His eyes sparkle and his smile widens as he displays pictures of his first skydiving jump in 1997. His facial expression becomes even more pronounced as his hands emphasize how that jump changed his life.
At first unaware of how loud the volume was on his laptop speaker, he soon recognizes it from the faces of other customers in the café.
The small video clip shows him attached to another man (known as the tandem jump), as required for first-time skydivers.
“My first tandem jump, I absolutely loved the freefall,” says 32-year-old Mark Rejhon, revealing his white pearls.
That first jump stuck in his mind and inspired Rejhon to become a licensed skydiver in 2005.
And now, his discussions about the extreme sport on the web ignited his desire to have a gay “boogie” — a skydiver’s tradition of naming a big skydiving party.
With the Outgames in Montreal nearing, Rejhon decided to organize the World’s first official Gay Day event at a Quebec skydiving dropzone. He solely spearheaded the boogie, calling it Rainbow Boogie — rainbow representing the sky in addition to its usual status as a queer symbol. The event will take place Jul 28-31 at NouvelAir, the host dropzone 30 minutes outside Montreal.
After spending hours and more than $1,000 from his own pocket, Rejhon has already invited more than 80 skydivers from around the world.
“I hope to bring together the biggest gathering of gay/gay-positive skydivers in one place in history, over 100 [people] in one spot,” Rejhon says.
Asked about his thoughts when he is “up there” hurtling through near-space, he can only wonder what astronauts feel.
On his skydiving log book today, Rejhon wrote “167” — the number of times he’s jumped.
On a good sunny day, he can jump from five to 10 times.
“After jumping a few dozen times, you get a lot less nervous about skydiving. And I’m able to concentrate on challenges such as ‘formation skydiving’ where people link up in freefall.”
Challenges are nothing new to Rejhon. Adopted at birth and 90 percent hearing impaired, he’s never let anything stop him from trying out new things in life.
Last year, Rejhon was licensed as the first and only deaf skydiver in Canada. He also took part at the 2005 Deaf World Record Team in Florida.
“My aspirations is to someday be part of the world record formation skydive,” he types into his laptop at the end of the interview. “The world record is a 400-person formation.”