The senior member of my queer family, my friend, died this winter. While I'm crawling around looking for buds or other signs of early spring, two baby girls, twins, were born into that family. They're so tiny, still, as to barely have caused a ripple; tiny squirrels, a few pounds, wrapped like burritos.
The missing I have for Bob Kohler aches more with the appearance of these tiny girls. He would have had something to say about their birth. He may have been grouchy about queers feeling a need to have kids. But I bet a nickel he would have been interested in them, felt tender, wondered what good parts of each of us their presence might reveal.
Bob had many careers, one of which was running a store. The Loft was on Christopher Street, the "gay strip" of New York's West Village, where Bob also lived for 50 of his 81 years. He fought for queers, for kids, for animals, for people of color, for the homeless, for the HIV+ and disenfranchised people of all sorts for all of those years. The Loft had a sign that Bob liked to reminisce about. It said, "straights welcome, if they behave." It's funny, but he was serious about the store being a sanctuary, safe for the queerest of the queer. That it be theirs. Ours.
I birth abovegroundpool in Bob's activist spirit. I picture him at the helm in his New Year's sequined vest. Fabulous.