With the recent news about Chicago drag performer, Lady Vera Parker, being arrested and charged with two counts of theft by deception I've seen a rather interesting response from people. To say that I'm not surprised would be an error, but I am moreover disappointed.
This isn't so much about the gay community or the drag community; rather to me the disappointment comes from the overall response as the community of mankind. Wonderfully, we are all entitled to express our own opinions, and I'm happy that we have venues like ChicagoPride.com and Facebook to do so. I just have to ask, What about the people?
What about the people who've been hurt by the alleged actions of Lady Vera Parker? What about the people who followed her act over the years? What about Lady Vera Parker's friends, supporters, and family? Is our outrage about what's happened to them or about the odd pleasure of seeing someone go down in flames?
The man behind the makeup has been a friend of mine. I knew Thomas before he moved out to Chicago. I knew him before Lady Vera even came on the scene. If what they are charging him with is true, I am sad to hear it and I hope that justice will be served. I'm sad that his apparent hurt moved him to hurt others. I think knowing that is something that comforts me. Hurting people hurt people! It doesn't mean that their actions are right, but it does give an understanding as to the why.
Now, if you're on the bandwagon of those who are happy with the demise of Lady Vera Parker; I think your reward is somewhat temporary. There is, however, another course of action that we can take; one of compassion and forgiveness.
A while back I was mugged. To say it was a shock is a major understatement! A lot of things go threw your mind when something like that happens and most of the time it's after the incident that you feel like you should have said or done something different. Something amazing happened to me though! As the crook ran away I yelled at the top of my lungs, "I forgive you!" What in the world made me do a stupid thing like that? He could have turned around and stabbed me where I stood.
I've always wanted to be a man of compassion. My upbringing reminds me that forgiveness is of more value to the person forgiving than the individual being forgiven. It's closure. It's healing. It doesn't say that what was done was okay or right, but rather I'm moving on.
After the incident, I went home; had a good cry with my old dog and started thinking about the chap that did this to me. His first destination with my bank card was the Jewel grocery store. Apparently he purchased a sizeable amount of food followed by a tank of gas at the local gas station. Yes, he put me in one hell of a financial spot, but clearly this man was in great need. It doesn't excuse his actions, but it does give them reason. I felt good about the last thing I said to him. I would wager he won't ever forget it.
Like it or not, Lady Vera Parker was well liked in Chicago! So much that she maintained a number of rivals opting for the same popular following. Sadly, it seems we didn't know the man behind the makeup well enough. Some of us claim they saw the negative signs long ago. Others never saw it coming. Needless to say, Thomas Flanagan represents many of us in the world who need a helping hand of compassion and friendship.
This by no means makes his alleged actions excusable! If indeed he's found guilty of the charges against him, he deserves the full punishment coming to him and his victims deserve our comfort and support!
The last thing I said to my friend Thomas was, ". . . be the entertainer who makes us smile, laugh, and feel welcome at the bar. I've always felt that from you!" I feel good about the last thing I said to him. I would hope he won't ever forget it.