people drift into and out of our lives for a plethora of reasons and an even more a variety of seasons. velvet was one of those sweet gifts that life offers.
the first time i remember seeing him was in the late 1970’s on the dance floor at an after-hours club called Chicago 161 West. He had on a beaded vest with no shirt underneath and a pair of baggie hammer-type pants (long before mc hammer ever came along) he was dancing to a frankie knuckles mix and was rotating his right hand like he was winding up big ben or churning butter while standing up. he was a gypsy. he was magical. he was a muse for several of us.
his life was relatively fleeting. he died of aids in 1989- one of the earlier ones to go although he passed long after my friend paul. it must have been the drugs that he did. they must have stunted the virus. or perhaps his joie de vive was so potent that it kept viral replication at bay. or perhaps he was just a slow progressor.
velvet was not complicated. he was forthright. he spoke his mind. he was often tactless.
he was a warrior. he was fearless. he was fierce. he said “yes” to pleasure.
velvet taught me about acceptance. he showed me a side of loyalty that was intrinsically independent. his sense of tribal survival was reminiscent of my own gypsy tribe of origin.
and he was part of the wind beneath the rainbow flag long before it was created.
as i look upon my lgbt tribe of today, their homogenized demeanor, their fear of individuality, their toxic internalized homophobia.
i miss the days when scag drag was avant and the drag queens and the butches were recognized and heralded for having led the way to freedoms in high contrast to the current trend to dismiss them because of the very idiosyncracies that afforded us progress.
i mourn today not only for the loss of a dear friend those 25 years ago, but also the loss of our permission to be a vibrant color on that flag instead of purchasing a bumper sticker. today most gays and lesbians know some bits and pieces of our magical faerie history but few really invite them in our weddings, dinner parties, or family celebrations. this part of our history seems to have become museum pieces that may be most at home in a cultural museum. like rotary phones and model-t’s.
“girl- he told me my hole was like velvet”
Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me
Yes, and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me
So good-bye I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me