In Memory of: E. Lynn Harris!

The late same gender loving author, E. Lynn Harris

My BRAT-buddy and current best friend, Jay, and I first met one another at a bare practitioner social gathering on Saturday, January 3, 2009. Within minutes after introducing ourselves, we discovered a shared addiction: we’re both E. Lynn Harris dedicated! Perhaps obsessed would be a better description. In just a couple of hours, our introduction became an acquaintanceship that immediately evolved into a friendship that has remained “fast and solid” ever since.

BRAT represents “barely recognized as textile.” An affectionate yet sarcastic invention of Jay’s partner, Raheem, to summarize our unique relationship in today’s extraordinary world. Click the link: BRAT! to read more.

E. Lynn Harris (pictured above) was a noteworthy and popular male same gender loving author who first published in the 1990’s and tragically died in July, 2009. He was the respected talent who opened the door to the Black gay experience for millions no matter their racial heritage, gender or sexual orientation.

Avatar: Jay and Roger meeting!

Jay and I read and discuss books throughout the year – along with our our interests. For the past several years, I have featured some of those titles here. I try to do a post entry in honour of E. Lynn Harris every year during the early summer so to commemorate his birthdate (June 20, 1955) and the date of his death (July 23, 2009). I think he would appreciate this style of recognition as a justified tribute to his devotion to writing and to the reading of books..

The situation is different for this year’s reading. An acquaintance of mine, Rodney Lofton, died earlier this year. We had co-presented sessions on HIV/AIDS prevention education for the Red Cross and he was a novel author in his work. To learn more, click the link: Our Paths Crossed. Please read for more information.

I had not read Rodney’s novel since it was published in 2009. Aaron, my spouse, Jay and Raheem had never read the book at all. So our “reading group” expanded this year to include not only Jay and myself but our “significant others” as well.

Jointly reading naturally!

Jay had read Rodney’s autobiographical work, The Day I Stopped Being Pretty, A Memoir when I sent to him a copy after sharing with him my acquaintance with the recently deceased man. It was after he finished that we agreed to read Lofton’s next novel in honour of E. Lynn Harris. We both believed that Harris would be comfortable in being remembered by the work of a fellow same gender loving African-American male.

Rodney Lofton posing beside his portrait!

A likeness and painting of author and AIDS prevention educator Rodney Lofton is displayed in the lobby of a charity he served. Below is the cover of the book that is the subject of today’s post entry here on ReNude Pride.

Today’s feature cover!

No More Tomorrows is a moving and poignant love story of two men – one, Mark Jones, is HIV positive; the other, Kevin Williams, is HIV negative. It is also the story of same gender loving men living and loving in the era of HIV/AIDS. Author Rodney Lofton, himself diagnosed as HIV+ in the early 1990’s, composed this – his first fiction novel – with both insight and wisdom. This book was published on June 30, 2009.

No More Tomorrows begins at the end. Mark Jones awakes from, another restless and sleepless night that he has endured for weeks. It is when he if fully awake that he realizes that this day is his very last day of life. Twenty years after being diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), Mark spends his morning reflecting on his life and love of Kevin Williams.

Facing a life of living with HIV, Mark opts to get busy living instead of the direction to get busy dying. Whereas tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us, de decides to host his own “celebration of life” party where he meets Kevin, who becomes the love of his life. Kevin, learning that Mark is living with HIV faces his own dilemma – pursuing his attraction to Mark and “going the distance” with him or avoiding the situation altogether and safely keeping himself uninvolved.

Mark and Kevin: in love!

The subtitle of No More Tomorrows is aptly “Two Lives, Two Stories, One Love.” Kevin and Mark not only commit to a relationship together; they also develop a deep and sincere love for one another. This novel shares their bromance from beginning to end – and beyond.

Throughout the book, Kevin and Mark give their individual perspectives on their relationship and the strong bond and devotion that engulfs them. Lofton’s story is both positive and promising, even as Mark confronts his final day and dedicates a legacy for his love.

No More Tomorrows concludes with Kevin on the first anniversary of Mark’s death. This brief epilogue brings a moment of profound sadness into a celebration of love and smiles – and a tear of joy!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Monday, July 25, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Tan-Lines: Tell-Tale Signs!”

Family Emergency!

Travelling the roadway!

I apologize for this last-minute post entry for today. My first-cousin’s (Michael) soon-to-be spouse, Ropati’s, father died and they had to fly to Tonga (South Pacific – Polynesia) in order to attend his funeral. His death was totally unexpected and the family was frantic trying to organize the service. There was a boating accident that caused his demise.

Michael and Ropati live in Virginia, approximately three hours by automobile from Arlington. They needed care for there dog and her two puppies. I am providing the service for them and Aaron, , my spouse, is continuing with his job in the trauma center.

I had a hasty departure and the posting proposed for today, In Memory of: E. Lynn Harris, will publish this upcoming Friday, July 22, 2022. With all the packing and last-minute tasks, I didn’t have the necessary time to sort through my notes for today’s post entry. I apologize for being caught totally unprepared.

Loading my car!

Since Michael and Ropati departed, I’ve had three trips on the expressway between Arlington and Norfolk, Virginia. As of my last inventory, I think I have all the material that I need in order to complete my post entry for Friday. Again, I regret any inconvenience this situation has created.

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for Friday, July 22, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “In Memory of: E. Lynn Harris!”

Our Paths Crossed…

Rodney Lamont Lofton

A Tribute to Rodney Lofton

September 9, 1968 – March 14, 2022

The date was Wednesday, March 16, of this year. At university, a colleague brought in a newspaper from where I lived with my, the city of Richmond, Virginia. He entered my office without knocking and opened the paper and laid it across my desk. I turned from my computer screen and glanced at where he pointed with his finger. A memorial obituary for an acquaintance of mine – Rodney Lofton. He had died from complications with lung cancer on Monday, March 14, in Phoenix, Arizona.

He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in November, 2021. He was pronounced with HIV in 1993. A Richmond, Virginia, native, he returned to the city of his birth after living in New York City for several years. It was while living in New York City that he learned of his HIV status. He immediately became active in HIV+ awareness, education and services not only in Richmond but in Washington, D.C., as well.

Rodney worked to revive and then became a member of the City of Richmond Human Rights Commission. He served two terms in that position.

Rodney served on various boards and commissions nationally and throughout the states. His service in the City of Richmond, Virginia, and for the Commonwealth of Virginia (the focus here for this post), was both beneficial and profound. He was the very first African-American to serve as a senior staff person at the community GLBTQ+ advocacy group, Diversity Richmond. In this capacity he was vice-president and then deputy director. He was instrumental in opening doors previously closed to persons of colour in the former capital city of the old Confederate States.

In his time, he created the Black and Bold Awards to honour the contributions that Black GLBTQ+ persons made to the City of Richmond and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Later, he created a similar award programme for the Latino community.

Rodney Lofton posing beside his portrait at Diversity Richmond!

In 2015, Rodney was the recipient of the OUTStanding Virginia award presented by Equality Virginia to a person who dutifully positively represented the community in the public eye.

Among his numerous volunteer efforts, he also actively participated in the Red Cross HIV/AIDS prevention education programmes. I will deliver more on this topic in the second part of today’s post here.

Rodney Lofton was the author of two books. The first book entitled The Day I Stopped Being Pretty: A Memoir was published on October 16, 2007. This memoir chronicles his life journey from childhood to adulthood in honest and riveting detail. He relates his bad times, good times and all the moments in between. He bares his soul and affords us the perspective of a gay Black male recognizing his uniqueness in the unfolding world of the “New South.”

Rodney Lofton’s first book.

His second novel was published two years later on June 30, 2009. His second book entitled No More Tomorrows: Two Lives, Two Stories, One Love. Lofton’s second book is a novel relaying the bromance and drama of two contemporary same gender loving men and their relationship. Both titles were nominated the year of publication for a Lambda Literary Award.

Rodney Lofton’s second book!

The current City of Richmond City Council unanimously passed a Statement of Tribute in early March, 2022. It was signed by Mayor Stoney and delivered to Rodney in Phoenix, Arizona, shortly before he died. In the statement, City Council noted: “Rodney served for many years as a local and national GLBTQ+ leader and compassionate voice.”

Rodney Lamont Lofton is survived by his husband, Faron Niles.

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A Personal Thought on Rodney Lofton:

As teenagers, my identical twin brother, Alex, and myself – once we understood our same gender attraction – would frequently visit the riverside park in our city, especially the “gay beach” area where we could “hang out” with our own kind. Twin and I liked the fact that we could be clothes free here while on summer vacation from our residential Deaf school. This was where we met Rodney. He and Twin became friends while Rodney and I remained acquaintances – we’d pass notes while together but that was the limit of our relationship.

Fast forward to the middle 1990’s. Due to the HIV/AIDS crisis, I became a very active volunteer in prevention education with my local chapter of the Red Cross. I worked primarily with teenagers and young adults in outreach efforts to raise knowledge and understanding among their peers. As a Deaf instructor-trainer in the Red Cross HIV/AIDS curriculum, I was frequently sought by the national organization and the various local chapters for advice and service.

I served as a co-chairman on the programme to create, develop and implement a focused curriculum for teens in HIV prevention strategies and techniques. This two-year project culminated with a four-day training conference involving 150 teenage training candidates and the project developers/educators. The name determined for the project was Teen Voice. This provided me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Rodney Lofton.

For the duration of the educational sessions, Rodney and I were room-mates at the facility used for the training. At nights after our sessions, we passed notes while naked in our shared room and smoking our cigarettes, expelling the smoke through our open window. Because of our note exchange, we kept the room lights on. At the reception at the end of our programme, one of our co-instructors commented privately that he enjoyed watching the two of us smoking nude in our room at night! We both shared laughter at our “exposure” at the Red Cross Teen Voice conference!

Over the nights and notes, we developed a casual friendship and an understanding of our roles within the Red Cross HIV/AIDS project. We also recalled days at the riverside park in Richmond hanging out nude and skinny-dipping in the river.

The Memorial Service

Memorial Service announcement!

I attended the above memorial service for Rodney. Twin wanted to attend but had a professional commitment that he needed to participate. There was no interpreter present so all I could do was observe the mourners present. It did me good to be there and offer my sentiments internally.

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A shared past and our shared nudity!

Rest in peace, Rodney Lofton!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next planned post entry here is for Monday, April 18, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “April Appeal: Nakations!”

Bare Friendships: 10 Years!

Naked hugs! Yesterday, January 3, 2019, was a very special day for my friend, Jay, and myself. It was the tenth anniversary of the day that we met and for the both of us it seems as though we were the best of friends from the first moment that we met. For those reading here, I’ve written several posts on the circumstances surrounding our first meeting and its aftermath that were posted here last year. In case you missed those posts, I’m offering those links below.

Continue reading Bare Friendships: 10 Years!

Reflections: End of November, 2018

November, 2018, was most definitely not the month I expected it to be. As those of you who read ReNude Pride regularly already know, my father died on November 11. This event happened unexpectedly following his diagnosis of stage 4 cancer of the colon, liver and one kidney on October 28. Mercifully, it wasn’t a protracted end but was swift and relatively pain-free. Which does beg the question: “How the hell do the doctors or any of us really know how painless any death truly is?” 

Continue reading Reflections: End of November, 2018

Interview: Brent Pace

Over a month ago, I posted a reference and link to a post written by a blogging buddy that I follow. Immediately after I punched the “schedule” button on my computer screen, it occurred to me that I should invite my online friend to interview here. The project has now come to fruition and I’m pleased to introduce readers here to Brent Pace, (nickname: “Pacey”) the author of Pace Of Mind blog (click the link to view). To read the referenced post detailing his presence at a bare dance party, click here.

Continue reading Interview: Brent Pace

Reflections: End of July, 2018

This month’s reflection: 

Remembering E. Lynn Harris

June 20, 1955 – July 23, 2009

The late E. Lynn Harris was one of my favorite contemporary authors of gay and bisexual fiction. His stories first came to my attention in the early 1990’s and he remains one of my all-time favorite fiction writers to this day, despite his sudden death in the summer of July, 2009. His novels entertained and introduced modern readers to the almost invisible lives of Black same gender loving (gay) and Black dual gender loving (bisexual) men during a time when there were, literally, very few examples of them in any form of print media.

Continue reading Reflections: End of July, 2018

Friday Footnote: GLBTQ Proud Veteran

I remember the day well. It was December, 2010, and the breaking news of the day was that then-President Barack Obama, the 44th president of the USA, had just signed an important piece of historical legislation. When his signature was affixed to the act, the centuries-old ban of allowing gays, lesbians and bisexuals to openly serve in the U. S. military forces was officially ended. Keeping to his campaign promise, President Obama put an end to another chapter in government sanctioned discrimination.

Continue reading Friday Footnote: GLBTQ Proud Veteran

Award!

Towards the middle of this past month, May 17, to be exact, this site, ReNude Pride, received a very unexpected honor of  being nominated by a fellow blogger for the Blogger Recognition Award. I was quite surprised and – naturally – flattered to be even considered a nominee. I delayed announcing this until now as I thought it would be appropriate to post the announcement during Pride Month. Anytime a fellow blogger decides to recognize another is indeed an accomplishment worthy of pride, at least in my humble opinion.

Continue reading Award!

My Summer, 2017, Reading List

What those who regularly read here already know, Summer is my favorite season of the year. Not only is it a time to wander outdoors bare, unburdened by clothes, but as an professional educator, it’s the time of year with no lessons to prepare or lectures to give. Much of my free time, spent outside, is in the company of a book. Reading mostly for pleasure and not research. Being bare at will and with books in the heat and humidity are the major reasons why I enjoy summers.

Continue reading My Summer, 2017, Reading List