I shared the following tribute to Diana Hemingway at both the Celebration of Love and Celebration of Hope & Faith for her. While it’s extremely vulnerable, I’ve learned to live my life that way, just as we did together, and so I’m going to record it here:
Over the past three years, I fell deeply in love with a beautiful soul named Diana Hemingway. When this began as a hookup on November 18th, 2013 (forever named our sexy-versary), I had no idea that I would fall in love with her. She told me that she had hunted me, that I was her prey. She called herself the Huntress. And so yes, I suppose I was hunted. And I have no regrets about being her prey, even now.
Neither of us wanted love, and in fact, we resisted it at every turn for quite awhile. I was the first one to give into the feelings. I remember telling her that I loved her for a few months before she said it back. I’d say, “I love you.” And she’d say, in a very stoic, Diana-like way, “Thank you for telling me.” I didn’t give up. There was something about her, about our conversations, about our hookups that turned into lovemaking (and three hour conversations), that held me absolutely captive.
We moved through all of this very, very slowly. We checked in with one another on a regular basis. We held with great respect and delicacy each other’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. All of this was organic. In fact, we did not even know how to name an official anniversary date until we looked back at our many memories for a defining moment.
That moment took place at Stonewall Pride in 2014 in Wilton Manors. We had been attending some of the Pride festivities and having drinks on the Drive. I was really sweaty, and Diana convinced me to take off my binder. She assured me that it would be fine, and told me that Pride was about liberation. So I went in the bathroom of the bar and removed it, and joined her back at the bar. She then urged me to walk down the streets with her during Stonewall Pride, with my binder completely off, my shirt open, a simple brown tie hanging between my chesticles. She took off her top and her shorts, and walked only in damn-near-see-thru underwear. Walking hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder, we became the talk of the town. People couldn’t figure us out. Other people asked us to pose for pictures. I was anxious, but I did it. She gave me courage all of the time.
We came back to the house and met up with Diana’s good friend, Carvelle. I hardly knew Carvelle, but Diana quickly set the stage for the type of spontaneous and deeply intimate interactions that were so prominent in her life — the three of us drank, teased, laughed, cuddled, and took pictures. She emailed me the pictures the next day, with the subject heading “A Pride to Remember.” And indeed, I will never forget that evening. It changed my life. It changed our relationship. Diana lived each moment with wild abandon, and she encouraged others to do just the same.
There was a tragic and difficult side to our love, a sense of impending doom because she had told me early on in our relationship that she always hurts her lovers in the end. She warned me not to get too close. I did not, or rather could not, hear her. We were already “too close.”
Recently, she also told me that she is the one who always leaves her relationships, and that she felt that our relationship would be no different. I laid on her couch in tears as she rattled off the options: “I’ll get sick and die before you, or I’ll have a heart attack, or I’ll get wanderlust and run off to California, or I’ll commit suicide.” Diana was always suicidal, but I simply could not leave our love for fear of losing it.
On December 20th, 2016, she took her own life at the age of 46. She was only 13 years older than me, but easily two lifetimes wiser. She struggled with mental illness, societal rejection, facing the threat of homelessness, the cruelty of the world, and survival. She ended her suicide note to me by signing “Yours forever, in love that never dies.”
When someone is your everything, and they leave, you feel like you are left with nothing. And yet, I know I have so much — the memories of our love are vibrant, strong, and important.
And while Diana had the opportunity to write me a letter affirming her love for me, sadly, I did not get that privilege. I think I will be writing to her for years, but I am going to share with you a bit of what I wrote to her today:
I love you so so very much. While I may never fully understand the details of your decision to leave us, to leave me, on December 20th, please know, love, that I will always respect your autonomy. I respect that you did not intentionally involve others in this act without their consent. I respect your decision to re-enter the circle of life. I hold you with nothing but compassion, like a baby bird in my hands. I know that you left this world to avoid further trauma and harm at the hands of many systems. While the pain of losing you is the deepest pain I have ever known, and I wish nothing more than to have held you in your final hours, I know that you sought to protect me and my career — thank you, love.
I will miss you with my whole being. Here are some of the things I will miss the most:
-Hearing you tell me how much you loved me. After all, it damn sure took awhile.
-Holding you in my arms
-Laughing at the tops of our lungs together
-Talking with you for hours on end, sometimes until the sun came up. You were the most engaged, dynamic conversationalist I’ve ever known.
-Over time, figuring out your humor, knowing when I’d walked into a verbal trap, and being able to say “I knew you were going to say that” after almost every one of my verbal slip-up’s and every one of your ridiculous deadpan jokes.
– Listening to your many, many stories of your many, many past lives.
-Waking up in your bed, sometimes to you next to me, other times to the sound of your mouse wheel scrolling in the living room as you read through article after article, patiently waiting for me to wake up.
-Analyzing ALL OF THE FUCKERY of community politics and the players involved.
-Driving up and down A1A playing Pokemon Go.
-Trying new things with you.
-Going to Laspada’s and Skyline chili with you
-Venting to you about my struggles and having you make space for me.
-Sunday mornings and afternoons spent in bed with you, in love and in lust.
-Feeling you inside of me, on top of me, all over me.
-Submitting to your control of my body and letting you feed my desires.
-Petting your head.
-Laying in your lap, and staring up into your gorgeous eyes while you pet my head.
-Watching you mush all your food around and together on your plate.
-Listening to your views on politics, anarchy, and FUCKING SHIT UP.
-Sitting naked with you, crosslegged, touching each others thighs as we worked through conflict and hard times.
-Crying with you.
-Visioning with you.
-Going to the bars with you on Wilton drive, and walking back home to fall into each other’s arms in bed.
-Kissing your mouth and staring into your eyes, sometimes giggling and laughing, other times crying.
-Going to Billy’s with you for Lemon Pepper wings.
-Rolling over and letting you scratch my back.
-Walking into my apartment to find you sitting with and petting the cats when we had plans in Miami (because of course, I was always late, even to my own damn house).
-Updating you throughout the day on little things, and receiving your updates in return.
-Laughing at your general silliness and your silly jokes.
-Watching you prance around the house naked.
-Attending community events with you, seeing, feeling your support.
-Crafting our never-ending lists of movies to watch, restaurants to eat at.
-Embracing our fantasies and trying on new things constantly.
-Hearing you say hello to my cats in your quirky “Hi Puppies!”
-Seeing your happiness when you got to do something that filled you with pride and purpose.
-Saying good morning to you each day.
-Spooning with you in bed. Big spoon, little spoon, switchy spoons.
-Chuckling to myself from the moment I met you at a meeting, and almost every time thereafter, when you entered a room with a 2-liter of Diet Mountain Dew.
-Evolving, becoming a better person with you.
-Holding one another accountable and working through our mistakes.
-Opening the door to your apartment and hearing you say “hi, baby!”
-Sharing our writings with one another.
-Watching you in huntress mode at a bar or a kink event.
-Most recently, traveling with you, photographing with you.
-Making new memories with you.
-Finally, I will miss taking risks with you – including the very risk involved in loving one another at all.
It was just Sunday, December 18th, two days before your death, that we talked about how we must both continue embracing our desire for connection, because it so very worth it, even when the fear of losing it is very real. We were both terrified of loss, you because you’ve lost so many families, and me because of your suicidality, but we knew that this was right. You held me as I cried, and you said you recognized how very hard the fear of losing you has been for me.
Yes, the fear of losing was always hard… and now it’s real. And this is harder.
You’re not here with me in physical form anymore to hold me while I cry or to pet my head through the hard feelings. I feel empty and destroyed, but I know that you did not want that for me longterm. I also do not know what I feel just yet about spirituality, but I do think you’ve already been sending me indicators that the risks that we took, the vulnerability that we embraced, and the love that we made – made sense. I believe in my being that you are sending me signs that you are at peace, and that I was not responsible for your decision or need to go.
And I am so profoundly thankful for the time that you were here. That we were here together. As I have said before, and as you echoed back to me in your final letter, every moment with you has been a gift.
My laybae, my girlfriend, my relationship anarchist, my lovie, my lover, my partner — You wanted to show me what good love was – you did that and so very much more. I did not know what love really was before I met you. And now I do.
I will be eternally grateful for our good love, for all that you taught me, showed me, bestowed upon me, instilled within me — And I will always love you.
Yours forever, in love that never dies.