Reviewed by Rita J. Egan
Growing up in the primarily Caucasian town of Smithtown, Eddie K. Wright, the son of a white mother and black father, never felt like he fit in with the other children. By his teen years, he began to have run-ins with the law, and a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday, he became a father when his girlfriend gave birth to his son Drew.
Despite a troubled youth, Wright reveals in his first book, “Voice for the Silent Fathers,” that his toughest obstacle in life so far was accepting the fact that his son was gay. Now 12 years into a 45-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute drugs, the author has spent the last few years using his time in prison to work on his issues and relationship with his son by writing. Due to the experience, which he describes as emotionally therapeutic, many of his fellow inmates have dubbed him “Gangster Turned Guru.”
A few months ago, Wright released his book in the hopes that it will inspire fathers like him to strengthen their bond with their children and accept them for exactly who they are. The writer is raw and transparent as he discusses his former no-son-of-mine attitude, and the book invites readers into the mind of a father trying to understand his son’s homosexuality.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Wright via email about his new book.
Tell us about your background, and how you earned the title, ‘Gangster Turned Guru.’
I’ve been in trouble with the law since my youth, doing months in county jail, graduating to a four-year prison bid and ultimately being sentenced by the Feds, where I got my “head knocked off” with all these mandatory minimums. But, it was my wake-up call. I changed my street gangster mentality because that was what was constantly bringing turmoil and stress to my life experience.
Once I began to live a spiritual way of life, I gained an internal peace within, and of course, being in prison everyone wants to know what it is that kept me so positive and optimistic with life. Through the years, I’ve always been spiritually mentoring everyone and with teaching yoga, what started jokingly as calling me the Guru, just stuck, because a Guru is one who guides you on your own spiritual path.
Can you summarize the book?
Being the father of a gay son is a taboo topic that’s never discussed. Most fathers won’t even admit they have a gay son, much less show loving support. I describe how I overcame my no-son-of-mine mentality to come to totally accepting who my son is, because my responsibilities as a father didn’t change just because my son is gay.
What made you decide to write about the struggle you had when you were younger with accepting your son’s homosexuality?
This book was needed for my son to read to understand what I was going through; why I made so many of the mistakes that I did as a young father. I was lost and confused because you never really heard of or seen fathers accepting their gay sons, most of the time they abandon them. It’s not because they don’t love them, it’s that their fears and anger are overshadowing that love. I wrote my story to be able to help others, fathers, in particular, to know what it means to love unconditionally.
Your relationship with your son is a strong one today. What do you think are the key ingredients to maintaining a great relationship with your child, even when your lives didn’t play out as you had planned?
The key ingredient is loving unconditionally and repeating the Serenity prayer whenever I needed, which was often. Being open and honest with my son has meant a lot for us both. It was OK for me to tell him, “I don’t understand your lifestyle but I don’t have to because I still love you.”
When you told family members and friends about the subject of the book, did anyone object?
None of my family objected, but it was more of a shock from a few friends, because again, for a father to even admit to having a gay son is a surprise. Writing a book and telling the world, there weren’t objections, just praise for my courage for doing it.
Your sister Mimi Wright helped you self-publish the book. Can you give new writers any insight on how to get their book published?
I’ll have to go into my Guru mode on this question because we all have limitless potential, and as long as you keep your mind focused, the Universe will draw everything needed to make it happen. Just keep writing; building your social media platform and posting samples of what you write. Live as if you’re already signed to a major publisher.
I write like I have a deadline to meet that I’m under contract for. Act as if and it will become your reality. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened at exactly the right moment as all things do. So just stick with it. Once you’re ready, check out my sister’s company at www.mwrightgroup.com. She’s amazing.
What advice would you give to parents when they learn that their child is gay or a lesbian?
When a parent learns or even suspects their child is gay or lesbian, just make sure the child knows that your love for them won’t change and allow them to discuss it with you. Support is super important because homosexual teens have the highest rate of suicide.
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself while writing the book?
That I was causing all of my pain and frustration by trying to change who my son was, without ever thinking about changing myself. For so many years, that was the key, changing my way of thinking and stop being so judgmental.
What does Drew think of the book?
Drew loved the book. It’s helped us heal our relationship and so that alone makes it a success for me. He told me that he now understands why I acted some of the ways I had. We were able to heal our wounds.
You are in the process of working on your next book. What is it about?
“The Evolution of a Gangster Turned Guru” is just what the title describes. It’s my personal spiritual transformation by learning about the Universal laws, God’s love, and most importantly, how to truly love myself. I discuss how we are each responsible for what we experience, the power of our thoughts and how by changing the way we think, we change our life situation.
Where can people go to learn more about ‘Voice for the Silent Fathers’ and you?
Like I mentioned, as an author your internet presence is everything. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @EddieKWright. My author blog can be found at www.eddiekwright.com and each of my books has a website at www.voiceforthesilentfathers.com and www.gangstertoguru.com.