People to Know 2017: Kyle Banks
There’s a lot of talk about not letting diabetes slow you down. At first, Kyle Banks followed that mantra. Two years ago, down 30 pounds, weak from over a month of illness, and only recently diagnosed, he did what he’d been doing for the past 12 years: He continued his stint touring in the Broadway musical The Lion King.
His doctors advised against it, and he knew the amount of physical activity was responsible for his many low blood glucose episodes, but Kyle wasn’t about to let a type 1 diabetes diagnosis stop him from living his dream. Though he doesn’t regret working while learning to manage his diabetes, he admits it was a risk. “Looking back, I think it was crazy that I was able to work even when I lost all the weight that I lost, even when I had no energy,” he says.
But after two years of nonstop work (regular exercise, plus eight high-energy shows a week) he’s pressed pause. I admire that dedication to his diabetes care and the willingness to put his health first.
Like Kyle, I understand the draw of the performing arts—I’m currently touring the country with my stage play, cosponsored by the American Diabetes Association. The goal: Spread the word about diabetes.
“One thing we have to do is we have to share information,” Kyle says. “There are so many misconceptions about this disease.” His other passion: helping kids with diabetes get the supplies they need. Through his Kyler Cares program, he seeks to provide insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors for underprivileged youth living with diabetes.
While Kyle plans to eventually return to the stage, he’s content with the new direction his life has taken. He cofounded The Tenth magazine, to challenge stereotypes about black gay men, and is learning how to manage his blood glucose without the nonstop hustle of dance-heavy performances.
There’s strength in knowing when to stop and get educated about blood glucose management. There’s strength in saying, “I’ll do what I love, but first: diabetes care.”
The Author: For more than 20 years, Garrett Davis has been writing and producing plays that bring real-life situations onto the stage to both educate and entertain. His productions have raised awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes—through the award-winning Mama’s Girls 2: Sugar Ain’t Sweet play—and other health issues affecting the African American community. When he’s not touring the country with his theater company, GDavis Productions, he lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.