Cherishing The Unclaimed Award Of A Loved Friend
A number of weeks ago I received an email from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD‘s) Nick Adams.
For the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in 2008, Christine Daniels was nominated for Outstanding Newspaper Columnist. She actually was the winner in that category that year, but she never claimed the award — GLAAD still had the award statue they would have presented to Christine on stage.
Nick asked me if I would like to have it — he wrote me that the award should be with someone who knew Christine and valued her friendship.
I wrote back to Nick that I would be very, very honored to hold onto the award in memory of my friend.
Yesterday (Friday, February 11, 2011), I came home from yet another dental appointment at the VA to find the expected package from GLAAD on my doorstep.
It was a surprisingly difficult box for me to open, in that it was a much more emotional moment than I expected it to be. When I held the award in my hands for the first time, it seemed every emotion I’ve felt at my friend’s death by suicide flooded through me one more time.
The award reads:
Los Angeles Times
Outstanding Newspaper Columnist
GLAAD Media Award
I sobbed when I read the inscription.
It dawned on me the moment I first held the award statue that what I held in my hands was the only “brick-and-mortar” item that I have that’s specific to Christine — all I have besides the award are digital photographs and memories.
The second thought that dawned on me was the realization that Christine purged everything from her Los Angeles apartment that was referential herself as Christine when she detransitioned to Mike Penner a year before her passing. If she’d have accepted the GLAAD Outstanding Newspaper Columnist award in person, the award would in all likelihood be buried deep in a landfill. I’m so very glad — and so very honored — to have the award statue instead of a landfill having it. I’m going to cherish the award as much as I cherished Christine as a friend.
In part, I’ll hold the award as a reminder of the importance of treating others in trans community as I want to be treated. Christine wasn’t treated particularly well by many members within the transgender subcommunity of the LGBT community — she was considered by many not to be serious and weighty enough to be an effective spokesperson for trans community. And too, even though she was quite a beautiful and attractive woman, she was frequently berated for her alleged masculine appearance.
At the San Diego memoriam for the Transgender Day Of Remembrance this past November, Kelly Moyer made a poignant speech on the subject of how we treat each other within community — I believe it should be required reading for trans (and broader LGBT) community members regarding how to treat others within one’s own community.
I still miss Christine so very, very much. She was special, and I don’t believe she realized how special she was…and how loved she really was by so many of us.
I suppose it goes without saying that I’m still feeling the reverberations of Christine’s death by suicide almost a year-and-a-half after her passing; I’m still missing her something fierce.
To my peers and friends in trans community, our community is one where more than four in ten of us have attempted suicide at some point during our lives — a rate twenty-five times higher than that of broader society. If you feel suicidal, please remember you are not as alone as you might think you are — People you know are going to care deeply if you die by suicide; people you know are going to care even if you think they won’t care.
If you feel suicidal, please reach out for help — the Trevor Project is one place where you can find resources to help you — find access to people who will help you. Please take care of yourselves…it’s an incredibly important thing to do.
* Pam’s House Blend tag: Christine Daniels