Grateful for Ben, friends and communityBottom Highlights, Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest, Latest Issue Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest
This Thanksgiving has not been easy for me as I lost one of my best and most loyal friends, Ben Dillingham, who I loved like my brother. He was family to me and loved me unconditionally, “warts and all.”
This was a friendship of over 30 years and when Ben gave you his friendship he gave you his heart. A while back Ben told me he had terminal cancer and didn’t have too long. After he passed last week I was devastated and almost went into deep depression and didn’t want to see anyone. But God not only blessed me with my beloved Ben, but also some good and caring friends.
You see, almost my entire family rejected me when they found out I was homosexual, my father, grandparents, etc. But God has blessed us homosexuals by giving us a blood family and another LGBT family of our choosing.
Starting in the 1960s I have experienced street life, drugs, deep depression and yes, almost a drug overdose and it has been my LGBT family that has stood by me, comforted me and shown me love from my Hollywood days to San Diego.
I know I haven’t been the perfect friend or activist and hopefully God is not through with me yet, but of the most special gifts he ever gave me was my brother Ben Dillingham. After Ben passed, I woke up one day last week and said to myself “what would “Benie” (my nickname for him) want me to do? Snap out of it. Your work with the annual Scott Carlson dinner is coming up! Ben was one of its longest supporters since the beginning decades ago.
And that is why I am also grateful to you, the community who continue to support this dinner, the “Toys for Kids” drive (founded in 1975), the blanket drive, the Christmas dinners, school backpacks, Easter Egg Hunt, etc. All projects that Ben supported.
And this year, especially because of Big Mike, Mikie Lochner, the Imperial Court, our LGBT Center, under their leadership and because of your generosity we will be feeding more families, women, men and children than ever before, from a 91 years young widow to children living below the poverty line.
So don’t worry about me and thank you for all who have reached out to me. Sadly as this old queen grows older, I am losing more friends and fellow LGBT activists.
What would Ben want me to say to you all? Well, appreciate your friends more; hug them and your family tighter and closer when you see them next time. Let’s be kinder to each other and watch over each other. Everyone should see the movie Wonderful.
And always, but always extend a helping hand to others for, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
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