Friday, April 11, 2014
One-Year Ago, Jonathan Klein Committed Suicide off Golden Gate Bridge
At the Castro district's farmers' market on Wednesday afternoon, I saw Peter Greene and had a chat with him at the tables near Cafe Flore. He was a long-time friend and business partner of Jonathan Klein, our deceased mutual friend who was a Castro resident and co-owner of the Now, Voyager travel agency.
Peter now lives down in Palm Springs but was up here for the one-year anniversary of Jonathan's death by suicide, from leaping off the Golden Gate Bridge. When Peter told me me this, my face registered shock realizing an entire year had gone by since we lost Jonathan and Peter acknowledged my look and sadness.
My friendship with Jonathan began when we worked together in the late 1990s, trying to change the San Francisco Department of Public Health's irrational and entrenched prohibition on gay bathhouses that was and is not based on scientific evidence. Jonathan was full of optimism that presentation of facts about stable or decreasing HIV and STD rates in nearby areas with gay bathhouses, along with petitions, would end the ban on baths.
In the past twelve-months, the local LGBT and AIDS communities have grappled with the mental health and social forces, such as facing eviction from his apartment and rising rent on his travel agency office and aging concerns, that contributed to Jonathan's demise. His many friends and business associated have celebrated his life and also discussed properly honoring him.
I think Jonathan would be pleased that through our grief and mourning, we've had many painful and honest chats about how the problems he faced are what many queers and people with AIDS are going through, and we've recommitted ourselves to helping each other. His suicide was not in vain and is fondly remembered today.
Jonathan's suicide, most unfortunately, was not an isolated death for me in the past year. I also lost my dear good friend and mentor Carl Goodman earlier this year. He too died from jumping off a bridge, back East in Bristol, Rhode Island, and also was grappling with HIV and aging concerns. There is much pain among gays of a certain age, regardless of HIV sero status, pain that I think is more and more being acknowledged which is an important step to assist our brothers in crisis.
If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or other mental problems, please reach out to friends and family members or healthcare providers or spiritual practitioners and seek help. Don't remain in isolation and fear. Help is out here for you.
My friends Jonathan and Carl are still with me in spirit, and I miss them very much.