With Fondest Love From England

by Angie McLachlan

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Read tributes to Chris Hewitt by Raymond J. Aguilera, Mark Moody, and Michael Perreault.

 

Dear Bob Guter,

I am Chris Hewitt's cousin from England. I feel that I must thank you for the opportunity that BENT gave to Chris to find a wider audience for his work.

He was always proud to have his poems and prose on the web. He was especially excited when "Queer Crips" was published. He mailed me a copy, which I have read, enjoyed and keep with pride.

I was delighted to receive mention in one of Chris's Chapbooks. However it was on one of his trips to London that we really sparked. I was with my partner and we were asking Chris what he was involved in. In a dramatic gesture that nearly knocked the coffee cups off the table, he declared "I'm doing a libretto based on 'Pink Flamingo's'"

That was his 'coming out' speech (to me)! I think it gave him confidence to know that I was gay too, as he came out to his mother soon after. We proudly shared a Great Aunt who had a female partner. She died in the 1970's well into her 90's. I hope she would have been proud of her "pink" kin. I know she will have welcomed Chris into the protection and love of the family up in heaven. The reunion must have been a riot. Since Chris was always the life and soul of a gathering, they must have needed him to liven things up. Who knows what goes on in heaven?

Life in England was challenging for Chris. Access even now is not good for people living with wheels; in the '70's it was terrible and the prospect of teaching work was nonexistent. As a maturing chap he found the support and facilities of the USA much more conducive. Understandably it was also important for him to maintain distance from the protective boundaries of the family as a maturing gay man.

I feel that it was the best step when in 1974 Chris took advantage of the offer of the American Dream. He certainly would have had a harder time back here and although I know some times were rough for him out there, here they would have been just impossible! Chris may have been small in stature, but I always said that he had the personality of a giant. When he was 'on form' he could fill any room—and he did! His personality acted like a magnet, collecting many loyal friends, but sometimes I guess hiding immense physical and spiritual pain and anxiety.

He told me of his Cafe Queen days and his escape into liquid refreshment. We shared our quest for love in our letters over the years. We were family in two senses and the bond of being gay family was important to us both.

Chris was many complicated things, as we all are. For me, he was a clever, gifted man. A brave lion of a man in a fragile shell. A dependent man who could be charming, witty, sometimes stubborn—and oh so selfish. He will loom large in our collective memory; and being Chris, wherever he is, he will expect nothing less!

YOU WERE HIS FRIENDS! Thank you for caring and allowing him to blossom as he did among you. He was the biggest smallest cousin I ever had.

With fondest love from England.
Angie McLachlan

P.S. By the way, did he ever tell you why he grew that beard? He got totally pissed with people patting him on the head as his mum wheeled him around, and saying "what a cute little girl." So he said, I'll show 'em, and grew it—enormous, bushy, unmistakable!

© 2004 Angie McLachlan

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BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/September 2004