Here’s the situation… Christopher Boyd is an African American, single father of four, and a native of Philadelphia. He has an associate degree in culinary arts, and is currently employed as a chef supervisor at a hospital. He has loved the art of writing since his teenage years. He wrote poetry, but his biggest love was hip-hop music. Aspiring to be an artist, he wrote, recorded, and performed his own music. Although his dream to become a hip-hop artist was never fulfilled, his passion for writing continued.
The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino caught up with Boyd to discuss his first book, an autobiography titled Straight Black Man, Gay Black Family.
Michelle: Tell us a little about yourself.
Christopher: “West Philadelphia born and raised,” just like the words in the song. Throughout my childhood we relocated to different parts of Philly, from Southwest to North. My mother always exposed me to music, but if the beat was nice, I would always listen to the words as well. When I saw Run-DMC in the movie, Krush Groove, I started writing raps and poems. I would create crazy stories that were more like mini movies, but they were songs. I started recording and performing songs in different venues, but I think writing was my specialty.
Michelle: Why did you decide to write a memoir as opposed to writing a work of fiction?
Christopher: I actually started out writing things down for myself. I realized I had bottled up unresolved issues stemming from my childhood for years. My friend suggested I find an outlet. One summer, I had surgery on my foot, and it left me incapacitated. During that time, I started writing things down. When I read what I wrote, I was in disbelief. I felt I needed to share my story with someone else who may be in a similar situation.
Michelle: What sets your book, Straight Black Man, Gay Black Family, apart from other works about living with a parent who is homosexual?
Christopher: What I believe separates my book from others with a similar topic is that it is not just about growing up with a homosexual parent. Also, while it is my story, it is my siblings’ story, too. It’s a story about community as well as the elements that causes it to disintegrate. I believe my book shows how incorporating your children into your lifestyle can have a trickle-down effect, and may lead to self-destruction if it is not done properly.
Michelle: In your opinion, how has growing up within an alternative lifestyle household shaped you as a man?
Christopher: I think growing up in this type of household has shaped me positively and negatively. On the good side, I learned not to be judgmental. Sometimes we as black men become homophobic as a defense mechanism for our manhood. I believe that behavior restricts us socially, economically, and in plenty of other ways. On the bad side, seeing how my mother treated women, and not having a father figure, I started to emulate some of her bad patterns in my own relationships.
Michelle: What message did you hope to convey in Straight Black Man, Gay Black Family?
Christopher: The message I hope to convey is we can’t control who we love. It may sound cliché, but our children did not ask to be here. Whatever we choose to do in our lifestyle, including what we do to the people we bring around, can have a lasting effect on our children.
Michelle: How long did it take you to write the book?
Christopher: It took me close to two years to write the book. After the summer I had the surgery, my laptop crashed. I was more than halfway done, and I was going to give up on it, but I still had it all in my head. I had to get it out. So, I started over.
Michelle: What was the hardest part about writing your autobiography?
Christopher: The hardest part of writing my own story is reliving the experiences. I never took any writing courses, so I did the best I could to convey the feelings of the book’s characters to the reader. Sometimes it got so emotional I had to stop writing for days.
Michelle: How did your family feel about you not only writing your truths, but sharing their stories as well?
Christopher: Some family members probably don’t like it, but others thought it was brave to do so. Some may say they support my decision, but inside they may feel differently. That’s cool, too. I explained to my family if they read the book, they’d see I’m not bashing anyone or any lifestyle. It’s my story, and if you happen to be a part of my life, it is what it is. I honestly think my mother would be proud, because she was all about being truthful.
Michelle: What do you hope your readers walk away with once they’ve read Straight Black Man, Gay Black Family?
Christopher: I purposely wrote the book with an ending I hope will make readers want to read more from Christopher Boyd. I want them to see that I am a new author on the scene, but I want this to be the start of something big. I have some readers who have said they would like to see my book as a stage or screen play. That is how I want them to walk away feeling.
Michelle: How can readers contact and/or follow you?
Christopher: Readers can contact me on Facebook and Instagram @str8blkmangayblkfam. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can purchase my book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major book sites.
Chris is a young boy being raised in a single-parent home by a mother who is a lesbian. She clearly was not ready for motherhood; she has two older sons who are being raised by her mother, the oldest suffering from mental problems. Once her mother passes away, she is left with the responsibility of being a mother for all three of her children. She is torn between taking care of her own kids and the love for her lifestyle.
The middle son, a teenager, is dealing with his own sexuality. He is left with the responsibility of caring for both his younger and older siblings. His tarnished relationship with his mother causes him to direct his hostility toward his younger brother, who his mother seemed the closest to. This story shows how one family member’s decision has a detrimental effect on everyone. Straight Black Man, Gay Black Family takes you on a journey of love, betrayal, happiness, abuse, religion, sex, and violence.
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About the Author: Michelle Cuttino
Body Positive Advocate Michelle “Big Body” Cuttino, author of six books, works with authors and experts who need free publicity to promote their new releases, and grow their business. Once a month, she emails writing tips, free promos, and information about upcoming literary events. Subscribe at www.MichelleCuttino.com.