LGBTQ AVOCATE AND FILMMAKER PROMOTES FREEDOM AND AWARENESS WITH NEW BOOK
Born and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida and presently resides in New York City, Matthew Carter is an author and actor using his positive outlook and inspirational words to channel more enlightenment and awareness to our world.
He attended First St. Peter A.M.E. Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia where he was the President and Director over the Dance and Drama Ministry. He also attended Love Fellowship Church International in Jonesboro, where he was over the Sacred Arts division. He attributes his success thus far to having determination, passion, and prayer; which he says these combinations of things have been the fire in his belly.
With the experience and wisdom Matthew has gained, he decided to start a FAITH based Non-profit organization of his own to assist others who truly need and accept his help. A Real Desire is the name of his organization and is building day by day.
We sat down to have an intimate discussion with this dedicated man to learn more about him and his life.
- Mary Swanson
INSPIRATIONAL WRITER BRINGS AWARENESS WITH TRUE STORY OF INCLUSION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
NIE: Congratulations on becoming an author and publishing your book ‘WAR-Angel: The Awakening’. What inspired you this story that is based off a true story? And why?
Matthew Cater: There were a few things that inspired me to write my book War-Angel: The Awakening. It started when I began to receive post from friends and followers on Facebook after I began to share things I was going though at the time. Not only was I sharing, but unknowingly I was giving others advice on how to conquer the same challenges I was going through in a positive way and becoming a better person and well rounded. It was also revealed that they were shocked that I had been through so much, because I was so cheerful, and it was genuine.
After hearing the phrase “You could write a book” on Facebook so many times I tried, but it didn’t go too well, so I gave up. After working on the movie “Bessie” with Queen Latifah and Michael K. Williams, the director asked me if I was wanting to pursue a career as an actor. When I told her yes, she told me it was obvious to her that I did from watching me as we worked on the film. She said she was led to tell me to write a script after asking if I was a writer. Of course, I told her I wasn’t, but still tried. I then began to reflect on my life and what others said to me about being an angel in disguise, so I began to write about my experiences. After a news broadcast of a 12-year-old committing suicide because of being gay and bullied for it, I published it in book format so my story could be shared, and others didn’t feel alone in this journey.
NIE: What was your process like to flesh out and structure the story? What aspects of the book was the most challenging to write? And, why?
Matthew Carter: The process was very difficult for me to flesh out and structure the story, because I had never written a book before, and I had no clue on how it should be done. I just simply began to reflect and write about my experiences, both natural and supernatural. I also combined a few dreams I had, because they came true and seemed to prepare me for tings that were getting ready to happen. I cried a few times, because I asked people to help, but no one volunteered to write it for me. It was mainly because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone.
I found myself going into a deep trance every time I revisited these moments in my life as I wrote about my experiences. I then began to understand why God didn’t place anyone in my life to write for me. The emotions that I felt would not have been sewn into the story if I hadn’t written it myself. It was still challenging to write the moments of attacks because it opened wounds I sealed. I was forced to challenge demons all over again and deal with the pain of what I said I conquered.
NIE: You stated you are a strong advocate for the LGBT community certainly with individuals with HIV/AIDS, how are you making a difference in your own life and to those around you?
Matthew Carter: I am a strong advocate for the LGBT community. There are still a lot of people who attack or disown people just because who they are, and I am being the voice they want to help bring the equality they deserve. I speak up when others are afraid to, especially when it’s something that needs to be said. Most of what I do is self-designed, but I also do things through the Gilead advocacy when it pertains to those with HIV/AIDS whenever Gilead has a task for me. I am making a difference by remaining passionate while being transparent of my own struggles. While I speak up for others, I also pursue my dreams and share how I’m doing that. I’ve been told by others that it gives them hope that I am leading by example which is the key ingredient in making a difference in others lives by living beyond a diagnosis.
NIE: How has your experiences with the impediments of internal identity, certainly from being raised in influential African-American church, impact the way you view the world as a whole? And how do you personally prevail from such coerce situations?
Matthew Carter: My experiences with these impediments were very challenging. I dealt with depression at a very early age to the point that I would wish I was dead. I did the best I could to change based on how I was told I was supposed to be growing up in the African American church I was raised in. I tried to take my life, but I couldn’t. I then began to harm myself by burning myself. What seemed strange to people were the fact I was able to separate myself from the church, while still building a relationship with God.
Although I was still struggling with my identity on the inside, I had a bit of peace there to keep me rooted. I also found myself using humor to keep a smile on my face. When I finally did come to terms internally[with] who I was, I did everything I could to keep it to myself to avoid the ignorance I witnessed from the people I grew up with, but after watching others being attacked, I couldn’t just stand and watch anymore. I began to hear in my head “Live for something or die for nothing”. I have to say, God showed me many reasons to believe in him and that’s what I did. Now I live for a purpose and I also enjoy the ability to put smiles on the faces of others with my humor.
NIE: Did you gain a different perspective when you were given an opinionated life expectancy? If so, how was the transitional period for you? And how is your outlook different from when you were younger?
Matthew Carter: I did gain a different perspective on life when I was given an opinionated life expectancy, but that was short lived. However, I did find myself slipping into depression because of how others still thought. I eventually found my happy place and just taught myself how to deal with rejection and being happy alone if I had to be. It helped me to understand that I am complete, and everything else is just an addition to what I have, but I’m still grateful for it. My relationship with God played a big part in my growth, because I had a better understanding beyond the physical. I began to pray and meditate a lot to heighten these senses, and it made me stronger.
“When someone shows you who you are, believe them the first time.”
- Matthew Carter
NIE: Where did the desire to be an author stem from?
Matthew Carter: I honestly didn’t have a desire to be an author, but I did have a desire to help people. I’ve been told that I can’t help everyone, but I found sharing my story allows me to do that. I can help everyone who wants to be helped by sharing my story and the message within it. I must say, I’m amazed at the impact that my journey has helped me to evolve and I’m grateful that the situations I have overcome didn’t kill me because of the spiritual protection that has shielded me. I used to wonder “why me” and “how”, but as I continue my journey I see why. I’ve always been very bold, but this journey has cultivated that strength. I honestly never thought I would be where I am today, but it was a dream of mine to make a difference in a positive way and show people there’s always a choice and a way, but it’s not easy.
NIE: What obstacles do you face as an author and what do you do to overcome and achieve your goals?
Matthew Carter: Some of the obstacles I face as an author is getting the book in the hands of the people. I have been able to get the books on the Barnes and Noble online platform, but I’m still working on ways to get it on the shelves. There’s also the matter of setting up book signings and getting to events that will allow me to spread the message. Since I must do everything myself, I’m doing my best to pace myself and taking everything one day at a time.
NIE: What advice would you give young aspiring writers about telling their stories and achieving their dreams?
Matthew Carter: Advice I give other aspiring writers to tell their story and achieve their goal is to obtain the “Nike Syndrome” and “just do it”. Just start writing as though you were writing in a diary or a letter remembering the memories. I recommend using your notepad on your phone or computer and backing up the files, but don’t be concerned with any particular order that you are writing in. You can do that in the editing phase. Just get the words out.
NIE: Do you have any upcoming books that audiences should keep a look out for?
Matthew Carter: I don’t have any more books coming out at this time, but I have began writing part 2 of War-Angel. I have only just begun to tell my story, and as I have said to my friends on Facebook. I have a lot to share, and a lot to say. Get ready. I’ve been putting all my energy in the film, and I’ve learned I have to pace myself since I’m a one man show with little to no financial resources.
NIE: Being the president and director at the Dance and Drama Ministry, how has that position impacted the community and what is your main goals with that program?
Matthew Carter: When I was the president over the dance and drama ministry at the church, I attended in Atlanta we did amazing things for the church and the community. That was something that allowed me to nurture the nonprofit I created. During that time, I was able to bond those in the church and create events for those in the community. The main goal was to show others that love and compassion should be the focus, and it also gave the church an avenue to provide something for the community other than a church service.
“Staying focused involves knowing your purpose and your reason why.”
- Matthew Carter
NIE: Where did the desire to start your own non-profit organization ‘A Real Desire’ came about? And how has the organization impacted the community and what are some future goals?
Matthew Carter: The desire to start my non-profit organization “A Real Desire” came about after getting my diagnosis of HIV. After crying and praying to God for 3 days for cursing me with the “curse of death” that I had been programmed HIV was, he showed me exactly why I was chosen to bear this burden. I was shown that I could be the light others need and show them that God still loved them as well as show those who didn’t believe in him that they could still have a life while achieving their dreams. Even though God was my reason to go on, it wasn’t the thing I imposed on others. I just wanted to share the information I was learning as I was growing in the industry fighting for a dream I believed in, and because of that, A Real Desire was born.
The organization has impacted many communities by putting hope in the lives of others and showing them how they can be a positive impact in their community and the world. It has helped to rekindle the light of others who stopped believing in themselves and provided a platform for many who deserve it to show what they can do outside the doors of their home. The goal is to grow this impact and make it available to more people so they can focus more on their talent and become a positive influence instead of becoming criminals hurting their community.
NIE: Who inspires you to be the person you are today?
Matthew Carter: The person that started my inspiration was my mother. Watching her raise her children alone, despite the challenges helped me to see ways to go on instead of giving up. Reading stories in the bible and having faith in God also inspired me. I truly believe the stories I read especially after what I was able to witness and what I have been through. I respect those who died for me to have the life I have today. It drives me to do that for others, because I would never want those I love, to go through the pain I had to go through. The love I have developed for others now fuels me as well and inspires me to go on.
NIE: What are some of your secret tips that help you in this industry to keep grounded and focused?
Matthew Carter: There are really no secret tips that help me in the industry and keep me grounded and focused. It’s a tip, just no secret. The tip I share with people to do the same is always remain humble. You do that by remembering where you came from and what you’ve been through. Also pay attention to the reminders of others in situations that you could have been in and be grateful you are not. There are messages all around us. You just must pay attention to them. Pray and meditate. It also helps to keep you grounded.
NIE: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the field?
Matthew Carter: The advice I would give someone who wanted to pursue a career in the field is to simply stay focused. Staying focused involves knowing your purpose and your reason why. You can’t expect anyone else to want your dreams for you, so you must understand no one else will have the passion you have to achieve it. Don’t let their slack allow you to be dragged down. Not worrying about the disappointment of those who don’t believe in you or see the vision you see is how you stay focused.
NIE: What are the most impactful words of wisdom someone told you and who was it?
Matthew Carter: Some of the most impactful words of wisdom that I have been told came from the great Maya Angelou. “When someone shows you who you are, believe them the first time.” Another impactful phrase that I read was in the bible. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” The most impactful words came from God after my diagnosis when I made a promise that I will do what I can, when I can, while I can, until God calls me home.
NIE: What are three things you would say to your younger self that you know now?
Matthew Carter: Honestly, God has already told me things when I was younger that I now have a better understanding of that I didn’t understand [then]. There isn’t anything else to say to my younger self, I wouldn’t gain the experience I have today if I avoid them. I would, however, give myself the extra love and assurance that I could use.
“You can’t expect anyone else to want your dreams for you, so you must understand no one else will have the passion you have to achieve it.”
- Matthew Carter
NIE: Besides being an author and entrepreneur, what else is there to know about you?
Matthew Carter: Besides being an author and entrepreneur, I am a son, a nephew, a brother, an uncle, and a father to two sons I adopted and raised as my own. I’m also a mentor to others while pursuing my dream as an actor and model. I enjoy acting, because it allows me to experience other lives other than my own and experience things I normally wouldn’t. I love to dance, and I minister as a gospel mime when I have the chance to do that. I’m a trusting friend and very dedicated to being the best person I can be for my potential mate. I enjoy playing video games when I do get the chance and spending time with family, as rare as it is. I’m currently in school full-time to obtain my BA in psychology to help complete the puzzle of my life, and I’m enjoying it.
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NIE: We want to thank you for taking your time and having this interview. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Matthew Carter: I want to thank my friend Sonia for referring me, showing support, and everything else she has done to help me. I also want to thank my mom, my sons, and the rest of my family and friends who have made a sacrifice to support my dream. Pastor Brookins and the First St. Peter A.M.E. Church family for restoring my trust and believing in me, as well as Pastor Reginald Wade and Lenell for being there for me when I didn’t have anyone else. I’m also grateful for Pastor Green at First St. Peter A.M.E. Church and Pastor Youngblood at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York.
I thank all involved in helping put the War-Angel film together and those who have given me the chance to grow. I thank Ms. Dee Reese and Dana Owens for taking notice of me and giving me the words I needed to hear to move forward. I also thank you for even taking interest in my story and giving me the opportunity to share. There are a lot of people that have made an impact on me, and I thank everyone who played their part.