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!”

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, 2020

In the USA, as well as several other countries, today is designated National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is the event that empowers the African-American community to accept a major role in the prevention and treatment of HIV within not only its own community but throughout the world as well. The devastating impact of HIV on the communities of color here in the USA emphasized the need for definitive community action!

Continue reading National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, 2020

Prevention Pill for HIV

Having spent last week’s USA Thanksgiving holiday with Aaron, my spouses’ family, I was strongly urged by his older brother, David, to write an informative posting on the “prevention pill for HIV.” I encouraged David to create a draft for this entry here today which he diligently undertook. This posting on ReNude Pride is a product of our joint collaboration and in advance I express my appreciation to David Peterson for all of his assistance.

Continue reading Prevention Pill for HIV

World AIDS Day, 2019

Today, Sunday, December 1, 2019, is World AIDS Day all across our globe. It is the day when it is appropriate for all of us to wear a red ribbon – if a bare practitioner (naturist or nudist) such as my spouse, Aaron, and myself, paint a red ribbon – and proudly display to everyone you encounter that you recognize the importance and significance of the date. The quality of life living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) has improved but we do not have a cure – yet!

Continue reading World AIDS Day, 2019

USA: National HIV Testing Day!

Today, here in the USA, is National HIV Testing Day. On this date, the public is encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities, nationwide, to take a few moments and to be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many health departments, local pharmacies and other health-care institutions are offering free HIV tests to any and all. Many people are volunteering (myself included) to work so that our organizations can offer testing to as many as possible with a minimum wait for results!

Continue reading USA: National HIV Testing Day!

February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Author’s Note: This posting is offered in anticipation of February 7, and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is published beforehand to allow readers to explore developments and opportunities for involvement prior to the actual date. 

In the USA and several nations in the Caribbean, February 7, annually, is observed as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day for the communities of African descent to focus on the disproportionate (unequal) impact the current HIV/AIDS crisis is having on the various communities of African and Black heritage. This date is observed to bring the different communities and institutions together to explore ways to combat HIV infections and to replace ignorance with facts and knowledge.

Continue reading February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

World AIDS Day, 2018

World AIDS Day turns 30 years old today. The very first global commemoration to raise awareness of the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) was observed on December 1, 1988 – seven years into the struggle against HIV/AIDS. Normally, this type of anniversary would be a cause of celebration. However, the fact that humanity still suffers from this disease is no reason for jubilation. Yes, we have had a few remarkable successes in fighting this pandemic; but the fact remains that we continue to lose both lives and talent.

Continue reading World AIDS Day, 2018

October 11: Coming Out Day

October 11, annually, is Coming Out Day a time for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) people to open the closet (secret hiding place) door and step out into the world as a proud member of the GLBTQ community. National Coming Out Day is observed on October 11, in the USA and is also celebrated on October 12, in other countries throughout the world. The term “coming out” is used when persons who are GLBTQ take the steps to let others know of their sexual orientation.

Continue reading October 11: Coming Out Day

Let’s Talk About PrEP!

PrEP is an abbreviation for pre-exposure prophylaxis, a medical term for a treatment to prevent the transmission of a disease or infection. For the purposes of this posting here on ReNude Pride, the disease is HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In the language and literature of the bisexual, men who have sex with men (MSM) and same gender loving community, PrEP is often referred and used instead of the commercial medication Truvada (emtricitabine and and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate). It is a once a day pill that helps prevent the transmission of HIV.

Continue reading Let’s Talk About PrEP!

National HIV Testing Day

Today is National HIV Testing Day in the USA and some other parts of the world. Observed on June 27, annually, this date is designated to remind us all of the importance of knowing our HIV status and in doing so, enhance our health. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is no longer the life-threatening condition that it once was and through treatment and medication, it is now a manageable disease. It remains, however, a communicable infection with serious consequences if untreated. That is the reason testing for HIV is very important to our health.

Continue reading National HIV Testing Day