Ashes to Ashes

John Manzon-Santos happened upon this brand of cologne, which he believes he either gave to B.Michael (born April 15) as a gag gift, or came across after his death. It became the perfect amphora in which to send to Colin Robinson some of B.Michael’s ashes for scattering off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago. Colin later reported that, after snapping the above photo and dispersing the ashes that day at Maracas Beach, the bottle got swept away along with a brand new coveted pair of eyeglasses. Colin later wondered if B.Michael was playing a trick on him!

Particular Voices

Sometime in 1994, B.Michael and John Manzon-Santos were approached by the artist Robert Giard, who subsequently photographed them via the natural light in their apartment at 528 East 11th Street #11 in Manhattan. They donned their slightly wrinkled commitment ceremony shirts and the beads they had exchanged in April of that year.

In 1997, they received a copy of Giard’s Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, honored to find themselves included among the publication’s 182 images.

“caramel colored men . . .”

B.Michael (“Bert”) received inspiration for one of his poems, “The Photograph,” from a framed image he had prominently displayed in his living room. William (“Bill”) Wesley Hansard, Jr. [b. August 16, 1937, New York NY; d. May 30, 1989, Boston MA] and Lester (“Les”) Howard Bunyon were both Black gay men and close friends of Bert’s who died of HIV/AIDS prior to 1993.

[L-R] Les, Bill, Bert, most likely in Boston, Massachusetts, some time between September 1981 and July 1987.

Les at Christmas, Bill with Bert. Both pictures taken some time between 1981-89. Both photos, which had been foamcore-mounted, were most likely special to Bert.

B.Michael’s Photo Albums (Mostly 1970s-1991)

Think old-school, three-ring binder (11.5″ x 11″ x 3″) with a glossy, gold-trimmed cover. Inside are removable, double-sided, cardboard inserts with light adhesive to keep photos in place beneath fold-over plastic sheaths. B.Michael had two, the earlier one coffee-colored, the latter the color of cabernet.

Each block of photos below is an album page that was curated by B.Michael. His rich, joy-centering life wove family of origin with chosen family, commuting readily between his multiple roles of son / brother / nephew / grandson / uncle / cousin / godfather, together with friend / lover / brister / classmate / organizer / activist / community member.

The latter binder includes a dozen or so blank pages that he didn’t get around to populating. N.B. The pics are not necessarily in chronological order, and the dimensions of an image in this digital setting sometimes vary from the actual size of the corresponding print image that appears in the album.

Click on each photo for more context. AND, more importantly, if you know who/when/where/why details about an image, we encourage you to contact us here!



Stay tuned! More photos to follow . . .