by: Lindsey Dietzler
We have so much to learn from the people that come into our lives. In the beginning I thought I had a lot that I could offer Mark since her sister had just committed suicide. I knew just how tragic the sudden loss of a sibling could be, having lost my sister three years ago and just how arduous the process of grieving suicide can be, having lost my mother a year ago.
I thought I could impart this wisdom and experience onto her. I thought I could offer her an understanding shoulder to cry on. And while we had a pretty deep talk one night over cheese fries, it was mostly an unspoken understanding, a knowing of the kind of pain and loss that we shared in common.
She knew what she needed to feel, to experience and she was never ashamed to show her emotions or cry. She wasn’t afraid to break down in front of others because she knew it didn’t make her weaker, it only made her stronger.
Mark loved her body and herself, never afraid to show off either. She was incredible and she knew it, but she wasn’t cocky or self absorbed. In fact, she was always the first person to tell me how dapper I looked. Mark’s confidence was radiant and infectious.
She lit up a room every time she walked into it and that light continued to shine long after she left the room. When we danced I could feel the energy she was exuding onto the dance floor.
Mark was always present, always loving, always alive.
I am both in awe and completely inspired by the amount of energy Mark gave to everything she touched; her friends, art, community, her looks, hair, make-up, her knowledge, wisdom, courage. The best I can do is follow her lead and strive to give that energy to the people and things that matter in my life.
Mark was raw, honest, real. When she performed Mariah Carey’s “Through the Rain” in January, it was filled with imperfections and forgotten lyrics. But all throughout, her heart and soul beamed through, bringing me to tears. It was in that moment that I realized what I loved so much about Mark; that she embraced her imperfections, her emotions, herself. That is what made her so authentic.
Tuesday night I danced by the fan at Off Chances because Mark’s energy pulled me there. I could almost feel her hair whipping me in the face. Mark’s presence was strong, it was otherworldly and she will live on forever in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to be graced by her.
She is only gone in the physical form that we are able to understand. When we weep, we do not weep for Mark, we weep for those we love and ourselves because we can no longer see her face or hear her voice. But if we stop and listen to our bodies and our hearts, we can always find her there. She hasn’t gone very far.
Mark’s story is not one of tragedy or falling victim to the darkness that lives inside of all of us. Her story is one of transcendence, love and bravery. She was incredibly loved and our community is going to feel this devastation for a long time to come. But we have one another to get through this. We have one another to lean on.
There is no doubt that a void was left in our community when Mark moved on, but her loss will only bring us closer together. I know that I for one, will forever challenge myself to love more because of her.
A spirit brave. A love profound. A goddess actualized.
To help support Mark’s family with funeral and other expenses, please consider making a donation if you are able.
Lindsey Dietzler is a trans/queer rights activist and community organizer. He is a co-founder of Video Action League and founder of CAMP: A Queer Sports League. Dietzler received his Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies from Columbia College Chicago. He is currently working on organizing a new queer/philanthropic dance night in Logan Square. Dietzler enjoys dancing, riding his bike and snuggling with his cat.