Serena Freewomyn

In Memory Of

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | June 18, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: Daniel Wright, LGBT youth, LGBTQ, Long Beach, queer teens

On Father's Day I received a piece of very sad news. My good friend Daviel Wright had passed away from complications with his diabetes. The news came as quite a shock to me. Daniel was a young man and I had always known him to be fit and healthy. Granted, I hadn't seen Daniel in the past year because I had moved away from Long Beach, but it was still hard for me to understand why this had happened.

I met Daniel when I was the youth program coordinator for the Gay & Lesbian Center of Greater Long Beach. Daniel was my first volunteer. Daniel was a very light-hearted person who was always silly and whimsical around the kids. And oh, did those queerlings love him! They loved playing board games together (Rumicube was their favorite), and they loved joking around. They especially loved going to Daniel's house during the summer for our monthly BBQ's and pool parties. Daniel allowed the kids to be themselves and there wasn't a day that went by that he didn't let them know that they were loved.

IMG_6561.JPG Daniel was one of my most reliable volunteers. If I needed an extra set of hands because someone had called in sick, I could call Daniel and know that he would be there in a heartbeat. If I needed extra chaperones because we were going on a field trip, Daniel was my go-to guy. We took the kids sailing and horseback riding together. We took them to the aquarium and to the museums. And we marched in the LA and Long Beach Pride parades two years in a row. If there was fun to be had, Daniel would be there!

My favorite memory of Daniel is how he dressed up for the Halloween dance. He came as "gay-lien." He painted his entire head green, hewore these goofy, green ears, and he had on this tacky daisy-print suit. The kids just went nuts when they saw him! And that was the essence of Daniel.

I will miss Daniel. Although I am moving back to Long Beach soon, it somehow will never be the same. I'll never run into Daniel again at Hot Java or Aki Sushi. I can't count the number of times we both went there separately and ended up eating together because we bumped into one another. And I'll never hear him laughing or see him playing with the kids.

I will never understand why God chooses to take people when she does. Why take Daniel, who was generous, and loving, and kind? Why not take someone who beats their wife or embezzles money? I have to believe that God has a purpose and that she must have taken Daniel because his work here was done. And in my opinion, the most important thing any of us can do is make queer kids feel that they are loved for who they are. Daniel certainly did that.

I thank God for blessing my life by introducing me to Daniel. And I know that our kids are grateful, too. So thank you, Daniel, for filling our little chosen family with so much love. You will be missed.

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Thank you for sharing this extremely personal and moving moment with all of us. It sounds like Daniel had a huge impact on you r life, as well as the life of countless queer youth. I honor his memory, his commitment to our community, and his friendship with you.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and his loved ones...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Serena. Daniel sounds like a role model for us all. Perhaps you can work in Long Beach to set up a scholarship in his name for queer kids from the Center?

Thanks for sharing this in such a public forum, Serena. It's an amazing tribute to your friend.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 19, 2008 3:59 AM

Beautiful is the life well lived. Thank you for sharing your friends goodness.

Hi guys - thanks you so much for your kind words and your emotional support. I have finally gotten to a point of acceptance, although I am certainly still sad. We need more people like Daniel in this world. And his death has really made me stop and appreciate how short life is. I was just thinking about him last week and I didn't call. And from now on I am going to be better about telling the people in my life how much I love and appreciate them before I don't have the opportunity to do it again.

Hi Serena - I don't know exactly what to write, but I want to offer my condolences about the loss of your friend. I spent a lot of time at the Long Beach Center in the late 1990's, and although I didn't know Daniel personally or work with the kids, I feel sure that I probably saw him there and interacted if the years we are talking about overlapped. You don't mention how old Daniel was, but it sounds like he wasn't that old, and that always enters into the sense of loss when you feel like someone "should have been around longer". I, too, hope to return to Long Beach someday, and whether it is to visit or to live is yet to be determined --- but I too know that friends I once had there have passed on, and I can identify with your sadness, and there is something, both a bit haunting and at the same time comforting, about you and I having the same sense of the place. (Hot Java is up there on Second at the northeast corner of Bixby Park, near Ming's Chinese restaurant, as I remember?)