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Brad Chase (real name withheld to protect the identity of his brother, who is also a gay porn star) committed suicide at his home in Salem, Indiana, on April 19, 2000. He was 29 years old. He is survived by his mother and father, a younger sister, and his brother -- gay porn star Kyle Matthews.
Perhaps the best tribute one can give is his real-life brother, gay porn star Kyle Matthews. Here is what Kyle has to say:
There is nothing I cannot tell you about him. He and I were as close as twins. Having a gay biological brother is one thing. Being adult sex stars at the same time was pretty wild. Although in that aspect, I always seemed to get by on his coat tail.
Brad Chase was one of the most beautiful men to grace the cover of an erotic video. "Summertime Blues" was his most requested autographed box cover.
We were a team when he left the industry and came to take on Chicago. We had the time of our lives and it was our favorite summer. The effects of the porn industry and the rest of his life had not taken their toll on him yet.
Well, we went our separate ways for a while and he did NYC. He was having a lot of fun there, making a good living. He seemed very coherent when I called him to tell him that I had met my life mate 8 years ago. However, less than 2 months after that call, I was phoned by my mother in Kentucky. She said that he was on his way home to Kentucky on a bus because "God told him to go home." He had left his dog and had nothing but the clothes on his back.
This was the beginning of a virtual nightmare in my life. Brad had taken a combination of drugs at a club with his so-called friend in New York. He snorted coke, took a couple hits of acid, and topped it off with some hard liquor and downers. This caused him to go into a psychotic episode in which he was paranoid, hearing voices, hallucinating, and struggling with the forces of good and evil within him. I drove from Chicago to Kentucky and brought him back to my 9th floor condo with my lover.
Mental illness was not something I had any experience with at all at that time. It was very frustrating to see the brother I knew to be so full of life and excitement, walking around in a zombie like state, refusing to eat, and talking about God and the devil all day. If there was ever a time for me to question the existence of God, it was then. All I knew was that no loving God that I could ever believe in would cause any of his followers to go psychotic. I just wanted my brother back. I didn't care if he hated me when I was finished rehabilitating him, but I wanted him to be normal again.
I took him to the emergency room the day after and waited for hours until a doctor asked Brad to sign himself in. His signature was a sign of what was to come of psychosis, part two: He signed himself in under my name.
He made what seemed to be a miraculous recovery within a month of coming home with medications that had painful and weakening side effects.
Within three months he was almost back to his usual self, when he decided to move back to Kentucky with our mother. It was not a decision based on insanity, but I strongly advised against it.
It was in Kentucky that he met his lover through some personal ads. He moved in with this man in Salem, Indiana. Brad became domesticated. He was following my example of settling down with an sweet older man and living in a house, planting flowers and all that good shit. Suddenly, he was Martha Stewart in overdrive. I couldn't have been happier for him.
His lover couldn't have made a better first impression on me. He was friendly, outspoken and generous. Unfortunately, that impression changed very quickly when Brad called me a few months later and asked if he could move back in with me. He and his lover had a fist fight and had put each other in the hospital the night before in a drunken rage.
I encouraged him to get out of that relationship for good. He took my advice and ran with it to every hot club in Chicago where he seemed to forget all about his lover. He started stripping at a club and then made a big mistake by snorting coke one night. That cocaine started the second psychotic episode of his life. Luckily, I caught it very early. He was putting cream in his coffee to counteract the darkness of it which his psychotic personality found very evil. We always drank out coffee black.
I took him to the hospital. His recovery was very rapid, but the medication made it impossible for him to dance. He had more time on his hands to think about his lover and he decided to return to him. I was infuriated. How could he go back to that bastard? However, it was his life and he insisted. I couldn't just kidnap him or hold him hostage until he saw things my way.
He went back to his lover and started up where he left off, but with a twist. Brad seemed overly obsessed with living the same lifestyle as me.
Many people made comments about it to him over the next couple of years. He wanted a dog like mine, and a cat like mine, and a lover like mine, and a plant flowers like mine and so on. I didn't notice it right away, as it was a gradual thing. Looking back, I can see that when things got tough for him emotionally, it was easier to be his own big brother and take charge of any situation. Having the proper setting would get him into character. He stood up to his lover and put his foot down. At the same time, he was finding himself unable to keep up with me. I had achieved so much happiness and success in my own relationship, and Brad knew that he could not emulate that.
He did a couple more lines of coke and slipped back into the confused and fragile psychotic personality. I was not contacted until he was already hospitalized in Kentucky on a different medical treatment. I was 6 hours away by car, and my family decided they would handle this one.
The last thing that Brad needed was conversation with anybody who would feed his psychosis with religious validation. Brad was always gay. He had never been with a woman in his entire life. It was only during psychosis that his personality would change into a holy-roller. My family allowed him to visit with our old family preacher from the local Southern Baptist church when he got out of the hospital where he was told to walk in the light. This preacher took advantage of my brother's unhealed mental illness to cause further damage to his psyche by condemning his entire adult life. It was Brad's inability to live with the family when he started snapping out of it because of personality conflict. They liked him better when he was trying to stay straight, but the medications were starting to kick in and he was ready to go back to being gay, and the first stop was his lover's house.
Unfortunately, it was also his last stop. They fought like crazy and had a hell of a rough time. Brad was trying to be independent, yet his lover wanted nothing but to control him any way he could. Their relationship swung very high and very low. Their good times were very good, but their bad times were more frequent and impacting. They were having sex outside the relationship and not being safe with each other. A medical visit came up with his lover having hepatitis B, and oddly enough Brad tested positive for hepatitis C. Ironically, Brad's diagnosis was inaccurate, but he wouldn't know that for a year. That year of thinking that he had a potentially fatal illness that could pop up at any time, put an incredible amount of stress on him. He sunk deep into alcoholism with his lover and started going out to gay bars on his own. His lover hated the idea of his man being out in the clubs without him. Brad was arrested for drink driving three times within that year and placed under home incarceration for 9 months.
He and his lover had gotten matching tattoos with hearts and each other's name under them. Brad stopped drinking and made a commitment to stay sober. He also discussed in detail with me the plan he had made to leave his lover when he got that ankle bracelet off. He was attending AA meetings whenever he could get a ride there, and writing poetry.
One day he missed an AA meeting.
It was April 18th, 2000. Brad had worked all day at his lover's liquor store. His lover had confronted him about wearing a tank top that exposed his tattoo. Brad wasn't sure what pissed his lover off the most.
Was it how hot he looked in that tank top, or was it the public proclamation of their love in the small town? Either way, it was just another day of putting up with his lover's controlling attitude. Brad had to walk home from work. He was watching T.V. that night when our little sister called him and he told her he couldn't wait to go visit her and see her new baby. He was watching "Will & Grace" and laughing. His lover had not shown up, and Brad was pissed because he was missing his AA meeting. At 5 am the next morning I got a call from a friend of Brad's lover, telling me he had hanged himself overnight.
I'm still not 100% convinced that my brother really did take his own life. There was no autopsy. There was no investigation. I had turned over many stones and spent months struggling with this lack of knowledge until one day I discovered a consistency between a the conversation my little sister had with Brad that night and what he said on his undated suicide tape in which he clearly stated that he was taking an overdose and made no mention of hanging himself. Still, I have found it easier to believe that he took hisown life, given the horrific options that have gone through my mind.
However, I ran a full fledged campaign to expose the facts involved with the mishandling of the situation by elected officials in their small town as well as "out" his lover to the entire town. Would Brad want that? Probably not.
Where is he when I want him alive? How could he expect me to respond. It is one thing to accept my brother's death, and another to accept that he is his own killer. I will not ever accept the abuse that I feel contributed to the low self image. I will not accept his abuser.
Brad's story is one that the gay community should all know. It's not just about the porn industry. That handsome, intelligent, humorous young man that appears on your screen as Brad Chase was a young man with so much potential and beauty. The world seemed to chew him up and spit him out. I've been there myself, but I guess the world didn't like the taste of me because I somehow survived.
I have found therapy in the telling of this story to numerous people over the last year. I am still coming to terms with Brad's death. It's the first time I ever lost anyone, or ever even had to attend a funeral. I have asked many of the same questions of myself over and over. The only way I can identify with how he was feeling is to go back to my own dark place in life and relive my own agony and suicide attempts. It's a scary place to go back to. It makes me more appreciative of the perspective I view it with now. I was lonely. I was confused. I thought nobody could or would ever love me for who I was, but rather, for who they wanted me to be. I had been abused and cheated on and made to feel ugly. I have felt that kind of hopelessness. I have felt like a sinner. I had felt that urge to just say fuck it, and end my own life with precision. Either I wasn't precise enough, or it wasn't my time to go. I choose to believe it just wasn't my time. I want to be a living testament to anyone in that dark place in life. I want to show them that they don't have to put up with abuse to feel loved. I want to tell them that they are loved more than they could possibly know in this world by people who know them. It's just that people in this world have a hard time expressing love like we should. I want to tell people that God does love them as much as anyone else, and that the only true sin is one that involves hurting someone else. Life is so worth living. It takes more of a man to stand up to the world and live with the agony of what he doesn't have while he tries to make the most of what he does have. Anything in life is worth fighting for and putting your best effort into.
If I can live through Brad's death, I can live through practically anything. In a way, a big part of me died right along with him, yet a lot of him lives on in me. I can use his humor, some of his style and concepts in my own life without being a copy cat. I can be grateful for all that he has given me in life and not dwell on all that I have lost in future memories with him. Rather than allow his death to reduce my will to live, I choose to use learn from his experience without blaming him. In doing so, I forgive myself for the pain I've caused me in the past and I am free to accept myself entirely without the need for validation of anybody's approval in this world. I intend to live life shamelessly and to the fullest before I check out of it. That's what he would want me to do. I know this, because it's exactly what I'd want him to do.
Brad Chase's filmography:
Bed Tales (1991, HIS Video)