Another new social media experience I had tonight is seeing a friend tagged in a lot of photos and such on my Facebook ticker, and when I finally clicking through to see what kind of trouble he was out getting himself into, I learned that all of the tags were, sadly, eulogies...
I knew William Brandon Lacy Campos from around when I first started Oasis in 1995, and he would submit columns every month in his early activist days in the mid-to-late 90s. We never became great friends then, but I always stayed aware of what he was up to.
When we were both in the Bay Area and later NYC, we made a lot of casual plans that fell through, as you do, finally seeing The Kinsey Sicks at the Highline a few months back. But with Facebook, we thrived. Every day, we traded torrents of bitchy over-the-top remarks. I'd say something culturally insensitive. He'd threaten to slap be back to slavery. I'd ask if I could pick what kind of plantation I wanted to own, and on and on.
The subtext was always playful, though, and I enjoyed being connected with him as often as we were through our conversations. I mean, why spend time making fun of people you don't care about?! So, our physical interactions were incredibly low, but after more than two decades of being aware of someone, there remains that connection.
It is strange to write about him and know that no reply is coming. He was always so ADD, you never had to wait very long for the replies. But I wish you peace, Brandon, and thank you for all the time we did get to spend together, most of it virtual, but that doesn't make its impact any less impactful or real.
The unspoken rule of our incessant back and forth banter was that, when someone really owned the other with some remark, the back and forth ended, and the other person would just click Like and consider that thread closed.
So, to make sure we both get to have our say this time, here are two pieces from Brandon. First is a recent video of him performing one of his poems:
And, lastly, the first column he wrote for Oasis (that I can find) from March 1996:
I have a Dream
Since the advent of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's there has been talk about dreams. Individual dreams, societal dreams, and cultural dreams. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered most for his work as a pacifist leader and his speech, "I Have a Dream." Well, I have a dream as well, and it is a dream that stretches across the globe and back again.
My dream is a dream that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth will be able to stand proud and hold hands all across the world. I have a dream that when I wake up in the morning I can kiss my husband, and together we can go out for breakfast at our favorite restaurant with all the intimacy of a heterosexual couple. It is part of my dream that I will be able to have an open life no matter where I go, because the people around me realize that love is love and are strong enough to throw off the shackles of moral ignorance, and challenge the foundation of a society that would teach hate in any form to its children.
I have a dream that I will be able to hold any job that I wish because I am qualified to do it, and not be turned away because of whom I share my private life with. I want to be able to have pictures of my boyfriend on my desk, and be able to bring my loved one with to company picnics and parties. I have a dream that I won't be turned down for housing in a certain area of a city because I was born to love someone of the same sex.
I have a dream that I will be able to hold my head high, and not have to worry about prejudice, or hate against the unknown. I want to be seen as me, and not as the Gay Man, or as a stereotype. I want to be presented to the world as an individual, and not as anything less than human.
I want to be able to travel the world, and visit the homes of my ancestors with my life partner, and not have to worry about domineering religious codes that preach intolerance, instead of love. I want to be able to dance under a Nairobi moon with my lover and enjoy the peace that is given to those who dance man with woman, and woman with man.
This dream is shared by millions of people. By the prisoners in Africa who have done nothing but be themselves, by the outcasts in Catholic Ireland who have done nothing but held their heads high under oppression from a government that is supposed to protect all.
I know that this dream is far from a fantasy, because I have seen evidence of its existence. At Warren Wilson College, the only thing not tolerated is intolerance. This is a place in the middle of a homophobic state under the thumb of the bigot Jesse Helms where queers can hold hands and love each other without prejudice. And I have heard similar stories all across the country. Cities such as North Hampton, and P-Town, areas of lovely Minneapolis, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan -- in all these places are pockets were the dream is alive and it is growing. But it needs the help of all who want to see this dream made reality. For every helping hand the dream has, there are three who would wish to see it die forever.
Take up all that we are. Be proud of all that we are. Live our lives openly, and show those around us that we are no different from anyone else. These are all things that we can do to make the dream live. It is time for us to join hands and show the world that we are human, that we have human feelings, and that we will not be denied the right to live. The dream is alive as long as one person is alive to dream it.