This story first appeared on February 26, 2012
Biodun Abudu is a fashion designer, drag performer and writer. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island and reared in Nigeria birthplace of his parents. Abudu’s debut novel “Tales of My Skin” is the story of the journey from Africa to America. It touches on subjects of sexual orientation and culture. Prideindex talked with Abudu about his book, coming out, and ultimate goal as a writer.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): Why did you migrate from Providence, Rhode Island to Chicago?
BIODUN ABUDU (BA) : After my high school graduation I decided that I wanted to study fashion design, while doing research on the internet I found the International Academy of Fashion Design of Chicago and that’s how I ended up here.
PI: What year was that?
BA: Back in 2005.
PI: How did you transform from fashion to writing and becoming a published author?
BA: I believe that if you have talents for something those talents shouldn’t be wasted especially if you have the opportunities to share them with the world. So during my break I decided to write a book and tell my story.
PI: Let’s talk about your book, “Tales of My Skin” How did that come about? Why did you write the book?
BA: It’s about my friend who hit rock bottom and wanted to express himself to the world. He wanted to save people. We wanted to write this book for a while but I was going to school and he was going through some personal problems but eventually we came together and said we’re going to start writing this book so we did until it was done. I was a little bit scared and thought, “oh my God ,what would people think about my writing a gay book? or what would people in Nigeria say?” So we decided that I would tell a little of my story and my friend’s story. And I would handle everything once the book was finished. My friend was still scared so I told him I would do everything to protect his privacy.
PI: You had some difficulties finding a publisher. How long did it take you to find one after finishing the book?
BA: It took a year and 6 months to write the book then another 6 months to find a publisher to publish it. I submitted it to several different publishers but they never replied to emails or phone calls. I found a Lalibra Books on Facebook.
PI: Where have you promoted it thus far?
BA: At the Center on Halsted, a local AIDS Awareness event and through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And in The Windy City Times newspaper.
PI: When does your signing take place?
BA: I’ve already did one at Gerber/Hart library and I’m still working on the next one right now.
PI: Because your book is self published how to do you hope to promote it successfully without having a publicist or publishing powerhouse ?
BA: You have to have motivation to push yourself and get out there and just do it. I look at stories about self-published authors like the late E. Lynn Harris for motivation. He sold his first book out of the trunk of his car! You have to start somewhere. You have to look at different venues around town for example we have the Center on Halsted and other places where you can get your story out there in from of an audience and get people interested in your work.
PI: And of course you have PrideIndex.com’s Authors of Note!
PI: Tell us a little bit about your coming out experience when and how did you come out to your parents?
BA: I was always out. I was one of the kids who’d always kept to himself and dressed up in drags and got on the stage to perform. So I don’t think I really had a coming out moment. (LAUGHS) I guess when I told them it was not that much of a surprise to them. They were not shocked, they were not angry; it was more of like what’s next? (LAUGHS)
PI: How did you get away with performing in drag in Nigeria?
BA: My school was an all boy’s school, I studied drama so it wasn’t like I just got up and performed in a dress! I was that little boy who would do all the female parts in the plays like the men of the Shakespearean theater.
PI: I’ve read somewhere that you’re a drag performer. Do you perform regularly in drag ? Or is this something you fool around with?
BA: I performed at the Center on Halsted and at the Art Institute of Chicago and at event that talked about the history of drag.
PI: What’s your drag name?
PI: That’s not a glamorous girl’s name! (LAUGHS)
BA: (LAUGHS) No, I really do not have a performance name it’s just something I’ve done without extra thought. (LAUGHS)
Listen to Artist & Author Biodun Abudu by Collections by Michelle Brown click here
PI: Talk about your next book.
BA: It’s going to be about a family member’s struggles with drug addiction. It’ s a little personal story that has to be told. People want to judge based solely on this person or that person is a drug addict but no one wants to talk about what happened or what decisions made him or her go down that path.
PI: What else do you like to do other than designing or writing?
PI: Are you concerned about resistance from that family member?
BA: I like to act, sing, dance and model.
PI: Have you considered doing a stage production based on your book?
BA: I just wanted to get the story out first. I wanted it to be told all over the United States and outside United States. I would consider doing a film production and not just a stage play.
BA: NO. I plan on meeting with that family member face to face and discussing it first. My understanding is that she was going to write her own story but she wasn’t able to. So I plan on meeting with her and telling her story because there are two sides to a coin.
PI: What are your future goals as a writer?
BA: I want to touch on every topic that effects the youth. I’m focused on the youth because there have been too many times when I have wanted to certain say things but as a youth in a room filled with adults I felt like I could not say them. I was more concerned about what the adults might say than expressing myself. So it’s so funny and shocking to adults when they hear what youth have to say about issues that ails them. But if the adults would just let those youth talk without passing judgement or acting like the youth have not experienced anything then they would be enlightened.