Category Archives: Memoriam

We Lost One of the Good Ones

I found out one of my good friends (and fellow Yorkie owner) from NYC Michael DeMarsico died a few days ago at the age of 44. I know everyone says only good things about those who have died, but he was truly pure to the core and must have had perfect karma, despite the tragic nature of the disease that took him at such a young age. He was a prolific writer and loyal friend and was survived by his husband and his dog Chloe. I cherish the long emails we had together over the past two decades and the countless coffees and social events I shared with him. I’m so glad I saw him on my last trip to NYC in 2014 (one of the pictures with Chloe is below) when he was already struggling with some of the symptoms of MSA, but he was STILL making jokes about it as he lost motor function. Every time I started to feel the tiniest bit sorry for myself when I had limited mobility this past four months I thought of people like him and so many others suffering, like the children of Syria and the refugees all over the world whose problems dwarfed my inability to walk without crutches. Now that I’m healing and I know I’ll make a full recovery, I hope to return to NYC for the celebration of his life in a month or so. I could only hope to be as genteel and brave as Mike was facing a painful and slow death head on. I’m sure he will be immortalized by his writing. It was at his behest that he not have a funeral but rather a party for his friends, which only demonstrates that he was a total class act. Rest in Peace sweet man.

I miss you so much, Mom!

Giuseppina Benenati Hayden (1942-2016)

Fuck Cancer!  Ovarian cancer in particular is an insidious and sneaky disease.  Her grandmother (my great-grandmother) had died of it when she was 52, but I didn’t think my mother (a health nut) would be vulnerable to getting it even at 73.  Mom was in ICU for almost a month and I was there once or twice a day hoping for the little miracles that ended up not helping her to go back to any kind of life she was used to.  Life is so unfair, but I am grateful that at least the last several months of her life Mom lived with me due to completely unrelated circumstances of the fire at her house.  Shando and I were able to keep a close eye on her with my siblings, particularly since my brother and nephew also moved in with us.  Fortunately we had the space.  It was a roller coaster since she was diagnosed only weeks after the fire, but we were at least hoping that she would have a normal life for several more years when we first heard about this.  Instead she had to go to the hospital twice and her little body just couldn’t overcome all of the ways that the chemo related infection and cancer were attacking her organs.  I know she knows we loved her (she was able to nod her head and hear us almost the entire time she was in ICU) and I’m glad I was there holding her hand and promising her my siblings and I would be taking care of each other when she died.  She deserved a longer life, but at least we made her death as dignified as possible.

Mom and me when we lived in Sardinia, Italy – circa 1970

I lost my friend Curtis Stanton to cancer

I just found out today that after years of struggling, at 39, Curtis died of cancer.  We had literally been online friends since at least 2003, and we had run into each other at various events around the country over the years.  In fact, it was (and will be) odd to be any major event that bears attend and not see Curtis with his joyous life force.  Embedded in this post is a picture of us in 2010 in Phoenix for Phurfest on Luau night.  Despite having gone to Hawaii twice myself, this was the most authentic and magical Hawaiian traditional event I had ever attended.

Curtis was a genuinely fun guy and  outrageously funny Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.  I was very honored that he spent so much time with me when we saw each other.

I’d like to send a personal “FUCK YOU” to the tobacco industry ( RJR and Phillip Morris aka “Altria”, et al.) for taking away another young life way before his time.  FUCK YOU for addicting the children of the world to your poison.   FUCK YOU  for lobbying governments to get your insidious product mass distributed and into venues where young victims start becoming your new (short) lifelong customers.

My Uncle Danny Passed Away

Uncle Danny (October 13, 1950 – July 12, 2011), was a guy (and pretty close relative) with whom I had a lot in common.  He and I loved that we could share so much with each other of our interests in many areas.  We often shared musical interest stories and he encouraged my strong appreciation for people like Barbra Streisand (although he was more of an Elvis fan, of course).  We also exchanged many technology ideas for our web sites.  We both were divorced fathers of females.  We had both lived in Italy, spoke Italian, loved Italian culture and found common ground on many subjects.  I was so glad that I got to spend time with him during both my trips to Arizona last year and on and off during the years before-hand when he was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I have returned to.  He was a great tour-guide and brought me to tears with his wonderful voice and singing ability.

In addition to the visits, we kept in touch regularly with Skype and emails especially in recent years.  It warmed my heart, and my mother’s, that he was a part of the father that I had lost when I was 22.  He loved and looked up to my dad so much.  It bonded us emotionally to realize how prematurely we had lost my father at the age of fifty.  Life just doesn’t seem fair.  I know Dad was very proud of how musical Uncle Danny was, and that they were both thrilled to have been stationed in Italy at the same time, and spent time together there.  My Mom (who is from Italy) was extremely touched that Dan was around in chat on Skype and yahoo with her.

Dan was really the last person who could fill in some of the blanks about my father even though my grandmother didn’t raise them together.  Dan always gave me as much information as he could, toward that end.  Even though I was the one who gave my little sister, Sabina, away at her wedding years ago, as my father was already dead for so many years, Dan was there in attendance at her wedding, which was wonderful to know, as he was the only piece of my father that could have been present at that time.

I will definitely miss having Uncle Danny to reach out to at a moment’s notice.  I have many good memories, including surprising him with a call on Thanksgiving Day one year, just because I wanted him to know that he was thought of often, especially during the holiday season.  Not only with my genealogical interests, but with the ongoing family challenges we have had, he helped me grasp a sense of an extended family that was trying to cling together to stay in touch, despite many years of being out of the loop with each other.

There are so many tentacles of our family that I’ve tried to piece together, as people in our family know.  I hope going forward we will continue to become closer, despite his absence.  I know that I will personally miss having that gentle man and close relative on my father’s side to connect with, who was always looking to spread around kindness and good karma.

Click here for his memorial page on Hug Angel, Inc.

I Lost My Friend James Eldon Taylor, Jr. (March 15, 1964 – March 30, 2011)

My sweet friend Jim would probably kill me if he knew I was using his middle name here, but I know several people named Jim Taylor, so it always helped me to find him in my address book when I could search by his full name.

Today I received very sad news about Jim.  A mutual friend informed me that his body was found in his apartment in Brooklyn.

Jim was very successful for many years as a woman’s clothes designer.  He loved animals and had a beautiful penthouse in Queens for many years, as well as a home on Fire Island for a while.  He was a true Midwestern boy whose dreams came true when he moved to the City of New York.  I was glad to be his friend both when he was successful and then for many years when he had some medical setbacks, including some bad seizures. As a result, he became quite destitute, but still stayed in the adopted city he loved so much, and it was during those tough times that I remember having the most laughs and the most fun while hanging out with him, including at many of the parties that I had in Brooklyn.  He loved making friends and was great with staying in touch with me, even when I moved back to California.  He told me many times that he would have loved to visit, and I was beckoning him to do it, so he could at least get away from the city for a while, during the tougher times he had.

I’m so glad I told Jim I loved him on more than one occasion, even when he drove me a little crazy.

The more I think about it, the more I realize my Mom is right that someone with this kind of medical history, really should not be living alone, because if he had a seizure, it is very likely that he could have survived.

Jim’s mother apparently died three years ago, which I did not know until this week, and his father, from whom he was apparently estranged, is not willing to pay for his cremation, which means that Jim might end up in the notorious New York city grave for John Doe’s known as Potter’s Field.  I hope this won’t be the case.  He deserved better.

RIP Lena Horne

I was on one of her email fan lists for years and I remember what an impression she made on me when she appeared on the Cosby Show.  I wasn’t fully familiar with her accomplishments at the time, but talk about a class act and a decent, long life.  I’ve thought about her often in recent years and knew that she was no young whippersnapper.  I listen to her regularly on my Ipod, and I know what an inspiration she was to many.  What a gorgeous, amazing, talented lady.

RIP Gene Baugh

You were my friend with whom I had so much in common for so many years. You were a rock. I can’t believe this.

Just got terrible news about losing one of my closest gaydad friends in the world, Gene Baugh, in Columbus, who raised his five kids.  I read his autobiography, although I don’t think it was ever published.  He was a huge fan of the Spanish language and had spent time in Spain in his youth.  I flew to Columbus to be in his marriage to a man in 1998, and he and I also spent time together at various gay parenting conventions around the country.  We originally met in 1996 in Minneapolis and stayed in touch quite regularly the whole time, sharing the drama of our kids and our lives before and after coming out.  He was only 56, and a big bear of a man (also very tall).

His daughter, Ruth, who lives on the West Coast now, as I do, went with my daughter and me to our first Provincetown Family Week.  Ruth and I recently got back in touch with each other and today she emailed me with the news that he had been taken off life support as he had requested be done if he should ever be in this state.  He had a stroke on Friday.