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In Memoriam

Gregory Gerald Jodrey

Born in Gaspereau, Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada on 9 Oct 1957, died on 8 Aug 1993 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my friend Greg Jodrey (though I and most of his other friends called him Gregor). It's not really surprising that I've been thinking of him, his memory always seems to come to the fore around now, because August 8 is the anniversary of his death. It's been 24 years since he was killed, and I can still see him, smiling, moving with a gangly sort of lope - I used to think of him as 'bopping along' when he walked - and I can still hear his voice. We shared an apartment for a few years, were friends from the time I met him, in 1972, until his death, we even almost had sex once, but it was just too silly so we stopped and had another drink and discussed the meaning of life instead. I loved him like a brother, and there will always be a Gregor-shaped hole in my life.

I think that I've been thinking about him more than usual because of the growing sense I have that my queer friends in the US are increasingly at risk.

You see, Gregor was killed at least in part because he was gay and had sex with a man who didn't, or couldn't, think of himself as being in any way queer. And because the defense was 'gay panic,' his killer - a man named Larry - served very little time for taking the life of a beautiful, warm, loving, intelligent, curious, witty person whom I and many others loved very much. And that in itself had serious consequences.

I'm not going to say that I know everything that happened the night that Gregor died. There were only two people there, and one is dead and the other is - and was then - a tragically damaged person who may not have known his own mind. Because you can't really talk about the tragedy of Gregor's death without talking about the tragedy of Larry's life, they are intertwined.

Larry was an indigenous person who had been taken from his family because of abuse, some of it sexual at the hands of older men, and then fostered in many places before being adopted by a kind and loving couple, whose relatives both I and Gregor knew well and were friends of. But because Owen and Susan were white, they could never truly have helped Larry heal all the woulds in his soul, because some of those came from being removed from his culture. They coukd not heal those wounds, no matter how hard they tried - and I knew them, too, I know they did everything they could.

What we know about the night Gregor died is that he and Larry were drinking at the local tavern - the town they lived in was small, there weren't a lot of options - and later they both ended up on the dykeland on the other side of the train tracks from the town. Forensics said sexual activity took place. Larry's defence team said that he was sexually assaulted, and that he battered Gregor with his bare hands until the body was barely recognisable in self defence. Those who knew both men, who knew that Gregor was shy and diffident, and not very athletic, and that Larry was a martial artist and a man carrying a lot of anger, didn't see that as a realistic scenario. In the end, Larry pled guilty to manslaughter, and the judge came down somewhere in between, giving him a sentence so light he was out of prison within a few months.

What I think happened is that Gregor and Larry were intoxicated, and had sex, and that somewhere in the process, something triggered Larry's undiagnosed PTSD, and his own deep shame at having been a victim as a child - and maybe at having enjoyed sex with another man, or maybe just at having let it happen - and that triggering made him lash out and try to obliterate the evidence of some element, chosen or otherwise, of queerness in his life. And the evidence he obliterated was my beloved friend.

Larry's life continued to be full of violence, some of it sexual. In 2006 he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl. In 2008 he was convicted of the murder of a 92 year-old woman who had also been sexually assaulted.

It seems clear to me now that Larry badly needed help that he never received. And it also seems clear that because Gregor was gay, the degree to which Larry needed help was not identified then, when Gregor was killed, because killing a gay man who comes on to you seems appropriate to so many men.

There is so much tragedy here, that left two people dead, one person with the trauma of abuse, and one person in prison for life.

I used to be full of anger about Gregor's death - and in many ways I still am, because damn it, he was a beautiful soul and he deserved to live and I loved him so much - but in the years since his death, as I've heard more about Larry, I've come to see that this was a double tragedy, and that while gayness was a factor in Gregor's death, and how his death was understood and treated by the law and by society, Larry's life was a tragic one too, and that much of the pain he has caused can be traced to the ways that society and the law have treated indigenous people for generations.

In Memoriam

Jun. 1st, 2009 05:13 pm
morgan_dhu: (Default)

David Gunn, March 10, 1993, Pensakola Florida
George Patterson, August 21, 1993, Mobile, Alabama
John Britton, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
James Barrett, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
Shannon Lowney, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Lee Ann Nichols, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Robert Sanderson, January 29, 1998, Birmingham, Alabama
Barnett Slepian, October 23, 1998, Amherst, New York
Steven Rogers, July 16, 2001, Melbourne, Australia
George Tiller, May 31, 2009, Witchita, Kansas

These women and men were murdered by anti-abortion terrorists because they offered, supported and defended reproductive choice. In addition, there have been over a dozen attempted murders, hundreds of assaults and hundreds of arsons, bombings and major acts of vandalism, primarily in the U.S., but also in Canada and Australia. In the face of these acts of terror, the people who continue to provide abortion services, and those who protect them, their clients, and their offices and clinics are nothing short of heroes.

Lest the sacrifice of those who have died and the courage and dedication of those who continue to face the threat of violence in order to provide this necessary medical service be in vain…

Support reproductive choice.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal decision between client and doctor.
The state has no place in the uteri of the nation.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Del Martin has died.

She and her wife Phyllis Lyon were heroes to me, from the moment I found their book, Lesbian/woman and started reading it.

I can still remember how incredibly exciting and empowering it was for the teenager I was in the early 70s to read Lesbian/Woman. My memory of the contents is rather vague after all these years, but I will never forget how I felt when I read it, how it felt to realise that there were other women - lots of other women - who loved women, that there were women working for the rights of women who loved women to be treated just like anyone else. That women who loved women had a history, and could organise.

I was already a budding young activist, just beginning to get involved with political and feminist groups. And I was in the process of coming out - though I wasn't exactly sure just what I was coming out as, at the time it seemed that lesbian was the closest thing to what I was.

Del and Phyllis' story - about themselves, about the history of lesbians, about the formation of the Daughters of Bilitis - was part of what helped me make me a stronger and more committed activist for social justice, part of what helped me to understand who I was as a woman who loved women (later I'd discover that the identity that suited me best was that of a bisexual, but there are some things that lesbians and bisexual women share, and Del and Phyllis spoke to those things in me) and part of what helped me understand that being out was in itself a vital political act.

Sometimes, in this day and age, when there's a section devoted to queer studies in every self-respecting bookstore, it's hard to remember what it was like when there were just a few people - lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people - brave enough to tell their stories to the world so that other people like them, people who challenged gender roles deep in the core of sexual and gender identity, would know that we were not alone, that there wasn't anything wrong with us.

Del Martin was one of the people who gave me that incalculably precious gift when I was young and uncertain enough about myself to really need it.

I am grateful to her, grateful for the legacy she leaves us, grateful for her years of fighting for all of our right to be who we are and love who we will and have that acknowledged by the society we live in. The world is a better place because of her.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

6 décembre, 1989
École polytechnique
Montréal, Quebec

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Barbara Maria Klucznik
Maryse Leclair
Annie St.-Arneault
Michèle Richard
Maryse Laganière
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Annie Turcotte

Se souvenir pour agir contre toutes les formes de violence envers les femmes.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I am originally from Nova Scotia, and even though I've lived by far the most part of my life away from there, there are things about being Nova Scotian that stay with me, in my heart and in my bones. For many, many years, the people of Nova Scotia have gone down into the mines, to dig up the coal that warmed the homes and fired the factories of people far away from them.

This is in memory of the people who will not come up out of the mines this day in Utah and in Shandong, and of all the others who spend their lives going down into the earth, knowing that they too might not come up again to the open air at the end of the day.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine,
There's blood on the coal,
And the miners lie,
In roads that never saw sun or sky,
Roads that never saw sun or sky

In the town of Springhill you don't sleep easy,
Often the earth will tremble and roll,
When the earth is restless miners die,
Bone and blood is the price of coal,
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Late in the year of '58,
The day still comes and the sun still shines,
But it's dark as the grave in the Cumberland Mine,
Dark as the grave in the Cumberland Mine.

Three days past when the lamps gave out,
And Caleb Rushton got up and said,
"We've no more water or light or bread,
So we'll live on songs and hope instead,
Live on songs and hope instead."

Listen for the shouts of the black face miners,
Listen through the rubble for the rescue teams,
Three hundred tonnes of coal and slag,
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam,
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam.

Twelve days passed and some were rescued,
Leaving the dead to lie alone,
Through all their live they dug a grave,
Two miles of earth is a marking stone,
Two miles of earth is a marking stone.

-Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger

morgan_dhu: (Default)

[profile] chlaal wrote:

Seven years ago today, Matthew Shepard died. He was brutally, horribly murdered for the "crime" of liking boys. Let's never forget that in America in the 1990s and 2000s, there are (were) so many people who think (thought) that beating a 21-year-old kid to death for being gay was okay. If you don't think that is okay, today would be a good day to speak up and say so.

12 years ago this fall, Gregor Jodrey died. He would have been 48 this past Sunday. He was the best of friends, wise and witty, and so very, very kind and gentle and compassionate. He used to get impossible crushes on straight boys, and we'd sit in our living room and console each other, because I used to get impossible crushes on straight girls from time to time myself. Our friendship was so strong, it actually survived not only sharing an apartment, but sharing a lover. He was a writer, a photographer, a scholar, a dreamer, a mystic. He read omnivorously and thought deeply and loved fiercely and laughed loudly and danced like the sidhe themselves in the moonlight. Sometimes we'd get drunk on Jamieson's and high on weed and dance our heads off to Marley and Janis and the Lizard King until dawn found us collapsed and giggling like maniacs outside on the lawn in the morning dew. He loved life so goddamn much.

The last time I saw him was about two years before he died. I'd been living in Toronto for about eight years then, and he'd come up from Nova Scotia to visit a couple of times before. He came in and we sat in my kitchen, which is what you do when you're visiting in Nova Scotia, and we drank a bit and smoked up a bit and talked for hours and it was as if no time or distance could ever come between us. I loved him so damned much.

He was beaten to death and left like a piece of trash by the railroad tracks, because he was a gay man living in this world. His killer was sentenced to four fucking years less time served for destroying this loving and gentle and beautiful man.

Wherever he is, I know he's dancing.

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