Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, July 6, 2010
"Michael Weinstein .. provided me with another view of AIDS in Los Angeles.
He invited several of us at the conference to attend gratis an elegant fund raiser
at the Beverly Hills Hotel. A large crowd paying $200.00 per person packed the
place, representing everyone from Beverly Hills matrons to Blacks and Hispanics,
Rabbis and Priests, theatre people, as well as Lesbians and Gay men. AIDS had
touched all our lives somehow and we were all there, we had all come together for
this.....An elegant dinner -Thelma Houston performed. And as she sang, people got
up to dance. Gay men in tuxedos openly and proudly dancing with each other,
Lesbians in evening dresses holding each other, all mixed with compassionate
heterosexual couples, including Rabbis and Priests. How far have we come to be
able to see this. The positive aspect of AIDS is that it can join together so many
different elements of our society." [ 1989]
Bruce Natke, my dear friend, AIDS activist,
wonderful, funny guy. I gave his eulogy.
It’s Gay Pride soon in San Diego, where Dennis and I are now living. We are going to be walking in the Gay Pride parade with the members of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul, where we worship. They are receiving an honour for their friendship and ministry to Gayfolk with AIDS.
Ah, what a character Bruce was! I loved him and it was a privilege to be his friend and to minister to him through his struggle with AIDS and his death. I and his mother Shirley are still friends; she is 87 now, bless her. One day I got a call from Bruce; could I come by. He asked me if I would give the eulogy at his funeral. I said it would be an honour. Being the “controlling” person he was, he said that he would like to see it before he died! Nope, I said; you can hear it after you’re dead! We laughed. (He was a Jew who didn’t believe in the Afterlife.) That was a wonderful celebration of his Life at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. I went there with him to chose the “plot”. He wanted one with a nice view. The day before I left Providence for good, I went to his grave and left a flower.
I often re-read Bruce’s letter. I need to be reminded that many people can be loving and compassionate and intelligent and reasonable and caring ….. and unthreatened by Life’s reality, and open to new joys.
As a Christian priest, I believe without question that Humanity is a widely diverse Reality. Many narrow-minded people try to deny that Wideness - out of Fear, I believe – which leads me to speculate that they have been badly or sadly raised. In terms of the Christian Myth, I believe that the “Spirit” was indeed sent to lead us day by day into “new truths” – and that “new truths” are the essence and wonder of Life and Being. And human progress in the ways of Compassion and Love.
Thank you Bruce for being my friend and for teaching me more about the wonder of being Human, Dennis and I will be holding you in our thoughts as we “march” with the good people of St Paul’s in the Gay Pride Parade!