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!”

S’Naked Virgin!

“The S’Naked Virgin – me!”

Background:

S’Naked is a convenient English colloquialism combining the words snow with the word naked. It is used to explain and/or reference a bare practitioner’s being clothes free outside in a snow environment. A winterized version of skinny-dipping in the snow! This is a very basic, essential and simplified version of the term.

Virgin is used here in the title to designate either first time or initiation. It is not intended to imply or suggest any sexual (xxx-rated) activity or engagement – at least, not at this time! My beloved spouse, Aaron, and I have no agenda favoring or leading to our public pornography debut!

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The above picture of yours truly (me) was photographed by Aaron in January, 2010, – our first winter together as a live-in couple. It was also my initial adventure in being s’naked! My conclusion? I had the very best teacher imaginable! In fact, we were legally married five years later and remain so today.

Same snow virgin!

Growing up, my identical twin brother, Alex, and I never had the desire or the opportunity to attempt any type of s’naked adventure. Neither one of us had any affection for any cold weather and snow was useless to us. There was no thrill in being bare and in “frozen” nature!

However, my spouse grew up loving the s’naked life and relished his moments as a totally natural man! Our first winter together he made it his mission in life to introduce me into the s’naked world! I really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter! In retrospect, I wouldn’t even dream of making any sort of change in the entire adventure!

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The same Saturday morning that I willingly sacrificed my s’naked virginity, we were confronted with the fact that we were joined by a small audience. Aaron had his back to the threesome, but as they approached us from the building corner, I noticed the trio as they rapidly dropped their jeans and underwear and exposed themselves to me – laughing and waving!

Spectator discovery!

I pointed and Aaron turned around. He and our “spectator” audience engaged in an animated conversation without any of us even attempting to conceal our exposure or nudity. They did convey to my then “live-in” partner their admiration of our interracial comfort with nakedness during a snow-storm!

We became acquaintances and later that same year they did join us for a few naked cocktail gatherings in Washington, D.C., bars. In the event that anyone is wondering, they willingly stripped off their clothing when with Aaron and myself at the nude “happy hours!”

Take care and stay bare!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next planned post entry here is for Friday, February 25, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Bare Black History, Part 2!”

Official: Exonerated!

Dancing in celebration #1!

Background:

This posting references to a previous entry published here entitled “Professional Integrity.” Please click onto the link listed below to be connected.

Professional Integrity

A bubbly bouncing pair of buttocks celebrating!

One of the many reasons for my inadvertent disaster with my keys this past Thursday, December 2, was the emergency meeting of my department at my university. Completely unaware of the agenda of the unscheduled conference, upon my arrival, I discovered the primary topic was: me! The justification? The subject of the earlier post entry, “Professional Integrity.”

As examined in my ReNude Pride posting, I was disappointed and upset concerning the obvious “double standard” of guidelines and rules that have become ever more apparent at my jobsite. There seems to be the widespread belief that there exists a specific set of practices for the university administration and another set of practices for the academic faculty. The two appear to be incompatible and totally unrelated.

Dancing in celebration #2!

As I entered my departmental conference room for our meeting, I immediately laid eyes on the presence of one of our university’s vice-chancellors – the one who supposedly presided over the investigation of my “questionable” conduct. The two of us aren’t particularly fond of one another and we have personalities that are quite the opposite. Once I recognized him, dread overcame me and the others in the room.

Upon the arrival of everyone, my department head convened the meeting and introduced the vice-chancellor – after three years in his current position, he still needed to be introduced to all of us as well as reminding us of his official capacity. A very personable and commendable influence!

He rose and then openly passed to me a sealed envelop as he announced to everyone present that despite the gossip and rumors regarding both the investigation and myself, he was publicly exonerating me of any blame or guilt. He then added that his presence for this was specifically ordered by the university chancellor himself.

He never offered to shake my hand or even acknowledge me.

My colleagues did follow the lead of my department chairman and wave their hands in a gesture of support and symbolic congratulations. Our chairman then dismissed the meeting – all of fifteen minutes of official business!

Upon leaving my office to return to the subway, I noticed a memorandum to all faculty and staff at the university. It contained the announcement of the immediate resignation of this very unremarkable vice-chancellor.

No wonder I left my keys and memory device at work!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry planned for here is Friday, December 10, 2021, and the proposed topic is “Sharing: A Bare View!”

Poem: The Daffodils!

The very first Spring that Aaron, my spouse, and I were together, March, 2010, he took this picture of me. We were in a local park adjacent to the Potomac River that flows between Arlington, Virginia (where we live) and Washington, D.C., this nation’s capital city. In case anyone is wondering, a squirrel caught my attention just as Aaron flicked on the camera. The daffodil flowers had just begun blooming for that season.

Continue reading Poem: The Daffodils!

Bare Cocktails

Up until almost ten years ago, one of my favorite bare activities was to attend a local event sponsored by one of the several Washington, D.C., nudist social groups. The monthly (and sometimes twice a month event) was promoted as either “Nude Cocktails,” “Naked Happy Hour,” or a variety of other names indicative of the fact that it was clothes free and alcohol consumption was strongly encouraged.

Continue reading Bare Cocktails

Photo-blog: GLBTQ Bare History Month Friday #1

Welcome to the 2019 Photo-blog: GLBTQ Bare History Month Friday initial posting, the first of this series. There are many opportunities to offer images and scenes of a large number of GLBTQ bare practitioners here on ReNude Pride, so it makes perfect sense to me to devote the month of October to feature images from the recent past to prove to us all that our community has been both alive and thriving for awhile now!

Continue reading Photo-blog: GLBTQ Bare History Month Friday #1

Another New Class!

This academic year began this past Tuesday, the day after the Labor Day holiday. The overwhelming majority of my students are those that have previously taken a class that I have instructed within my department’s curriculum here at the university. The sole exception to this is a new class that my department head assigned to me based on my evaluations from this university’s School of Inter-Disciplinary Studies class that I taught. This new class is a revision of an introduction to our Deaf Studies curriculum that offers an exploration of both Deaf culture and Deaf studies.

Continue reading Another New Class!

Surprise Social Nudity!

Social nudity is a term often used to describe a social environment or setting where most, if not all, of the interacting (socializing) persons are voluntarily bare or clothes free. It is not to be confused with a situation where nakedness is mandatory or required whether the gathering or assembly is also mandatory or required. Social nudity is a free choice made by all the participants at the event or gathering.

Continue reading Surprise Social Nudity!

When There’s A Surprise!

A surprise, especially a happy and pleasant one, is always welcome! It has a unique way of brightening-up one’s day and enlivening one’s life. It makes the time all the more valuable as it adds a sense of both joy and purpose. Surprises are generally completely unexpected and usually happen without much notice or preparation. The surprise can be beneficial in many different ways – some immediate and some when the unexpected slowly erodes into the past.

Continue reading When There’s A Surprise!

Reflections: End of April, 2019

It seems almost impossible but we are now at the end of another month: April, 2019. I’m losing my understanding of just how long a month lasts. In my mind, it feels as though the Spring season has just begun and now, all of a sudden, the entire month of April has transpired. It also means that my school year – and work year – has almost finished.

Continue reading Reflections: End of April, 2019