Leslie and Lesley
May 13, 2015
On November 15, 2014 the novelist, historian, and transgender activist Leslie Feinberg died of Lyme disease. Feinberg’s passing leaves such a large empty space in what I consider to be “our” community, however much we disagree or make mistakes, I would not be a feminist or an adventurer without the gender warriors who braved great odds to slice a path for me and so many others.
I still can’t believe this has happened and can’t really do justice to my feelings in words. We have/had the same illness and I am acutely aware of the devastation it causes. The endless suffering, the fear that when you have a good day it will shortly end to be replaced by more pain and more suffering. Leslie bravely shared hire health journey on hire blog in a section called Casualty of an undeclared war . I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to write about Lyme while dying from it, largely due to an inept, unaffordable healthcare system. I could barely turn on the TV at my worst, and Feinberg managed to educate people while being in a really bad place physically. I highly recommend reading it to all those who suffer from this illness and their friends.
The world lost another Lesley not so long ago. Lesley Gore. When kids come up after shows to meet me and feel embarrassed that maybe they seem emotional or over excited or whatever I always tell them about the first time I met Lesley Gore.
I was at a party back to back with someone and when she turned around it was Lesley-fucking-Gore. I immediately began to sob. Lesley’s voice taught me so much about singing in between the lines. About making art under strange, often oppressive circumstances. The quality of her voice, so self assured, pitch perfect and yet always sounding like she had a secret, a smile, a barb, a bit of anger, something hidden behind every line. She also co-wrote “Out Here on My Own” from the movie FAME with her brother Michael. I sung a solo from it in at my 8th grade school dance never knowing the lyrics were written by someone I would later meet and sob in front of. The lyrics still speak to me now.
While Lesley passed in February and Feinberg last November I haven’t been able to write about their deaths as it has just felt too overwhelming. But today I want to raise an invisible toast to these two incredible people who have had such a positive effect on my life. All my love to their family and friends.