Forever Activist

By Julie

 

photo of Bo

Bo Brown, aka Rita D Brown, ex political prisoner and forever activist, is an old friend. I went to her trial in Portland Oregon in 1977 before I actually had met her. When she was paroled in 1987, I was lucky to be approved as her release home.  Before her conviction for bank robbery and since then, including her time in the many different federal prisons she was constantly transferred in and out of, Bo has been fighting for prisoners. She was one of the founders of Out of Control: Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners in 1988 and a member of Revolting Lesbians; she was part of the Critical Resistance and is currently an active participant and board member of PARC, Prison Activist Resource Center.  Lesbian groups, butch groups, prisoner groups; all of us at LAGAI have known and worked with Bo for way over 30 years.

Bo has recently been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, an extremely debilitating disease.

Words from Bo, typed by Etang.  A lot of ugly, mean, hateful and strange things have happened in my life, but losing my memory is the worst! I survived growing up working poor. I survived prison for 8 years. I learned in prison to meditate when stressed, and I still do that. Dementia is sometimes like I am unconsciously meditating, but when I return to awareness I can’t remember where I am or what happened. Sometimes I cry because this is so fucking weird. Fortunately, I have beautiful trees around my house and on my block–these trees and my strong beautiful partner Etang are my bedrock and keep me from freaking the fuck out. 

 

Words from Etang: Bo, my sweetheart and partner of 16 years, has early stage Lewy Body Dementia. She is strong, proud, brave, tender, a survivor, and a revolutionary. For the last year or so, Bo’s cognitive impairment has become progressively worsened. This shift, this deterioration is so devastating because she is painfully aware that she is not the same. On many days I surrender to the isolation of this long goodbye, this heartbreak. There are so many things about the future that are unknown and unpredictable. This path is new and unfamiliar. There’s so much I don’t know. I do know that I am going to be right here in this moment and listen to the sounds of this sweet butch woman sleeping. I have leaned into her truth, courage and strength for so many years; it’s my turn to hold us up. Breathe.

From Etang: We appreciate the lovingkindness from folks, thank you. For lots of reasons, I have a hard time asking for help. Our current challenges demand that I let that go. I am overwhelmed with grief and we need help. Dementia is crushing and brutally painful. Each day is different, unpredictable, revealing a new edge. We can’t afford for me not to work full-time. I am trying to hold it together, but we need support. 

I am calling on Bo’s communities to help with Bo’s ongoing and long-term medical expenses that are not covered by health insurance. Also funds are needed to reconstruct some at our house to make it accessible and safe for Bo.

For more info please contact:  prisonactivist@gmail.com

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is www.lagai.org.

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