Posts Tagged ‘cheryl’
I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for a week or so now, and I can’t figure out what to write to go along with Syd’s slideshow.
These are the photos from Cheryl’s memorial, B is for Beautiful, taken by Syd London, who is a dear friend of mine and who photographed me and Cheryl for Sideshow promotion, the first Sideshow, and the last Sideshow, as well as a few other significant shoots of Cheryl’s—like her lesbian headshaving ritual. So many, in fact, that Syd created an entire collection of Cheryl B. photo shoots on Flickr.
Emceeing the memorial was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I am so glad to have had some tantra and “holding space” training, because I totally cast a circle and grounded energy and did all of that. I wanted a container that could hold our grief, if even just for the afternoon. It was funny and fun and tragic and intense, just like Cheryl, and I think it was a really beautiful celebration of her life. Here’s what I read at the memorial.
Kelli submitted one of Syd’s shots to the New York Times “The Lives They Loved” series that is online and selectively printed in the NYT Magazine on Christmas annually, and submitted this shot of Cheryl, Kelli, Diana Cage, and me.
When my partner Cheryl B was diagnosed with hodgkin’s disease last fall and was preparing for chemo that would cause her to lose her beautiful black hair, a friend suggested a “good ol’ fashioned lesbian headshaving ceremony.” We had friends over, made food, and shaved Cheryl’s head. There are many photos of Cheryl performing, engaged in political actions, organizing events. All these are important but I also want to remember her like this: loved, loving, happy, embracing the radical love of her chosen family and the queer (in a myriad of ways) community she had gathered around her.
If that’s not some radical infiltrating, I don’t know what is. And also, who else had photos of fishnets and cleavage? Amazing. Kelli tells the story about how she made the fact checker say “good ol’ fashioned lesbian headshaving ceremony” no less than four times:
Young fact checker dude: So, it says “when Cheryl became ill with hodgkins, her friends suggested a good old fashioned lesbian headshaving ceremony?”
Me: Oh I am sorry, my dog was barking, could you repeat that last part? (no dog had barked)
YFCD: Good old fashioned lesbian head shaving?
Me: Oh shit, you know how iPhones are, you cut out, could you repeat that again?
YFCD: Good old fashioned (sigh) lesbian head shaving.
Me: Oh I’m sorry, I still didn’t catch it.
YFCD: Good. Old. Fashioned. Lesbian. Head. Shaving.
Me: Oh yeah, of course. Yes.
I can see Cheryl rolling her eyes, too, so easily, at that she had to die in order to get into the New York Times—but I think she would’ve been very pleased about this little write-up. And I think she would like Syd’s collection of the beautiful photos of her, with her big love Kelli and with friends and fans and community, and I think she would have loved the memorial.
Miss you, Cheryl. Every day.
I’ve returned from Dark Odyssey’s Summer Camp, which was phenomenal and I have so much to say about it, like all the retreat/weekends I’ve been on lately—and since there’s so much to say it’s so much harder to say it, because I get overwhelmed, so I don’t write anything at all. The weather at Summer Camp—cloudy, sometimes rainy, not very warm—was excellent for my butch outfits (v-neck sweater or sweater vest over button down and a tie, suit jacket, leather jacket, jeans, boots) but not so excellent for Kristen’s outfits, who wanted to bring sundresses and the tiny little bow shirt but instead brought jeans and boots and sweater dresses, no less sexy but less exhibitionist fun perhaps. I mention that mostly because someone asked. But thankfully the sun was out when we had a quick portrait session with Stacie Joy, so there might be some shots of Kristen’s (gorgeous) tits in the future, we’ll see how they turn out.
My processing of the fourth amazing erotic retreat/weekend in three months is derailed a little bit by today’s date: it’s Cheryl’s birthday. Nicole Fix, who spoke at Cheryl’s memorial, wrote a lovely piece for GO magazine about it.
This weekend, at a lovely moment in bed, I don’t remember which one, Kristen was wearing these hoop earrings in square shapes, and I suddenly had a strong remembrance of exactly their source. I didn’t want to interrupt the moment, but I felt a strong surge of emotion, grief and sadness and the tragedy of it all.
Later, when we were just chatting, I said, “I love those earrings. Do you remember where they came from?”
She had shadows in her eyes right away. “Cheryl.”
“Yes,” I had taken them from Cheryl’s jewelry collection, when I was helping Kelli clean out Cheryl’s apartment, to give to Kristen. Cheryl was known for her hoops, one of her signature looks, along with her red lipstick, and I snagged a lot of the ones that Cheryl wore regularly. “But also, I gave them to her. On her birthday last year, you and I bought them together, but I picked them out. We brought them to Sideshow along with some little cupcakes.” I’m kind of good at picking out jewelry. I love that skill, love being able to provide just the right thing for the femmes in my life. I’m glad Kristen has some of her jewelry, but sometimes it’s shocking and catches me off guard.
We held each other in silence for a few minutes, remembering. That was such a great night. Sideshow was just starting to take off. We had a fabulous line up, Back to School. I miss Sideshow. Cheryl hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer yet. No one knew that would be her last birthday.
“Wasn’t that about a year ago?” Kristen asked. We couldn’t remember Cheryl’s exact birth date, but it was in the fall, right? Was it September or October Sideshow?
When I got back to my computer this morning, the first thing in my Facebook feed was all sorts of folks posting on Cheryl’s wall, “happy birthday!” as if they don’t know. As if they were wishing her to have a happy, celebratory day. I know that’s what Facebook does—”so and so has a birthday today, wish them a happy birthday”—and that’s how folks respond, by doing what a social network program automatically tells them what to do, so the response becomes “happy birthday,” regardless of the relationship or the knowledge we may have missed in the last few months.
I cringed, and teared up, but more than that feel protective of Kelli, and of Cheryl becoming some sort of public persona/domain figure which people don’t really know, but on to which they project. Apparently that is an ongoing problem for close friends who have died, especially in the queer/performance worlds. This is new for me.
Thinking a lot of Cheryl lately, and especially today. I miss her so much.