Afraid to Walk

Louis Armstrong Impressionist John Redmon’s very private and personal account of how he overcame fear.

I had a debilitating issue that haunted me in grade school, junior high, high school and even a part of college. I was afraid to walk…and I desperately needed someone to teach me how. 

Now that seems absurd, right? How can someone teach someone else how to walk? What am I a toddler? Was I in an accident and in need of rehabilitation? Let me explain.

I grew up in a single-parent home with two sisters, raised by a Christian mom. I believe that since I was always surrounded by women, I subconsciously picked up on how they walked around me. I honestly do believe that by beholding we become changed. However, I was being changed without even knowing it. Everywhere I went, people noticed that my walk was…different. “You’re switching! You walk like a girl!!”

I can recall when I was in the second grade, I was in love with (let’s call her) “Kassandra”. I yelled her name across the playground just so she could turn around and look back at me. I wanted to see her beautiful, smiling face. She was tall and thin, with long black hair. She had a smile that would ignite any light-barren sky. The funny thing is I didn’t want anything from her. I just wanted her attention…even just for a millisecond. 

One day “Kassandra” noticed me walking in front of her. I guess my walk “inspired” her to break out in song. “You move like the waves of the ocean, the ocean. You move like the waves of the ocean,” she taunted. I was mortified! Even “Kassandra” thought I walked like a girl!!

“You move like the waves of the ocean, the ocean. You move like the waves of the ocean.”

I remember many days of trying to hide my less-than-masculine stroll with a long coat. That worked in cooler weather but was just strange in the summer. I was always just so embarrassed. And I wasn’t the only one affected. It took a toll on my family as well.

Afraid to Walk Blog : Overcoming Fear by Armstrong Impressionist John Redmon : Photo Still with Twin Sister Esther Redmon

Both of my sisters’ unspoken jobs all throughout our growing up years seemed to include: getting good grades, being popular with the boys, braiding hair and defending their brother. And were they great at all of them. 

Afraid to Walk Blog : Overcoming Fear by Louis Armstrong Impressionist John Redmon : Photo Still with Older Sister Mary Redmon

I’m sure my oldest sister may have forgotten this but I appreciated a comment she made to me many years ago. One day at school, a classmate of hers watched me pass by him and made his crazy comment. Without missing a beat, my sister immediately took up for me. Later on that day she said that she didn’t know why everyone kept “trippin’” about the way I walked. She continued to vent by saying that all I was doing was putting one foot in front of the other. I just beamed. I was like…”Yes. That’s all I’m doing!”

My walk in itself didn’t haunt me but the various reactions to it paralyzed me for years. People automatically believed that if you walk like a girl then you have other feminine tendencies. Simply stated, you’re gay.

Afraid to Walk Blog : Overcoming Fear by Satchmo Impersonator John Redmon : Photo Still

Thank God I’m over that crazy period in my life. I’ve been delivered from fear and of what people think of me. Baby…you should see me now. I walk as bold as a lion. What happened? I’ve always been a lover of God and I had the good fortune of finding, reading and applying the bible passage that says we are sons and daughters of God, a royal priesthood, an holy nation. And then I went on to read that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: he delights in His ways. Those verses were game changers for me over the upcoming years.

Afraid to Walk Blog : Overcoming Fear by Louis Armstrong Impersonator John Redmon : Photo Still with Mother Cynthia Redmon

Some years back my mom caught my stride and commented that I had “purpose” in my step. She was right. I really do. I no longer walk like my sisters or my mother. I now realize that I walk like the man who orders or directs not just my walk but every step…my Father.