Yesterday, we had the state's Pride festival over in Durham on the Duke campus. You can see 12 minutes of ribaldry here.
As you might have noticed, we had rain at the end of the parade, and while that did soak just about everyone, the joy of being steeped in acceptance was not dampened. This day, we were not just fair weather friends.
However, I do have an expensive hairdo to consider, and for that reason, we stepped under an ancient oak on the Duke lawn. Yet another reason to love a campus. As the rain progressed, the drops started to win, even under the tree, and I covered the top of my camera bag lest something get a touch too wet.
With that, a fellow at a small tent near us pulled out an additional tarp, and he began to set it up. Bro and I have a demonstrated skill with not being able to do much more than pinch fingers in these activities, and we stood getting wetter while the female member of our troop stepped over to help. In time, we were all under the tarp, thanking the gentleman for being there.
He was a world-weary man, a man with too much history written on his face, a history that spoke of pain followed by matter-of-fact forbearance, a man and a life worthy of a Faulkner short story or two. His was not the visage I often expect at a Pride parade. In a few moments, as a lull in the casual greetings and follow-up conversation appeared, he spoke, first haltingly, then with familiar vigor.
His son, his Sean, had been murdered in a hate crime.
He spoke at length as the rain continued. His accent was natural, fluent, soft as a man speaking his peace calmly with the practiced control of underlying emotion that concurrently lent him strength and threatened to overwhelm. With the rain on the tarp and the rise and fall of the surrounding celebration, he was sometimes difficult to hear and understand. He repeated himself without impatience, and I suspect he's learned to do that often. Practiced, he is, in getting out his message.
You can find it here.
I suspect the intentional death of a neighbor's farm animal received more attention from the South Carolina authorities than did the murder of his son, an act intended not just to kill one more gay man but also to strike fear in the rest of the gay population. In more civilized places, such a crime is seen as a hate crime, and the pursuit of justice progresses with greater vigor, but few of us live in civilized places, and even my North Carolina of late has become far less civilized, leaving all of us are at risk to meet a similar violent end.
Please send this man some money so that he may continue his good work. We will never know the specific good that one extra dollar will bring or which life it might save, but we all will welcome the nudge, the gentle turn, that dollar will make in this tiresome world, a world in serious need of pause, thoughtful consideration, and illumination.