Seattle lost some of its most brilliant color and magical glamour when Brian Fairbrother transitioned on September 8, 2011.
Known to many as the mayor of Broadway (or, as he preferred, the raja of Broadway), Brian was a fixture at Espresso Vivace, the local coffee spot and roasteria owned by David Schomer and Geneva Sullivan. For over 20 years, Brian's presence made the mornings hum for the Vivace family as their general manager, and thousands of loyal customers and friends looked forward to their daily dose of Brian, who delivered the perfect cup with the appropriate side of sympathy, bon mot, or snark, accompanied by the music of his distinctive laugh.
Brian knew how to tell a joke and could turn anything into a story or performance. His version of his entrance to the world was 'I came in kicking and screaming 'WRONG HEMISPHERE! WRONG HEMISPHERE!'
The son of a bellydancer, Brian inherited his mother Harriet's natural rhythm, incorporating heart and connection into all aspects of his life: working, spiritual, dance, and his innate sense of language. Brian was also known for his love of bright textiles and saris. 'More is more, and less is heresy,' was one of his many idioms.
Around 1983 and after his move from Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Brian joined the local circle of the Radical Faeries. It was here that he found a spirituality and wholeness among a common community. While honoring the passing of the seasons, he found holiness in the environment, and his soul found freedom from linear roles and absolute restrictions. 'I am a child of bright morning,' he often said, both for the poetry, but also stating his full intent to begin every day, even the difficult ones, with an open, uncluttered conscience.
In the mid-1980s, Brian performed as a bellydancer, both by delivering 'bellygrams' and by working with a local troupe, Karavans. Flamenco dance, which suited Brian's tall, elegant physique, also became a passion. Brian's enthusiasm for India led him to explore Orissi dance, first at Evergreen State College under Dr. Ratna Roy, and later during an extensive stay in India. Other travels to Europe, Mexico, Canada and a return adventure to India, fed his perpetual hunger for learning and exchanging knowledge.
Words were Brian's freely traded currency. He studied both foreign language and foreign men, and not necessarily in any particular order. He learned American Sign Language at Seattle Central Community College, and later became fluent in Spanish, and was a longtime member of a Spanish language book club. Studies in Italian and French later followed, and regardless of language, Brian always strove to use exactly the right word or expression.
On August 30, 2011, a perfect evening for a bike ride, Brian suffered a fall in a bike accident, which caused severe and irreparable trauma to his brain. Friends were at his side 24/7, in hopes of a recovery. According to his wishes, his family of choice let him go peacefully when it became clear there was no other option. He has left behind a community that misses his vibrance, wisdom, laughter, his affection for the color orange, and his affinity for extremes of Oscar Wildean absurdity. As Brian would say, 'Well, sweetie, there it is.'
A celebration of Brian's life is planned for October 1, 2011, from 2-4 p.m. at St. Mark's Cathedral on Capitol Hill (1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle, WA, 98102). Memorial gifts may be made to Gay City or to Lambert House.
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