RIP, my Facebook friend.
Rest in Peace now.
I hate this, but... I can barely remember how I know you.
Were we Sunday morning lovers after a night out clubbing?
No, not that close. I think.
Perhaps we’re just 90’s kids who queued together, shared dance-floors together.
Again and again. Never speaking.
Were we friends? I hate this, but I can’t remember.
Did we share a bump in a cubicle together once?
Or was it often? Or never.
How do I know that face? It’s a lovely face.
Maybe I was jealous, because you always looked so popular.
Maybe I was a bitch to you.
I hope not.
Maybe you were bitchy to me. You were so popular. Gosh, maybe we hated each other. But you’re gone, and it doesn’t matter now.
Damn it, I know you, I know that face.
Did I ask for a dic-pic on Grindr? Did I block you?
Did I flirt with you, compliment you online? Did I troll your Wall once or twice thoughtlessly?
And today, through a friend of a friend on Facebook, I see you have died.
I swipe through your profile pics.
I know that face. And I don’t.
I scroll through the comments, looking for signs of how you died.
Because I suspect...
I don’t want it to be another chemsex death.
So, so many gorgeous ships that I’ve passed in three decades of nights - now lost to chems.
A few, achingly close, dear friends.
But the ache, the ache, of the many that I see too regularly on Facebook.
Familiar’ish strangers, from our gorgeous heady pasts.
Quiet posts from Facebook friends, announcing, lamenting, the untimely death, the oddly young unexplained death of someone I danced with (maybe). Or not. Perhaps queued for a toilet cubicle together. Years ago.
How did I know you? I hate it, that I can’t remember.
Because you deserve more than that.
To be more than just another guy I kinda knew maybe, who died from chems.
More than just a passing, sad thought.
There have been other strangers that have died, that I’ve learned of from Facebook. I saw, I lamented, I ached. And then I scrolled on. Perhaps there was a cute cat picture that distracted me from my brief grief.
Chemsex deaths that are announced, then forgotten. Have I become so accustomed, so immune to these RIP messages, that I can move on so quickly?
I am ashamed.
I am angry for these deaths. Too many.
I’m angry that many didn’t get much more than a brief grieving before scrolling onward. I’m angry that some mums and big brothers had to process and wrestle with the impossibleness of the chemsex spiraling that occurred before the death.
What a thing to come to terms with.
You deserve better than my fleeting, quickly-forgotten Emoji post.
I will not grieve momentarily, then scroll on.
It’s painful, but I will stay with it. Stay with this grief.
You deserve to be remembered.
By me. By your community.
Yes, I hardly knew you.
But I know that face.
A truly lovely face. I remember that.
You’re my comrade. You are familiar. You are my community. You are family.
I know some people were impatient with your chemsex journey.
Some friends didn’t stick by you.
I mean... you were a nightmare. A darling nightmare, my brother.
Maybe I didn’t stick by you. Maybe that’s our thing, the thing I can’t remember.
Maybe I abandoned you, as I moved on to more sex or more drugs.
Well today, I make a vow.
For today I am outraged.
Outraged that you are dead, so young, so bright.
Outraged by too many deaths. Outraged that you experienced some stigma and intolerance for your drug use. I am outraged that some of our public health institutions refuse to be alarmed at how many of us are dying from chems. I’m outraged when I hear that “it’s only a sub-population of a sub-population doing chems”. That the prevalence is over-rated. That I’m being alarmist in my activism.
I am alarmed.
I am grieving.
I hear you.
You are not just a sub-population of a sub-population; your pain is valid, this community’s concern, is valid.
You are valid, your experience, your life, your struggle with chems, was valid.
Not just a sub-population of a sub-population.
You were a significant gorgeous human being, part of a significant and divine community - and you should be remembered and celebrated and understood.
Not just momentarily, before scrolling on.
I am sorry I did that.
Sorry to you all. Rest in Peace.
I will honor you, I will stay with my grief. I will remember you, all of you, and I will respect your journey, that ended this way.
You are more than just another Facebook announcement.
You are my grief, for my struggling community. You are my shame, my shame that I can’t remember you. My shame for having scrolled by too quickly when you all deserved my grief. My grief and my activism.
you are also my fear. My fear that one day I might pass, and be scrolled past, forgotten, unimportant. My own insignificance. My own nihilism.
But today, it is you. And my grief and my shame.
And my vow.
You are passed. You are my brethren, you are significant and I will forever remember you, and act on that memory.
That I vow.