Posts Tagged ‘Joe Eros’

Letter From New York 06 26 15 Ruminating on Supreme Court Decisions…

June 26, 2015

It is about 11:30 AM as I begin to write today’s blog. Yesterday, I simply ran out of time and had to let it go though it niggled at me through the night. Yesterday saw Obamacare upheld by the Supreme Court, something that I was unsure would happen. The decision was 6 to 3 to uphold the law.

I was glad the law was upheld. I think it is a flawed law and that we should have something that more resembles universal health care but it is far better than the nothing we had before it. The victory in the Supreme Court has not squelched Republican’s desire to repeal the law, which they might get to do if a Republican is elected President. If they do, I hope they will have something in the wings to replace it. Right now, I don’t think they do.

This morning, as I was sitting doing emails, I received one from the Democratic Party announcing that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of gay marriage by a vote of 5 to 4. As it was a notice that came from someone other than a news organization, I went online to find that, indeed, it was true. Gay marriage is now the law of the land.

My friend Lionel texted me, crying as he wrote the text, rejoicing and a bit unbelieving. My oldest friend in the world, Sarah Malone, phoned me and we discussed the ruling. She told me that Texas is already trying to wiggle out some way though I haven’t seen that anywhere but it doesn’t surprise me if they were.

I am unbelieving. I did not actually think, until the last few years, that this would ever happen in my lifetime. I grew up and began to deal with the fact I was gay about the time Gay Lib was beginning to form as a movement. I was not active in the movement; I was working on building some sort of career.

In 1983, a senior executive in the company I was working for told me that I would be fired if it were discovered I was gay. In another company in the 80’s, I was under pressure to get married. It was clear that unless I was, I would not progress up management’s ranks. The President and CEO was very conservative. He was generous to a gay employee who contracted AIDS, and seemed to think it was fine in the creative divisions of the company but I was on the business side. It was never articulated directly but there are ways of communicating that do not include direct conversation.

When I was at Discovery in the 1990’s, I commented to the President of the time, Ruth Otte, that Discovery seemed very homophobic. She agreed but nothing changed until the very late 1990’s or early 2000’s, under then CEO Judith McHale.

I never lied but never admitted I was gay. I cleverly skirted the topic. Not necessarily appearing gay, I had female friends who accompanied me when it was expected I would appear with a date. When asked, I acknowledged but never volunteered. That was probably cowardly.

I grew up in a Midwestern Catholic family and it was clear to me that the worse thing a man could be was gay. It may be that as I grew into childhood, my father sensed I was different and that accelerated his emotional withdrawal from me.

When I was in high school, I was very lucky. I was never bullied and called names. No one ever called me “fag” or any derogative. Looking back, I find it amazing. Fragile as I was in high school, I’m not sure I would have survived the bullying that seems to occur so regularly today.

In the late 1990’s, in a long-term relationship, I became more comfortable with my place in the world. When accepting the job at the Internet start-up, Sabela, I made it clear to James Green, the CEO, I was gay. He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said he already knew.

Telling my friend Jeffrey was difficult but he responded generously, as did most of my friends.

John McCormick, Sarah’s father, and I were having dinner with his grandson, Joe Eros, the night before Joe was entering the military, shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Joe left to celebrate with some friends and I got up to go but John motioned me down and ordered us another round of drinks. John was a deeply conservative Catholic, or so I thought. He told me that night he had know for a long time and that he needed to know that I knew he loved me, regardless of my sexuality.

It was a tremendous blessing. I cried a little on the train back into New York City.

My brother and I came to peace with it. My sister is uncomfortable but we still talk regularly and have a better relationship than ever. When I was telling my family, my mother was in a multi-level health crisis and so we never discussed it. When she uttered homophobic comments, I repudiated them but never told her I was gay.

Less emotional than many today, I acknowledge that we have crossed a milestone but it will not immediately eliminate homophobia. It may even strengthen it in places. Bu it seems more and more are accepting; going into today, a poll indicated that 57% of Americans believed the Supreme Court should rule the way it did.

It has been a huge journey and the journey isn’t over. But it is so much better than it was.

Letter From New York Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014

The sun has set and Patroon Street is dark; it is the end of the Thanksgiving weekend and I am already talking with friends about Christmas Day – where will we be? What will we be doing? I’ve offered my dining room table for Christmas Day for friends. We’ll see how it works out.

But what it means is that is now the full blown Holiday season. I found today the Christmas present for my friends Nick and Lisa – always a challenge but, today, I walked into one of my favorite stores and saw something that immediately screamed their names and I bought if for them.

For several years I spent Christmas with the McCormick family but we are scattered this year. Eighteen months ago, Joe, the oldest son of the Eros family, died in a freak hiking accident in Alaska. His mother was a McCormick. And the tradition of our holidays ended with his life while his parents sought some sense of things with their surviving child, Michael.

They had already lost one child, Margaret. While very young she underwent a kidney transplant in the days before there was test for AIDS and she was transfused with tainted blood and died.

I was at her wedding. I was at her funeral.

My sense of tragedy remains. When I arrived for her wedding Margaret catapulted herself across the living room of her parent’s home to welcome me to the festivities with a hug so grand I remember it to this day.

One day I walked with Joe and asked him what kind of way he wanted to describe our relationship and he asked me to be avuncular with him, a role I played with his cousin Kevin.

I never felt I did the best job of doing that that I could. I tried but I’m not sure I succeeded. He was so smart and yet seemed so remote when you reached for him. I loved him but am never sure he understood that. I work, since his passing, to make sure those who I love KNOW that I love them.

Our lives are rendered so easily.

Letter From New York

July 22, 2013

July 20, 2013

A vision of things not to be…

When I was very, very little I encountered the McCormick family. They had six children, all about my age. I don’t know quite how I met Sarah, the McCormick that was my age but we were fast friends by the time we walked together to Kindergarten at Fuller School.

I grew up with that family and have remained close to them in all the decades that have passed since Sarah and I headed off to school for the first time. It is unusual, I know. Our childhood friends seem to slip away as we move into adulthood but Sarah and the entire McCormick family did not. When they moved to St. Louis after 8th grade, I flew down to visit them. When Sarah was living in Spain, I visited her there. When she moved to Albuquerque, I visited her there and she visited me when I lived in Santa Monica. Her son, Kevin, has grown up thinking of me as Uncle Mat and I think of and call him my nephew.

I attended family reunions with her and stood with the McCormick family when a drunk driver killed the youngest daughter, Trish, one night shortly after I had visited her in Colorado.

Mary Clare is the oldest and lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. I have visited her there, was present when her daughter Margaret got married and returned when Margaret died. She and her husband Jim lived in New York awhile and we dined together at a favorite restaurant, Café du Soleil. I introduced them to my friends and they became friends.

John and Eileen, the parents, settled in New York after St. Louis and once I had moved to New York, I dined with them on a regular basis at their country club and attended family events with them. I contributed to John’s 80th birthday presents as if I were one of the kids. I mourned when both of them passed away within months of each other.

For four years I have spent my Christmases with these people. They are as much a part of my life as if they were my blood family. They are a family of choice and I went to be with them once again when Joe Eros, the oldest son of Jim and Mary Clare, died in an accident while he was hiking in Alaska, where he was stationed in the Army.

Kevin and I sat, looking at Joe in his coffin, and he said to me that he had always had a vision of the future and it had included doing things with his cousin Joe. We cried together. I, too, had a vision of the future that included getting to always know Joe a little better. And now our vision of the future included things that would not be…

He was a special man. Smarter than anyone I know. His Uncle John said that before there was Google, there was Joe. There seemed to be no nook or cranny of history of which he didn’t have some knowledge. He had a wry, dry wit that would bring a crooked smile to my face as he would crack a joke with his own crooked grin. His eyes danced with intelligence.

After 9/11 he joined the Army, served in Iraq, left the Army, went to law school and re-enlisted and was stationed in Alaska, a place he loved. He died doing what he loved, being outdoors, being alive.

I cannot tell you how much I miss him and miss that I will not have more opportunities for knowing him better. His brother Michael went to Alaska and met with his friends, met with the people who had been present when the accident happened and then accompanied Joe home. My admiration for Michael is enormous and my vision of the future includes knowing him better. He demonstrated what an amazing man he is during this painful period.

I have my family of origin. I have a family of choice. My vision of the future includes them both. I cannot imagine it differently.