Lofton, Rodney 1968–

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Lofton, Rodney 1968–

PERSONAL:

Born 1968, in Seaboard, NC. Hobbies and other interests: Listening to music, watching television, acting.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Richmond, VA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Freelance writer. Has also worked as a publicist. Speaker for organizations, including the New Jersey World AIDS Day Celebration, the Ryan White National Youth Conference, and the United States Conference on AIDS.

WRITINGS:

The Day I Stopped Being Pretty: A Memoir, Strebor Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of the play The Last Supper. Contributor to Flesh to Flesh, Strebor Books (New York, NY), 2008. Contributor to SPICE magazine and the Malebox.

SIDELIGHTS:

As an African American gay male who is HIV positive, Rodney Lofton has been a speaker for organizations such as the New Jersey World AIDS Day Celebration, the Ryan White National Youth Conference, and the United States Conference on AIDS. In a profile of Lofton posted on GBMNews, a contributor noted that at a young age, Lofton wanted to be an actor, and although he did not get the part after auditioning for a television show, he did act in many high school plays. It was around this time that Lofton realized he was gay. After high school, as Lofton attempted to further his acting career, he learned that he was HIV positive. According to the GBMNews contributor, the news "could have easily ended his career aspirations." Although Lofton returned to Richmond to prepare for his death (he received his diagnosis at a time when HIV had a high fatality rate), he began writing articles for gay-themed publications such as the Malebox. When it became clear that Lofton was going to live for some time, he began doing outreach work in the AIDS community. The GBMNews contributor stated that following this, "in the summer of 2005, Lofton decided to step away from HIV/AIDS work to focus on himself and his healing. Out of this period of reflection, came his ‘baby,’ his true and gritty retelling of where he has been, how he got there and the end result of his actions." The result was Lofton's 2007 book The Day I Stopped Being Pretty: A Memoir.

In the memoir, Lofton relates not only his past but also his progressive self-acceptance as an HIV-positive gay male. Indeed, the author discusses his own self-acceptance, and he also examines his father's lack of acceptance. Lofton must come to terms with the fact that his father does not approve of his lifestyle or return his love. Lofton also relates his painful and dysfunctional childhood, much of which stemmed from his father's lack of support. Lofton's father died in 2005, so it seems that his decision to write The Day I Stopped Being Pretty that same year was no coincidence. According to Washington Blade writer Zack Rosen, Lofton's memoir shoes how the author tried "to seek from other men the love and approval he never got from his father. He describes a series of overwhelmingly negative emotional and sexual relationships, eventually leading to his contracting HIV." Rosen reported: "Lofton says this book was an attempt to break his self-destructive patterns." Rosen also found that in the end, Lofton "finally learns to love himself, [and] the confidence gained means he no longer needs acceptance from other men."

Lofton told CA: "I started writing in high school after taking a journalism class my sophomore year. It was a great class and prepared me for the road I have embarked on.

"I've learned that it is not the number of books you sell, but the impact your writing has on others. I may never achieve the success of being a New York Times best seller, but the messages and letters I have received from readers are so much more rewarding."

"The Day I Stopped Being Pretty allowed me to purge my demons and open my heart to loving and being loved in return. I decided with this book to give a face to the growing pandemic we now know as HIV. It is my hope and goal that it will, along with future writings, provide some insight into the lives and loves of those infected and affected by HIV."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Lofton, Rodney, The Day I Stopped Being Pretty: A Memoir, Strebor Books (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Day I Stopped Being Pretty.

ONLINE

GBMNews, http://www.gbmnews.com/ (June 12, 2008), "Living with HIV—Rodney Lofton."

Rodney Lofton Home Page,http://www.rodneylofton.com (June 12, 2008).

Rodney Lofton MySpace Page,www.myspace.com/rodlofton (June 12, 2008).

Washington Blade,http://www.aegis.com/ (June 12, 2008), Zack Rosen, "‘Pretty’ Remarkable: Rodney Lofton's New Book Chronicles an HIV-Positive Black Gay Man's Journey to Self-Acceptance."