No Such Thing As Beyond Help

Wilfried Knight’s passing earlier this week — and the deaths of Arpad Miklos, Roman Ragazzi, and Erik Rhodes in the past year — have affected me deeply. Although I’ve been posting some of my thoughts on my Facebook page, I need some more time to process what’s happened. In the meantime, I’m reposting this excellent article by my good friend and fellow performer Dolan Wolf. It’s beautiful, poignant, and most importantly of all, has real suggestions on how we can fight to ward off future tragedies. Everyone should read it.  —J.J.


No Such Thing As Beyond Help: A Guest Post By Dolan Wolf
March 12, 2013
 

wilfried-knight

Yesterday I saw Rupert Everett in the role of Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, a play that focuses on the pivotal decisions Wilde made, first in 1895, not to flee England and avoid trial for gross indecency (aka loving men) and second in 1897 to reunite with his lover after serving a two year prison term, though the price was rejection from all his friends and family.

As soon as I left the theatre I received a message from a friend in the US to let me know that Wilfried Knight had taken his life, overwhelmed with grief over the suicide of his husband, Jerry Enriquez, a couple of weeks ago.

On March 3rd, 2013, Wilfried published on his blog an account of the events that led to Jerry hanging himself. Apparently Jerry’s being bullied at and then fired from a soulless organisation was enough to drive him to attempt suicide, but what sealed his fate was the loss of his Canadian visa, which meant that he and Wilfried were thrown back into a situation where no country would accept both of them as residents – basically because they were two men in love and not a man and a woman.

Inevitably, some will look at Wilfried’s death in the light of the recent untimely deaths of a horribly long list of men who have performed in porn, but when it comes to the manner of their passing, porn is merely coincidental. What our lost brothers really have in common, and they have this in common with every member of our community who dies long before they should, is that they, or those around them, felt they were beyond help.

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This can be a hard concept to grasp without knowing more about some of the beautiful people we have lost recently, and this is where porn may be partly responsible. Who would expect a person who looks so gorgeous, is a minor celebrity in the community, gets to have hot sex all over world with stunning men and if you read his Twitter feed seems to be thrilled several times a day about it, to have felt so low and so beyond help? The fairly obvious answer is that behind every porn persona is a real person with real problems and, at times, real pain.

For that matter, being able to see despair when looking at anyone in the world can be very difficult. Many of us hide our pain well. And why wouldn’t we? Sometimes it’s just that we know our friends are dealing with enough of their own problems, and we don’t want to be a burden. Other times, nothing is so unhelpful as a person who appears to seize upon our pain like a meal to feed their own sense of usefulness. So instead of answering the question, ‘How are you?’ with ‘Pretty shit really’, we often say, ‘Fine, thanks’.

At the same time, we all know someone who may be doing their best to hide their pain, but who is clearly a hot mess, and we either don’t know where to begin with them or we’ve tried and nearly or actually given up trying to find a successful approach. Believe me, I know.

As in all things, doing nothing is the easiest thing to do, but if we do nothing then nothing is going to change, and it won’t be long before we’re either reading about the loss of another beautiful soul or, worse, hearing about a friend who just gave up.

We need to learn to be better at being there for each other. We need to learn to be better at helping brothers and sisters who are in pain, whether they are simply grieving or are deeply fucked up by this crazy world, and we need to learn how to shine a light to guide them out of the dark.

Above all, we need to dispose of our own concept of ‘beyond help’ and not give up doing whatever we can to be there for those who are hurting – to the last.

I admit, this is easier said than done. Aside from how complex and widespread are the hardest problems, like mental health and drug addiction, and how few effective resources are available to help with them, I know that finding the right balance between imposing on someone and supporting them is very tricky. But to be honest, before we’re even confronted with any of those problems, I think most of us get stuck on the question ‘What can I do?’

The thing is, if you’re just asking yourself that question, you’re asking the wrong person. Ask that question of that person who you think might need your help. They might tell you there is nothing you can do, but just knowing someone cares could make all the difference to them.

No-one who did not contribute to their pain should feel responsible for a decision someone else makes to take their own life, and I respect the prerogative of anyone who makes that decision, but no-one should be lost because they do not have the support that could have held them through dark times to much better ones.

I don’t know it would have made the critical difference if I had been aware of Wilfried’s bereavement and offered him my support, but from the short time I spent with him in October last year, he struck me as a man who embraced life and had ambitions for the future. I’m sure that his closest friends did all they could to support him, but it appears he needed more to see him through his grief.

It goes without saying we should do everything we can to not leave anyone in our community that way. What needs to be said, though I can’t speak for everyone, is that when it comes to other people’s pain, I think most of us could do more. Too many people I know in London are living far too close to the edge without a safety line. I think it’s a safe bet the same is true in many more cities around the world.

From the sound of it, even if Wilfried and Jerry hadn’t lost their visas to live in Canada, they still would have needed a lot of support to get through a very tough time, but there’s a good chance that neither of them would have felt so helpless if same-sex couples had had the same rights and respect as straight couples.

Over 100 years have passed since Oscar Wilde’s life was destroyed by a community that would not give him the freedom to be with the person he loved. Sadly, I doubt Wilfried will be the last beautiful man who dies as a result of the inequalities gay men and women face, but losing him doesn’t have to be a total waste if the strength of his love inspires us to fight harder to end the INSANITY of laws everywhere in the world that prevent same-sex lovers from living together in either one of their home countries.

You aren’t the only ones who need to do this but, my American brothers, please make more noise and FIGHT!  Share these links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-YCdcnf_P8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LiLNVYjOAI

Support the campaign:

http://www.respectformarriage.org

And have that uncomfortable argument with your straight friends and relatives. Let Wilfried inspire you to fight harder to change the world, then remember him and celebrate in his memory when we win. I think I knew him well enough to say he would like that.

You may also like to help prevent teen suicides by donating to:

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

And finally, believe me and try to remember, whether it’s for yourself or someone who you know is in a bad way, now or in the future. There is no such thing as beyond help.

Dolan Wolf


Dolan Wolf is, amongst other things, a bad-boy, good-guy, porn actor, writer, kinkster, sci-fi geek and activist from London, and when he remembers to, he can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of his stupid little life.

10 replies
  1. Kenneth Masse
    Kenneth Masse says:

    That was the most inspiring and wonderful write up on Wilfried Knight and his feelings about how gay men and women are treated in todays world. The entire gay comunity needs to follow Dolan’s msg and fight what we all believe in, that is equal rights for both gay men and women alike. Plus finally the most important thing is reach out to those in pain even if your in pain yourself, the both can deal with each others pain together and hopefully stop these suicides by men, women, teens, etc…

    Reply
    • Juhász Attila
      Juhász Attila says:

      Sziasztok
      Szerintem is elég volt abból amit művelnek velünk.Nagyon el keserítő a helyzet itt Magyarországon is.Én 4 éve vagyok boldog párkapcsolatban és jó lenne végre oltár elé állni a barátommal akivel sok nehézségen mentünk keresztül.Sajnos vannak akik fel adják az életet.Én biztos nem tenném pedig velem is történtek rossz dolgok,amikről nem szívesen beszélek.Én ezeket úgy oldottam és oldom meg ha valaki belém rúg akár szóban akár tettben vissza adom 3 szorosan.Nem szabad magunkat hagyni ,ha valaki földbe akar döngölni ki kell csinálni….
      További Szép Napot
      És kitartást mindenkinek
      Sok Puszi És Ölelés mindenkinek
      Üdvözlettel
      Attila

      Reply
  2. B. Evan Robbins
    B. Evan Robbins says:

    Once again Jesse you have come across as an enlightened man. It is such a damn shame any gay man has to go through the kind of emotional stress and hurt that goes with suicide and untimely death. I know. I lost my lover of 10 years because he could not deal with the stigma of AIDS.

    I will put this out to any gay man who needs help. Seek professional help. I did and I am not ashamed. I will go as far as saying that any member of my “Big Family” may get a hold of me in Facebook and talk. I will be more than welcome to help, enlighten or prevent a needless loss. I am a mature man that has seen a lot of pain. I am not looking for a relationship. I have a partner and am very happy.

    Facebook lookup: B. Evan Robbins

    Reply
  3. Robert
    Robert says:

    JESSE you hit it right on the head.. I honestly feel it was the fact that we have this stupid law called the “Defense of Marriage Act” which is so against pure love and those that truly find there soul mates and who do not care that there soul mate turns out to be of the same sex. My partner and I have been together for 36 years this past Valentines and are legal Domestic Partners in Maryland but that is as far legally we can go besides giving each other Powers of Attorney over everything so that protects us to a point and are each others Executors of the others Estate. We have debated over getting married on Cape Cod, as we go to P’Town every year but have decided not until this rediculous, discusting, in-human law is disolved will we do that. I can fully understand the anguish these two guys went through and reading more of there story just is so heart breaking. We alll need to do everything in our power to strick down that rediculous and discriminating law. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    Reply
  4. Ted W.
    Ted W. says:

    Jesse, thank you for sharing this. I found this from your Facebook page and felt I must write a response.
    I will try not to be long and drawn out because I know you are busy, so here goes.
    For the past few weeks, I have contemplated suicide almost every single day. I wake up in the morning, look at my life, and have to literally fight myself for the strength to carry on and not cry- let alone make it through the day.
    I, like yourself I understand, am a late bloomer. I am currently 22, and came out to my family last year. I was brought up in a strict Christian home and (unsurprisingly) was met with disaproval, and in some cases outright hostility. This was the hardest thing I had ever done, and my family wouldn’t have any part of it. They continued to keep our relationship open, however I was forbidden to speak about ‘that part’ of my life as they called it. That was October 2013.
    Earlier, in September, I met a man on Match.com who I instantly conected with. Although he was quite a bit older than I was ( keep in mind, I am 22 whi;e he is 40), we decided to talk and see what became of the relationship. And, after several weeks of talks, texts, and even a few misunderstandings (humor and emotion are so hard to get into text!), we decided to meet. Fast forward to late October, after I told my family… Jesse, it was WONDERFUL. We hit it right off, and it was magic. After just three short days, I had to fly home (he lives in the Bay area in Cali, I live in southern Oregon) but we made plans to see each other again over Thanksgiving. We ended up having a wonderful time down in Palm Springs ( I had never been there before), and spent nearly a week there just relaxing and getting to know each other better. Well on the way home from that trip, I made the bold move to ask him if we were boyfriends, and to my surprise and delight he said yes… okay, actually he said, “Boyfriends? I think we are more than that babe.” Sigh, I was in heaven.
    Then… right before Christmas… something horrible happened. He had just gone back to Cali after a weekend up in Oregon together. The next day I was visiting my parents and they took me aside and rather rudely told me how badly I had hurth them and that I was tearing the family apart. They told me that If I did not recant (yeah, they used that word) and repent (that one too) that I would be efectively removing myself from the family and would no longer be considered welcome in their home, their lives, or the lives of my sibilings. I was distraught. Right there, I made my first mistake… I paniked and said okay.
    They took my phone, and made me send my BF a text breaking up with him. They went and deleted all of my pictures not only of him but of anything related to him. The pics of Palm Springs, the restaurants we ate at, everything. I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
    Christmas was bittersweet for me of course. I had my family back, but lost the man I loved… I felt torn; I wanted both!
    Fast forward again, to the last week in December… to when I got his number again and called him up. I wasn’t even expecting him to answer but he did. We talked for a long time over what had happened, and I explained to him what went on with my family. He said he understood, and to my surprise he soon drove up to see me again. Oh Jesse, you should have seen us when we got back together. Lots of happy tears, lots of “I’m sorry” from me and lots of “It’s okay, I forgive you” from him… and lots and lots of kissing. 🙂
    …And then I did it again. My family found out, and this time they were even more furious. They said I would be disinherited and cast out not only from the family but from the entire community that I was apart of. They would go to all their friends and tell everyone what was going on ( side note: After what had happened when I told my family, I had decided to not tell many of my friends for fear of their reaction). They essentially were going to ruin me.
    …So I made the second biggest mistake of my life and broke up with him again. This time he was furious, and he had a right to be. I can’t even put into words what was going through my head then. I felt like I was dying, like my world was coming to an end.
    Okay, now fast forward to the first week of February. I again contacted him and let him know why I did what I had done. And again, he told me he forgave me because he was so in love with me. “The thing that hurt the most,” He said, “Was the fact that you didn’t trust me enough to let me help you.” And he was right. I let my nerves control me and it ruined my life.
    Well now we are talking again but he is very nervous about getting back together, and he has every right to. I feel like a jerk, and I am furious at my family about this. I’ve lost my job over it, I don’t sleep well anymore, and I feel completely worthless.
    Fuck, this is a lot longer than I had thought. Damn me and my inner author! Okay, I guess what I am trying to say is THANK YOU for posting stuff like this. And if you have any advice to offer a young buck like me, I am all ears. I’m sure Dirk has some as well. Right now my family has no idea what is going on with me. They have gone so far as to set me up with a Christian counselor to help me ‘get over my problem.’ Damn I hate lying to everyone in my ‘straight’ life right now.
    Hope to hear from you soon. I’m just trying to hang in there… Life isn’t getting any easier, that’s for sure.
    By the way, gotta say this- Huge, huge fan of you, and Dirk as well.

    Ted W.

    Reply
    • Lyne Beausejour
      Lyne Beausejour says:

      I just read your heartfelt story…just want you to know that I hope you seeked the help you needed, and that things are better now.

      Reply
    • Jean Amr
      Jean Amr says:

      Dear Ted,

      No, life (growing up) ain’t be easy.
      Parents want to have the best for there children… but how far can they go? This is emotional blackmail.
      We can’t tell you what to do..(you know it yourself)
      But you are the one who must go further in life…. no matter what kind of direction you wanna go…. no matter with whom… Or where….
      But remember, there is nothing wrong with you!

      Sadly I couldn’t find it, but there is a famous poster, that Christ is commin’ from heaven, and lookin’ a bit angry….asking some religious people ‘What part of Love you don’t understand?’
      For me… these words says it all!

      But I’ve got this one for you…
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203367200233706&l=a24626f3e2

      Wishing you all the best.
      And lots, lots of love! Its out there!

      Jean Amr (Holland)

      Facebook lookup: Jean.Amr

      Reply
  5. Jens Christian Plane
    Jens Christian Plane says:

    I am personally sad, that a young man thought this was his solution.I accept his bravery in being with his lover.My thoughts and meditations go to all of us hurting souls, who will miss and long for the love that they showed to the world and how fragile anyone of us can be, at any time… RIP…you guys will not be forgotten.

    Reply
  6. Jean Amr
    Jean Amr says:

    So very beautiful written…
    Wilfried Knight was a very beautiful and kind person, (Jerry I sadly never met, only know him because of the great stories).

    I got the news (in Holland) two days after his passing. Felt soo sad, thinking of him how he must felt those last days. His sadness, his abandonment and lonesome, that none of us could help him (and Jerry).

    I hope his beautiful soul has found rest rest….
    May they both now rest in peace, and be together for eternity.
    Love Always!

    Thanxx for sharing!!
    May all beautiful thing in life will be yours!!

    Lots of love from Holland,
    Jean Amr

    Reply

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