Monday, July 31, 2006

And one day…

      The fingers that are wagged and the lips that are curled in sneering contempt will all be forced to deal with the sadness and depression that plague Black folk in America. In the meantime, we keep falling, taking ourselves out because _________________…

      From the blog of Keith Boykin:

          You could not miss him. A tall, handsome black man walking down Castro Street in San Francisco. He was easily recognizable. His name was Rickey Williams. Rickey helped to host me during a book tour stop last year in San Francisco, and he helped to organize an event in the Castro at a place called Magnet.
          Rickey was an African American community intervention coordinator for Stop AIDS, a San Francisco-based service organization. He was obviously very familiar with the services available to people in the community because he helped to connect people to those same services. But sadly, tragically, ironically -- however you want to say it -- Rickey was not able to help himself. Last Monday, Rickey committed suicide. He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and plunged 220 feet to his death. He was 28 years old.


          There was hardly a word written about Rickey in the newspapers. The Golden Gate Bridge authorities don't like to bring attention to the fact that people kill themselves on the bridge, making it the world's leading location for suicide. They don't want to make the bridge a more attractive target for suicide attempts. But Rickey is dead. He did kill himself on that bridge, not because of the bridge, but on that bridge. The bridge was just a convenient and dramatic location to express himself.
          Rickey understood the tragedy of black men who were and are dying in our communities. Just last summer, after visiting New York for the Black Gay Research Summit and the annual Pride In The City weekend, he signed onto an open letter to black gay men asking them, us to do something, anything about the AIDS epidemic in our midst. Forty-six percent of black men who have sex with men in some cities may be HIV positive. But who gives a damn, the letter asked.
          Rickey was more than an activist. He was a human being with real life challenges and real life struggles. And friends say he suffered from depression. It seems we don't like to talk about the issue of mental health in our community, but maybe it's time that we do. Forget what the nationalists may have told you about the super human strength of the black people. As William Brennan once said, the pedestal quickly becomes a cage. The truth does not always fit into an inspiring 2-hour television drama or even a week long miniseries. The truth is complicated, complex, difficult, and sometimes embarrassing.


      Black people kill themselves too.
      Black men,


      black gay men,
      black bisexual men,
      black same-gender-loving men,
      black SGL men,


      black queer men,
      black down low men,
      black 'I just mess around' men,
      black questioning men,

      black married men who fuck around,
      black men with HIV, STDs and AIDS,
      black men who are HIV positive,
      black men who are HIV negative,

      black men who have sex with men,
      black MSMs,
      black openly gay men,
      black closeted men,

      black gay men who put the "black" in front of gay,
      gay black men who put the "gay" in front of black,
      Black gay men who capitalize the "B" and lowercase the g,
      and Gay black men who capitalize the "G" and lowercase the b.


          It doesn't matter what we call ourselves, we all need love. I know too many black men who are depressed and lonely, too many black men who have contemplated killing themselves, and too many black men who have actually attempted suicide. It's not easy being a black man. It's not easy being a black man who loves black men.
          Apparently it wasn't easy for Rickey either. You could not miss him. A tall, handsome black man walking down Castro Street in San Francisco. He was easily recognizable. His name was Rickey Williams.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

This is really tragic. What a handsome guy, and he's the same age as me. That's a lot to think about.