You may or may not know that my friend Bill Brent took his own life the day before yesterday. I was asked to write a bit for his obituary. But there's more that I wanted to say.
This is what I said in my email to the reporter:I'm happy to talk to you about Bill. I'm really taken aback by his death and quite sad at the loss of his bright light in the world. He and I were friends and he helped me out through one of the worst times in my life actually. We worked together for about 6 years and he encouraged me in so many ways. He really supported me in finding creative solutions in our work together and in taking leadership in the community. He trusted me even when I wasn't sure I trusted myself and gave me a job when I was unemployed. I felt totally welcome with him in all possible ways. I loved him because he was so easy to love. I would not be the person I am today without Bill's love and support. He saw in me what I did not and that enabled me to rise to meet that vision.He also struggled with depression and we talked about that, because I've struggled with it myself. He seemed to have no fear of telling the truth about how it was for him and I was both inspired and soothed by his truth telling and courage.He talked frankly about sex and sexuality and queerness in ways that made it easier for people to be who they are without judgement (and sometimes with a lot of laughter).
There are things I wasn't sure if I could say to someone who's going to post them for all the world to read. But I need to say them somewhere.
Bill was my friend. He often wore a bright red t-shirt that said "SODOMITE" on it. When I first saw it I was a little bit shocked and wondered if I would ever be that bold. And I'm not sure that I ever will be, but every time I saw hime wear that shirt I felt like I could be a tiny bit more bold. I mean if a middle(ish) aged man could walk down the streets of San Francisco announcing himself in such a way, surely I could consider doing some of the things that I loved.
When my son was 5 and his father had abandoned us and I desperately needed work, Bill employed me. I'd been going to the Black Sheets parties for years and loving them. But when I stepped into being an organizer my whole life changed.
The parties ended 6 years ago and I'm still recognized for my work there because Bill Brent created an amazing space that was unabashedly queer, sex positive and extremely well loved - and really fucking sexy! I had great sex at those parties and made amazing friends that lead to me all sorts of places.
I met the woman who convinced me to do HAI and send me down that path at Black Sheets. I met some one who inspired me to try on being domme and looking at power. I met people who were doing all kinds of amazing things: pornographers, erotica writers, pro-dommes, sex workers (and others like lawyers and activists and politicians) who loved talking about and exploring sexual themes ranging from the biblical to the mundane. And I got to see people of all kinds having really, really hot sex of most every variety you can imagine. I felt liberated and constantly marveled at the diversity of kink people would come up with. It was like a sexy laboratory and I was the lead scientist.
I also got to solidify my sex positive activism because of Bill. He encouraged me to take over teaching the dungeon monitor trainings and he let me re-write the curriculum to include new research, ideas and skills as they emerged. I had long been a sex educator, but it was always focused on STDs and prevention, not on fun. Suddenly I was teaching sex ed to queer, kinky, sexy, sex-positive people of all genders. And it was a helluva good time.
Our little team were the problem solvers of the event and Bill solidly and always had my back in every decision I ever made. He helped me mediate difficult situations and he helped me stand firm and support people who wanted to do edgy things that made some people uncomfortable. We worked on solutions to the "wanker" issue and Bill said we needed a dick test to make sure that we kept the parties queer, that sodomite!
And he was my friend. He took me in and loved me and loved people and laughed. I loved to see him happy. He had such sweetness and such a way of being funny and irreverent. It made me happy to be with him.
He (and Lori Selke and others) encouraged me to write erotica, which I did for a while. And then he dragged me, I mean encouraged me, to read at Perverts Put Out that one time. He just supported me in stepping all the way out and playing with the big kids - and loving it. It's like he could see something in me that I wasn't seeing or couldn't admit to myself.
And when Lori and I had a big communication break down he sent us to see a a therapist and talk it through and paid for the whole thing. He was really committed to community and to each of us and to working things through.
Lots of people will talk about his amazing writing - and he was extremely talented and wrote a lot of stuff including Black Sheets magazine and whole list of books and short stories. I love his writing and his aptitude for words. But I'll remember Bill as the sodomite who loved me.
P.S. You can find out more about his work here: http://www.authorsden.com/billbrent