Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Day I Stopped Being Pretty


Every once and a while I'll select a book without knowing much about it and find a true treasure. Such is the case with "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty" by Rodney Lofton. My words cannot give the author enough praise on the courage he summoned to pen his life journey! The book blew me away and is perhaps the most inspirational and moving life telling piece I've read.

When I finished "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty," I felt I had gained a new friend, someone I deeply cared for. Sometimes it takes a stranger to put your own life into clearer perspective, and Mr. Lofton's story did that for me. Even straight readers will be able to relate to his life unfolding because Rodney's life-situations transcend sexual orientation and speaks to acceptance we all seek, gay, straight, or otherwise.

I know with my own life, there have been harrowing events of abuse, neglect, and my own self-depreciation. I can be my own worst enemy. However, I need to remember for every misstep, every mishap, there is a reason and a purpose behind it. Then there is the old saying "Your blues ain't like my blues," meaning someone else's situation is far worse than your own and you need to give thanks. Remember "Therefore but the Grace of God..." It's so true. Yes.

Now you see why I had to wait a few days to post this blog. My foul mood the other day would've negated this shout out. So....

Mr. Lofton has had hardships, adversity, I couldn't begin to understand. I can relate on some levels, but I have not walked in his footsteps, no matter how similar our life experiences may be. I have not felt his pain, had his suffering, or experienced his hurt... Sorry, I'm struggling with words. Mr. Lofton's life adventure moved me so much, when I finished the book, I literally cried for what he had endured. So much of his life paralleled my own struggles, but his went beyond mine, to place where if it were me, I might have succumbed.

Mr. Lofton draws you quickly into his life, telling his childhood growing up in Richmond, VA and in Baltimore, MD with his single mother, eventually leading him to live with his emotionally disconnected father again in Virginia. I don't wanna to give too much away about the book, some parts you'll need to read for yourself. The overall message I came away with, something I really needed to "hear" when I read "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty," is love is a matter of self-discovery and that until we find peace with ourselves, love might be out of our grasp. Learning to love ourselves and forgive others is the key to finding love and happiness.

Out of respect, I address him here as "Mister" Lofton, but really I wanna just call him "Rodney" because after I finished reading his book, I truly felt like we were old friends. Old friends like someone you haven't seen in years, but when you meet up again, you pick up your friendship right where you left off. That's how candid and open he is about his life.

The book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry at times. I hurt when he retells the death and funeral of his father. I fumed when he speaks of his stepmother's malice toward him. I was nervous when he pens going to his first gay bar...it all draws you so close to him. For anyone gay who grew up in the 80s, "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty" will resonate old memories. Rodney will open doors you probably forgot about, if you were a teen in the Generation X decade. I say this because Mr. Lofton and I are relatively the same age, him being a year older than me.

Oh yes, he took me back to those wonderful days as he narrates being in high school in Baltimore and slowly comes to terms with being gay. That first awareness of being different... That first guy you noticed... The first guy you kissed... Your first love... Your first "time." Rodney shares it all.

For me, Rodney's connection to his father, impacted me most. Rodney, like me, had an emotionally distant father, who withheld love and affection, often showing criticism, instead of tenderness. Rodney demonstrates through a series of emotional distant and occasionally physical abusive relationships, that love ultimately needs to begin at home, meaning with the "self."

I admire Rodney greatly for writing "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty." I got the book from the local library, but I purchased the book, to remind myself, on those difficult days, never give up. I've been in contact with the author through My Space and Rodney is indeed the genuine article. The pictures I've provided are from his My Space page (I hope he doesn't mind I put them on the blog). I can't give him enough praise!

Run, don't walk, to your local library and checkout "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty." If they don't have it, request that they supply it. I've done this several times with my library. For the longest time the only gay black author my library had was E. Lynn Harris. No disrespect to E. Lynn, for I love his books, but there are so many other gay black authors out there, like Rodney Lofton! There's room for er'rybody. (I'm proud they had this wonderful read for me to discover.)

For now though, this is about Rodney. If you can afford to, buy "The Day I Stopped Being Pretty" and help this brother out. You'll be glad you did.

2 comments:

photogreg said...

sounds like a book i'd really enjoy.

Aaron said...

Thanks for bringing this book to our attention. I've been looking for a good book....it's definitely next up on my reading list.

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While this blog is not really intended to show adult content, I can't guarantee that an occasional image of male nudity won't appear. Be advised that this blog is intended to be read by people with an open mind. I don't claim any rights to the images nor do I have any knowledge of the sexuality of persons featured (unless they are openly gay...duh). Enjoy yourself and take a small step in my every day life and pondering... Feel free to email any comments or opinions.

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