Friday, 28 February 2014

Gone But Not Forgotten

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Gone But Not Forgotten - in 2013

Christopher Robson was an Irish civill rights activist and co-founder of GLEN (Gay & Lesbian Equality Network). (1)

He also founded Gay Health Action, the first group responding to the AIDS crisis in Ireland, Dublin Lesbian & Gay Men's Collective, who campaigned against violence, harassment and discrimination in the 1980s, and the Campaign for Equality, which successfully lobbied from multi-ground equality legislation in Ireland. (2)

He died on 23 March 2013, leaving behind his partner of 35 years Bill Foley. The GLEN website contains a tribute to him. (3)

Chrisie Edkins, a transgender singer and parent who campaigned worldwide for trans equality, was found hanged at her home by her girlfriend on 10 June 2013. (4)

One of her dreams was to see a Gay Pride event staged in her home city of Southampton. As a musician, Chrisie had performed live at gay pride events around the globe.

To celebrate her life and that dream, her funeral was planned to have the feel of a ‘mini’ gay pride event, according to Abby, her younger sister. Mourners were asked to wear LGBT pride colours and wear a wristband produced in Chrisie’s memory.

Her family said Chrisie had struggled to cope with personal issues in her life that were not connected to her transgender campaigning and had been suffering from ‘severe depression’ in the months leading up to her death. She leaves behind two daughters from a relationship before her transition.

On 30 October 2013, a Coroner returned a verdict of suicide. (5)

There are some lovely photos of Chrisie on Tumblr. (6)

Carol Ainscow, who was part of the revival of Manchester city centre, died from a recently diagnosed brain tumour aged 55 on 19 September 2013. (7)

Her property company Artisan transformed flats, bars and restaurants on Canal Street, had been battling a brain tumour. She was only diagnosed after feeling unwell following a holiday in August.

Bolton-born Carol was instrumental in regenerating run-down parts of Manchester, including the Village and West Gorton. With business partner Peter Dalton, she opened Manto, one of the first openly-gay bars on Canal Street, in 1990 and went on to own several bars and restaurants.

During the 1990s and 2000s she helped transform the village into a vibrant district, while building up Artisan into a multi-million pound business. (8)

Sean Morrin died on 21 September 2013, aged 48. He was a gay rights and human rights activist based in Derry in the north of Ireland. He worked full time with The Rainbow Project (9), a gay and bisexual men's organisation in Northern Ireland.

He was Chairperson of Survivors Northern Ireland, a member of the Management Committee of Men's Action Network (MAN), The Male Link and The Nucleus, and a member of the Northern Ireland LGBT Unison Group. (10)

Philip Chevron (born Philip Ryan), who played guitar for The Pogues, died on 8 October 2013, aged 56. He had been treated for head and neck cancer in 2007 and was given a clean bill of health in April 2012. A new tumour appeared in August 2012, however, and was deemed inoperable. (11)

In 1976, Chevron founded one of Ireland's first punk bands, The Radiators from Space. Their songs were later covered by folk singers including Christy Moore and Mary Coughlan. In 1984 Chevron joined The Pogues following the release of their debut album, Red Roses for Me, initially on a temporary basis. He was a full-time member by the time they recorded their second album, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. Chevron later recalled his unrequited love for his heterosexual accordionist bandmate James Fearnley; though romance was not meant to be, esteem was unaffected. (12)

Although The Pogues' songwriting was dominated by Shane MacGowan, Chevron contributed one of the band's best-loved songs, Thousands Are Sailing.

In later years, he became The Pogues' unofficial spokesperson and resident expert on the reclusive MacGowan - frequently visiting online fora and directly answering questions from fans. In 2004, he personally oversaw the remastering and re-release of The Pogues' entire back catalogue on CD. He toured regularly with The Pogues, who reunited after a successful reunion tour in 2001. (13)

[Ed. note: I looked at 9 online obituaries for Philip Chevron, including such august organs as The Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Guardian and The Independent. The only one to reference Chevron's sexual orientation was Mojo.] 

Lou Reed died on 27 October 2013 from liver disease at the age of 71. (14)

He first came to notice as guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground. The band was a commercial failure in the late 1960s, but later gained a considerable cult and is one of the most widely cited and influential bands of its time - hence Brian Eno's famous quote that, while the Velvet Underground's debut album only sold 30,000 copies, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band."

Reed began his solo career in 1972. He had a hit the following year with Walk on the Wild Side, but never attained the commercial success its chart status promised. Reed was known for his distinctive deadpan voice, poetic lyrics and for pioneering and coining the term ostrich guitar tuning. (15)

In 1956, Reed, still a teenager, was given electroconvulsive therapy, intended to cure his bisexuality (16); he wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, Kill Your Sons. In an interview, Reed said of the experience:
"They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland State Hospital to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again." (17)

About that time, however, he stepped back from his declared, or at least implied, bisexuality. (18)

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time included two albums by Reed as a solo artist, Transformer and Berlin. (19)

Ray Gosling speaking at a
meeting of Croydon Area Gay
Society, 2 December 2008;
Photo by Ross Burgess
Ray Gosling died on 19 November 2013, aged 74. He was an English broadcaster, journalist, author and gay rights activist. (20)

He wrote and presented several hundred television and radio documentaries and regional programmes for BBC Radio 4 and Granada Television from the 1960s to 1980s on quirky aspects of life in different British towns and cities. His later documentaries focused on his personal life and his emergence as a gay activist. He was described as "one of the most uniquely talented figures in the history of British broadcasting." (21)

Gosling was an early pioneer of the modern British gay rights movement, first becoming involved in the 1950s, and working with Allan Horsfall in the North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee of the late 1960s, which later became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). Horsfall and Gosling ran a website together called Gay Monitor (22) which is partly a history of CHE and partly an account of more recent cases of discrimination against gay men.

On BBC’s Inside Out on 15 February 2010, he claimed to have killed a lover in an act of euthanasia. He was briefly arrested, but the claims were false and he was later given a suspended sentence for wasting police time.

On 14 September 2010, he was given a 90 day suspended sentence at Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

6.; See also:
16. Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side: The Stories Behind the Songs, Chris Roberts 2004
17. Lou Reed quoted in Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain, Grove Press 1996
18. - by Tom Robinson
21. By Robert Chalmers in a piece in The Independent on 40 September 2012:

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