Today I recieved the following comment on a light hearted article I wrote on “beer goggles”, of all things:
But have you forgotten him or will you ever stand up fright for what happend to him i am sure he is happy you turned out the way you have but i look at other people who went thought what you have but they have not forggotten them they FRIGHT FOR THEM AND THE RIGHT THAT THIS STOPS IF YOU LOVE STOP WHAT HAPPEN TO OTHER JUST LIKE HIM.
how can you not fright people who are going thought what barry did!!
“TommyBoi” is talking about Barry Winchell, my boyfriend who was murdered just short of ten years ago. Our relationship and his murder were portrayed in the Showtime film “Soldier’s Girl”, which continues to play and be shown since it came out in 2003. I have received a few notes like these occasionally, but consistently, over the last decade. In the early days, I found them rude but hoped to live up to the task of honoring Barry’s memory and so I worked hard toward doing that. As years went on, I tried to respond with some class and composure by pointing out the activist work I had done and was still doing to honor his memory and fight to prevent this from happening again. Approaching the ten year mark, I am just tired of this unconscionable rudeness and will now respond by pointing it out. My entire life, I’ve been a person who agonized over the least possibility that I hurt someone’s feelings in my real-life interactions, and who would chew off my own arm before I put someone else to any discomfort on purpose. Now, seeing someone take not the slightest effort to afford me the same courtesy is genuinely upsetting, especially in the area of the death of a loved one.
Although ten years is a very, very, very long time to still relive the story through it being brought up by people whose compassion has been stirred by the movie, I completely get how powerfully affected one can be by stories like this, and how much one might want to express that. After seeing “Boys Don’t Cry”, I was left wishing I could have helped somehow, wishing I could have been there, done something for Brandon. I can relate to how many people have felt after seeing “Soldier’s Girl”.
But it’s been a struggle to make sure that Barry‘s death is not the defining event of who I am. I have been an entertainer since I was a kid, it’s all I ever wanted to be, and I like to think that I am making progress as such in spite of the murder, rather than because of it. While many people may know of me because of the story, they certainly don’t hire me to work because of it. And I’m sure I haven’t been hired many times because of it.
To have an onlooker essentially “tap me on the shoulder” in the middle of my bright, sunny, happy day and disaparge my character and my handling of these circumstances is… hurtful, to say the least. I simply refuse to live a joyless life of enforced widow-hood for the rest of my days. I’m going to laugh, dance, act, perform, sing… it’s what drew Barry to me in the first place, after all.