Updated: Jul 1, 2019
Today, a thoughtful colleague noticed my name was spelled without the suffix, III, and confirmed my name, Perry Rhodes III, should include the suffix on all media material. All those who know me, know the answer to that query-- absolutely and definitely yes-- always. However, I am not sure if people understand why this is important to me. I simply am very proud to carry the name Perry Rhodes on, because of the man in this photo, my father, Perry Rhodes Jr.
After my initial blog posted, I received so many supportive comments, but my mother, Nellie Pearl had one question. Why didn't I include my father when I described my family's support when I came out as a gay man? I responded, " Well Moma Daddy had already passed away by the time I came out, so he wasn't there." Nellie Pearl let it go at that, with a little, "Hm..." Which is never really just a "Hm." Our brief conversation stayed in the back of my mind until Father's Day this past Sunday, a day I always miss Daddy that much more, and then it hit me how much he really was there when I came out, inside of me, by giving me my confidence.
I am so proud to carry on Perry Rhodes because he provided for his family, and he loved me so. I always knew it, even when he was whipping my tail, and man did he pop my tail hard too. He always demanded the best effort from me, and he always made me feel I was capable of accomplishing anything. Daddy would sit me down to read and point out college level words and drill me about it, like I was really suppose to know the answer. We had a little green, metal box, filled with flashcards with the word on one side, accompanied by its definition on the opposite. His teaching style always started with going over and over a fundamental detail before moving on to something I considered more interesting. I would try not to roll my eyes, and attempt to understand what he wanted. All the while, he would rub his hands over my head, and I felt he was proud when I understood something early for my years. He was proud of me and loved me, I could tell, and that's why he was with me when I came out. I knew he would have loved me, and been proud of me anyway.
I believe this because of how he consistently treated me. You see in my neighborhood, I was one of the first children to sport a Jheri curl, and I rocked that sloppy mop all over T.L. Marsalis, my elementary school. I remember my hair being longer than most boys, and one day an old friend of my Father visited our home, and mistook me for a little girl. My Father corrected him, irritated yes, but never directed any negative energy towards me. He never told me not to cross my legs, like others. Never told me to change my clothes, like some suggested. He never behaved like I was anything to be ashamed of, like some hoped I might feel. No, Daddy was my biggest fan, and I am his--always.
This year I will miss PRIDE in San Francisco for the first time in over 18 years, and for a reason Daddy would be beaming with Pride about; the wedding of my baby brother to a delightful young woman we are blessed to call family. Daddy would be so proud of each one of his children, including his grand and great grandchildren. To see the family he seeded grow, and that his children reached a graduate level education, like my baby sister did early last year, in a society which denied him so much. To witness those children grow into devoted parents, my amazing siblings, who serve as leaders in their own communities with a wide range of talents and accomplishments. Giving their children opportunities to win, just like he did for us. He would be over the moon with pride. So I devote this blog to Daddy, and that is why I insist my name include its suffix, Perry Rhodes III.
I sincerely hope everyone one of you enjoyed time with your Father this past weekend whether in person or in spirit. And for those without a Father's love, which is often the experience for many of my LGBTQ family, I hope you have found that paternal friend in your life who has taken a special interest in your growth and success. We all deserve to feel undoubted love, and I realize the confidence and privilege that love has given me. A foundation to stand upon, confidently, to pass love forward. My Father would want me to live
life passing love forward, after all Love Wins.
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