Since I started writing "A Life Story," my weekly obituary feature for The Plain Dealer, I've been focused on celebrating the diversity of the people of Northeast Ohio.
My purpose is to introduce readers to folks in their communities, whom they probably didn't know, and to lifestyles and cultures that may be unfamiliar to them.
Black, white. From places as different as Sri Lanka and Slovakia. Sons of Italy and Daughters of the American Revolution. Old, young. Male, female.
I haven't found a transgender subject yet.
I have written about some dearly departed gays and lesbians, but I've had to be careful what I wrote. I mean, how can you say that a person was gay, when his partner denies it? And what do you do when the partner is cool with it, but the elderly mother and the siblings are in denial?
It's not that I want a "gay" headline or to spell out details about the person's sexual practices. I simply want to write stories about everyday people, who happen to be gay. They're not creatures, who came from outer space or are headed for hell. They're your neighbors, your grocers, your teachers.
Finally, this week I got to write a story about a Log Cabin Republican, who lived in an extremely liberal-leaning neighborhood. Stanley Mason
didn't have a closeted boyfriend or secretive relatives to hinder my report. He was as open about being gay as he was of being a Republican in an area that is likely to vote for native son Dennis Kucinich for president.
He was simply his own person.
Stanley spoke often of growing up with open-minded relatives - including several who were gay. He told friends that he was surprised at the large number of gays who served with him in the military in the Korean War. Plus, he belonged to a gay seniors group.
I was so pleased that I got to include this stuff in his obit, along with his civic activism, love of target-shooting - wearing nothing but a thong - and his community pride.
It's too bad that the pictures that were printed with the story don't show up with the online version. You should have seen the photo of bald-headed, white-bearded Stanley sitting on Santa Claus' lap.