Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please view the tribute video below to Jamall King. A beautiful young man who died of HIV/AIDS complications at 31 years-old on September 13th, 2008.
Him and his partner, Waris Grant, were together for five years, lived together in Brooklyn., and even wore rings. Of course they could not marry.
According to Waris Grant, "Jamall's situation in his last couple of weeks took a turn for the worse. One of his lungs had to be drained, which decreased his lung capacity. He had to be put on a restrictive mask that made a seal with his face and forced oxygen into his lungs mechanically. This procedure was only administered once. Jamall was informed that he would have to be placed on a respirator in an induced coma. As I stood there, I was stunned and saddened by this prospect since the doctors also advised him that people do not usually get off a respirator. Jamall and I spoke about this for no more than 5 minutes at the most -- a swarm of doctors and technicians came into the room to ask his decision. He agreed to the procedure since it seemed to be his last resort. One of the professionals in the room asked, 'Who is your next of kin or who do you want to be in charge while you are unconscious?' Jamall promptly answered while pointing to me, 'I want Waris to be in charge of everything.'"
Waris was not in charge of everything. He lost all of his rights.
Waris also says, "Jamall had an identical twin brother, Jermell King, who died of HIV/AIDS complications seven years ago. His family has always said his brother died of cancer. Now, his family denies to any of his friends, whom are already aware of his status, that Jamall's illness was at all related to HIV/AIDS. They tried to prevent me from bringing his close friends, loved ones and even his caseworker to see him while he was hospitalized. They had misconceptions about procedures that are necessary in these cases stating, 'I don't trust these fucking doctors.' His mother came to me and said that she thinks, 'Pills and medicine that they got pumpin' in him are makin' him sick.' When I begin discussing his condition with doctors or his case worker, his family said, 'Don't be telling nobody his business.'"
Waris continues, "Up until October 17th, which is more than a month after his death, Jamall still had not been laid to rest. My proposal for his final arrangements was refused by his family. It was refused out of prejudice and bias and up until 3 days prior to his mother's supposed arrangements -- I was still in the dark about the location of the venue. I was not invited. They thought I would divulge some closely guarded family secret and were under the impression that Jamall's employer would pick up the entire mysterious tab, therefore, me and all his friends were snubbed."
Waris Grant has gone through a horrendous experience. A situation like this proves how paramount equal rights are. So, for people who think gay marriage isn't a human issue or a civil right, you are deeply misinformed and tragically ignorant.
Jamall King was a huge Beyonce Knowles fan. When Beyonce learned of his untimely death, she sent a florial arrangment of beautiful orchids to the memorial service that Waris Grant held for his partner.