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RAPH SOLO | The Memoirs of Angel King
by Herb Sosa

In The Memoirs of Angel King, Raph Solo
weaves a tale about coming to terms with being
gay and finding God in the 21st Century.  
Based on the author’s real-life experiences,
the novel chronicles the journey of a young
male model and aspiring pop singer who yearns
to find true love.  Eight years and six
ex-boyfriends later, he begins to doubt he will
ever find it with another man and makes the bold
decision to embark on a quest to alter his sexual
orientation.  He is forced to confront demons of
his past, including a disconnected father and
overbearing mother.  Eventually, the
metaphorical Angel King conquers them in a
cathartic battle, but not before a half-decade of
self-imposed celibacy and a failed attempt at
curing his homosexuality.


I recently had the opportunity to chat with Raph, and this is
how it went...

Raph, you say the greatest demon known to mankind is fear:
fear of loss, abandonment, rejection, and inferiority. Fear of
being used or of not living up to one’s full potential; fear of
losing connection with the collective force of the universe.
Yeah, so my New Year’s resolution for 2013 was pretty simple
“FUCK FEAR!” … If I am afraid of something/ anything, I now
grab the bull by the horn and just do it. Surely, there is a
sensibility one is well advised to maintain as a human being,
for the sake of one’s health, safety and well- being, however,
being afraid of something for a reason which doesn’t make
sense, is something I seek confront and conquer now.

How has writing helped you with your own fears?
When you write, you get to have the luxury to be able to step
back and see things objectively and, when you start to realise
that the things of which you are terrified are nothing but thoughts in your head and actually, the majority of the times what you fear doesn’t
really happen, a light bulb goes on in your head and you say “aaaah… Fuck, this is nothing but a hoax?! What am I afraid of?” And, then you
can make the conscious decision to say “Fuck Fear!” …
Excuse my colourful language. I am a passionate person who expresses himself fearlessly.

Has it helped you personally and professionally?
How?
Personally, I’ve been hurt in relationships and I’ve
carried the fear of history repeating itself into
subsequent relationships, which in reflection, has
sabotaged my chances of having relationships
work out like how I wanted them to. A lot of people straight and/ or gay people experience those things as we base our perceptions of the
present and our predictions of the future based on our past experiences.      
Eliminating fear gives you the luxury to make the distinction. You are able to recognize the difference and become free to live in the moment.
Professionally, I have a lot more confidence to express myself artistically now. Especially with the way my story has been well received. It
has given me the guts to trust my instincts more bravely.

You are a very attractive man, and one might not understand how you would ever feel rejected. Explain what demons you struggled
with and how this affected your relationships? How has this changed today?
I always like to say Thank You whenever someone pays me a compliment, and I always hope my gratitude ends in print because I never
take things for granted. We are all human, and we all feel rejected sometimes, especially in situations where we feel emotionally
vulnerable. Self- esteem is the relationship we have with ourselves and the healthier that is the more fruitful our relationships with others
become. A healthy self-image gives us freedom to be less afraid to give and hence we feel less dependent without becoming detached.
Sometimes people do shit and we interpret it in a way and it can affect us negatively when we start to think we are less worthy because of
their actions which may have caused an unpleasant experience for us as a result. This can affect our personal relationships when we
learn to define ourselves through the actions of other’s towards us. I’ve learnt to maintain a healthy relationship with myself.

Tell me about the repairative therapy. Did you go to a center? Religious? What was some of the programming you encountered?
I didn’t go to a centre, instead I bought the book and I read it and I followed the steps and it wasn’t the first time I’d tried to go straight
either.          
I was celibate for five years in my twenties trying to go straight and I wasn’t
converted the first time either. I can’t be accused of not trying!!
I don’t like to go into religion because it is a discussion which requires a lot
of space to be debated fairly. Things didn’t make sense for me when I
encountered the problem of having to live a lie.
Every religion agrees that we get what we give.
It didn’t make sense to me that I had to lie to a girl about my feelings if I was gay.
It didn’t sit right with my understanding of the term “God is Love” and if I was
going to get back what I gave, like every religion stated and preached, then it
wasn’t going to feel like Heaven for me, when I got back what I gave, in how awful
that poor girl would feel when her man liked other men and not her, a girl.
So, the question was “is reparative therapy moral? Is it sociologically driven
by people of a lesser understanding?” I accepted that most great truths in religion started as blasphemies.
We are definitely onto another great truth which sounds blasphemous to
some right now.

What would you say to someone thinking about, or a parent considering,
reparative therapy to “correct” ones sexuality? Can it work? Benefits?
Dangers?
There is nothing to correct. There is no mistake that someone is of a different
sexual orientation than another person. Each person is unique. If you are
heterosexual, and you are unable to conceive the idea of being intimate with the
same sex, then don’t impose that on another person, simply!
Learn to understand and accept that your family can be different from you
and try to love them for who they are. It is a huge burden for a person to feel
rejected for his identity by his family/ society and loved ones. There is nothing
more painful than to be told by those you love that the nature of your existence
is wrong. You might as well kill that person. I have felt that way.
This is a very seriously grave and dangerous issue which is manifesting
itself in its severity by the gay teenage suicide we have witnessed alongside
other forms of self-inflicted harm and self-destructive behaviour.
God is love. Love is not fear. God wants you to be brave enough to conquer
that fear by asking those questions which don’t make sense. God is inviting you to use your greatest gift, your mind. Do you really think God
would give you a gift, a son/ daughter and then order you to hate it for being a certain way? Is that your perception of the term “God is Love”
… It doesn’t make sense! Don’t be afraid to love your son/ daughter/ brother/ sister because they are gay. Fear is the enemy.

             
  “The Memoirs of Angel King started out as a private journal I kept as part of my reparative therapy,” reveals Solo of his first
                book.   “I developed my entries into a novel by fictionalizing the characters and adding a supernatural sci-fi element to the
                setting.  However, much of the book is based on experiences in my real life. Fictionalizing the elements made it a little easier
                to relive.”

               Angel King – the name is a derivative of the author’s full name, Raphael Solomon – is an angel from heaven masquerading
               as a human being on planet Earth; haunted by the ghost of his former lover, Diablo Sin. Through their relationship, Solo\
               explores the theme of Heaven and Hell and what it means to him, personally.

How has your family, both blood, and acquired, reacted to your revelations and writings? What is your heritage/where did you grow up?
My family have been very supportive of my writings. It was my sister in soul, my cousin T who actually inspired me to document my journey.
It has also been a learning curve for her as a heterosexual person who comes from a traditional background. It has been a process for her
to learn about the nature of homosexuality through the close proximity of our strong bond and
friendship. My personal journey has documented as a real life example of human nature and
behaviour.
I was born and bred in Nigeria, West Africa. My parents are of Lebanease/ Chillean
descent and I have been residing in the UK for over twenty years. I have a very mixed cultural
background which I am grateful for as it has allowed me to enjoy the luxury of ethnically
adapting without loosing touch of my roots.
Struggling with one’s self and sexuality are issues many LGBT youth deal with every day.
What can you tell them from your experiences?
Love yourself for who you are. Be brave to be honest with who you are. Be patient with
those whom you love while they learn about who you are and be certain in the end they will
learn to understand and be sure that you are loved even when you don’t feel that way. We are
all human and we are all constantly learning all the time. They are human too and they are
trying to figure it out about you like you are trying to figure it yourself too.
In the end, love conquers all in the name of understanding. Yes, it does suck that we have
to deal with this issue, when a lot of our straight counterparts don’t. Still, everybody has some
kind of shit on their plate to deal with. Our shit just happens to be this.

               “I believe everybody is an angel”, Solo reflects.  “Some of us are fallen angels
               and others are recently risen. Some do not believe they will ever fly again and
               are paralyzed by fear.”

What do/did you do professionally before writing? Is there more writing in your future?
A clue on what to expect?
Primarily, I am a singer/songwriter/producer who works in high fashion to help subsidise my
career as an independent recording artist. I am also the founder Angel King Musique which is
an independent record label through which I’ve released my LP, Finally / The Album by Raph
Solo, from which I have spun four hit singles Rich In My Heart, Manimal, Finally and Brand New
Dime, all of which can be downloaded from Itunes and other online music stores.  I would also
like to invite you to check out my music videos on www.youtube.com/mrraphsolo as they can be
very indicative of the personal struggle and turmoil which I’ve experienced prior to this point of
my self- acceptance.   
I am currently in the studio recording my second music album which will be released
under the Angel King Musique label by Raph Solo and, there will also be a second book in the
pipeline.
As for what to expect from the second book, I would like to keep it as a surprise...
It will definitely be reflective of human behaviour as all my work is about that.  

'Any book signings in South Florida in the near future?
I have work commitments in the UK with my current projects and hence, I have not been able to plan any international trips to promote the
book, but Florida has a huge place in my heart which I plan to visit in the very near future.

               In the end, Angel King – and Raph Solo – are optimistic they will find love with a man.  Both have also managed to reconnect
               with God.
               
               “I’ve always had a great relationship with God,” says Solo.  “It got a little muddled when I went through reparative therapy but
                we held it together. It was a misunderstanding, like any two friends might have. I thought He was mad at me for being gay and
                that He was teaching me a lesson by not allowing my relationships to work.”

               “We’ve patched things up. I know now he does love me and he has taught me how to love myself and for that, I say thank you.”

               Angel King reflects his sentiments.


For more information, please contact:
Jeff Dorta at Project Publicity
JeffDorta@ProjectPublicity.com (212) 445-0099

PHOTOS by: Michelle Martinoli





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Gracias|Thank You                    Celebrating 6 Years of
JANUARY | 2013
"FUCK FEAR!"
Learn to understand
and accept that your
family can be different
from you and try to love
them for who they are.
It is a huge burden for a
person to feel rejected
for his identity by his
family/ society and
loved ones. There is
nothing more painful
than to be told by those
you love that the nature
of your existence is
wrong.

You might as well kill
that person.

I have felt that way.