Monday, 23 April 2012
As I mentioned in my first ever blog, one of the first things I did when I first arrived in the UK was a visit to Manchester for a weekend event called Sparkle. It’s like the trans version of a gay Pride event, but more sparkley. One of the first people I met that weekend was someone called Aerie. I remembered mostly her brightly coloured hair and her cider drinking, potty mouth. At over 6 foot tall in heels Aerie liked to stand out. I got to know her that weekend and shared a ride back home with Bobby and was struck by how quiet this person became. Maybe it was the hangover, maybe it was because Aerie was how Bobby preferred to express herself, either way, I’d already decided that I thought this person was pretty cool.
Over the next few months Aerie came up in conversation a few times and in person once or twice and I learned a bit more about how he lived his life. He came from a rough part of Cardiff and his family, by all accounts, had a reputation for being typical rowdy Welshmen. Bobby was different. Bobby was also Aerie. Unlike most other transvestites, he was open to his family about his weekend hobby. I was once told a story that when Bobby told his family that he liked to dress as female occasionally his brothers told him “that’s OK, just don’t do it round here because we’ll have to get into fights defending you.” Even Bob’s Facebook page bore both his male and female name, Aerie wasn’t ashamed of who he was. Why can’t more people be like you, Aerie?
Aerie was liked by almost everyone she met, reading through the comments people left after hearing of the sad news, a theme emerged; ‘I’ve only met you a few times and wish I’d have got to know you more’. Aerie left an impression in so many peoples lives. I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for the way Aerie lived, at a time in my life when I was just starting to come out, here was someone who lived with the openness I wanted for my life. We shared a love for swearing too much, drinking too much and we shared some demons too.
When I think of Aerie I will always remember that weekend in Manchester, and like others, I wish I’d have had the chance to get to know her more. I hope that in death he finds the peace he was looking for, he will be very sorely missed by very many people.