Stanley W. Brown (1954-2001)


I got the phone call I’ve been dreading for weeks today, confirming that one of my oldest friends died on 22 March in his San Diego apartment. I’d been afraid this had happened ever since I couldn’t reach him prior to my trip last month.

Stan and I met in 1982 when we both worked together at the college radio station. He fancied himself as sort of a queer “mother figure” for me, trying to teach me things I already knew, like how to pick up boys and find the “hidden” gay content in every pop cultural phenomenon of the day.

Stan moved to San Diego in 1986 and never looked back. I made my first visit in 1991, as part of the trip where I decided to move to San Francisco, and I’m sad to say, I made only two or three more visits after moving west. But he came here once a year or so, using my apartment as a home base for his various solitary adventures throughout the city. And we usually talked on the phone once a month or so.

Stan and I had very little in common other than our common background in the south and the sheer longevity of our friendship. But we stayed friends no matter how much our lives (and geography) changed. We always managed to find something to talk about.

He was an odd sort, with very few close friends and confidantes, and he loved his privacy, which might explain why it was so difficult for his supervisor at work to contact anyone close to him. It was this supervisor who eventually called me, after I started making inquiries at the Department of Parks and Recreation.

It’s very unnerving to have a stranger (albeit a nice one) inform you of the death of someone you’ve known for almost twenty years.

For the record, diabetes was the culprit, along (I believe) with the strain of a very stressful year, on which I will not elaborate. He was found in his apartment when he didn’t return to work after a week’s leave to “recover”. There was a memorial service, his ashes were scattered over the Pacific, and there will be a tree and a plaque installed in his memory at the recreation center where he worked.

I’ll miss him.