This is a copy of my eulogy for Kurt at his memorial service last night:
“This is an informal event, but I write better than I speak, so I have written my words down tonight.
My name is Chad. After years of trying to cure my homosexuality by being an active Mormon, I came out of the closet just over 5 years ago, and I moved to Salt Lake City as a newly single father of two sons, an ex-Mormon who was beginning to date and experience life for the first time at age 32.
As my family and friends went bonkers over these life transitions, I initially found support and understanding in a group of gay fathers, all who had stories similar to mine. Among them was Kurt Peterson, another ex-Mormon father of 2 sons who came out later in life. I always enjoyed Kurt but it wasn’t for a few years that we started growing close. He read my story on my blog and we began talking, more and more, and within months we had become best friends, together often and constantly in contact. We must have sent a hundred thousand text messages to each other back and forth over the years.
We began traveling together–on hikes, to hot springs, to Denver and Moab and Seattle and San Diego and Las Vegas, and best of all, an epic cruise to Mexico. We could talk forever and never run out of things to say. People often assumed we were a couple, but it was never like that. Kurt and I were brothers.
I share of lot of myself in my writing, but people make the mistake of assuming they know me well. I’m a relatively private person. But Kurt knew everything about me. About my childhood, my family, my hopes and dreams and aspirations, my children, my exercise routine my habits, my daily life. And I knew the same things about him. We quite honestly never had a single fight. And God how we laughed together.
Kurt was a solution finder. He looked at any situation and found hope and happiness. He thought like a builder. He could see the parts and the tools and the process of creation and work on something until it was complete. That may be the greatest skill that he taught me.
Kurt was a very complicated person, but there are some simple truths about him. Kurt was blunt. He was bossy and straightforward. Kurt went out of his way to know the truth about a person. He might walk up to a stranger and, within sixty seconds, be asking them something uncomfortable like ‘why is it you are single?’ Kurt was generous. He was kind. He was funny. It took a lot to make Kurt angry, but when you did he let you know swiftly, then forgave you just as quickly. Kurt was passionate. He had an ability to make each person he was speaking to feel like they were the only person in the room that mattered.
And Kurt had an incredible heart. He loved fully, in every part of his life. He loved nature, especially the plants of springs. He loved to dance. He loved history and knowledge. He loved his job. He loved people as individuals.
Kurt loved his sons, Zach and Ben, in a way that is difficult to comprehend, and with a capacity that can only be understood if you have children and love them in the way that he loved his. Kurt loved his origins in Iowa, his home and heritage, his mother and father, his siblings, his marriage to Victoria and his raising of their daughters Anna and Emily.
Over the years, I saw Kurt get his heart broken a few times, and he saw the same happen to me. We were there for each other. But in the last few years, something wonderful happened. He met Elias Rios, a Peruvian man two decades younger, a passionate dancer who loved Taylor Swift and gymnastics. It never should have worked, but over time, something happened. They fell in love, the kind of love you only see in fairy tales, hard and deep and fast. Kurt found the love and the life he had been looking for his entire life. Kurt and Elias–I joked and told them their celebrity couple name was Kurtias–They had something I can only hope to find some day.
The future was unfolding for Kurt, with everything he wanted and loved: his home, his yard, his career, his sons, and his soon-to-be husband. He was so blissfully happy.
And then, last Sunday, five days ago, my best friend, my brother, my favorite person…
And it hurts. He was so happy and had so much life left to live.
I could say a million things more, but I’ll conclude by speaking to Kurt. I have a feeling he’s right here with us tonight.
Kurt Peterson, look at what you’ve done. Look at this room full of people who love you. You’ve changed me, Kurt. You’ve changed all of us. You made me a better person. You saw something in me, and then you helped me see it for myself. And I think that maybe you did that for everyone you have ever come across. Look at this room full of people who love you.
I have a lot of beautiful friends, but you, sir, you were the best of the best. I will miss you fiercely and often for the rest of my days.
Thank you, Kurt Peterson, for changing my life.
Thank you, my truest friend. And goodbye.