Not my family, per se, but in the family of a whole lot of New Orleanians.
Alfred was the longtime partner of Stewart, and he died yesterday from complications from pneumonia. He’d been sick for a while now, and he hasn’t been particularly healthy since I’ve known him. But I’m sad about his death, especially because I feel badly for Stewart.
The two of them have lived since the early ’80s in a great Creole cottage on Esplanade fondly called the Faerie Playhouse. This place has been a haven for many people in the GLBT community in New Orleans (and the rest of us), and last year it was dedicated with a plaque from the Bienville Foundation. The cremated remains of many of New Orleans’ GLBT activists and artists are scattered in a garden in the back.
Stewart and Alfred have always been very good to E and me. We’ve known them through friends and and family and always enjoy seeing them at their house and the bar. Alfred didn’t always like to get out, but he reliably went to the “Olden Lantern” and Cafe Degas with Stewart.
I have a ton of respect for what they’ve been through. They’ve seen so many friends die of AIDS. They’ve seen many friends suffer mistreatment and ostracism for their sexual orientation. Stewart is older than Alfred was, but they came up with an ingenious way to make sure that they would be able to preserve their rights of visitation, etc: Alfred adopted Stewart.
That’s indicative of the unconventional ways that they approach life. Stewart gave up drugs a few years ago, but he continued to lobby for marijuana decriminalization, in addition to a number of other issues. I’ve always enjoyed receiving their long and informative Christmas cards, one year for which I was privileged to have taken a picture of their house decorated for the holidays–you’ve probably seen the house between Rampart and Carrollton with Peace On Earth spelled out on the roof. They have the most diverse and interesting group of friends you could imagine. Although Alfred was sometimes plagued by disturbances that kept him from seeing friends’ motives for what they were, he was always kind, and Stewart’s affection for him is unwavering. True New Orleanians and just good people.
Rest in peace, Alfred.