Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Death on the Internet

A good man I never met died this week. Bradford Graham (more commonly referred to as Brad L. Graham) passed away on or about January 4. Places as diverse as Metafilter and NPR have reported his death and celebrated his life: he was a blogging pioneer and coined the word "blogosphere" (as a joke), but he was more proud of the fact that Fred Phelps had called him "the most dangerous Sodomite in Missouri." I just knew him as somebody I used to hang out with online, back in the day.

There is much about him, in his own words, at his website, and I leave it to others who knew him better and more intimately to reflect more completely on his extremely ample and joyful life, but I couldn't not take a moment to remember his kindness and humor. Part of me regrets never having met Brad face to face; I know from our online friendship that we would have gotten on well. And I'm sure, from the accounts of many, many other people, that he was someone who did not disappoint in person. But mostly I'm grateful for the interaction that we did have.

I'm also grateful for his boldness. When I knew him, I was something of a newbie gay, and he was frequently an inspiration, though one that I rarely lived up to. One of his comments on the site where we both spent a good portion of our days back then is still my favorite contribution of his:
I actually just came back from the eye doctor's office. My doctor is very, very handsome and so awfully nice and funny.

After he had examined the fit of my new contact lenses, he said "I'd like to see you again in about four weeks for a follow-up exam."

"OK," I said. "I'd like to see you sooner, perhaps for dinner and a movie."

"OK," he said.

That's how I'll always remember him: as someone who knew what he wanted, wasn't afraid to get it, and made a lot of other people happy in the process.

If there's a heaven, no handsome man is safe there any more, but a lot more of them are smiling.

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