Bobby Michaels (1951 - October 30, 2011): the Gay Erotic Romance category is named after him; Bobby was an early Gay Erotic Romance author, I really loved his books, read them always on the day they were out. Bobby was fighting with AIDS, and he spent the last two years of his life in and out hospitals. It was at that time I launched the Rainbow Awards (2009) and he gladly accepted to be in the jury. At the time we were just a bunch of friends who thought we could do something good, and Bobby loved the experience. He was able to do only the first year, his rate was fundamental for the winner of that year, Kyell Gold with Out of Position. Bobby never submitted to the Rainbow Awards, never had the chance, but I'm sure he would have been a winner in his category.
William Neale (1957 - March 13, 2012): the Gay Contemporary Romance is named after Bill. He was a rising star of this genre, very involved in the community, among the first organizers of the GayRomLit convention (GRL). I was lucky enough to be picked to a lunch with author at New Orleans convention with Bill and Rick R. Reed joined us. Wonderful memory. I was particulary broken by the news of Bill passing away from an heart attack since, during that lunch, he told me that if I was ever in Cleveland we should have met, and indeed I wrote him I was going in March... and my email was sent on the same day he passed away.
Dirk Vanden (May 7, 1933 - October 20, 2014): the LGBT Biography/Memoir category is devoted to Dirk who won it with his memoir. Dirk was an early gay novelist, not a prolific one, but a beloved gay authors on the West Coast US in the 70s... not that there were many at the time. Dirk lost his partner due to AIDS, and many other friends too. He had financial trouble in the end, forced to sell all his memorabilia and paintings (he was an awesome artists too) just to make the day, let along the month. His only desire was to be able to feed his dog, and when he lost one, to be able to pay the shelter to take another one.
Cate Culpepper (June 29, 1957 - October 25, 2014): the Lesbian Paranormal Romance category is named after Cate. I have never met her, but she was always a favority of the Rainbow Awards. Actually when she passed away, her last novel was on the good track to be the winner of its category, how it happened. Cate was struggling with diabetes if I remember well, and all she wanted was to survive long enough to not leave her beloved old pet alone... as soon as he passed away, she did too. I'm sure they are taking long walk in heaven right now.
Dorien Grey (November 14, 1932 - November 1, 2015): the Gay Mystery/Thriller category is devoted to Dorien. When I started working with the LGBT community there weren't many venues you could trust, and the Yahoo Group of Roger/Dorien was one. Dorien was always a gentleman, always trying to be the peacemaker, maybe since he really saw what war was. Thinking at Dorien, make you think to better times, when being respectful wasn't an exception but what they told you since kindergarten. I still remember reading on his memoirs how he went through the things of a friend who passed away, and how sad it was to think everything was to an end... I hope Dorien Grey's life will be forever a treasure for the LGBT community.
Sandra Moran (December 20, 1968 - November 7, 2015): the Lesbian Historical category will be devoted to Sandra. She was quite a new friend in my circle, just shy of two years I think, but we often exchanged emails. She was interested in my book, Days of Love, especially the historical Lesbian lives I had in it. She told me we should talk about a project, but we never did... and now we will never do. When I was having some issue in my life, she took the time to privately messaging me, and at the time I was basically a stranger, to give me courage and hope. I was deeply touched, and from that moment on, I always associated positive feelings to Sandra's name. Yes, we have never met, but again, I will miss you.
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