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By | 2006-04-20T09:00:00-04:00 April 20th, 2006|Uncategorized|

Strange how much difference a month can make, isn’t it? Just a month ago it seemed that only the bravest of green things were just beginning to peek, tentatively, from ground that was still deciding whether or not to stay frozen.
Now you’d have to make an effort to fail to see daffodil or forsythia yellow, not to mention the blues and purples of hyacinths, while on your daily commute.
Once again, the cold dark Michigan winter has bowed to the power of spring. And while, as writers, we here at BTL are leery of veering into the cliched, we also cannot ignore spring’s power to rejuvenate the spirit and bring even the worst news into a kinder perspective.
And, sadly, we have sad news for you this week. In addition to the usual news of extremist bigotry against our community, we bring you reports of the loss of four people who can never be replaced.
Locally, metro-Detroit gay elders Edward Weber and Roger Keller have been taken from us. Rhode Island has lost activist Julia Pell, United Church of Christ Rev. William Sloane has passed and, in this week’s Billy Master’s column, we learn that June Pointer of The Pointer Sisters fame is gone as well.
Some days it can really be hard to smell the hyacinths.
However, these losses are so sad precisely because of the huge marks left on our community’s collective life by these people while they lived. Without Weber there may be no collection of homophile materials from the 1960s at the University of Michigan, and the study of our community’s history would be emptier from that lack. Without Keller, there may have been no historic 1972 Pride march down Woodward Avenue. Pell’s Rhode Island friends, family and colleagues could doubtless make a long list of the ways their lives and community would be something less were it not for her contributions. Without Rev. Sloane, the formation of the first “open and affirming” UCC church over 20 years ago may never have happened. And Pointer knew how to get us all “So Excited.”
Again, there are lots of cliches we could use to try to put these losses in perspective. “Don’t mourn the death – celebrate the life,” being the most meaningful one. However, it’s easy for those of us in the community who have no personal connection to our lost elders and friends to speak of their legacy. For the family and friends who loved them intimately, that legacy might be important – but, right now, they are faced with a winter’s worth of grieving, of words unspoken and laughs unshared.
Rather than attempting to decrease the pain of the survivors by eulogizing the dead in this space, then, our position at BTL is to revere the lives they lived by attempting, in our small way, to live up to the examples they set. By being out and proud, by decrying injustice wherever we see it, and by giving you, our readers, the information you need to do so as well, we work to make sure that the legacy left us by the Webers, the Kellers, the Pells, the Rev. Sloanes and the Pointers of this world stays a full, powerful and vibrant one.
Yes, a Kentucky university student has been expelled for being gay, the governors of Kentucky and Massachusetts are using LGBTs as election-year fodder, and in Michigan gay family activists are in a scary court fight to save health insurance for same-sex couples and their children. It can be hard sometimes to think of fulfilling our elders’ legacy as anything more hopeful than an endless slog through February sleet and mud. In tennis shoes with no coat.
At the same time, though, the children of over a hundred same-sex parents joined George W. and Laura Bush on the White House lawn on April 17, wearing leis the colors of spring to announce their presence to the world. And, while this edition of BTL is going to press, other pro-gay family activists are lobbying to ensure that all children in Michigan enjoy the protection of a legal relationship with both of their parents.
So, yes, mourn the loss of these members of our extended family who have left us. But don’t forget that they never shirked from the mission of living, loving, and leaving this world just a little bit warmer and more welcoming for the rest of us.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.