It’s been said that heartbreak can make for brilliant art, and the juicy details of gay poet Kevin Tyler Norman’s failed long-distance relationship pretty much proves the point.
What would you do if you traveled to the other side of the world to surprise your long-distance boyfriend, only to learn he’d been dating someone behind your back? That’s what happened to Kevin Tyler Norman, who met his then-boyfriend in the United States while the latter was traveling for work. While it could have been a summer fling, this guy told Norman he wanted more, and the two carried on a long-distance relationship, Norman in Los Angeles, his boyfriend in Australia.
“What’s more exotic and romantic than a long-distance love affair?” he tells Hornet.
The following months saw multiple trips back and forth, a surprise in which his boyfriend visited him for his birthday, regular FaceTime sessions, even meeting the family. Norman and his guy even bought a plane ticket to Australia so Norman could make the big move Down Under.
He tells us, “I planned a surprise trip to visit him, and right before I was to leave the U.S., he called me and confessed he was seeing someone else in Australia but ended that relationship because he ultimately wanted to be with me. So, being foolishly in love, I still followed through with my trip, letting him know I was coming, and after a week with me in Australia, he said he made a mistake and wanted to be with the other Australian guy. He then left me alone in his apartment while he went to go make amends with his now-boyfriend.”
The very next day Norman flew back to the States, “heartbroken and completely wrecked.” In order to process his grief and dismay, Norman says he turned to writing. “I started to see the story I needed to tell.”
Back in October, Norman released Shelter, a self-published, 196-page book of poetry detailing the whirlwind experience of a long-distance relationship that ends in heartbreak. “It documents the falling in love, the heartbreak and the healing,” he says.
“I named it Shelter because poetry is what has always helped me feel safe while I wait out the storm,” Norman tells Hornet. “When I returned home from Australia, I had a choice — I could cry and beg my ex for answers or I could just accept the truth of the situation and move on. I chose to move on, but I wasn’t going to do it without a fight. And in turn, I fought for myself and brought my poetry to life so that anyone who faces a terrible heartbreak can know they are not alone, and they never will be.”
If nothing else, Shelter is proof that hardship and pain can be turned into something beautiful, not unlike a lump of coal being hard-pressed into diamond.
Since its release, Shelter has been making traction among all sorts of people, gay and straight, and the L.A. Times wrote a glowing piece about Norman’s goal of helping others to appreciate love and cope with heartbreak.
“When I released Shelter, I never could have imagined the amount of love and support it’s been receiving,” he says. “It was always just a project to help me heal from my own heartbreak, but now I am seeing it heal others as well, and it’s so empowering. Love is such a universal thing, no matter your sexuality, and the feedback I’ve received from readers helps to remind me I am not alone in my struggles, and in return, neither are they.”