This past week has been, to say the least, not a good one.
Last week, my friend Everett contacted me to tell me that a friend of ours, who we had known for almost two decades, Bryn Kelly, had committed suicide. I had seen Bryn pop on to Facebook last week, sent her a message just saying hi. She never responded and I’m still angry with myself for not following up.
I’ve not been able to have a whole lot of days since where I didn’t spend at least part of it crying and I’m sure this has been a common enough scenario in all the communities Bryn touched. She had that effect on people.
I want to tell you about Bryn. I appreciate that there are going to be a lot of folks who knew Bryn from lots of different places and they’re going to tell you how they saw her. This was kind of her secret super power, I think, to be able to move in and out of lots of different spaces. I want to tell folks about the Bryn a lot of us knew.
Bryn would probably laugh about me posting this picture. Bryn, circa 2004, out target shooting with me and my adopted sister.
She was the woman dressed up as the uterus, campaigning for reproductive rights. She could play the autoharp like no ones business and belt out old timey tunes. I heard more of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors with her in the room than with her not. She was a proud rural woman and I loved it when she talked about where she came from.
She was a tireless advocate for trans women. She was involved in Camp Trans, involved in HIV activism, involved in the Fully Functional Cabaret, writing….. so much stuff that it was very very easy to lose track. A lot of it was centred on trans women. If you’ve read any trans feminist thought in the past 15 years, it was more likely than not, built off of things Bryn contributed to back in the days of livejournal and message boards.
She was funny as hell. Literally one of the funniest women I have ever known. She was also kind and loving and snarky. SO SO snarky. And strong, so amazingly strong, strong in ways I wish I could be. She had a spine that was made of steel and we loved her for it.
I doubt she knew just how many of us looked up to her and admired her. I wish I would have told her that more.
Art by Kat Endgame
Our hearts are broken, our worlds a little less bright without her. The only sense I can take from this is the last thing she posted on Facebook.
“Be kind to each other.”
We’re trying, Bryn.
It is so hard sometimes but…
We’ll keep on trying.