(ATLANTA :: 8 October 2012) On a spectacular Saturday afternoon, family, friends and colleagues of Bryan Raybon gathered at Piedmont Park in Atlanta for a swing dedication in Bryan’s honor. The event was a fitting tribute to a man so many of us knew and loved - and who lost his battle with a rare and aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma late last year.
Bryan was a bright light and an unassuming joy in a complicated world, and helped those around him sort out complexities with grace and integrity. In his world, everyone mattered. And at the swing dedication, people from all walks of life came to celebrate him. His spirit hung around us all like the palpable belonging that could only have been created by Bryan himself.
In July 2011, I wrote a piece for The Georgia Voice (“Meeting Margaret: Diva Inspires Gay Man’s Cancer Fight”) on how I helped facilitate a meeting between Bryan and Margaret Cho, one of his heroes. He had to miss one of her Atlanta concerts due to his illness and hospitalization, and he thought I could help connect them. (He knew the seriousness of his diagnosis and thought she could bring him a dose of inspiration.) At first, I didn’t think I could do it. But as Bryan taught many of us, sticking to something can pay great dividends. Within a week, Margaret came to meet him along with our pal Michael Baker - who drove all the way from South Carolina to be part of the moment. As Bryan told me for the article: “Margaret’s reaching out, lending strength and time, made me feel loved and connected and part of this community.” And he always will be. Bryan kept a blog during his illness, so if you’d like to read it please click here. His obituary is also here.