Wil Wever – Mr Cuddle Monster (36/89)

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© John O’Brien

I met Daniel in Berlin during Folsom Europe. It was during a time right after I had lost my parents and grandparents and found myself quite alone but had found new family within the community. That year I was invited to Evidence in Nice, where I once again saw Daniel, and where in this more intimate and friendly setting we truly got to bond more. In the mornings after breakfast some of the guys and I would hang out on the large sofa in the hotel Lobby waiting for everyone, and ended up in a big cuddle puddle chatting away. It was here where they jokingly said that I should have a leather title for cuddling and Daniel started calling me his Cuddle Monster.

During a visit to an LGBT centre, there were several gay youth who were shy and seemed intimidated to talk to me, and some wanted to take pictures, so I had embraced them and took photos and after that engaged them in conversation about themselves and setting them at ease. I had not noticed that Daniel had observed this and after that he spoke to me about those kids, a tall guy dressed like me, openly myself and proud about being gay is like a hero and that being kind, generous giving and accepting their hugs really meant a lot. He told me to always be myself and proud. It was after that we really became close friends, and I looked up to him as a role model and family. When Daniel lost his mother, him and I spent a lot of time talking about the experience, the difficulties of dealing with the grief and an elderly parent left behind, as I had also recently experienced after I had just gone through the same, and together we could laugh and grieve and talk about our lives and give comfort and support.

That February I was in Antwerp right after my birthday, and when I met with Daniel and friends, out of his bag he pulled one of the most amazing and sweetest surprises I Cherish to this day, as he had a Leather Sash made for me: “Mr. Cuddle Monster” Although Daniel wanted me to compete for MAL, here I could not think of a more appropriate title that makes me happy whenever I look back at that moment.

 This year with great sadness we lost Daniel. A tireless supporter of the community, a mentor, but most of all we lost a great friend and one of our family. Blood is thicker than water, but leather is thicker than blood. The memories became treasures, and as I look at the sash hanging in my room and our pictures together, I can hear his voice calling me Cuddle Monster and smile gratefully for the times we’ve had. Farewell Daniel. We love you.

Written by Jeroen Van Lievenoogen

Jeroen is publisher of Alphatribe magazine

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