Darryl Stephens, one of the actors who starred in the film version of Boy Culture (2006), and who is known to many for his titular role in the series Noah's Arc (2005-2006), and/or from the series DTLA (2012), contributes this essay on the occasion of the publication of his first book, Required Reading.
As always, he expresses himself with conviction and intelligence. I'm honored to include his work on the site.—Matt
I recently wrote and published a book called Required Reading: How to Get Your Life for Good. It’s part memoir, part motivational, and intended for anyone who might be interested in discovering how I’ve managed to make it to 41 years old as an unapologetic, openly gay black man.
Since Noah’s Arc first aired ten years ago, I’ve been hearing from people from all over the world, asking my advice on dating/relationships, or coming out to their families/friends, or navigating their careers as openly LGBT artists. The visibility that series provided me really opened my eyes to how many people are really struggling with these issues.
Initially, my book was going to be more “Dear Abby” in tone, as I’d planned to include people’s real questions on topics affecting the LGBT community and then share my advice as tidy, politically correct, inspiring responses. But as I was writing, I realized that without the context of how I came to reach these various understandings, readers would have no reason to consider my opinion worthy of their consideration. Personalizing the lessons by rooting them in my own experiences, be they “failures” or “successes,” seemed to make my conclusions more relatable. Making it personal also allowed for the tone to be more conversational, which meant that I could be honest about the things I’m still struggling with, rather than throwing advice down from the proverbial mountain top.