Monday, 30 July 2018
We Need a Memorial to Danny Cockerline!
One Properties is planning a new condominium building at 66 Wellesley Street, the northwest corner of Church and Wellesley. There have been various proposal put forward; the last one I read about was for a 442 unit building with a sheltered, two level high, 320 square metre public plaza, one that will have sliding doors that open during the good weather and that can be used ‘for community events throughout the year.’
Well if what is meant by ‘community’ here is gay and lesbian community, I’m not entirely sure if there is a gay community anymore, nor am I sure of where it is located. I know that what is left of what used to be called the Toronto gay and lesbian community can be seen in the handful of bars and restaurants near the corner of Church and Wellesley.
But if One Properties wishes to honour that community, I, for one, could care less about a public plaza and, apparently, (gee whiz!) another grocery store.
What we need — prominently displayed on the property — is a memorial to Danny Cockerline.
I remember looking at that cheery old four story apartment building at 66 Wellesley Street East and feeling sad because it was going to be demolished.
Then I remembered why. Once I went to visit Danny Cockerline in his apartment there, which as I remember it, was very charming and colourful (like Danny himself) at the back of the building on the second floor, with a lovely deck that overlooked the alley.
Who was Danny Cockerline? You can read a beautiful memorial for him by Rick Bebout at the url below.
Danny was an out of the closet male sex trade worker/activist/pornstar at a time when that particular type of individual could actually exist. He stood up for gay men — and most of all for sex in general — at a time when few were willing to do so — throughout the scourge of AIDS. In fact, he was HIV positive, and he took his own life in 1995 — at a time when AIDs itself and the treatments for HIV were mostly lethal. And the rest of us slutty gay guys — the ones who refused to feel shame about our sex lives — we understood why he had decided to commit suicide in the prime of his young, proud life.
I know this suggestion may fall on deaf ears. Times have changed. Gay men don’t take to the streets and proudly defend their right to have sex for money, in bathhouses, on the street, or in a backrooms. Gay men wear cute little bowties, get married, and try to assure the world that they are just the same as straight people. We live in a world where most gay men have sex secretly on online apps, and scorn the notion of ‘flaunting it’ in one of those ‘old fashioned’ gay bars. They certainly scorn what Danny Cockerline could so often be seen doing: standing outside his signature place — Woody’s — scantily clad, camping it up. But Danny Cockerline is an important part of our history and I, for one, am proud of him, and I believe he must be remembered.
I doubt anyone will listen to what I say here. But I had to say it.
One Properties must build a memorial to Danny Cockerline.