Meet Robert Kingett – Our new guest author who talks about being Blind, Gay and Dating!

Do you ever stop and think about those who are less fortunate than us?  Those who have a harder life than us? Those who may face challenges?  Do you ever give gratitude and thanks for the life you are living?

Meet Robert Kingett: Watching Robert walk into his local Chicago college with his red and white cane isn’t amazing.
What is amazing, however, is listening to the story of struggle to success that he so captivatingly tells as a motivational speaker.
Today he is an honors student at The City College of Chicago getting his general transfer degree. He has been on the Deans’ list ever since his first semester ended. He’s always on the honor roll. In his spare time he’s just like any other young adult. Frequent nights at the movies with his friends, an arcade game or two at the local mall, a nice fun trip to the coffee shop where his friends embrace life along with him, or a solitary quiet trip to the library or the bookstore are just a few of the activities that he does amongst his hard work.
Even with the plethora of activities he likes to frequent the bookstore the most.
“I’ve always been a veracious reader… book worm… my audio book count is way higher than my body fat,” he said laughing.
He’s not just a hard worker in college. He’s a hard worker in the literary market. He’s a writer, having published many reviews, literary essays, poems, and accessibility related articles for a wide range of media both print and online. He’s a regular editor for Americascomedy.Com while also maintaining a third hobby of motivationally speaking.
He tells his story at personal bookings that he schedules himself throughout many venues. He tries to speak at schools the most if he can.
Kingett hopes to bring some of the troubles that abused kids endure, and ways to overcome and shine. “I want to inspire others to do way more than I have accomplished!”
Every story has a once upon a time. With the exception of his premature birth, the first six years of Kingett’s life were his most tranquil. Weighing a mere 6 ounces, a hospital error would lead to his disabilities on September 9, 1989.
“They placed me in an incubator because my lungs weren’t developing adequately and they were not monitoring the oxygen level,” he said. “It was too much so it caused me to have cerebral palsy and blindness.”
While his mother visited occasionally, his maternal grandparents raised him in St. Augustine Florida
Even though his grandmother had Alzheimer’s and dementia, he said, “I lived a spoiled life.”
Shortly before his eighth birthday, his grandmother had a stroke and had to go into a nursing home. Shortly after, his grandfather died from cirrhosis of the liver.
He had no idea what he was in store for when he first moved in with his mother and younger half sister and brother.
“I realized it pretty quickly after the first argument between her and her husband that this was not going to be a good situation,” he said. “They were both intoxicated and they got physical and verbal.”
Afterward, she would come into his room.
“She didn’t know how to let that anger go and so she’d turn it on me and my sister,” he said.
Kingett said his mother’s words varied but they often reflected what he believes she really wanted to say to her boyfriends and ex-husband.
If he or his sister ever talked back, she would then get physical he said, slapping them multiple times, and calling them pitiless names. Cries and complaints were not heard as the mother’s intoxication took over.
Sometimes he would hit back, but he said that only made her hit harder.
While the physical abuse happened only about four times a week, the verbal abuse was constant he said, attributing much of it to his mother’s constant alcohol abuse.
Kingett never called the police about the abuse. Even when the police came due to his mother’s domestic violence situations, he would lie to keep her out of jail.
“To me it was normal,” he said. “I was trying to protect the roof I had over my head. Facing the expected was a lot better alternative than going into an unknown foster system.”
Kingett said he feared what life would be like if he was removed from the home by the government. Numerous times, DCF, Department of children and families would have to investigate a suspicious complaint about Kingett or his siblings.
A smart kid, Kingett would ace tests at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind but he consistently neglected homework.
It was during a meeting with the principal at age 14 when he had his first life changing epiphany.
“I came to the conclusion that if I stayed here, I’m not going to be successful at all,” he said.
At age 16, he began researching how to get his social security disability checks signed over to his name instead of his mother’s. The plan was to take the $625 a month and move out. The research wasn’t easy, as he was also trying not to flunk his classes while the neglect and abuse was still taking place at the home. Eventually, the research was replaced by diligent schoolwork until a year later.
At 17, he called the social security office and was told the only way the money could be signed over to him was to attend a hearing.
“I froze when I was told that because I knew that my mom had to be in on the knowhow,” he said. “I tried to keep it a secret from mom as long as I could but she could see the mail coming in and I could not. When she saw that hearing notice, she became extremely angry because that was I taking her money away. She said, ‘How could I do such a thing. Your sister and I live off that money. That’s how you are able to have a roof over your head.’”
The day of the meeting was a mere week from his 18th birthday.
Kingett said his mother tried to make him look incompetent, telling the social worker that he didn’t know how to clean his own room much less tie his own shoes.
The social worker sided with Kingett, but there was one big problem.
“I couldn’t cash any of it,” he said.
Kingett did not have a bank account, a state id, or even access to his birth certificate.
Once he got home, the violence escalated.
“She hit me so much it knocked me out and into consciousness,” he said. “I had to leave because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me if I stayed there. I grabbed my cane and backpack, threw old dirty clothes in it, and walked out the front door.
Kingett left his home and soon stayed with a family friend, Kevin, until he moved in with a woman named Debra. Knowing Robert had nowhere to go; she offered him a place to stay. Kingett stayed there until his high school graduation.
He graduated in June of 2010.
Graduating high school was only half the battle. Kingett’s plans were to attend a college and pursue his long awaited dream of getting a degree in journalism or English. He needed a way to pay for school, and that’s when the scholarship hunt began.
“I had a really hard time meeting the requirements of a scholarship, any, for that matter.” He said. “My high school grades were not good due to my negligence of school work despite my intelligence, so I had a low grade point average.”
Kingett would apply to many scholarships only to be denied.”
Determined to find a place where he could be independent he scoped the internet hunting for a place to live.
“I admit I can’t cook. I can definitely eat though.” he said laughing. “I needed a place that wasn’t a nursing home, per say, but just a fractional inch more assistance I could use. I have cerebral palsy and there are just some things that I simply need help with.”
After months of looking he found Freedman Place. Friedman Place is a non-profit Supportive Living Community for blind and visually impaired adults in Chicago. Their building has been designed with the needs of the blind and visually impaired in mind. Each resident has a private studio or one-bedroom apartment, with a kitchenette and bathroom. A full range of services and activities is provided so that residents’ days are healthy, dignified, and stimulating
“I needed a place to stay. This place sounded wonderful! That way, flux would be minimal. No more would I ever have to rely on friends.”
Since Kingett has stayed at this helpful place, he can finally let the past go and have a little fun at last.
“It’s not about the horrors I’ve gone through it’s about me overcoming so many things,” he said, attributing his sense of humor to his positive outlook.
His reward comes in the form of emails and postings on his website from students who say their lives were changed by his tale.
“I can’t tell you how awesome it was that I could make someone happier,” he said.
But now that Kingett has secured his present, what is his future dream? “I dream that one day I could be standing in a bookstore at a book signing of my own and knowing in my mind that I have improved so many lives.”
Read His Column at BEST GAY NEWS