By Tom Reardon, November 2019 issue.
It is only fitting that Buddy Early, the man who gave
birth (not literally, as that may have been painful) to the Echo Hall of
Fame, should be inducted into the institution he helped create while he was
managing editor of Echo Magazine in 2006. Early is a self-proclaimed
“Professional Homosexual” although, now that it is in writing, the words
“Semi-retired” should be added in there somewhere since he has been out of the
limelight for several years now. Early is a true Hall of Famer, though, and a
word-slinger par excellence with exceptional wit and wisdom, really, for those
of us who need (and heed) his guidance.
leaving Echo, Early became managing editor at Compete Magazine
(which can be found at CompeteNetwork.com) which celebrates diversity in sports
and features some excellent articles about LGBTQ athletes and events from around
the world. A sports fan and Arizona native, Early’s work in the written world
is honest and forthright, occasionally sardonic but rarely mean and it
playfully mocks the community at large at times though most of the fun is
directed right back at himself. Early’s hilarious Facebook site, The Official
Buddy Early Fan Page is a must visit if you’re still on the “Book” and not
scared of Russian interference in your personal lives.
Early is just plain awesome and his induction here is not only warranted, but
maybe even a bit late. As a regular contributor to Echo and several
other publications, Early keeps his fanbase up to date on his latest thoughts
and goings on, even if it is just to let us know that he really enjoys keeping
it casual when it comes to dressing up for work.
Echo:What does it mean to you to be in the Hall of Fame?
Early: It was kind of out of left field.
It never occurred to me. It’s ironic that we started this Hall of Fame when I
was still the managing editor and the Hall of Fame was my brainchild. To see it
continue, it’s cool and now I’m getting the phone call. It’s…weird (laughs),
but it’s an honor.
So, this was your baby and now
you’re a fully-fledged adult member…
It’s also weird because one of my many personality quirks
is that I don’t do well with compliments or recognition of things, so when I
heard, I realized I needed to be okay with this, so let me just enjoy it.
I think a lot of folks,
especially writers, don’t do well with compliments.
You’re right. I was going to talk about
a bit of self-loathing there, but I think that’s going a bit too far (laughs).
I think writers — we have some self-esteem issues at times that won’t allow us
to receive compliments and praise.
When you first started the Hall
of Fame, what was some of the criteria you used to choose the honorees?
The first year was easy because there were a number of
people in our community who had done so much and were obvious choices. They
were pillars of our community. They had founded organizations like Phoenix Body
Positive, for example, or worked with the city to pass ordinances to protect
LGBT people. These were important members of the community.
What are you doing now?
I work in insurance claims for State Farm.
Very different. In the decade or
so you’ve been gone from Echo, what’s been happening?
I’ve really embraced the role of anonymity. I worked in gay media for so long and worked part-time at a couple of different gay bars at that time, and I was one of the founders of the Arizona Gay Volleyball league. I was just a huge part of the community 24/7. A lot of my heterosexual friends called me “The Mayor of Gaytown.” But since leaving those roles, I’ve really enjoyed a life of anonymity. Now if I go out to a bar or a community event, I’m not recognized by most of the crowd and that’s kind of cool. Being part of Echo as a writer and contributor, that’s fun, but I’ve been laying low in my old age.