what’s needed) or else fail to meet the expectations and needs of my students – as well as my department’s and my university’s reputation. It was either “sink” or “swim.” I chose to swim.

Swimming in a skyline pool!

It wasn’t easy and my own learning was a major challenge, but somehow, with patience, persistence and much help from my spouse, Aaron, I was able to achieve my goal in completing the semester online. My students were understanding of my predicament and very cooperative in tolerating my many mistakes and shortcomings. Almost every student was supportive.

We all emitted a “sigh of relief” when the curriculum ended in May and final examinations completed. Knowing that the coronavirus COVID-19 was in no way completely eradicated, I undertook my summer freedom to prepare for this year as much as possible in advance.

Camera and posing!

I managed to anticipate an entire year of quarantine and was able to create “student handbooks” to afford every student with a prepared guide based on lesson plans and experiences from the past instruction. Having already become familiar with the issues and complications surrounding quarantining circumstances and the special problems that are associated with that situation, the summer allowed me to focus on revising my plans accordingly for the classroom, either “live” or online.

My paying job is my responsibility to maintain. My students are mine to educate and enlighten. They take a priority over the composing of this site. Not to detract from the importance of ReNude Pride. It gives me both pleasure and satisfaction. However, it does take time and energy and in the quarantine situation that we all faced last year and presently, I give more importance to professional obligations over all other concerns.

Bare hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next posting entry for here is planned for Friday, April 9, 2021, and the proposed topic is “It’s Almost Time!”

Happy Western Easter!

Have a fun and happy Easter!

Easter, among other religious holidays, are usually observed on two different dates on the calendars of the Christians throughout the world. The “western” believers are the ones of the Roman Catholic and other Protestant faiths. The Orthodox churches and the ones from the area of the Holy Land follow the traditional observances.

This year, Western Easter is today, April 4, 2021. Those of us of the Orthodox traditions, our Holy Easter for this year, 2021, is celebrated on Sunday, May 2.

To those who are experiencing Easter today: Happy Easter!

Your Easter mascot: the Bunny!

Bare hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next planned posting entry for here is tomorrow, April 5, 2021, and the proposed topic is: “One Year Later.”

April is Here!

Birthday greetings!

The month of April brings special joy to my spouse, Aaron and myself. We both celebrate our birthdays within the very first week of this month! This year is especially notable as Aaron, a Roman Catholic, observes his Easter holiday within the same timeline!

So, instead of an April Fool’s Day posting on this new month, I decided to honor our birthdays as well as Aaron’s Easter occasion. Hopefully, the remainder of the month will be memorable and pleasant for everyone reading here!

Cake and a birthday candle!

Take care and stay bare!

Bare hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next planned posting entry here is for Sunday, April 4, 2021, and the topic proposed is “Western Easter!”