I may have to ask forgiveness instead of permission for this quick letter; Brent Fourre doesn’t know I’m writing this. This time last year, I’d been to a couple of Lavender events but was barely beginning to recognize the usual suspects. Then, I went to the Renaissance Festival and saw a guy who I was certain I’d seen and asked to take a picture of him and his friends—and he recognized me back. Such was the start of our mutual recognition society, which I bolstered by stalking him on Facebook just to surprise him by knowing his last name when I saw him at the next event. Relationship building. Or just being creepy. You decide.
At last night’s First Thursday at Loring Kitchen & Bar, Brent good-naturedly stepped out of a picture with his friends, and we laughed about how often his picture is in the magazine and on the website. I made the point that the odds are good—he’s at so many events and is very involved in the community. Then, I told him privately how I thought of him and his job as an American Sign Language Interpreter when I was watching the interpreter at Dan Savage’s show (signing about sex is almost more funny than talking about it). He laughed, too, but then told me about a recent challenge he faced in his interpreting.
As pictured in the Lavender Lens on page 14, the Red Ribbon Ride that raises money and awareness for the various AIDS organizations in Minnesota held its closing ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol. Brent was there as a rider and also as an American Sign Language Interpreter. Just as we had been giggling a moment before, we turned solemn as he recounted how he’d ended up interpreting a video at the Closing Ceremony that included his own story. He powered through interpreting the story of his own partner of 16 years dying of complications of AIDS. He marveled at how the story he told to a camera when registering for the ride was broadcast in its entire two minutes for everyone to see and hear. I marveled that he made it through the telling—twice—in two languages and in front of an audience.
We spoke of how carefully he crafted his words and thoughts to be respectful to the audience and how, in speaking to other members of the media, he cautioned that AIDS is still a force to contend with.
I had no idea. This was all new to me. But, I am grateful to have had the chance to learn more about Brent, not in a video at a Closing Ceremony, but at a happy hour. Someone who was already a familiar and friendly person showed more of his facets and I—along with the people at the Red Ribbon Ride—are fortunate to know more about him.
The point I’m making is that even though I curate stories for people to read and see in these pages and online, sometimes the stories just need to be gotten from each other, in person.
And I’m grateful for each and every one that I get to hear.