I'm going to step out on a limb here.

Right now, it's de rigeur for people on the Net to make fun of the ingominous death of the Reverend Gary Aldridge, who was found dead in his home this past Sunday. Because the details in the news report may not be safe for work, I'm going to put the rest of this article behind a cut... It seems that the good Reverend, a buddy of Jerry Fallwell's, had a thing for rubber (he was found wearing not one but two wetsuits), self-bondage, and autoerotic asphyxia, and when he was found dead it seems that the ligature around his neck had strangled him to death. That's the thing about gasping: It's easy to take it too far and kill yourself. The human body doesn't react well to hypoxia, and sometimes your heart will stop just to spite you. If you read the autopsy report you'll find what is possibly the most clinical description of self-bondage ever written, and deep in my hearts I feel that I have to commend the medical examiner for this. The circumstances were bad enough, and for crying out loud the man's family has enough to deal with right now.

I've been trying to figure out what to write about this for about a day now, and it hasn't been easy. I am no fan of Fallwell or his cronies - as long as I've been alive, they've been the ones to crow about sex and sin and hellfire and perversion and not a few of them were known for wanting to see freaks like me dead because we're "so wrong we're not even wrong." I'm certainly not going to crack jokes because this article hit the news wires on National Coming Out Day. I'd love to stand up and cry at the top of my lungs about hypocrisy and all that rot, but you know what? I'm not.

I really and truly feel sorry for Aldridge. Not because a carefully concealed fetish of his had a lot to do with his death. Not because he was in the closet about a couple of things that are potentially embarrassing. I feel sorry for him because he was a human being who died alone in his house, without anyone to comfort him as he passed beyond.

I'm not going to make fun of the man because he had a thing for rubber or bondage. He had his kinks and his eccentricities and I don't think that they are any reason to hate or deride someone. I have my own kinks, rest assured, and I'd wager that not a few people who'll come across this post do as well. I'm not going to yuk it up because he had something illegal in the state of Alabama stuffed into a portion of his anatomy that I'll spare you the details of, either. For crying out loud, give the man some dignity.

Reverend Aldridge, I'm sorry that you shuffled off this mortal coil the way you did. I'm sorry that you fell in with a crowd that loved to preach against perversion and in favor of intolerance even though you might have considered yourself one of those people that were targeted. I'm sorry that you lived life the way you did, hiding things about yourself that helped you feel alive and vital. Maybe you felt ashamed of your interests - it's not uncommon in the community, let me assure you - and if so I'm sorry that you did. I'd have gone out for coffee with you, had things been different. I sincerely hope that you have a better time of things next time 'round, and I hope that you realize that there are those of us who won't act like kneejerk reactionaries.

I'll hoist one to you this weekend.

I don't see any point to throwing any vitriol or hate around the way some people do. That only perpetuates the cycle, and by doing so, nothing will change for the better.