|Brucie, me, Susan, and Paula|
Brucie was the first person to ask me out in college. We met at a party and he invited me to another. He ended up dating a friend of mine longterm and during that time brought around one of his closest friends and that friend and I ended up getting together. Ultimately I married that guy, and 36 years later we're still together.
Brucie came out some time during our junior or senior years of college. He spent several semesters abroad and I think it was there he felt free enough to acknowledge who he was. At our mostly white college he already stood out and worked hard to keep color lines open, fraternizing with both the largely separate groups of white and black students. Adding "gay" to the mixture undoubtedly complicated his life.
Brucie taught me a lot about politics—I was so naive I didn't know what apartheid was, for example—and he taught me a lot about fun. The man loved to dance, loved to throw back his head and laugh, and live in the moment. We spent a lot of time talking in British accents about someone named "Pamela," making up stories about her horrendous behavior. Dancing with Brucie in gay bars in Chicago after we'd graduated, in the years before AIDS, was some of the craziest fun I've had in my life.
Brucie was devoted to his family and when his sister had a baby, he was the most proud uncle. His brother went to college across town and my husband got to know him, too. After we'd graduated we stayed with him in DC. Another smart, savvy guy.
But it's Brucie I knew the best, and Brucie I still mourn after nearly 27 years. We hadn't heard a lot from him in the year or two before his death—he'd signed on as a flight attendant and was traveling the world. But I know that were he still around we'd be a part of one another's lives.
The loss of Brucie—his potential, his dance moves, his fake British accent, his political wonkiness—comes upon me periodically. I try and remember all the good—so much good. His brother died of AIDS a few years after Brucie did and I can't imagine how his parents bore it. I hope they know we've never forgotten their lovely, lovely sons.