Hope Can Survive Death, If You Bring It Back to Life.
The first things I learned about Troy King were that he had a passion for yoga, and he’s good both in front of and behind the camera. Troy is a Branding specialist from Atlanta, and I met him on a photo shoot in Puerto Rico, where he was the creative and design director of the project’s production team. During the shoot we talked briefly about the Hope Project, and he graciously offered to talk about the death of his partner that was still a relatively fresh wound. He says the young man’s hopeful energy was inspiring to him and would like to talk about this. He explained how devastating his partner’s suicide was on him and others, yet I was surprised by his upbeat demeanor.
Troy’s relationship was incredibly passionate, and ended far too soon by tragedy. Almost two years later, he says he’s doing “pretty good. Hope is what keeps me going. It knocked the wind out of me completely, but I learned a lot from J.C.’s suicide. Hope keeps me on track.” Troy tells me he also had suffered from thoughts of suicide and attempted it several times. But that was just crying for help.
“I realized how much damage and sorrow the decision J.C. made to end his life had caused those who loved him.” Working through his grief gave Troy a new perspective on the old “glass half-full” idea.
Troy and I talked, as I have with others, about the child-like Hope we each feel when we are children and young adults, before our respective cultures beat us up with reality. It’s clear from the way Troy talks about him that, despite unique adversity, J.C. managed to hold on to a lot of that optimism of youth. J.C. was black and a jock and gay. It’s a combination that invites a lot of disapproval, and downright abuse, from peers, community and even family. But J.C. was a old soul packaged in a young body full of energy, Troy said, and he touched people wherever he went. There were close to a thousand people crowded into his funeral, all of them moved at some point by the Hope J.C. embodied. His Facebook page is still highly active with the people he touched.
Troy feels lucky to have fallen in love twice so far. His first relationship was loving and comfortable, but not particularly fiery, one reason Troy was so caught off-guard by the intensity of his relationship with J.C. It was also a match of opposites. J.C. was younger. J.C. was black. J.C. was a bundle of passion and energy. He was also bi-polar, way up, and then way down. Theirs was a loving and passionate relationship. But since he was older than J.C., Troy would inevitably play the role of mentor, so Troy was ultimately surprised that he learned as much as he did while guiding. J.C. relapsed back to experimenting with the dark side that was influenced by previous harmful relationships and difficulty developed when the relationship began to slip into shades of a father/son, almost parental protection. Troy drew the line as J.C.’s dangerous behavior escalated and told J.C. he would have to choose between him or the lifestyle. J.C. found a third option. He ended his life, leaving Troy with massive feelings of guilt and remorse.
J.C. was bi-polar, and his emotional highs and lows finally created a sense of frustration at trying to grow up too fast, and ultimately surrendered to thoughts of suicide. He felt there was no way to change the cycle, gave up and lost Hope. But he has transferred that sense of Hope he had lost to his friend, lover and mentor Troy King.
After a tough period of recovery, Troy has recently found someone new, and maybe the third time is a hopeful charm.