09/07/2014 05:44 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

She Inspired Me: My Tribute to Joan Rivers

"Life is very tough. If you don't laugh, it's even tougher. I'm in nobody's circle. I've always been an outsider." -- Joan Rivers (Las Vegas, 2012)

And with those remarkable words from Joan Rivers, I begin my tribute to an extraordinary person.

I never met Joan Rivers; I always wanted to, but never had that special opportunity to meet her. Yet, I didn't have to meet her in person to be inspired by her. As a gay man, I always understood her humor and struggles. I, too, am an outsider. And because I choose to see the world in all of its glory and horror through my gay eyes, I was able to appreciate her contributions as a person and as an artist. I go through bouts of sadness and depression, as do many people, but Joan Rivers was always a symbol of hope for me. She was a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body.

Yes, I know that so many clichés and trite things have been said by so many people who have expressed their love, gratitude, and respect for her, but sometimes there is no other way to express the obvious truth. Joan Rivers inspired many of us to wake up each morning, get out of bed, live through each tough day, and fight to survive. And for all of us outsiders, she made our circle a fun, fabulous, popular, and loving one.

As I write this, my eyes are filled with tears. Who will allow me to escape the mundane with laughter? Who will allow me to forget the daily problems of the world? Who will inspire me to persevere through tough times? Who will remind me to hold on with white knuckles and fight for what I want and believe in? Who will remind me to speak my mind and say what others won't dare to say? Who will remind me to go against the status quo? Who will welcome me as a fellow outsider? Who will inspire me to simply live? Who will make this world a funny place?

I don't mean to seem selfish in what I am writing. I am simply trying to make sense of how fascinating humanity can be, of how one human being can impact the life of another human being, of how Joan Rivers, whom I never met, could inspire me so profoundly. And please don't misunderstand me; unlike so many people living all over the world, my life is not filled with daily atrocities. I know that I am very fortunate; however, we all live with our own demons. And Joan Rivers helped me to battle those demons. Enough said.


Dear Ms. Rivers,

Although you didn't know me, you were always in my circle. You will never know how much you inspired me. I am truly grateful to you. May you now rest in peace, you amazing person and fabulous diva. You will be in my consciousness forever and forever missed.

With much love and gratitude,