Since June is dedicated as Pride month, this takes me back to many years ago when I had the pleasure of teaching a young student who came to my home studio. Kevin was 7/8 years old when his mom decided to register him in piano lessons. I knew mom before as Kevin’s one and only older sister, Penny and my son attended the same elementary and high schools. Kevin was a lovely boy; very quiet, soft spoken; shy most of the time. At the weekly lesson he listened well and followed through with instructions. Although Kevin musical progress was on the average side, he was quite creative when it came to drawing and art as his mom often remarked. Unfortunately, Kevin lost his enthusiasm for keeping up with piano lessons and maintaining a consistent practice routine at home. I was quite disappointed when his parents made the decision to discontinue with that after school activity. I also felt responsible in my “failure” as his piano teacher that I could not keep Kevin’s interest up in a music education.
About a couple of years after the death of her husband, mom contacted me again and expressed interest in taking up piano lessons for herself. She felt it was time to make good use of the keyboard as her three children (2 teenagers and 1 young adult) were not interested in playing that instrument. Brenda and I became good friends in many ways. By having that newly acquired status ‘widow’ layered on to her profile, she now felt we shared something in common as kindred spirits in that respect; and her children can relate to my son in what it felt like to lose a father through death.
Kevin’s sister planned to get married in summer, 2006. Brenda suggested me, and with daughter’s approval, I was asked if I would play the keyboards for the ceremony and at the cocktail hour of the reception. The event was to be held in the beautiful outdoor garden setting of The Ancaster Old Mill Inn. I felt quite honoured to be asked and took a lot of pleasure collaborating with the bride-to-be and mom in the programming of the music for the ceremony. The parents favourite pieces, “The Prayer” and the theme song from “On Golden Pond” were chosen respectively for the Processional as Brenda escorted her daughter up the aisle.
In Brenda’s initial telephone call to ask if I would play the piano at her daughter’s wedding, her statement after that request was: “But, I must warn you of something and hope that you are OK with this.” “Er/um” followed by a short pause “Kevin is gay and his partner will be the MC for the reception”. Needless to say, I was not in the least bit shocked by this news. In his youthful years when I interacted with Kevin in the teacher-student relationship, I intuited that there was something different about Kevin; but, at the time as the saying goes I could not “put my finger on it”. I assured Brenda her son’s sexual orientation had no bearing on me playing in the upcoming celebratory event. Shortly after that call, Brenda invited me to tea at her home; she felt the need to talk about her son, Kevin.
Her story based on this son’s sexual orientation/lifestyle was quite insightful. In his later years in high school Kevin finally worked up the courage to inform his family that he was Gay. Brenda and her oldest son were not in the least fazed by this declaration. However, his sister, Penny could not come to terms with that fact, and as a result, for a few years her relationship with that brother became estranged; she would not speak to, or of that brother to her friends. As a young adult Kevin was in an intimate relationship, and introduced his partner to the family. His sister could not accept her brother’s partner as “one of the family”. Her mother and older brother could not convince her otherwise. They realized that Penny would need to reconcile with that issue at some point in her life.
It was in the many months leading up to Penny’s big day when she realized the importance and value of family, and finally found peace within herself to accept her young brother and his partner for who they were. Communication and good will were once more restored between those two siblings. At the wedding reception, Brenda introduced me to Kevin’s partner, the MC. From Brenda’s story I already knew of her son’s partner’s personality and career - quite intelligent, humorous in a non-offensive manner, outspoken, gregarious, extrovert; dresses a little more colourful, a children’s entertainer (puppetry/puppet master), and a producer/filming of children’s educational shows with TVO. Quite a contrast to Kevin’s own quiet/introspective conservative personality; and yet, they complimented each other quite nicely as a couple!
At the reception, while other couples were on the dance floor and his partner stayed engaged in his MC duties, Kevin came over to my table and sat beside me; joining in a glass of wine. We got into a very interesting conversation where Kevin felt at ease to open up to my inquiries. He shared what life was after he discontinued with piano lessons, his feelings around his father’s death while he was still attending high school, his sister’s initial response to his “coming out”, and him meeting the love of his life during his university years. I often speculated that if his father was alive then, he would have been like his daughter; having a difficult time perhaps accepting his son’s “abnormal” sexuality.
Being the creative and artistic person that he was, Kevin pursued Architecture as a profession. If memory serve me well I think he said that he went on to pursue postgraduate studies in an MBA program. There was pride and passion in his voice when Kevin spoke of his work as an Architect designing buildings, and his working knowledge of infrastructure and aesthetics that are involved in the construction process of residential and commercial structures. He referred to names of well know Architects whose works inspired him; one being the famous Frank Lloyd Wright. Kevin, like me, was drawn into that Architect’s vision and ingenuity in how he integrated architecture into nature as was realized in his masterpiece “Falling Waters”. I said to him that I had seen a documentary on that particular building. We both agreed it was an iconic and timeless work of structural art. I realized that for Kevin, architecture was not just a profession, but more of a vocation. Sitting beside me was a handsome, confident young man in whose company, for a short time, I thoroughly enjoyed being with on such a special evening. That evening I could not have asked for a better companion to spend some quality time in stimulating conversation that appealed to my own sense of aesthetic and passion.
Together with Kevin’s immediate and extended families, and friends it was indeed a privilege to be amongst those celebrating the beginnings of a new life for his sister and his brother-in-law. In that moment I acknowledged and celebrated Kevin too for his creativity, dedication, and drive as he contributed in the designing out of so much beauty to make this world a better place to live in. One could not overlook also Kevin’s partner valuable contribution to society in his particular work in the entertainment industry, and with it an education that focus on morals and positive human values presented to parents and children through the medium of Television.