I opened this month’s blogs with an article on Chuck Renslow (Gay Pride Month: Chuck Renslow) and little did I know that it would be one of the last tributes to this great man. News came to me last night from my partner that Chuck passed away at the age of 87, succumbing to the ailments that come with such a long and loved life. I have no details come through from Chicago yet to my little corner of the universe but I don’t doubt that he had loved ones with him.
I recall the last time that I saw him, at IML 2015, when I went up to his table and thanked him for everything he’s done, not only for myself but for the whole community worldwide. The man was a pioneer and pillar of all which he involved himself with. He is someone that I’m proud to have known, someone who changed my life for the better. As he was a focus during IML, I only took a few minutes of his time, but I told my partner when I went back to my seat that I thought it was the last time I’d see Chuck.
This week, the past few days actually, he’s been in my mind. I knew it was coming but didn’t know when. It didn’t come as a shock last night, but I did feel the pull of my heartstrings. I can’t be sad for his passing, but I can be sad that one more light has gone out of my life. It’s selfish but it’s grieving.
I would like for anyone who reads my article to take a moment and reflect on those pioneers who went before us, who blazed the trail for our rights, legal and personal, and gave us the strength to hold our heads up and be who we truly are. Every time you slap on some makeup, every time you put on your chaps; when you quaff your quiff and deck yourself out in the body glitter, shaking your groove thing down the street, remember these magnificent people who raised the flag for the very first time. Perhaps you’ll grab that banner and carry it forward, leaving behind a glowing rainbow of pride.
Chuck, my old mentor and protector, my life will always be filled with your strength and your honor. Your words will resonate through my mind to keep me on the right path. Your smile will always shine in the darkest hour. That old cigar smoke will remind me to look up and forward, and the young man who couldn’t take his dark glasses off will always dance in your clubs, visit your bars, and prowl your bathhouse. He’ll read your words, he’ll listen at your feet. It may all be the past, good Sir, but it’s for always.
Wave that flag proudly, Chuck, and keep watching over us.