This Is My Story, A Conversation with Keith Butler

2017 Chicago LGBTQ Hall of Fame inductee Keith Butler is recognized for the three-part movie “Kevin’s Room.” Butler played Kevin, a social worker, and leader of a support group that discusses issues around sexuality, AIDS/HIV, and spirituality. The films were produced between 2000 through 2005, giving a glimpse into the lives of Black gay males. Since “Kevin’s Room,” Butler has appeared throughout Chicago lending his voice as a vessel of change to educate Chicagoans about the importance of safe sex and speak about ways individuals can work to change their community. 

It was a pleasure to speak to him about his book, Little Black Gay Boy: An Unapologetic Memoir of Surviving, Coming Out and Recovering. Butler gives us a candid account of his struggle and road to recovery. 

PrideIndex (PI): Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview with us this Friday afternoon. Tell me about your book.

Keith Butler (KB): Sure. It’s called “Little Black Gay Boy.” It’s an unapologetic memoir of surviving, coming out, and recovering.

PI: Tell us about your journey as a writer. 

KB: This writing project has always been dear to my heart. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I have never felt that I had a story to tell or that anybody would even be curious enough to read it. In 2018, I got that calling, that extra nudge from my higher power that I chose to call God. I took the call, and I ran with it. Here we are in 2022, and I now have a published book.

PI: What was the muse for this book?

KB: My life was the muse for this book. There was a lot that I went through as a child coming up and having to survive difficult situations and circumstances. And then the coming out process was very dramatic. And then, of course, you know, getting involved in drugs, to the extent that it took over my life. I recovered from that but then relapsed and returned. So there was a lot that was in my life already. That was enough for me to write about.

PI: Why was it so important for you to be candid?

KB: In this book, I needed to be candid because when I decided to write the book, I decided that I would tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth; I could help somebody else to share their story or identify my entire purpose for writing this book was to be able to have a little black gay boy in a rural area like myself, to be able to pick this book up and realize that he’s not alone and that he has an opportunity to make some different choices.

PI: I thought you were originally from Chicago; since that’s not true, where are you from? 

KB: I’m originally from a tiny town called Windsor, Virginia. We had one stop light. I worked at the local Dairy Queen, and we had 72 students in my high school class. So yes, it was very small.

PI: As I listened to your story, I could not help but think, this can’t be the guy from “Kevin’s Room.” People assume a guy who appears to be a clean-cut mama’s boy could not go through something terrible like that. 

KB: Some of my very good friends, even my best friend, read my book and did not know everything about me. Many people witness my survival and where I am today, but they don’t know how I got there. And so that was another reason why this book was so important for people to understand that although you can go through your struggles in life, you can still come out on the other side.

PI: Is there a possibility that this book will be adapted into a television show or a movie?

KB: My hope is that I could get this in the hands of Tyler Perry or Regina King and allow them to work with it; it would be a wonderful joy and a dream come true for that part to be a reality.

PI: You appear here in Chicago to read your book at the Black Gay Man’s Caucus event. How did that come about?

KB: They reached out to me and told me they selected my book and wanted to know if I would be interested in being part of the reading for March/April. I was elated. The best part about it is that I can be with people like me, sharing my story and talking with them about my struggles. I’m sure there will be other people in the room who will be able to relate to this story.

Click here to join the Black and Queer Book Club’s reading of Little Black Gay Boy Thursday March 31, 2022, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM via Zoom click here to RSVP.

PI: Where else do you plan on promoting this book.

KB: So far, I have been featured in Grab Magazine here in Chicago. My interview has also appeared in the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco. I’ve done a radio show interview in California called IMRU.

I have another interview coming up with an organization of young lady who has a company called Doing It Sober. They’ve asked me to be a part of one of their segments. The Gay & Lesbian Review asked me to submit an article. So, I will be presenting that within the next couple of weeks. My book is out there, getting as much press as possible. I’m grateful to God that I wrote this and let everything go. I prayed over it. And I said, God, however far you want us to go, I release it into your hands. And I’m just really blessed that it has come my way by all of the beautiful acolytes.

PI: What lessons does your experience offer to youth? 

KB: I would say to them that, you know, if you read the book, and you look at the undertone of everything I talked about in that book, it’s my faith that got me through. My belief in God, something greater than me, got me through. I would tell anybody if you have just a little bit of faith in something powerful, whatever you want to call it, I guarantee you, that will be the thing that will help get you through. It’s very painful while you’re in it; it’s excruciating when you go through it, but you have to have faith to know that there is something better on the other side.

PI: Are you a counselor or mentor by profession?

KB: No, I work for the Center on Halsted. I have been there since November 2021. In my recovery life I am the sponsor of several people.

PI: If someone wanted you to speak at an event for their organization, what should they do? Where can they find your book? 

KB: I can be reached by personal email through my work I can be found on Facebook; you can look at Keith Butler in Chicago. Little Black Gay Boy: An Unapologetic Memoir of Surviving, Coming Out and Recovering can be purchased by visiting my publisher’s website, or

PI: What does the future hold for you? An Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Tony?

KB: All of the above! I don’t want to limit what God has in store for me. I’m grateful and staying humble for everything that has been given. I’m starting to put my notes together for my second book, a self-help book on how to maneuver through recovery. It’s for those having a hard time struggling with their recovery or figuring out how to work a good program.

Click here to join the Black and Queer Book Club’s reading of Little Black Gay Boy Thursday March 31, 2022, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM via Zoom click here to RSVP.