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George and Carrie: facing fears

in Culture / Entertainment/Society by

I met a guy at a Christmas party, or at least I thought I met him there. Into the conversation, we realised we had met at the rally against Trump in Leipzig, shortly after the election. At the Christmas party, the conversation turned to 2016 being the year of loss. We talked Bowie and Prince.

I said I just want to wake up dead, when the time comes. No pain. No suffering. Just go in my sleep. That’s why I was so torn when I woke up on the 26th to hear George Michael had “died peacefully.”

I was in shock, but I also was comforted by the knowledge he hadn’t suffered.

Today I read that his boyfriend had gone to his house to wake him up to share Christmas together. He found him in bed. He had experienced heart failure in his sleep.

I remember playing his first solo album over and over. He’s part of my relationship with my mother. We both thought George Michael was really sexy.

Ironically, the song I never much liked was Wham!’s first American hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. But that one was not really consistent with his later sound.

At a long standing Christmas dinner on the 26th, Last Christmas came on. I turned to my friend sitting next to me and we talked about George Michael. He said, “He wasn’t that great as a musician. I respect him for what he did to normalise being gay.”

George Michael, himself, said he never expected to leave a lasting mark as a performer. He did hope he would leave music with lyrics that future generations could relate to.

As far as his sexuality was concerned, coming out was something he struggled with. In 1998, he was arrested for cruising. He admitted that, in retrospect, he thought he was flirting with it by being so bold in a public place. He was actually relieved to get caught.

Later, George showed no remorse and continued to cruise when he felt the urge, saying ,“It’s a much nicer place to get some quick and honest sex than standing in a bar, E’d off your tits shouting at somebody and hoping they want the same thing as you do in bed.”


Then, BOOM! The next day, Carrie Fisher died.

carrie-fisher

This came as no surprise, because I had read she’d had a heart attack flying back to the States from the UK.

I had come to know her as more than Princess Leia when she took part in Steven Fry’s documentary, “The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive.” She talked candidly about being bi-polar and what that had meant in her life.

Later, when the new Star Wars film came out, she appeared on Graham Norton. Something about her intrigued me and I went on a Carrie Fisher binge.

That’s when I learned about the Carrie I will miss. I learned about her wit.

I even looked for her book, Princess Diarist. I wanted to ask for it for Christmas. It was sold out. Today I looked on Amazon again and all her books were sold out. I’m sure she’d make a joke about that.

She was diagnosed as manic depressive in her 20s, but didn’t really believe it. All the people she knew with it that were “crazy”. Years later, when she signed in for treatment, she just wrote “shame”.

Of course, there is still stigma attached to mental illness, but I am so glad that Carrie was able to own it. Also, there are still many circles who do not accept homosexuality. Thank you, George Michael, for not being ashamed of every part of who you were.

I think if they leave a message for us, it’s for us to live our lives unabashedly. Sometimes that takes courage. It also takes support.

Let’s be courageous and supportive.

“I don’t want life to imitate art, I want life to be art.”
Carrie Fisher in Postcards from the Edge

Maeshelle West-Davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums. Sound, video, photography, dance, performance and public art are the tools she uses to convey her message. Her work is a response not only to a physical journey, but an emotional one, as with all of us who walk along or beside our individual paths.

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