Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Gay Death and Marriage

Gilbert Baker, the theatrical protest parade designer from the Vietnam War and Gay Pride era, died last week and San Francisco gave him quite a sendoff, even though Baker had long ago decamped to New York City. There were newspaper articles extolling his contribution to the history of graphic icons with the Gay Pride rainbow flag, which was flying at half-mast from the San Francisco City Hall Mayor's Balcony last weekend. In one of the articles, Cleve Jones is quoted as urging Gilbert to patent the design, but Baker insisted on giving it away for free, which speaks volumes. Cleve Jones, on the other hand, has never encountered a gay tragedy, from the assassination of Harvey Milk to the AIDS Quilt, on which he has not figured out a way to capitalize.

On that same Sunday afternoon I went to my friend Thad's wedding celebration luncheon for 50 his favorite friends at Original Joe's restaurant on Washington Square in North Beach. Thad is my 87-year-old doubles tennis partner who may be aging better than anyone I have ever known. This was his first wedding, partly because he is a gay man and the possibility of marriage is a recent phenomenon, and partly because he had never had a loving relationship before his current one where that would have been a consideration. He gave a short speech at the end of the luxurious lunch that started with, "I am so lucky!" When I told a coworker about the event the next day, she replied, "I guess there's hope for my 62-year-old twin brother after all."


janinsanfran said...

We so often have similar takes on public figures ... I try not to think about Cleve.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Jan: So glad to read that. I've never met Cleve but we have a number of friends in common, and they all like him a lot, but I found his media whore persona and economic exploitation of the AIDS Quilt really offensive.