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Symphony for a Friend: A Literary Composition in Four Parts

Cathedral Church of Saint Luke interior, photo by the author.

Within the last two months as many of my closest friends have died, Joel Strack and Ben Lane. The former’s passing came with the gift of a month of hospice care which afforded his friends the opportunity to reminisce about days long gone, when we had more hair, less excess weight, and our futures seemed boundless. It also granted his family time to see firsthand their beloved’s impact on Central Florida. With the latter’s passing, we were not so fortunate.

The Bigger Picture

This is Why We Do

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

An Open Letter to an Our Human Family Reader

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your thoughtful and gracious letter regarding the efforts of the Our Human Family writers and editorial staff. I’m sure you didn’t know the email address to which you submitted your letter would lead back to me.

Faith

The LGBT Seat at Christ’s Table

Photo by John Cafazza on Unsplash

This essay is written in response to a thread about the importance of LGBT Christians speaking out and being visible and active congregantsdespite having been wounded by organized religion. There’s a tendency to throw Jesus out with the holy water, but I’d like to offer another option. What follows is a recounting of my firsthand experience dealing with those who would deny my invitation and rightful seat at the table. Peace be with you.


As a forty-eight-inch tall, gay, black man, I encounter plenty of people who think and demonstrate through their actions, “You don’t belong because — ” With that said, my need for a self-concept that is not tethered to a human perspective is integral for my well-being.

Creative Nonfiction

The Mayor of the Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. ©Disney

I will always remember my friend with red hair — not because of his red hair, or because he could be the most infuriating person I ever knew at times, or even because he was the first activist I ever knew; but because he is the reason I’m a whole person.


Harry P. Leu Gardens, 2019.

The two groups cleared a path down the center of the ballroom for the guest of honor and his court to make their grand entrance. Members of the Orlando Gay Chorus occupied half the room donning rainbows, kilts, and a requisite drag queen or two. And across the vacant center aisle, equally as festive, present and former pixie-dusted Disney entertainment employees mingled in wait. The line of demarcation was much less Jets versus Sharks in nature and more a function of an eclectic mix of people cut from a wide swath of humanity preparing for the unexpected.

All the World's a Stage

The Truth About Dwarfism

The author.

I’m a guy who stands forty-eight inches tall in my stocking feet. I am not a halfling to be pitied, a pet to be pampered, or an object to be fetishized. I am not an inspiration. I am a human being trying to figure out this thing called life one step at a time, just like you. As for a politically correct label to affix to me; note — no one likes to be referred to by a label. My name will works almost every time, unless I’m trying to be subtle in avoiding you. But if you’re in search of a term to describe my most noticeable physical feature — hot is always welcome (just kidding) — short, short-statured work; but “Little Person” is the preferred term.

All the World's a Stage

My Life in Fur (Part 7): Now It’s Time to Say Good-bye

Image by jinndev.deviantart.com

Recently, the Medium publication C(G) S N A P S H O T S issued a challenge in which participants were invited to submit images for their Snapshot Selfie ChallengeI submitted a snapshot of a few mementos that represented different periods of my life. Oddly enough, one object in my snapshot garnered more comments than other—my vintage Donald Duck bobblehead from the late 1960s/early 1970s, described in the accompanying text as “the symbol of my former alter-ego, vehicle of torture and self-discovery.

In the original text I promised to—at some point in the future—reveal a little of the backstory of my adventures performing as Donald Duck at Walt Disney World in Florida. Well, the time has come for me to tell you about my life in fur.

This is the last in the seven-part series. Enjoy!


FROM THE DAY I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in communications, I focused my sights on a career within Walt Disney World that did not involve me wearing fur. I still had my eye on the company’s marketing department and talked to everyone who’d listen about how to make the transition to a more corporate position. The consensus was that the first thing I needed to do would was put together a portfolio. Great! But there was one small problem: I had no work, so no samples of work to cobble together.

All the World's a Stage

My Life in Fur (Part 6): It’s Baseball in the USA

Image by jinndev.deviantart.com

Recently, the Medium publication C(G) S N A P S H O T S issued a challenge in which participants were invited to submit images for their Snapshot Selfie ChallengeI submitted a snapshot of a few mementos that represented different periods of my life. Oddly enough, one object in my snapshot garnered more comments than other—my vintage Donald Duck bobblehead from the late 1960s/early 1970s, described in the accompanying text as “the symbol of my former alter-ego, vehicle of torture and self-discovery.

In the original text I promised to—at some point in the future—reveal a little of the backstory of my adventures performing as Donald Duck at Walt Disney World in Florida. Well, the time has come for me to tell you about my life in fur.

In this installment, I’m unpacking the story behind running the bases at a Major League Baseball game. Really. Enjoy!


15 Years of Magic was by far the most ambitious show proposed at the time. The characters in this show had to perform killer choreography and pull off illusions created by none other than illusionist David Copperfield. Jay, the show director, flew to California to direct the recording of the show and parade soundtracks. Copperfield tutored Jay until he mastered the illusions himself so that Jay could, in turn, teach the illusions to two complete casts of characters and dancers. The illusions had to be performed perfectly every show or the effects would be ruined. We rehearsed the show until the entire cast had mastered every illusion.

All the World's a Stage

My Life in Fur (Part 5): The Show Mustn’t Go On

Image by jinndev.deviantart.com

Recently, the Medium publication C(G) S N A P S H O T S issued a challenge in which participants were invited to submit images for their Snapshot Selfie ChallengeI submitted a snapshot of a few mementos that represented different periods of my life. Oddly enough, one object in my snapshot garnered more comments than other—my vintage Donald Duck bobblehead from the late 1960s/early 1970s, described in the accompanying text as “the symbol of my former alter-ego, vehicle of torture and self-discovery.

In the original text I promised to—at some point in the future—reveal a little of the backstory of my adventures performing as Donald Duck at Walt Disney World in Florida. Well, the time has come for me to tell you about my life in fur.

In this installment, I’m unpacking the story behind establishing a “proper” balance between work and reaching one of my life’s goals in a show-stopping manner. Enjoy!


Three years into my tenure as Donald Duck, I realized that I didn’t want to be a costumed character for the rest of my life, so I decided to complete my Bachelor’s degree at the expense of missing a show or two a week. Only one understudy had been trained when Show Biz Isopened, but there were plenty of people waiting in line who wanted to perform as Donald in the show. Granted, they were a little taller than the ideal four feet for the Donald Duck costume, but hey, we don’t live in a perfect world, right?

All the World's a Stage

My Life in Fur (Part 4): Becoming Donald

Image by jinndev.deviantart.com

Recently, the Medium publication C(G) S N A P S H O T S issued a challenge in which participants were invited to submit images for their Snapshot Selfie ChallengeI submitted a snapshot of a few mementos that represented different periods of my life. Oddly enough, one object in my snapshot garnered more comments than other—my vintage Donald Duck bobblehead from the late 1960s/early 1970s, described in the accompanying text as “the symbol of my former alter-ego, vehicle of torture and self-discovery.

In the original text I promised to—at some point in the future—reveal a little of the backstory of my adventures performing as Donald Duck at Walt Disney World in Florida. Well, the time has come for me to tell you about my life in fur.

In this installment, I’m unpacking the story behind becoming Donald (Duck, that is) and traveling to Guatemala as one of three caballeros. Enjoy!


Five months after my Christmas debut in the Magic Kingdom as Donald Duck, I returned to Character Department for a summer gig performing in the Main Street Electrical Parade. The adventure proved to be so much more than I bargained for . . . in the best way imaginable. The people I worked with were the best, despite my disdain for the job itself. I put college on a temporary hold and expressed an interest to character management in joining their ranks a full-time permanent employee . . . as did several other several other hopefuls lucky enough to continue working past the summer.

All the World's a Stage

My Life in Fur (Part 3): “Show Biz Is”

Image by jinndev.deviantart.com

Recently, the Medium publication C(G) S N A P S H O T S issued a challenge in which participants were invited to submit images for their Snapshot Selfie ChallengeI submitted a snapshot of a few mementos that represented different periods of my life. Oddly enough, one object in my snapshot garnered more comments than other—my vintage Donald Duck bobblehead from the late 1960s/early 1970s, described in the accompanying text as “the symbol of my former alter-ego, vehicle of torture and self-discovery.

In the original text I promised to—at some point in the future—reveal a little of the backstory of my adventures performing as Donald Duck at Walt Disney World in Florida. Well, the time has come for me to tell you about my life in fur.

In this installment, I’m unpacking the story about almost committing professional suicide on-sage. During a show. Enjoy!


In spring 1980-something or other, an explosion in the number and quality of new shows, parades, trips, and tours for Disney characters started what inhabitants of the Zoo at that time referred to as The Golden Age of Characters. Two wildly exciting shows, Show Biz Is and Makin’ Memories, launched a long line of shows to hit the Walt Disney World.