“Gone too soon,” they say. “No one appreciates them until they’re gone,” they say.
“I didn’t appreciate him until he was gone,” I now say.
When one of my idols passed, I remember being especially annoyed that people suddenly seemed to care. That all the love absent during life was suddenly flowing in after death. I was quick to point out phonies who I felt loved the star out of obligation and guilt.
I’ve never called myself a fan of Prince. In fact, being a huge Michael Jackson fan growing up, I would purposely avoid his music. It was my own way of silently answering the “Who’s better? Prince or MJ?” question. Of course, Prince’s timeless hits were impossible to avoid.
I thought he was weird. His flamboyant expression in fashion and personality made him easy to dismiss in my younger mind. He was “too gay” I thought. However, it’s now clear to me that I was pointing out in him all that I tried to hide in myself. Funny enough, Prince wasn’t even the gay one between the two of us. Since his death, pictures, short interviews and fun facts have popped up everywhere. Again, unavoidable. Even in death. It wasn’t until then that I really saw Prince.
I saw the sassiness and the honesty. I heard about the charity. I saw the fashion. Most important to me, I saw the way he rebelled against traditional gender roles. Something close to my heart. He possessed that rebellious spirit before it was cool. Before it became common conversation. In the short number of days I’ve gotten to know the late star, I appreciate him greatly.
Maybe the public’s sudden appreciation of celebrities after death isn’t all bad. While it is unfortunate that such appreciation comes when it seems too late, it’s never too late for someone like me to learn something. To reexamine quick and silly judgements.
I may never buy all of the albums. I don’t know if I will ever have the posters hanging from my walls or call myself a true fan of the artist. Though, I am already a fan of the man.