When you have published more than 500 issues of a weekly newspaper over ten years, it isn’t easy to come up with a new editorial topic every Wednesday.
My newspaper’s associate publisher, Jason Parsley, hates my columns, claiming I am just regurgitating the same Pablum repeatedly, calling it trash and bashing it publicly in the office. Jason, you see, is just insanely jealous of my greatness. He refuses to recognize I am a stable genius; the Chosen One.
He should just shut up and write more better stuff.
Anyway, I thought I would say something to you today that has been bugging me for years. When you die, please let us here at SFGN know about it.
I am tired of discovering you passed away by seeing a picture of you in a bar guide, without your shirt on, announcing drinks will be poured in your honor. Your departure from Earth is entitled to more, like a real article in a real newspaper, or at least an Obit you make your survivors pay for.
The goal of SFGN is to of course illuminate your lives while you are living, but we would also like to be able to acknowledge your passing. Please don’t leave it up to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to do that.
The truth is we all eventually have an ‘appointment in Samarra.’ That means we have a date with destiny, a fate we all must face. Let us shine a light on yours. If our lives matter, then so do our deaths. You can’t have one without the other.
I am not trying to start an Obituary section at SFGN. I prefer writing about life, not loss of it. However, I am trying to say that when a friend or loved one passes, yes, you should bury them first, but think of us next.
By the way, I would prefer a Viking Funeral myself. There is something about going up in a cannabis-based haze of smoke and flames on the “High” Seas that I find more appealing than be laid into a tiny casket for eternity. But I will bring an iPhone and transistor radio just in case.
I have also considered the possibility that my ashes could be sprinkled on a baseball field, but I really don’t want softball players from the South Florida Athletic Association sliding into second base and having pieces of my penis fly up into their faces.
As a matter of fact, I understand there are now places in Europe where they are banning you from spreading your ashes on soccer fields. I tried to that with my Italian business partner here at SFGN, Piero the All-Too-Tempermental, but they stopped me. Of course, he is still alive, so there was that minor obstacle as well.
My point in this column is simply to say that you have a duty to celebrate your own life in death. Your birthday or wedding might not be breaking news, but your death could be. Let us know.
Our paper salutes your person. It should acknowledge your passing, you deserve that much. Besides, you won’t be paying for it anyway. Your partner will. Think of it as sweet revenge against the guy who left his dirty socks on the kitchen counter every morning.
This is LGBTQ history month. We are celebrating our past. For too long, gay people covered up their deaths, because they were quietly ‘discreet’ about their lives. There were other reasons too- maybe embarrassed that they passed due to AIDS.
Sadly, once we lived in a world that did not fight AIDS. It fought people with AIDS. Not anymore.
We can stop hiding who we were. Our future should not deny our past.
As a publisher of gay publications for 20 years, I can’t tell you how many times friends and families of loved ones have come to me and asked me, pleaded with me, not to run a story about that loved one’s death in our gay’ newspaper. It’s embarrassing.
“Oh, he was so much more than that,” they will say. “We don’t want him remembered that way.”
Yes, he was more than that. He was also a well-known power bottom, dancing at a strip club, doing porn, living on Grindr, with a drug problem and on probation.
“Don’t write that,” we are told. “Talk about his art degree, his poetry, his pilot’s license.” We will. We can chew gum and walk at the same time. But this is a newspaper. We report the truth. We don’t fly away from it.
Do me a favor, then. Let SFGN acknowledge your passing as we have your life, with words commemorating your time, recognizing your friends , and maybe that you liked rubbing peanut butter on your belly. Besides, who cares now?
Our paper is here to record our history, not hide from it. Sometimes, it is painful. More often, we find that which is intimately most revealing is universally most common.
In closing, let me share with you the words of baseball’s Yogi Berra, a charismatic wordsmith and Hall of Famer: “You should always go to your friend’s funeral. Or he won’t come to yours.”
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