One morning last August at least five people asked me, “Did you hear about the guy who fell off his balcony?”
Only one of them had actually heard the impact and seen the body on the pavement, but from person to person the composite of the victim was consistent: gay, lonely and on medication.
“Did you know him?” I’d ask.
“Then how do you know he was lonely and on medication?”
It was as if gay people who die alone, are automatically one, the other, or both.
When I think of all the rickety West End balconies with signs that say, “Please don’t lean on the railing,” I can’t help but wonder if the last thought that went through that poor soul’s mind was, “I knew I should have had that fixed!”
“So did you hear about the guy who fell off his balcony?” I asked a friend, getting a sick pleasure from it.
“Probably another lonely homo on medication,” he surmised.
“We don’t know that,” I said.
But I thought it nonetheless, perhaps for the simple reason that it’s one of my own worst nightmares. It’s the fate every gay man spends his life trying to avoid.
That same day, I tripped on my flip-flops in front of a crowed patio at Hamburger Mary’s. It wasn’t a total faceplant, but my life did flash before my eyes. That’s what I get for gossiping.
Balance restored, I scanned the grazing faces of the patio. My trip appeared to have gone unnoticed, or so I thought. A couple of hours later, I was standing in line at a bar and I heard the person behind me say, “There’s the guy who almost fell outside of Mary’s.”
Instantly, I became “That Fall Guy” to a small portion of the community. I wanted to turn around and defend myself, but what was the point?
“Make it a double,” I told the
It’s comforting to know that, as divisive as this community can be, we are still connected.
The next day, I looked in the papers for the story of the guy who fell from his balcony. I needed to know that there was more to this man’s death than just loneliness and medication, that he had thrown his head back in laughter, lost his balance and just kept going. But there was no mention of him anywhere, and that somehow made it more tragic.
So this one’s for you Fall Guy, whoever you are. You are not alone.
And for those of you like him, remember this: divisive or not, we are all connected.