Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Letter To Elton John

December 5, 2015

 Dear Elton,

 I had a dog named Reg once.

 My partner and I were searching for a name for our new Airedale. He was an actor with a penchant for classical theatre (the partner, not the dog.) I suggested Reg and he loved it. Months later I let him in on the secret: “You know our dog is actually named after Elton John." He laughed, and loved that too. The partner died in 1996. The dog in 2009. I loved them both passionately.

 I’m not writing you about a dog.

 Almost 25 years ago (April 3, 1991, to be exact) I gave up smoking crack, snorting cocaine, and drinking alcohol. I was lucky to have a great support system of friends around me. I told them the truth, feeling the most important thing was to stop lying. Right around six months of sobriety, I saw a David Frost interview that, in a strange and wonderful way, provided exactly the kind of support a new recovering addict needed at that very moment. I too had been a "vampire," hiding during the day, pulling the shades. Lying to friends, family. It was an interview with an honest, REAL person who was going through the same thing I was. It meant so much to me. The honesty. The integrity. This honesty was coming from someone whose music I had loved for so much of my life. In addition, there were not a lot of gay role models in ‘70s, rural, small-town Wisconsin. But then there was one - one I’d sung along with so many times - who talked openly about his sexuality in Rolling Stone magazine.

Honesty. Integrity.

 And then there's the commitment to those of us with HIV/AIDS. I have benefited greatly and directly from the Elton John Aids Foundation. As did my late partner. There are those folks in life who you think, “Someday I need to shake his hand,” " Someday I need to thank him in person." This is my feeble attempt at that. If I met you in person, I’d probably just cry. Like a stupid little baby. A 52-year old, grown man, stupid little baby. Should that day ever come - you better not be a bitch to me. 

Should that day never come - at least you got this note. And you know how much you have touched - changed - my life.

 Thank you Elton. Thank you so, so much.

 Tony Clements