Brian Cross

March 6 2017

Age 52, Dallas

Husband: David Taffett

David is graciously allowing me to share his eulogy for Brian

Going through the hundreds of emails and Facebook comments that
have poured in over the past few days, several words popped up
repeatedly: sweet, kind, funny, gentle, fun-loving, compassionate,
welcoming and how well we balanced each other out. In other words,
he had all those qualities. I don't. I know. He put up with a lot.

When I got a call that I was awarded Black Tie Dinner's Kuchling
Award, my first reaction was: no really, who's this year's winner?
I can't write about me. But Mitzi Lemmons said, no really. You. And
I said, OK, well at least this gives Brian several months to get the
counseling he'll need to get through this.

Actually, I couldn't have gotten through that evening without him.
But the longer we were together, the more he expected no nonsense
from me.

Before the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision, I was talking
to the Turtle Creek Chorale's new executive director, Bruce Jaster.
"You know, marriage equality is coming. Next year, you really should
do a concert about marriage." He liked the idea, took it to his board
and they agreed. So Bruce and I were having lunch about a month later
when I suggested, "You know what would be neat? Have couples get
married during that concert." He liked the idea, took it to his board and
they agreed. So about a month later, the marriage equality decision had
passed and Bruce and I were again having lunch and he said to me,
"So are you ready to get married?" I answered, "Well, I did open my big
mouth." So I went home and I proposed. It was a beautiful proposal as
I remember it. "Hey, we're getting married on June 8." And Brian's
acceptance of my proposal was equally romantic. "Yeah, whatever."

But he was on board. He created the chuppah we used from old tallit
from a synagogue in Oklahoma that gave Beth El Binah a variety of
treasures when the closed about 20 years ago and from PVC pipe and
connectors that he found at Home Depot. And that chuppah has
surrounded five other couples as they married as well.

When someone asked what our colors for the wedding would be, all I
could think of was Julia Roberts' line from Steel Magnolias. Our colors
would be blush and bashful. But when Brian thought those were the
colors I really wanted, he scoured every store that might have ties and
vests for blush and bashful. Of course he found them.

But he wasn't supposed to actually be Shelby and the rest of the Steel
Magnolias story wasn't supposed to happen. Brian wasn't supposed to die.

Brian and I met at a demonstration about seven years ago. I was
covering it. He was demonstrating against Kay Bailey Hutchison for her
opposition to the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

We started going out and I had to explain to him why I couldn't go out
on Friday nights. I told him he was welcome to come to Shabbat services
on Friday night but I'd never push him to go. He wanted to go, but had
serious reservations. He had been expelled from Dallas Baptist University
when he was a student for being gay at a time he didn't know he was gay
and certainly wasn't out.

Not only was he welcome at Beth El Binah, he was embraced.

Brian began coming to services regularly. He quickly learned to follow
along in the prayer book. He picked up the tunes before the Hebrew
words, so he made up his own words. I'd sit next to him through the
solemnest prayer laughing as he was chanted the tune of the veahavta
and singing about dinosaurs. But it made him happy and it made me happy.
Then a few months later, I was listening and he had the entire veahavta
and every prayer we did that night in perfect Hebrew.

One night we went to Temple Emanuel and he was really enjoying the
service, especially how what he learned at Beth El Binah he could use at
other synagogues. But he leaned over during the service and asked why
we were the only ones singing along. I told him, "Because they don't
know it. They just let the rabbi do it for them." He loved our way of really
participating, singing loudly, out of key, off tune and when he didn't know
the words, he could make up his own.

We went to Galveston with the LGBT Jewish groups from Houston and
Austin. I knew a couple of the people in the group that went. Brian knew
no one. But everyone embraced Brian. They loved him and he felt
completely included. That's when he decided that he wasn't just attending
services but he was Jewish.

And he loved wearing a kipah. He loved it so much that any time I dragged
him to a church to hear a speaker or attend an event, he wouldn't enter
any church without wearing a kipah - usually something subtle like this
bright orange one that was his favorites.

My family loved Brian. We weren't in Colorado more than a few hours
when my cousin Lori put her arms around him and welcomed him to the
family. My Aunt Rhoda, who gave me away at our wedding, was in tears
when I called her.

Within Beth El Binah, Gary Sinclair said it worst when he said his first
reaction when he heard Brian died was, "Who's going to do the onegs?"
(the food after services). But I know what he meant. Not who's going
to do them. They'll get done. Who's going to do the onegs the way Brian
does. Who going to remember someone's birthday or anniversary of the
death of a loved one and buy flowers that he made sure went to that
person along with a handwritten card. Who's going to make sure we
have a sugar-free drink because he remembers that a member is
diabetic and another needs something gluten free. And after the
service makes sure anyone who hadn't been to services before is
properly welcomed, and by that he meant welcomed and embraced
the way he was.

Brian was the kindest person I ever met. He'd give a homeless person a
place to sleep on our sofa. When Legacy Counseling rented apartments
for indigent clients getting back on their feet, they asked me to judge a
decorating contest between teams who had taken donated items and
created beautiful new homes for the clients. What did Brian do? He
donated furniture and accessories. So much furniture and so many
accessories that most of the 10 apartments have a piece of Brian in them.

When I introduced Brian to anyone - family, friends, people I work with -
they invariably asked "How did you end up with someone so sweet?"
How? I was very, very lucky.