Today is a difficult day for most of us in the LGBT community. It is, as you know, the 1 year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando, Florida. We know the outcome. We will be reminded of it for the rest of our lives, every June 12th as we are of other tragic dates in our immediate timeline of life.
I don’t want to be sad today. I want to celebrate my sweet friend Eddie Sotomayor who lost his beautiful, happy, loving life that fateful night.
The picture here is the last time i saw Eddie. I chose this one because of the story and I am gonna share it with you all:
I was in Tampa with the BOTS Tour and Eddie came to see me with Al & Chuck’s Al Ferguson, his friend (and mine), mentor and boss. Now, just know that i NEVER go out after the shows. I mean never, EVER. I LOVE my sleep and without it, my voice goes bye bye very easily and since i sing live, that isn’t good. BUT…..That night the girls all went to a local bar because our old friend (I mean that figuratively but mostly literally) Lady Bunny was in town performing so I thought, “Al and Eddie are here and so is Bun Bun, and WHEN is the next time that THIS motley crew would be together again?” so I actually went out. YES! So, Al and Eddie wait until I changed out of my show clothes and got my luggage on the tour bus then we all went together. We went upstairs into the VIP area, watched Bunny’s show but then as the drunks started reallllllly hitting it hard, that is when i wanted to quit it. Hard. I couldn’t find Al so Eddie being Eddie, he said, “dont worry about Al, I will walk you back to your hotel and I will tell Al you love him and you’ll see him soon.” Sounded like a plan. So we walked back to the hotel, like a 15 minute walk or so, chatting about the next Drag Stars at Sea cruise, his boyfriend, my family (Eddie had a special relationships with my daughters) and my career, etc. Eddie always cared. He always had the kindest words to me ABOUT me that it almost felt unwarranted. I am not good at taking compliments (if you listen to the podcast you know that i am working on this!) but Eddie would never have it and was always throwing them at me so i had no choice but to accept and receive.
That walk was May 15th. That was the last time i got to see Eddie.
This picture is from that night. May 15th.
I am so grateful for May 15th.
Eddie, your love and support meant more to me than you will ever know. The way you made my daughters feel meant more to me than you will ever know. The way you included a very awkward teenage girl who was struggling so desperately and made her know that her opinion mattered and that eating snails was a good thing meant more to me than you will ever know. Your smile meant more to me than you will ever know. YOU meant more to me than you will ever know.
Michelle, David, Lillie and Lola
*for anyone who lost someone on that tragic day a year ago today, i ask that you try to use today for celebrating the life of your loved one and raise their spirits up where they belong. I LOVE YOU
SO, i got to thinking (after Lizzie Crouch from Melbs sent me this story on the Twits) that in this Schlumpian Era, NOW is a GREAT time to recognize people for the work they do BECAUSE THEY ARE PASSIONATE AND WANT TO DO IT, not for applause and stroking as so many do.
Enter the FABULOUS Yvonne Gardner from Melbourne, Australia. Yvonne is 73 years young and never misses a moment to wear her vintage fashions. Dressed to the nines, Yvonne has been doing something amazing on her own accord. Yvonne started a service in the ’80’s that brings together and feeds people that are HIV positive and gives them a safe space where they can sit back, enjoy a three course meal with ZERO stigma.
Yvonne started this in the ’80’s after seeing a few of her male gay friends diagnosed with HIV and ultimately, back then, the diagnoses was usually 6-12 months and it was 6-12 months of hell.
She has worked closely with doctors and social workers and would often accompany people to break the news of their status to family members that usually ended in tears, blame and shame.
One of the things that Yvonne saw was the horrible stigma that was associated with being HIV positive and of course that stigma still exists today and Yvonne wanted to do something about this issue: Ms Gardner founded Positive Attitude Inc, a Friday lunch group in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, which offers a safe and comfortable space for people living with HIV to share and enjoy an affordable three course meal.
Ms Gardner cooks the meals every Thursday and then takes them down to Fitzroy Footy Oval (WT Peterson Oval Club Rooms) Friday morning.
Yvonne says she’s cooked over 600,000 meals so far, and is grateful to her volunteers and Darebin Council, who have supported the program financially over the last decade.
if you want to support her mission or just give some love to this wonderful woman, check out her facebook page here: www.facebook.com/positiveattitude13/.