Obituary: Lu Wayland

Today would have been Lu Wayland’s birthday. Some people are saying hi to someone they haven’t been in touch with for a while on Facebook, only to find out that she died. I found out because mutual friends were sharing memories of her a little while ago.

I was shocked and sad as I read though them. Lu had been long term depressed. We’d shared phone calls and texts expressing pain and despair, but also reaching out to friends and reconnecting with community and talking of progress and love. Each time we spoke I wondered if it might be the last time, but it usually wasn’t the last time and I hoped life would improve.

I’d known Lu since I knew of bi community around 1995: house parties in Birmingham with Mornington Crescent played with enthusiasm and chats about Java programming the next day, picnics in the park complete with displays of sword and song: Tom Lehrer being a favourite, pressé in cafes and talking about Stonewall.

There have just been commemorations of the Stonewall riots after 50 years: Lu want to New York for the 25th anniversary in 1994 and was active on the soc.bi and uk.gay-lesbian-bi USENET groups, often as “Nyar the Aardvark” where a number of us hung out on the internet before the world wide web.

Recently she’d been down to the Isle of Wight for Pride and was joyful at having shared, with her usual absolute and immediate generosity, bi and trans flags with young participants. When she was up, she bounced like a cartoon and knew so much she would want to share.

The last BiCon we shared was in Leicester in 2011 where she came to preside over our mutual friend Kay Dekker’s memorial* and I remember us chatting later about many things including obscure extreme chemistry.

Some of her friends and family met in Malvern in a café and then we walked up in the beautiful hills where she wanted to be and had a ceremony to remember her and scatter her ashes. Family. Friends from the bisexual movement, as I remember her describing us. Photographer friends. Live rôle-play friends. Colleagues from her work as a safety critical software engineer: keeping us safe in the air. Pagan friends. Friends.

Her goddesses were called, we shared memories and readings, her ashes were scattered. Entirely in keeping with Lu’s sense of the absurd a brass band in town struck up God Save the Queen; I remember Lu’s rendition of “Who’s Queen?” from the television comedy Blackadder (1986). I am left enriched by every encounter with Lu and sad and sorry that our world wasn’t an OK place for her stay.

Grant Denkinson

* Kay was a long-time member of the UK bi community and was on the organising team of three BiCons, he was much loved and is much missed. [see BCN October 27, 2011]