Lorne Jaffe is my friend. He has become a good friend, in fact, since we first met a few years ago. During a time of major transition in my life, Lorne has stepped up in ways that many who were my friends did not and have not. For that, I am grateful. He has supported my work and personal reinvention into a writer, parenting advocate, and at home father. For that, I am grateful. He has recommended me for several opportunities, one of which was the Blogger Spotlight at the 2015 Dad 2.0 Summit. He even wore a shirt with my website's logo, The Brown Gothamite, to my reading! For that, I am grateful. He has reminded me that friends must support one another. For that, I am grateful.
Lorne and I are pretty similar, which is not surprising. We are both at home fathers. We both have young biracial daughters. We both love pop culture.
Lorne and I are also quite different, and that's cool. Being exactly the same isn't always fun. He's white. I'm black. He's from Queens. I'm from Manhattan. He likes the Yankees. I don't.
There is another difference. Lorne is clinically depressed. He doesn't hide this fact as he writes about it at raisingsienna.com. He struggles with not only his depression, but the perception that exists about depression, especially in regards to men. Too many believe that men are not supposed to be depressed. It's a sign of weakness and makes someone less of a man. But Lorne has told me and others often eloquently, sometimes with brutal honesty, that depression is an illness and not a choice.
We have spoken about the importance of redefining masculinity. I can say without any hesitation. Lorne's definition of masculinity works for me. He is a great father and husband and embraces the responsibilities that come with those roles. He is concerned about his daughter's future. He is unabashedly loyal to his friends. In the short time that I've known him, Lorne has shown me what strength and resolve are. It takes great strength for my friend to step onto a stage for a workshop discussing depression. It takes great strength to share his story in front of a national audience. It takes great strength to admit you might need help. People should understand their limitations. It takes great strength to be a parent and husband while dealing with depression.
You see, I have seen what his depression can do to him. It is difficult to witness, because I want to help him and a hug isn't enough. Supportive statements aren't enough. Patience is, however, essential. As challenging as it might be for someone like me to witness, it is considerably more challenging for Lorne to endure. I have realized that what I can do to help him is not tell him what he needs to do. As his friend, I need to let him guide me and tell me what he needs. What is important for someone like me who doesn't deal with depression is to find ways to support my friend. To better educate not only me, but to also better inform my friends and family. I am learning so much from Lorne and know that my knowledge is still developing.
What I know now is that I would take a Lorne Jaffe as a friend any day over a friend with an antiquated view of masculinity. Although I will most likely never know just how Lorne's depression feels, what I can offer him as a friend is my time, patience, and willingness to learn.
Lorne Jaffe is my friend, and he continues to change my life for the better.