"Practice What You Preach" by Nina Kennedy


The second book of the Practicing for Love series, Practice What You Preach, begins with my return to the United States after having lived for six months on the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye. My then-partner "Helga" is an Austrian citizen, and we had lived in Vienna for several years. When we came to the United States, she could only stay for three months at a time with a tourist visa, so we found ourselves needing to cross the border every three months so that she could receive a new stamp in her passport. As we get settled in New York, I watch in amazement as she is able to find work and income in ways that I have never experienced. Even though she was a foreigner, the most important thing to her employers was that she is white.

It is during this relaxed time that I receive word of my mother's passing. Helga accompanies me to the city of my birth, Nashville, for the funeral. It is the first time she meets my father, and the first time she witnesses the full extent of my father's hoarding. She and I devote a week to cleaning out his house, during which time I discover enough materials to produce a documentary film on his life. The production of that documentary (Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey) will take up the next six years of my life.

At the end of Helga's three months in the U.S., we decide to return to Europe - first staying at her parents' house in the Austrian Alps, then returning to Vienna. A gay male couple - old friends of ours - invite us to visit with them in Cologne, Germany, where we end up making our home for the next three years. Toward the end of our time in Germany, Helga finds herself extremely stressed and decides to break up with me. I go back to Vienna to spend a fun-filled three months, at the end of which Helga tells me that she wants to get back together. Eventually she announces that the stress of living in Germany is too much for her, and we decide to take our chances and move to Paris.

While in Paris, my writing truly develops. My vocabulary expands, and my soul soars because of the sheer beauty of the city. Meanwhile, my online correspondence with my film's post-production supervisor goes as far as it can without my being physically present. Soon I must plan my return to Nashville to begin the actual editing of the footage.

Living with my father for the next few months turns out to be challenging at best, and downright unbearable at worst. I come to grips with how my father had exploited my mother while she was alive, and now that she was gone, he seemed to think that he could exploit me. Producing the film was a labor of love and solidified his place in history; however, it was not enough to win his approval. He continued to fight me every step along the way, and to argue with every decision I made. It also became clear that he refused to acknowledge the fact that my mother was an alcoholic, and verbally abusive to both of us.

I return to Paris exhausted and depleted after the film is completed, but must begin to submit it to international film festivals. The Nashville International Film Festival (NaFF) responds immediately, and asks to host the world premiere. The Fisk Jubilee Singers even offer to sing live at the world premiere. So I spend the next several months promoting the upcoming premiere to the media online from Paris and Amsterdam.

By this point Helga has broken up with me again, so I fly back to the U.S. to spend time in New York and Nashville where I can fully devote my time and energy to promoting the premiere. Meanwhile, I meet an African diplomat at Henrietta Hudson's in New York who falls in love with me, but eventually teaches me just how privileged we are as LGBTQ Americans, and that all Africans are not necessarily our allies just because they're black. True to form, there is plenty of titillating erotica to keep you aroused.

Order your signed copy of Practice What You Preach here.


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