On the eve of Sydney’s 2013 Mardi Gras I’m going to tell you a story. About a beautiful boy and my best friend.
We met when we were 9 years old and I changed schools. For some reason, one of the first things I remember about him was that he had the maddest afro hair I’d ever seen. And I remember this because within a few weeks of me meeting him he was one of the chosen few to be sent home during a lice epidemic. His poor mother must have wept.
His larger than life personality was magnetic to me. He didn’t tend to draw mainstream people around him (me aside).
I have this theory that sometimes you meet someone and you just know that the person is going to be with you for life. I call it “falling in love across a crowded room”. Even at that early age – I knew we were going to love each other forever.
B was different. For a start, he had a girl for a best friend (that would be me). Bear in mind at the time it was 1979ish – a very different world from the one we currently live in.
We played with my Barbie Dolls behind my locked bedroom door while my brother and the other boys my age raged a fierce game of cricket on our lawn.
We laughed. We cried when he had terrible issues with his dad. I was fiercely protective of him. We went to different schools for high school. Saturday lunchtimes were sacrosanct at his house. We were three children in his family – him, his uberjock brother and me – running interference.
Conscription in South Africa 1989 proved to be traumatic. I tried my best – but had no understanding of how difficult it was for him.
He was still always there for me – my perfect plus one.
A year overseas saw me coming back in pieces. He tried his best but had no understanding of how difficult it was for me.
But he was always there to drive me home (and threatening to kill me if I vomitted in his car).
I met The Artist shortly thereafter and from the get go, it was alway the three of us. B made me laugh like no-one else. Our holidays were legendary. He tried so hard for so long to be like us.
We emigrated in 1999 and I worried about how lost B would be without us. He visited 6 months after we left. He didn’t know it but that visit meant everything – having someone come when everything was so unfamiliar, was as I said – everything.
But it took us leaving for him to find himself.
In 2008 he arrived in Sydney to surprise me for a visit. Summonsed by security in our building at work to “collect a parcel”, he bounced out from behind an indoor palm tree and announced “I’m here for Mardi Gras’. I responded by saying “I don’t care why you’re here – I’m just happy to see you”.
I know that his journey has not been an easy one. A few weeks before coming to Mardi Gras he met someone who would be a part of his life for many years and whom he would love with all his heart. Unfortunately geography and professional commitments would see W return to the UK. I know he still misses him with all his heart.
B is still searching for that special someone. As he should be. Because we all deserve to find love and be loved. [Particularly if I consider you one of the most beautiful human beings on earth.]
So, on the eve of Mardi Gras, I wish all the beautiful boys and girls, men and women of our rainbow love nation – love and light. You are no less deserving of equal rights or equal love.