Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Michael Brown

Michael Brown accepted who he was, and so did others

Michael Brown sought stability.

Michael Brown sought stability.

SEFFNER — Michael Brown spent the first half of his life discovering who he was. The second half, he searched for permanence.

He grew up in Seffner, where as a boy he embraced poetry, line dancing and the Baptist church. Later, he accepted himself as an openly gay man and never looked back.

Mr. Brown died on Thursday of unknown causes. He was 29.

His mother, Pamela Butler, was barely 16 years old when she gave birth to her son. By the time he was the same age, Mr. Brown reached a milestone of his own.

"He just looked at me and said, 'Mom, I'm gay.' " Butler said. "I said, 'Yeah, I know.' He said, 'I figured you did.' "

That same year, Mr. Brown sought out his biological father and a side of the family he had not known.

He worked at an RV park and a restaurant, Angelina's, where he became a manager. He helped his mother with expenses and doted on a 9-year-old nephew Butler was raising. He took his nephew fishing, to Busch Gardens or Cub Scout activities — you name it.

"He would call and say, 'I'm coming to get Jimmy,' " Butler said.

He proudly took his mother to gay bars, and told his friends they could all deal with it. Most of them could.

His loyalty made for clear priorities, no matter what. Once, a stranger called out on a sidewalk to his cousin, Laurie, "What's up, Jessica Simpson?"

Mr. Brown stepped forward and said, "Nothing you'll ever have."

All the while, he searched for stability. He told Zachary Worthington, an ex-partner of five years, that he wanted to be settled by age 30 with a house and financial security.

On his 29th birthday party in June, he reminded himself aloud of the plan that seemed slow to arrive.

"One more year," he said.

Mr. Brown never got that year. On Monday, he and a friend visited an aunt to check out her outfit for a planned 50th birthday party. At Valentine's Nightclub later that evening, Mr. Brown showed no signs that anything was wrong.

But when a roommate tried to wake him up on Tuesday, Mr. Brown was unresponsive. He was transferred to Brandon Regional Hospital, where he died.

To help the family financially, Hillsboro Memorial Funeral Home is picking up most of the tab for Mr. Brown's funeral arrangements. The Greater Seffner Area Chamber of Commerce has spurred other businesses to contribute flowers and cash.

His death leaves a void. "If he had one flaw," Worthington said, "it was that he never knew how many people actually loved him."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2431.

.Biography

Michael F. Brown

Born: June 27, 1979.

Died: Aug. 7, 2008.

Survivors: mother Pamela Butler; stepfather Christopher Butler; father Thomas Sample; stepmother Peggy Sample; grandparents Richard and Joellen Salisbury, Rosalie Sample; brothers Christopher Butler II and Joshua Sample; sister Victoria Sample; stepbrothers Ronald Gurule, Louis Turley; stepsisters Toshia and Corina Gillespie; nephew James Butler.

Service: 5 p.m. today (visitation 3 to 5 p.m.); Hillsboro Memorial Funeral Home, 2323 W Brandon Blvd., Brandon.

Michael Brown accepted who he was, and so did others 08/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 2:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'

    Blogs

    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store

    Accidents

    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108