David Bohnett Remarks for Jesse Dukeminier Memorial Service
June 4, 2003, Dodd Hall, University of California, Los Angeles
© David Bohnett, June, 2003. Not to be reproduced without permission
In the summer of 1962, the first James Bond movie premiered, Marilyn Monroe died, Pop Art appeared on the scene, and Jesse Dukeminier met David Sanders at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. David and Jesse were each on a summer trip to Europe, and as David Sanders tells it: "When I first met Jesse, it was one of those chances that you take in life. I saw this fellow standing across the bar, he turned to look my way, and I winked at him. And that was it."
David was soon to learn many things about Jesse, and Lesson # 1 was a study in Jesse's persistence.
Jesse had already made plans to move to California at the end of the summer to accept a position at the Law School at UCLA. David had an important and busy career in New York as the Director of Psychiatry for the Department of Hospitals in New York, and also as Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University. David, smitten with Jesse but mindful that Jesse was soon to move to California, would say; "Don't call me; leave me alone", but David's pleas only served to strengthen Jesse's resolve.
After several years of cross-country courtship, David was fortuitously introduced to Judd Marmor, who offered David the position of running the Psychiatric Residency Program at Cedars Sinai Hospital. Upon David's moving to Los Angeles, David and Jesse rented a house on Gilcrest Drive, and they began to build a rich and varied personal and professional life together in Los Angeles.
In April, 1972, ten years after their chance encounter in Venice, David and Jesse moved again, this time into their newly completed home on Burk Place in Beverly Hills. Thus began what would seem to be a never-ending succession of enchanting evenings by the fire and magical dinners filled with stimulating conversation and Jesse's always provocative comments.
Evenings on Burk Place became even more heartwarming ten years later, in 1982, when Eduadro Guillem stepped into the picture, first to help clean the house and serve dinner, then later to cook, and then not much later after that to become a beloved and trusted member of the family and household. Jesse and Eduardo shared a bond as strong as many a father and son, and Eduardo's love, care and attention were of great comfort to both Jesse and David during this last difficult period.
I first met David and Jesse 20 year ago, soon after I started dating my former lover, Rand Schrader. Randy shared a particularly close bond with both David and Jesse.
One thing Randy admired most about David and Jesse was that, without setting out to do so, David and Jesse became visible, even prominent role models for the lesbian and gay community. Their love for each other, and the forthright and dignified manner in which David and Jesse put forth their personal and professional lives, were things that Randy, and I, felt very grateful to be a part of.
When Randy died of complications from AIDS in June of 1993, I felt, as David does now, that I would never again know the feeling of joy without sorrow, and that the world would never again be bright. I was greatly comforted by Jesse and David after Randy's passing, and somehow I feel that now both Jesse's and Randy's spirits are present when David and I are together.
Jesse and David shared life and love for over 40 years. They were in orbit around each other, and, fortunately, they included all of us in various parts of their journey together. In my 20 years of knowing Jesse, I could always see his love for David in the look on his face and the gleam in his eye.
And it was, in large measure, David's profound love for Jesse that provided Jesse with the security and stability to turn around and give so much of himself to his students, and to his writing, and to his friends.
Professor, we are gathered here today in your honor, and in your memory, and we pledge to keep your spirit alive through what you've taught us about life and love, and through our care and support for your beloved David.
Thank you very much.