When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the nation’s economy, millions of Americans, including Terry Dyer, suddenly found themselves furloughed. Dyer, a human resources executive who had just relocated to South Florida, had two choices. 

Rather than simply wait for the economy to reopen, Dyer used the opportunity to finally complete a long-planned memoir. Four months later, he opened the first copy of “Letters to a GAY BLACK BOY,” fresh from the printer. 

“I had a choice to make,” admitted Dyer. “While COVID was a horribly bad thing, the shutdown ultimately gave me the opportunity to finish the book.” 

Dyer, who was born in Kansas City, Kansas and raised in California, chose to structure his story in the form of letters to his younger self. For most children, the path to adulthood is fraught with angst. Dyer addresses family, love and acceptance, along with the challenges of growing up gay and the trauma he experienced following a sexual assault by a close relative. 

“I start off by addressing the letters to a ‘gay black boy,’ but by the end of the book, the final letter is addressed directly to my younger self, Terry,” Dyer said. 

As an African-American gay man, Dyer also has lots to say about race, but he says the book was not affected by the tragic murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests that erupted across the country as he was finalizing the draft. 

“I’m not so much angry … as I am about having those difficult conversations,” he pointed out, describing “Letters” as “raw and authentic” and designed to “inspire dialogue.” 

The author, now 40 years old, ultimately survived and thrived. He earned a degree in public relations and ultimately embarked on a successful career in human resources. An LGBT activist, he has advocated for a number of gender and HIV/AIDS issues.  

Dyer is also a trained and accomplished classical singer. He is comfortable in a boardroom and on stage, or lately, cabaret performances via live streaming on the internet. 

Local audiences will get a taste of the multitalented Dyer when he presents a reading from the book on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 20 – 21 at the Foundry at Wilton Theater Factory in Wilton Manors. 

In addition to reading passages from the book, he plans to perform several favorite musical selections, conduct an audience Q&A session and sign books. 

Living Out Loud 2.0’s Darian Aaron best summarized the impact of Dyer’s effort: “With no roadmap and often very few adults in whom we can confide in as we grow into a deeper understanding of who we are, Black gay boys are often left to navigate a world that is not designed for us to thrive in, yet somehow, we persevere. Terry Dyer is providing such a road map … By owning and sharing his story, Dyer rejects the conventional wisdom that says the intimate and the painful dare not be shared publicly, thereby giving himself and the reader permission to forgive, evolve and to heal.” 

“Letters to a GAY BLACK BOY” is available from major booksellers. For more information, go to TerryDyer.org. Terry Dyer will read from his memoir on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 20 – 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Foundry at Wilton Theater Factory, 2306 N. Wilton Dr. in Wilton Manors. Tickets are $20 at Eventbrite.com