I get it and am also critical of celebrity culture, but for many of us Prince was not just that. Prince was a companion who through his diminutive big heartedness provided a space for us to create fuller, more joyful lives, more sex positive realities, more creativity as evidenced by his music, performance and, can I getta witness, more fuel for revolutions. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, I’m not gonna be in your revolution if I can’t dance, and I’m not the only one who was energized by his life, and music. We keep working toward revolutions, but surely, the sound track that interweaves all that work has to be written and performed by Prince. I also don’t hardly ever use the term pure, but Prince certainly embodies that – purity of heart, performance and creativity. Even, or especially, as a Jehovah’s Witness, he never lost that, it seems to me.
My bitter-sweetest memory connected to Prince was when my friend Troy died of complications from AIDS in Tucson, Arizona, back in the day. Troy loved Prince, and we had an outdoor memorial for Troy in April and as we played his favorite Prince song, “Sometimes It Snows In April”, it started snowing, in the Sonoran desert, mind you! Now, you don’t need a weather man to tell you which way the wind blows, but that is some cosmic realness!
Really all this grief is not solely about Prince, but about us, and how we interacted with his love, talent, creativity, songs, over the time and space distances since many of us didn’t know him personally. None-the-less, for many of us, his life made gender partitions insignificant as he demonstrated through his real concrete support of women, in his outrageous presentations of himself, in his crossing boundaries that most male-bodied people would never think of nor even attempt, because of and despite the structural narrowness imposed. All that had ripple effects for all of us who were open to and felt that flow of energy, and felt backed-up by it. Prince was and is so damn sassy! He was real, beautiful, as he over and over de-threaded masculinity in the gender binary. He was the strange, freaky, creative, hard to define crazy light-skin Black kid whom so many of us misfit LGBTQ people of color in the U.S. can relate to and feel accompanied by.
To be real, his passing is different than the passing of a dear friend, family member, or comrade, not better nor worse, and there is not need to throw shade by hierarchalizing them. Rather, Prince’s passing is equally a sad collectively-felt sigh like so many others we experience as we work for a better world. With his passing, we are left with a void, that can only be partially filled by listening to his brilliant music, watching him perform, sharing Prince stories and finding out more and more what a truly deeply good person he was. And what is comradeship any way, as he embodied it for many of us in the production and reproduction of the endless possibilities and work towards transformative spaces. And Prince was completely in and of this world, he fought many of the fights we fight – against capitalism & racism, toward sex positive lives, transforming gender and human relations and ways of being through feminism and celebration, his voice, music and dance, and also in being creative and talented as fuk.
In the days since his passing, I wonder why the homophobia, the racism didn’t stick to or mark him, though he could probably have told us stories. Was it because he was so over-the-top creative, member those exposed butt cheek pants? Who else but Prince could have done that as celebration? Certainly his access to resources must have helped, though we know that even rich people of color celebrities can’t often walk all that joyfully in the park without looking occasionally over their shoulders.
And we have a right to mourn, because, now with his Purpleness gone, there is a bit more sadness in a world that almost cannot bear it, while the collective celebrations of his significance and our fights for justice continue. And it is lovely when we can pause to celebrate goodness.
And Prince’s life, music and celebration can lead us to continue to work toward purple palenque realness.
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