City Council candidate Charlie Diradour on where his support for the LGBTQ community comes from
The following words were submitted by local man Charlie Diradour. He’s running for City Council in the 2nd District. He’d reached out to us to write about his experience with the LGBTQ community and we were happy to oblige. We’re not getting too in depth in races outside of the one for mayor (but you can read about the only City Council forum featuring more than 25 candidates here) but If you are also running for office and have a story to share about where your support for the sexual minority community comes from, feel free to email us – email@example.com – Thanks!
The Summer of 1980 was difficult. I was witnessing the financial distress my parents were going through; the arguments, the attempts to triage bills, and the general dissatisfaction with the direction of the country where they had grown up.
But there was a light at the end of my daily tunnel. Stuart Circle Pharmacy was a place of hard work and respite all bundled up on the corner of Lombardy and Park. My old man had taken a lease on the soda counter the previous winter because things had gotten tough and while he thought his retirement might have come, he was proven wrong. I went to work alongside him, making coffee, getting the bacon going on the grill, taking orders, interacting with customers, and learning how to flip an egg. I made a hell of a limeade (its all about the ice).
One Saturday morning an older out gay man, whom we had known forever, came in, sat down at the counter, and helped his youngish friend sit down next to him. The young man needed help. His face was swollen, his gait was wobbly, and he had a homemade sling. I looked down the counter and quick whistled at my father. His head popped up from the grill. I motioned to the injured man. Jeff (my old man) wiped his hands with his apron. We never went full frontal with aprons, above the belt folded once. He shot past me and said, “What the hell?” The older gentleman said, “You know what, we’ll be fine.”
This is the day I learned about gay bashing. My old man helped the older gentleman get the young man off the stool, steadied him as he walked to the drug counter and said, “We need a little help here” to the druggist (yeah, I know pharmacist). “Yeah, we can take care of this, c’mon up here”, said the druggist. “C’mon, let’s get back to work”, my old man instructed me. I had questions.
The breakfast rush died down and I asked Jeff, “What was that all about?”
“For years, macho assholes have beating up these guys… I don’t know how to explain it. They did it in the army (my old man served during World War II). They do it today for some stupid reason… really there is no reason. Let me tell you boy, they may like men, but that doesn’t mean they’re different, it means they like men… Respect everybody and maybe they’ll respect you. This ‘beating people up because they’re different than you’ is no different than what happened to the Blacks in this country. I grew up in a Black neighborhood, and I never understood that hatred. I will never understand this hatred. You know what I hate? Stupidity. What you saw this morning was the product of stupidity and ignorance. Don’t you ever be like that.”
Words are the same as fists.
Top image of Diradour with a Harvey Milk painting by RVA artist Austin Fitch. ”That painting hangs above me all day everyday” - Diradour
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