Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sad Day

Nearly 2 years ago, I went to see a movie which has had a greater impact on my life than any other movie I have ever seen. In my previous post I mentioned that I left my last evangelical parish and moved to St James because the priest used his sermon to denigrate "Brokeback Mountain". When I saw Brokeback, I left the theatre sobbing my heart out. I am often emotional at the end of a movie but have normally recovered by the end of the credits. This time I sat in the food court at Burwood with tears streaming down my face, very embarrassing for a 60+yr old male. It seemed to release all the suffering in my life due to homophobia, the self repression, the hiding of one's true feelings. I was exactly the same age as the two main characters, Jake and Ennis, 19 in 1963. While I grew up in a totally different setting, there was not much difference in those days. I nearly married as did the two characters. I was told this would help cure me. By God's Grace I realised in time that it wouldn't but the effect on a lovely girl and 2 families was still terrible.
Anyway I searched the internet and found a group of people who had been similarly affected by Brokeback Mountain and over two years I have been part of this online community called forums after the guy who started it all. Members have come and gone. I regularly met with some others in the Sydney area and stopped in to have dinner and later attend church with one, Davis in Philadelphia. My plans for travel this year include staying with Jari in Helsinki and visiting Marleen in Stockholm and Martina in Vienna. Every day I check in to see what is being said in the groups that are of most interest to me.
Brokeback was the catalyst for my finding a gay accepting church, it also made me become more open with friends and I guess has led to this blog. Obviously this is much easier now that I have retired but it has made me determined not to hide my true self.

Unfortunately I missed meeting one lady from the forum, Jackie, when I was in Washington. Jackie goes by the online name of 'Painted Shoes'. Sadly I now learn that, although apparently healthy on New Year's Day, she was diagnosed with cancer and in the last 24 hours has developed liver failure and now it is only a matter of days. Although I have never met Jackie, I have received messages from her, seen photos of her at gatherings in the States and from her posts knew her as a loving, caring, smiling person. Many who did meet her speak of her wise words in times of need. Strangely in this new online world, I feel I am losing a friend and can only ask God's care on her in her last days and comfort to her family and real life friends.

While reading the many postings in the group about Jackie this morning, the news came of the death of Heath Ledger.
I enjoy movies but usually have no idea about the actors and am often wondering where I saw him/her before. I am no star worshipper. However Heath's portrayal of Ennis in Brokeback Mountain was mind numbing. It was amazing to see him bring to life such a tortured soul and portray him aging. He brought this sad story to life.
Perhaps the words of someone who knew him as a person are appropriate.
Fellow actor Noni Hazlehurst described Ledger as "one of the finest actors of his generation.''
In a statement issued through her agent, Ms Hazlehurst said the "remarkable characters he has left us in his extraordinarily wide-ranging body of work will remain as a testament to his talent.''
She said Ledger was "an artist, a kind and sensitive man, who simply wanted to do good work of which he could be proud.''
He was respected and admired for his determination to be the best actor he could rather than chasing celebrity, she said.
"He was uncomfortable with celebrity, which made him a target for fools, preferring to focus on being the best actor he could be.
"For that, he will always have the respect and admiration of those who knew, understood and admired him.
"His early death is a terrible loss for all of us, but most particularly for his family, and his adored daughter, Matilda.''

Of course the Forum has now gone ballistic, many people who had left due to other interests or lack of time are returning and many are sad to learn about Jackie as well. As the Forum says Heath is famous to the world while Jackie is famous to us. It is a very sad day for those of us who now call ourselves Brokies.

1 comment:

June Butler said...

Brian, what a lovely and moving post. "Brokeback Mountain" had a powerful effect on me, too, although I am not gay. The portrayal of these two young men in an environment in which there was literally was no context in which to place their feelings and experiences, just blew me away. Heath's performance was extraordinary.

I offer a prayer for Jackie. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. I offer you and the other members of the community my sympathy and prayers, too.

I am part of a rather loosely organized online community, and I have met a group of them of them in New York, and one in New Orleans. I consider those whom I have met and those whom I have not met as my friends. Not once have I been disappointed in meeting the people in real life. They were just as I expected them to be - or better.

May God bless you.