Publisher’s Perspective: Sadness and strength

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotSadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness. Tale of Two Cities

I first met Carl Kuttler when he helped found St. Pete Pride almost a decade ago. Sitting at a fundraising table, he glowed with energetic competence. I immediately saw that he was a force to be reckoned with.

We became friends when he remodeled the compact kitchen of my Roser Park bungalow. Sitting together at my dining room table, I watched in awe as he created a complex design on his computer with lightning speed all while entertaining me with self-deprecating stories of his topsy-turvy life.

I cooked dinner for him and our mutual friends in that kitchen, several times. Carl had a sort of haughty vulnerability that made for stimulating company. As I got to know him better, I was struck by his candor and transparent yearning to connect.

Carl was happiest on the beautiful yacht he owned with his father. It was remodeled in New Orleans, and together they’d maneuvered around Hurricane Katrina to get it back to Tampa Bay quite an adventure. Carl would fill the yacht with food and drink and invite a boatful of friends to tour Boca Ciega Bay, most often out to the Skyway Bridge and back. Back at the marina he’d have a drink or two and lapse into his favorite character, Shirley Q. Liquor: How you durrin?

I lost touch with Carl a couple years ago. I suspect his kitchen remodeling business had suffered during the housing bust, but to speculate beyond that would be like trying to create a portrait with only a few dots to connect. I don’t know why he jumped off that Skyway Bridge to his death last week. Certainly, by the means he chose, he wanted his exit to be noticed.

Buddhists believe that suicide is a temporary solution to a permanent problem the pain and suffering that is part of life. But they also teach that this pain is transient, understandable, and even instructive.

There is a campaign to convince young, suicidal LGBTs to keep living that it gets better. Just 43 at the time of his death, I wish this message had somehow resonated with Carl.

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists. David Copperfield.

A far different story is spotlighted on the cover of this issue of Watermark. I hope you’ll be as moved by Gina Duncan’s journey as I was.

As a gay man, I was offered a lesson in the importance of living authentically, and the relentless way the universe conspires against you when you don’t. But for Gina, that meant reordering an otherwise wholly successful life to change genders. Family, friends, financial well-being all were profoundly at risk.

I picture her former self, Greg, lying in bed with eyes wide open in the dead of night. His wife snores gently by his side. Their two boys sleep down a hallway lined with pictures of beloved relatives and friends.
Greg is at the center of this well-ordered universe. And only he knows that a powerful gravitational pull calls him to a different, truer orbit. But if when he realigns, what will be the impact?

Try to imagine what it took for Greg to become Gina, a process that no doubt continues. Then consider the unrealized dreams or ambitions that prevent the rest of us from living authentically, in small and big ways. If we could tap into just a portion of Gina’s courage, imagine the change that would result.

Gina Duncan was created, not constructed. I suspect Greg loved her before she existed. And his courage likely sprang, at least in part, from an intense desire to introduce her to the rest of us.

As you can tell, I’ve been reading Dickens lately. No one captures life’s challenging, complex beauty more poetically. I’ve got two more quotes, the first a hopeful one for Carl, the second an admiring one for Gina.

It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. Tale of Two Cities

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. David Copperfield

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