(This was wrote over this past Summer. Miriam had decided to share it with M1 and to publish it In memoriam).
REMEMBERING MY FRIEND BUNNY
by Miriam, First of May Anarchist Alliance Detroit Collective
Yesterday I was browsing the Internet, looking for an old friend. In an article dated June 9, 2011, this is what I found: WAVE OF HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE IN PUERTO RICO – 18 DEAD IN 18 MONTHS – LGBTQ MURDERS ON THE RISE.
Ivan McDonald and Frank DiGiovanni were among the listed dead.
I first met my friend Bunny, born Ivan Courtney McDonald in Jamaica, W.I. on March 24, 1950, when he moved with his family to Compton, California. He had come to the United States at the age of 5, living in Massachusetts until the age of 12, when they moved to Compton. We met at Walton Junior High School, in a science class, and together with another classmate, Don Chan, became close, see-you-every-day friends. His family home was across the street from Compton High and, after school, I would go over to the McDonalds every day. We taught ourselves how to play guitar; we wrote and played songs and poems, with great intensity. Both Don and Bunny’s experiences helped form my own, and as I became more political, I brought them with me. Together we went to anti-war marches, including ones that turned violent from police attack, like occurred in Century City in 1966. Together we smoked dope and went to love-ins. We talked ourselves out of stops by the police, except the one time we got arrested, along with my brother, Martin, for having weed. They called him all kinds of n words, called Martin a girl (long hair) and separated me out for the ride to the women’s jail, Sybil Brand Institute, SBI. Ma got us out, with bail money she kept on hand.
When it came time to register for the draft, Bunny did not. When it came time to declare citizenship (he had a choice between the US, Jamaica and England), Bunny did not.
Bunny told me he was gay when we were about 14 or 15. There was no gay movement then (1964) that we knew about. He spoke and wrote about his struggles being Black and Queer. We hitchhiked to San Francisco the first time in 1966. Bunny went back, connecting with the gay community around Haight Street. There is an issue of San Francisco Sunshine newspaper featuring a front page photograph of a group of naked men holding rifles, proclaiming the Gay Revolution. Bunny is center, front.
I moved to New York in 1967 and the following year Bunny came and stayed with me. He was looking for work as an actor and found a few parts, very very off off Broadway. He also had experience as a carpenter, learned from his father, and an extremely original and creative artistic sense. He moved back to California, this time San Francisco.
Bunny first introduced me to Frank in 1966. Bunny was living in converted garage space in his family home. He brought Frank home – they were together from then on.
Frank DiGiovanni was an Italian guy from New York, a little bit older, very street smart, intelligent and caring. They moved to San Francisco, where they would buy a place, renovate and sell. They then moved to New York, doing pretty much the same thing. Bunny worked as a set designer also, notably on Spike Lee’s Crooklyn.
They moved to St. Lucia and later to Maunabo, Puerto Rico where they lived next to the Caribbean Sea. I visited them in 2004, where they welcomed me like a sister, with much attention and love.
You don’t always keep in touch with the people you love and so it was with Bunny. When I did try to re connect, I found murder. Anger, sadness, loss, goddamnit.
I can remember Frankie playing Hogan’s Alley on the piano, Bunny on the guitar, laughter, conversation, a wittiness and understanding of the world and its ways that one doesn’t often find. I remember my friends Bunny and Frankie. I remember Frankie telling me, “we courted for 35 minutes and now we’ve been together 35 years.” It’s a story to share.