It started, innocently enough, with a photograph.
Kordale Lewis posted images of him and his partner, Kaleb, doing everyday things with their family ( such as brushing their daughters' hair )and the gay dads received tons of diverse opinions about the pictures.
Now, Kordale has come out with the memoir Picture Perfect?, a moving and sometimes brutal look at the abuses he endured growing up as well as how he and Kaleb have built a family together.
Windy City Times: This is practically a case where a picture is worth a thousand words ( or maybe more ), correct?
Kordale Lewis: Well, that's why this book is outbecause people think it's so perfect. My life has not always been perfect. I wasn't really happy until about four years ago, when I met my fiance.
WCT: How'd you two meet, by the way?
Kordale Lewis: We met on Facebook. He sent me a message, and was taken aback because he's an Omega [Psi Phi fraternity] so I thought it was a "catfish" [situation]. Then, we Skyped each other.
WCT: You're the only one of the couple listed as the author. Why is that?
Kordale Lewis: When we went viral, a lot of production companies contacted us. I went to one company in downtown Atlanta, and they asked me to explain the photo that went viral. I said, "It was just a picture of us with our daughters at 5:30 a.m." Then they asked me to explain my childhood. Once I did that, they said you need to write a book. I said, "No; it's in my past," and they said, "You really should because a lot of people can relate to what you went through."
So I talked with my fiance and I talked with my friendand they encouraged me to do it. So we started with a timeline, at age 5 until the time the photo went viral.
At 5, I was molested by my mother's boyfriend, who was in a gangplus my mother wasn't there for me when I told her about what happened to me. I also talk about how my mom abused me and went to jail; to this day, she's still an addict. My father's been in prison since I was 2. I also talk about how I tried to kill myself. It's not easy being a Black gay man in a homophobic society.
The [molesting] happened on more than one occasion, but I thought that was how life was supposed to beespecially because I knew I was different and because my mother wasn't supporting me.
When I was younger, I knew I was gay but I didn't want to be gay, but I found comfort in a friend who was pretty flamboyant. [Unfortunately,] he ended up hanging himself. But for the book, my lawyer said I had to change almost everyone's name in the book.
WCT: You've obviously gone through so much. Was one part of the book harder to write than any other?
Kordale Lewis: Well, I'll say this: For the past few months, my relationship with my fiance has been up and down. I think he now understands that I was traumatized.
By the way, I have not read the book, and will not. Most of the book was dictated to the editorand I could see the things happening. I would start crying, and I don't like people to see that I'm weak. I'd then be cranky with my fiance after [the sessions].
WCT: However, you do know sometimes it takes strength to cry and get over the hurdle.
Kordale Lewis: Thank you. I've always wanted to have the perfect family. Writing this book is when I realized certain things about my family, like my father never getting out of jail. I always want to be the father who's there for my kids.
I didn't really start living until I was 16, and I got this girl pregnant. She knew I was gay, but I had three kids by her.
WCT: We've been talking about strengths and weaknesses. Do you feel you're stronger now than you've ever been?
Kordale Lewis: I do. I really do.
WCT: What do you want readers to get out of your book?
Kordale Lewis: I want readers to know that gay people already have hard lives. People truly don't know gay peoples' storieswe go through some of the same things other people go through.
When you attack gay people, especially kids, it can really affect their lives. It can damage a kidand I didn't have that support back then. Today, I really don't talk with my family; I just have my kids and my fiance.
You can abused and no one will talk about it. But have gay dads with kids, and it's World War III. I do want to give people hope that [having a family] is possible. I hope this book will break stereotypes that people have about gay people.
WCT: Do you think you'll ever write another book?
Kordale Lewis: Well, I've been told that a bigger publishing company may pick up the book. If that happens, then I guess the book may be translated into other languages and sold to other countries. If they want to know about my and Kaleb's relationship or about integrating family, we could talk about that. But I've really told everything at this point.
Picture Perfect? is available at many online retailers ( including Amazon ) as well as the website www.kordalenkaleb.com .