SoCal Wedding

1998-lenys-wedding

Cousin Leny’s wedding to Steve on August 1, 1998, in Los Angeles was the last trip B.Michael and John would make together as a couple before separating later that month.

B.Michael (left) is rocking a Barong Tagalog and John reprised his uncle’s pink seersucker jacket pairing it with a tri-color bow tie that, if memory serves, he learned to knot for the occasion.

Affirmations

for John and Joe

Paint a mural of your love
bold
                       clever
                                             indelible

Baptize your vision
in primeval pools and puddles
of pastels and primaries

Give it three dimensions
with inky wads of discarded phonebook pages
tattered shoestrings
and links of rusty coat hanger

Make it shimmer with gobs of glitter
and shards of broken mirror
like Saturn’s rings
celestial debris in harmonious order

Autograph your oeuvre
with each goodnight kiss
with homemade birthday cake candles
            weeping wax
with juice from Saturdays of olallieberry-
            picking and sparring elephant seals
holding hands on long drives
slow walks arm-in-arm
Vancouver                  Venice                  Vanuatu

Know that no one knows you
like him

Acknowledge and appreciate each meal
together
and chew thirty-two times

Share silences and pillow-talk
chattering teeth on chilly mornings
evening jogs and fever-bouts
savor each full-mouth kiss

Remember all the possibilities

When you are octogenarian
souls rocking
side by side
cheeks parked on macramé cushions
measure time in days of gardening
and moonrises
warm your fingers and palms
on shared recollections
of fine wines and ceremonial gatherings

May angels and ancestors guard you — lovers

May honesty and humor guide you — brothers

May kin and kindred spirits buoy you — cousins

May you both
be anchored in the present
refreshed by mild winds
the joyful passing of
this moment
and
the next

© B.Michael Hunter & John Manzon-Santos 1998

Written on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of cousins John (aka Spike) Lomibao and Joe Garrett. Below is a reproduction of the original printed and framed.

1998g-affirmations-for-johnjoe


Image taken by event photographer and gifted to John & Bert by Spike & Joe, San Francisco Bay Area, June 1998

unwrapping the present

For Shiree, in observance of life’s passing

some things are undeniable
like time’s eventual wrinkles
framing our smiles
but that’s not now

now is the insistent itch on my shoulder
a solar flare on my body’s horizon
urging me to offer you
a piece of me         us
special
sour         sweet          spectacular
sad          soulful
somehow expressing
gratitude
for your courage

it’s morning
Sun shines through
shuttered windows
hot on our faces
blinding          images
swirl
generously descend upon us
move in concert
practicing their choreography
moment          to moment

there’s no need to delve into
deeper meaning          not now
no regrets in simply saying
friend family sister


© B.Michael Hunter & John Manzon-Santos 1998

1998F18-unwrapping-the-present-for-shiree

American Social History Project

B.Michael participated in an interactive teaching seminar sponsored by the Center for Media and Learning at the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY. During this April 1997 sessio, his offering was to demonstrate “how he concludes his unit on the Civil Rights Movement with blues and jazz music and lyrics.”

1997D17-american-social-history-project

Brothers for Sisters

B.Michael was a staunch supporter of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. On December 1, 1996, B.Michael and six other brothers, organized the first Brothers for Sisters fundraising event in New York City. In the above photo, (L-R) Michael Seltzer (standing), Don Kao, Mitchell Karp, B.Michael, Lidell Jackson, Ralph Tachuk, John Manzon-Santos (standing).

Artists G. Winston James and What I Miss? contributor Jacquie Bishop generously donated their time as special guests.

jack

Below is the same post-event scene as above, snapped a millisecond later, enough time for B.Michael to cock his head slightly; also B.Michael with Steven Birnbaum, one of the evening’s guests, a new contact brought in by Don Kao.

B.Michael’s Eulogy for Haruko Kuroiwa Brown

B.Michael shares his remembrances about Haruko Kuroiwa Brown [b. 12 December 1921, d. 06 June 1996] at her Celebration of Life on June 17, 1996, in Manhattan, New York.

“Hello everyone, my name is Bert Hunter. I’m a New York City high school teacher and happen to be John’s lover. 

It was through John that I met Haruko. And what I didn’t want to do was just deal with her on a level as John’s lover / through APICHA. I was really trying to find some kind of way to connect to her in the boundaried way that I am sometimes and in the boundaried way that she is. Interestingly enough, because she worked at the Board of Education, we were able to build some kind of relationship around that.

We talked a lot about different books. She would lend me some books and I would lend her some books. And we talked a lot about, actually, my mother. I didn’t necessarily realize that she was a social worker. She’s like social working me sometimes. (laughter) It was interesting that she was able to do that because I’m usually the person who’s the ear for other people. So it’s rare that somebody has an opportunity to social-work me, if you will, or to counsel me and I believe that she, in fact, did do that. She gave me some incredible advice.

In addition to that, because I have a natural ability to social-work other people although I’m not a social worker, we actually did talk a lot about her family, her children, her life and her grandchildren. I knew her granddaughter immediate because of the red hair because I also have a brother who is a carrot top. No offense! (laughter) One trip, she was coming back talking about her granddaughter with the red hair. “My brother had red hair … ”

I’m kind of angry because of the power of this woman. This was an incredibly powerful woman, and this is a loss. I had the opportunity — I teach American History — and during the 50th anniversary of “the bombing,” I was trying to put that in perspective for my students and was running my mouth to John. “Oh, you should talk to Haruko.” I was almost like, Why? Because you meet people and you talk to people, and someone who’s so rich, has so many different sides of themselves to share with you that you don’t necessarily always tap into the sides. “You know, she was interned.” I was almost floored because, as a history teacher, it was hard for me to believe that someone who was interned was still alive and accessible, if you will.

She came to school the first time and she talked to the students. I should say the majority are Black and Latino, we have some white students, very few Asian students. And she held their attention for 20 minutes easy, talking about her life and experience and it was incredible. She came back a second time to a different type of class a year later, actually, last year. Again, she held their attention. She actually read her testimony that she gave to Congress on her experience as a person who was interned. Again, the room was silent. She asked me for feedback, how I thought it went. I told her it was phenomenal. I said it’s the kind of thing where, years from now, they will realize that they touched history. That she, in fact, was history and that they had an opportunity to experience it.

We again exchanged … I just found a new reader so I gave her a book, I think it was Family or The Matter of Life from J. California Cooper, a new author who I was exposed to. Even for myself, I was moved by the power that I recognized in her … ”

B.Michael Hunter, New York City Voter

B.Michael attended law school and he taught the U.S. Constitution to high school students who came from marginalized backgrounds. The right to vote was a tantamount issue for him, particularly as a Black man. Every election is important — and he would be organizing folks with even more passion toward Election Day on 03 November 2020.

1996E24-voting-history


It is unclear at what point in B.Michael’s life he jotted the page below. It does seem to include the makings of a poem:

I ain’t you property
I am not your property
I will lift my voice and vote
Freedom

1980-or-90-something-voting-rights