I met Keith Boykin in the gym. If you know Keith, that’s no surprise. I had no idea who he was at the time but we talked briefly about my law school (I was wearing a GW Law t-shirt), one of my professors and my best friend Dorian. That chance encounter would change my life.
I remember one time while riding the New York subway Keith said to me, “you know I am brilliant.” At the time, I thought it was so inappropriately arrogant to say. He went on to explain to me his position and although I understood more than when he first said it – I still thought it was arrogant. Keith was around the same age I am now then.
I had to call him recently and apologize for my judgment in that moment. Keith is brilliant. He is also humble, kind, supportive, caring and one of the most amazing human beings I have ever had the chance to know. What I didn’t understand in that moment is that Keith had matured enough those eleven years or so ago to fully accept, embrace and celebrate all of his greatness. I learned a valuable lesson from him then and now.
Over the years, I would learn so many lessons from Keith. He has a work ethic that is unparalleled, which forced me to raise my game. He has a commitment to justice and the truth that I admire to this day. He has an ability to make you think he’s an expert on something when he really isn’t (a quality I admire and tease him about often). And, he has a quiet confidence that has allowed him to walk into the most hallowed halls in this world and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the greatest leaders of our time.
To know Keith personally, is a gift. To understand him and his motivations is a master class in excellence and humanity. I will be forever grateful for that day in the gym. I will be forever indebted to him for his friendship. I will forever love him for being the kind of man that we should all aspire to be. Happy Birthday Keith! You make 50 look damn good! Cheers!
Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author, TV commentator, public speaker, actor and educator.
Each of Keith’s four books has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, including his most recent book, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough, which won the American Library Association Stonewall Award for Nonfiction in 2013.
Educated at Dartmouth and Harvard, Keith attended law school with President Barack Obama and served in the White House as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, where he was once the highest ranking openly gay person in the Clinton White House. He also helped organize and participated in the nation’s first ever meeting between a sitting president and leaders of the LGBT community.
Keith has been actively involved in progressive causes since he worked on his first congressional campaign while still a student in high school. He is a veteran of six political campaigns, including two presidential campaigns, and he was named one of the top instructors when he taught political science at American University in Washington.
He starred on the 2004 Showtime television series American Candidate, and then became a co-host of the BET J TV series My Two Cents, where he interviewed celebrities, politicians, and public figures. Currently a CNBC contributor, MSNBC commentator and BET columnist, Keith is also the former editor of the online news site, The Daily Voice. He has appeared on numerous national media programs, including Anderson Cooper 360, The O’Reilly Factor, The Tyra Banks Show and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
A founder and first board president of the National Black Justice Coalition, Keith has spoken to audiences, large and small, all across the world. He delivered a landmark speech to 200,000 people at the Millennium March on Washington and he gave a stirring speech about the AIDS epidemic in front of 40,000 people in Chicago’s Soldier Field in July 2006.
Keith was an associate producer of the 2007 feature film Dirty Laundry and appeared in the 2014 BET drama series, Being Mary Jane.
His third book, Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America, spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Keith won the Lambda Literary Award for his second book, Respecting The Soul, and his first book, One More River to Cross, is taught in colleges and universities throughout the country.
Keith has lived in 12 cities, visited 48 of the 50 U.S. states, and traveled across four continents. In 1997 President Clinton appointed him, along with Coretta Scott King and Rev. Jesse Jackson, to the U.S. presidential trade delegation to Zimbabwe.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Keith currently lives in New York City and Miami.