Queer Burial Rights

Hola a todos. No, it’s not a pleasant topic to talk about, but it’s part of life. I’m writing about Queer Burial Rights because this has bothered me for some time when I think of what happened to two Queer friends of mine from the past, and what’s happened to other Queer couples upon their death.

Charles was one of my friends at the Conservatory where I trained. He was a Queer boy and he started the Gay Alliance on campus. He had a major influence on all of us in our little group. He was a very nice guy. I remember when he told me that he had gone to the Dean of the Conservatory and asked her about starting a gay group. She told him that she supported him and the idea but she also told him, “Charles, you’re 10 years ahead of your time” so I sense she suspected some anti-Queer resentment on campus. I don’t remember there being any, maybe perhaps because the Dean had approved the group, and no one wanted to go up against the “very intimidating” Dean. That’s how some students saw her. She was real nice to me. Like myself, Charles was in the Music Education degree programme. In my senior year, he decided he’d stay an extra year and earn a degree in Piano Performance since the two degree programmes overlapped some and he just needed the extra courses. So he stayed an extra year and accomplished that. It was nice having Charles on campus another year with us. Then after graduation, we in our little group all made plans to move to the District of Columbia. We had often gone into the District on weekends to the Lost and Found gay bar and “danced the night away,” usually on Saturday night. We all loved DC and after graduation Charles found an apartment over near Thomas Circle in the District with financial help from his parents. He was an only-child so they gave him whatever he wanted. I was a little envious of that to tell you the truth.

I later moved into DC and lived in Foggy Bottom near GWU (George Washington University) which was a short walk to Georgetown and close to the Kennedy Center where I was performing with the Orchestra Choruses and the National Symphony Orchestra.

One night at “the gay bar” (Lost and Found) we met a really nice guy, Michael. He was a student at Georgetown University School of Law. One of the things I’ll always remember about Michael was that he gave me the “lecture for new DC residents” in the gay bar about what to call our new home City. He said: “It’s not Washington DC. It’s called the District or DC because there is no Washington in DC. That’s redundant. That’s like saying San Francisco, San Francisco. There is a Georgetown in DC, but no Washington. It’s okay to call it Washington but not Washington DC. Only the tourists call it that and you can always tell a tourist because they say, “Washington DC. They don’t know any better!” Well, I already knew all of that — and the official name for the nation’s capital/Federal District is the District of Columbia, not “Washington DC,” — but it was interesting hearing Michael educate me and he did it in a nice way.

Well, time passed and we were all best friends. I later left the District and moved to San Francisco. Charles said he wanted to stay in the District. He liked it there. I liked it there too, but felt I was missing something by not being in San Francisco at the height of the then Gay Mecca. After moving to San Francisco and over time, I pretty much lost touch with Charles and Michael and the gang, but I heard that Charles and Michael had become boyfriends and were living together. I’d never expected that. Then, unfortunately they had both become HIV+. Sadly, Michael died and since his parents were from New York state, I presume he’s buried there. Charles was originally from Maryland but lived in the District until his death. He fell in the bathroom in his apartment and was rushed to George Washington University Medical Center where he died. I know that his death destroyed his mother and she couldn’t bring herself to have a memorial for him until her husband died years later and then Charles and his dad had a joint funeral. That brings me to the point of this article: So where are these two Queer boys (Charles and Michael) buried? Well, they’re not buried together even though they were a couple and loved each other. I know that Charles is buried in a Catholic church cemetery in Maryland. The Charles I knew would not have wanted that. He often mocked the Catholic church and he wasn’t at all religious. So what’s he doing buried there? His mother was not religious either. Did she “turn to the lord” after Charles died? That’s the sense I have about her.

So it occurred to me that this is something that those useless Queer corporatist and pro-Establishment organisations at the national level in the non-United States should be working on: Queer burial rights. Rather than holding lavish elitist dinners (at $500.00+ a plate) for Queers of their same income bracket and honouring tech billionaires and other “celebrities” they could be working on laws with the US Congress or someone to guarantee that a Queer couple be buried together even if they’re not married, using close friends and relatives as witnesses to confirm they were indeed a couple. Because if Charles and Michael were a breeder couple, they would have been buried together married or not. Charles should be buried with Michael in New York state whether Michael’s parents approve of that or not. If I had to take a guess, they would both want to have been buried in the District. I don’t think that Michael was “out” to his parents, but Charles’s mother knew that he was Queer and she was very loving and supportive of him and his Queer friends.

But to think that my two friends are dead and buried in two different states rather than together really annoys me. It’s similar to when one or more Queer couples died in the Pulse bar shooting in Florida awhile back and their parents knew that the guys were couples but their parents buried them in separate locations. Of course if they had been “him and her” they’d be lying in the ground side-by-side. Chau.—el barrio rosa