I am bewildered. When I heard the news of your suicide, all I had (and still have) are questions. Why did you take your own life? What happened in the two days since we last spoke that you realized you couldn’t take it anymore? It hurts to know that I won’t see your face or hear your voice again (in this lifetime) to answer my questions.
I am angry. There are other questions haunting me in the wake of your suicide. But one statement hangs in the air around me that I can’t seem to shake: This did not have to happen. We as Leather folk can be our own harshest critics, and rightfully so in those times that we fail to give each other the love and support we need. But Greg, you had that love and support. This is one time I know the community reached out to you. Again, you and I spoke twice during IML, two days before your death. I asked you how you were; you were silent for a moment before you slowly and reluctantly admitted that you were just holding on. I know that the Tribe reached out to you in the time following Aaron’s death. I know that a number of your IML Class Brothers spoke to you as well.
I am heartbroken. Now and then I struggle with guilt, wondering if there was something more I could have and should have said when I last saw you. Yet I can’t help but remember your silence and hesitancy when I asked you how you were. Was it hard to admit that you were still in pain? Was it hard to admit that the grief and other struggles that followed Aaron’s death were a little too much to bear? This is where my heart breaks, when I think it may have been. My heart also breaks in thinking that it may have been hard for you to accept and take comfort in the love that was given to you. I know that as men (particularly as men who identify as Doms like we do), we hate to admit to any weakness and any pain of any sort. I can’t help but feel some kind of way that the identity you and I stand so proudly in may have contributed to your demise.
I am sad. I am sad that we will not meet at the Master/slave Conference this year as we had planned. I am sad for your family, both biological and Leather. I am sad for your IML Brothers who are missing you badly right now. I am sad that I will no longer get to enjoy your physical beauty, your quirkiness, your sexiness, your quiet and calm demeanor, your smile and your connection to the Tribe.
I am wondering. Maybe the truth is, Greg, that it was your time to depart from this life, and deep down you knew this. Maybe you knew about Essex Hemphill’s poem “Grief Is Not Apparel”, and you refused to wear your pain any longer. I can only hope that we in the Tribe—especially those of us who identify as Dom(me)—no longer feel ashamed to admit when we are not strong, and gladly accept love and support when freely given. But do know this, Greg: regardless of the reasons you left us, and despite my anger, sadness, heartbreak and bewilderment, I will miss you, and remember you fondly. Oh, and when I join you on the other side, I’m going to hold you to our plans to hang out at the Master/slave Conference like we planned.
Editor’s note: Rod’s original posting included a statement about Gregory hanging himself which may or may not be factual. Rod requested that this reference be removed out of respect for Gregory and his friends and family. Additionally, members of Greg’s leather family have requested that we remove his last name from the article, which we have done.