"You have to believe in yourself in order to succeed. If you don't, no one else will."
Sounds simple, eh? Then why is it that too many of us find it so difficult to do?
Well, that's the mantra of Mr. R. L. Norman, arguably the quintessential Renaissance man. Mr. Norman is an African-American entrepreneur, videographer, performer, columnist, internet host and author of the popular series of novels entitled, "Honey Let Me Tell You." His fifth and very latest installment in that series is "Honey Hush; Don't Ask And I Won't Tell."
EVANS: R. L., thanks for taking the time to sit down with Huffington Post Queer Voices once again.
EVANS: You're a survivor of domestic violence and abuse, which is referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse (IPV/A) within the LGBTQ community. Please share your story.
NORMAN: Well, at the time of that particular relationship, I needed to feel and be wanted. My self-esteem was low, which made me very vulnerable. Thinking back, I realize that I was aggressively pursuing him; I was really the one pushing the relationship.
It was only when we moved in together that the abuse started. The first few times he hit me, I was thinking it was my fault; or should I say, I let him make me think it was my fault. Slowly, I started losing my inner self. I found myself living to please him; and at the same time, trying to make him love me. I didn't want to lose him because I didn't want to be alone. It doesn't matter what issues you have, if you have someone by your side, it makes everything better.
So while he abused me, I tried to hang onto him as best I could. And as time went on, I became afraid to leave him. And afraid someone would find out. I lived in my private hell for years while I was being physically and mentally abused. Meanwhile, I tried to hide it from everyone.
EVANS: R. L., I can relate because I, too, am a survivor. As a journalist, I research and write about IPV/A; as a motivational speaker, I conduct seminars on the issue. In our community, due to stigma, IPV/A is "swept under the rug;" therefore, it tends to be grossly under-reported.
NORMAN: I wish I had told someone, but I didn't. I gave so many excuses about my bruises--and for my partner. Fortunately though, to use your phrase, "I made my 'Great Escape'." And recently, I shared my full story on my podcast and in my column, "Honey, Let Me Tell You Something," at Wyattevans.com.
I'm lucky though. I survived without getting seriously hurt... or ending up dead. I encourage victims to tell. DO SOMETHING! There are so many people out here who can help. But no one will help unless you tell. I didn't tell because I was ashamed that I was allowing it to happen. Therefore, you need to put your pride aside to get help. You have to make that first move.
I've felt freer since I've shared my entire experience. Wyatt, I hope that I've helped another victim realize that he/she can be a survivor just like you and me.
EVANS: How has your experience with Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse shaped you?
NORMAN: It has truly made me a better and stronger person! And, I will never go through it again.
I remember the first day I'd finally gotten away from my abuser, and moved into my new apartment. Once the movers left, the first thing I did was to lie on my living room floor and exhale -- and cry as I was purging all of that private hell from my heart and soul. As Whitney Houston sang, I exhaled ["Exhale (Shoop Shoop)"]. (As I've stated, there's always a song to reflect one's feelings.) After that, I felt like I was reborn! I started a whole new life of love. I changed because I realized that I'm a person who deserves the best. The experience truly made me more confident about taking control of my life.
EVANS: Powerful! Now R. L., let's shift gears. What's your take on the continuing lack of visibility of LGBTQ persons of color -- particularly black -- in the media (novels, motion pictures, television)?
NORMAN: Slowly, we are being seen and heard more and more. I believe that the more we feel comfortable in sharing our stories, the more visibility we will gain. We just need to be persistent.
EVANS: Speaking of increased visibility, clue us in about your monthly podcast.
NORMAN: My podcast, "Honey Let Me Tell You Something Else -- The R. L. Norman Show," came into being because of the interview I did on your radio program, "The Wyatt O'Brian Evans Show." The feedback was great; and again, I thank you for that opportunity. So, I decided that people wanted to hear about the real R. L. Norman -- things that move and have impacted me, etc.
EVANS: And, you perform a one-man show entitled, "Norman's One Night Stand," across the country?
NORMAN: I do! My show also happened by accident. I attended a book club event in which my novel was featured. During the event, I became bored with just answering questions.
So I decided that at the next one, I'd do something different: a show centered on the character of "Norman" that includes music, singing, dancing and a little surprise -- which is the highlight of the show! I'm excited that "Norman's One Night Stand" has become a crowd-pleaser.
EVANS: Back to the craft of writing. How important are reviews? And, just how much do they affect an author's progress?
NORMAN: I think reviews are very important. For me, I want to hear and/or read all reviews -- be they good or bad. Of course, receiving "good" reviews are great! However, "bad" reviews are actually good because they can enable you to grow as an author.
EVANS: How necessary -- and critical -- are promotion and publicity in making your work a success?
NORMAN: Both are extremely important. If you desire the public to become familiar with your work, you must promote as often and in as many venues as possible.
EVANS: What are the three most important weapons aspiring authors must have in their "arsenal of success?"
NORMAN: First and foremost, you have to believe in yourself. If you don't, no one else will. Secondly, you have to persevere: so many people say they want to write a book, but never do it. We all have stories to tell; we just need the time and patience to write them. Lastly, you have to promote yourself and be able to take criticism.
EVANS: What's next on the horizon for Mr. R. L. Norman?
NORMAN: Well, I'm writing a play entitled "Honey Let Me Tell You," an extension of "Norman's One Night Stand." I'm also creating a comic strip for the "Honey Let Me Tell You" book series simply titled, "Norman." Essentially, it will tell Norman's life story and his many loves as he searches for the perfect stranger -- his true love.
EVANS: R. L., thanks for an engaging and absorbing interview!
NORMAN: Thanks for having me, Wyatt.
If you or someone you know is experiencing IPV/A, call: the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project Hotline (1-800-832-1901), or The Network/La Red's Hotline (1-617-742-4911).
You may connect with R. L. Norman at: http://rlnorman1.wix.com/honeyletmetellyou; Twitter: rl_norman; Instagram: rlnorman.