About six weeks ago, I lost one of my best friends, suddenly. Joey was my heart; he was my brother; he was my sister. He was my partner in crime. He was my confidant. We were co-pilots on what now seems like too few trips to the beach, and spent what now seem like too few hours generally being fabulous together.
Joey was like licorice: you either loved him, or you detested him. He was brash, he was rude, and he was often an asshole. He judged the hell out of people. But he never – and this is where I feel I have so much to learn from him – he never wrote people off. Joey’s friends, as I learned when we all pulled together to grieve as a family, are an eclectic group of freaks, geeks, fuck-ups, Type-As, creative types, destructive types – often all in the same person. In spite of being one of the most appearance-focused people I’ve ever met, Joey had an incredible, beautiful knack for seeing past all that external shit in other people and celebrating them for their substance. Luckier still for those of us who knew him, Joey also excelled at connecting friends and acquaintances of his who shared similar interests and likely never would have met without him. The interesting side-effect of all this was that we each got a different slice of Joey. Not a one of us can safely say we knew Joey completely. His personality was too broad, our individual personalities too narrow, for any one of us to get the whole picture.
Joey gave what for most people would be a superhuman amount of energy to the causes he loved. He’d walk into a woefully underprepared space where a fundraiser or arts event was to begin in a just few short hours, and he could single-handedly whip it and everyone nearby into showtime form. Joey cared deeply about animals, especially dogs (and most especially his Chihuahua, Tank). He also gave a great deal of time to LGBT causes and events, including Blue Ball and the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. As someone who grew up in a small town in the Poconos, he appreciated the importance of an urban gay community not just for himself but for urban queers in general. No doubt Joey had even more amazing contributions to the community still ahead of him.
At a Memorial Day barbeque, I ended up chatting for a while with my friend Patrick, whom Joey had dated for a while. While we talked, I looked around the room and realized that Joey was the reason all of us were there, at the same party – not because we were expressly celebrating him in any way, but just because he was the only common thread among us all. A lot of us simply wouldn’t have met without him. Finally I understood that this was how we’ll keep Joey in our lives for the years and decades to come: by getting together, crazily cobbled-together urban family that we are, to celebrate holidays, birthdays, any-ol’-days. And I think that’s exactly how he’d want it.
I love you more’n my luggage, Joey. Muah.