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Monday, December 17, 2007

Allan Bérubé, mon cher, repos dans la paix

I was on my way to work this morning and heard on the radio that one of my old friends had died last week. It’s not a good way to hear about a friend’s death ... barreling down the highway. I’m speaking of the writer and social activist, Allan Bérubé.

Allan and I met in 1981 or so. We took a class together and were very happy to discover each other. Both of us French Canadians and dearly missed being around French Canadians. We even started a French Canadian social club for queers in San Francisco ... that lasted for six or so months. The two of us were very busy.

We also shared a love of history and independent scholarship. He took it further than I did however. He wrote the classic Coming Out Under Fire about gay soldiers and what it was like being in the military. It was made into a very successful documentary. In 1996, Allan won the prestigious MacArthur "genius" grant.

Allan Bérubé was one of the dearest people I've known. One of those people that warm and inspire you. I’ve thought of him often. He loved learning things and researching and reading. But he was also very playful and .... oooooweee, he could dish, honey.

I enjoyed our times together because I felt I could talk to him about anything. After that first year or two of getting to know one another, we didn't spend a whole lot of time together but when we did ... it was deep and close. We could leap into any topic right away.

And one of my regrets is that in 2005 I googled him and found out that he and his lover had bought a bed and breakfast in Liberty, New York -- about an hour outside of the city. I was going to contact him and maybe reserve a room at the bed and breakfast when I went to New York that summer. But, I let the pressures of my job get to me. One of those stupid decisions one makes: job over people. Yes, I'll regret that one.

You can read his obituary here.

You can listen to a rememberance on NPR's Fresh Air here.

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