Terrance Dean more than just created controversy with the 2008 release of his Essence best selling book, “Hiding In Hip Hop.” He fostered a dormant conversation within the Black community about the “down low” culture that still takes place today.
“Hiding In Hip Hop” was Dean’s personal memoir which detailed his life in the entertainment industry as a gay man and his desire to live openly. He not only gave himself a voice, but in the years since, has used his journey to help others break their silence.
“I felt it was time for a conversation because our communities are in dire need of a voice as well as direction and leadership as well as an outlet to discuss openly without any judgments or criticisms about sex and sexuality and we’ve been struggling so long with this issue,” Dean said.
“We’ve seen so many people succumb to the hardships and the devastation and to the deadly diseases of HIV and AIDS that has crippled our community, thus making us the largest infection rate in the country.”
Dean continued about the importance of why homosexuality in the Black community was such a paramount one.
“If we continue to turn a blind eye towards sex and sexuality, we’re gonna continue to see the destruction of the Black family and the Black community,” Dean said.
“So, I really wanted to just bring light to some of the people who are hiding, who are fearful and who are tired and I feel like this is the appropriate time to lay claim and put a face and a voice to such an issue an a topic that is so deep within our community.”
In addition to being an author, Dean is also the founder and creator of Men’s Empowerment Inc., and co-creator of The Gathering of Men with Adeyemi Bandele. Recently, he became a columnist for the website, Bossip, doling out advice to readers. This past summer, his latest novel, “Mogul,” hit bookshelves and ushered in another frenzy as the main character was a closeted Hip Hop producer.
Three years after his water cooler tome almost threatened to derail a career which has spanned more than 10 years in the entertainment industry and allowed him to work with the likes of Spike Lee, Rob Reiner and Keenan Ivory Wayans, Dean has firmly established himself as a mainstay.
“I’ve gotten tons of emails from young people and people in general who say how the book has affected them and empowered them to come out, as well as women who say they look at men differently,” he said. “It gives them an insider’s look to men who are struggling with their sexuality. So, they felt more empowered as opposed to not villainizing, demonizing men who are struggling with their sexuality.”
Dean has embraced the recognition of role model by some.
“It’s very humbling. I’m very grateful and I don’t take it loosely or with any less responsibility. I truly am grateful to be responsible and to be held in such a regard. That lets you know that I’ve done something great and inspiring,” he said.
Dean has also received praise from his peers for helping to break down walls despite fears of reprisal. Stanley Bennett Clay has known Dean for five years now. The author, playwright and filmmaker approved of his friend daring to open a Pandora’s box.
“I love controversy. So, I loved the idea that he could be coming out with something that pull the covers back over something that we all know in this industry has been going on,” Clay said.
“If any kind of artist is worth their salt, and I believe that he is, that you understand that when you create good art, the entire genre of creating art is to provoke an audience and sometimes that provocation is positive. Sometimes, it’s negative but that’s okay. It’s all good as long as you’re moving them. When the audience is not moved, then you’re screwed.”
He elaborated further.
“I think if really closely at ‘Hiding In Hip Hop,’ that much of it was really an autobiography was him growing up under some really difficult circumstances way before he got into show business,” Clay said.
“So, what I think one can learn from Terrance’s example is perseverance. That for him to have gone through all the trials and tribulations of his life that he was still able to come out and be a major success, that’s a wonderful story and a wonderful message. Don’t give up and preserve.”
Ebony Utley, a professor at California State University Long Beach, agreed.
“I think he is very courageous as an individual. I think that Terrance has seen a lot of life and yet he’s so full of life,” Utley said.
Utley has known Dean for a year now and has held him in the highest regard.
“He’s not bitter. He’s not jaded. He’s not judgmental. None of those negative characteristics that can come along with someone who’s survived everything that he’s survived, and I like that his characters are survivors, too,” she said.
“They go through their ups and downs but yet they still whole people, real people, well adjusted people that are just working through their life challenges.”
More information on Terrance Dean can be found at www.mrterrancedean.com and Twitter @ terrancedean. His books are available in bookstores and can be ordered on Amazon and the Simon and Schuster website.