Letter from the 4th Son

(Ongoing research project. Text, photography.)

“Did you know my Uncle Dr. Benny Waxman? Was he your mother’s gynecologist? Was he the doctor who delivered you? Were you his patient in the early days of sexual reassignment surgeries at John Hopkins or George Washington Hospital? Did you party with him in SF, in DC or in Delaware? Did you daven with him at Beit Mishpacha DC where he was a founder and Torah reader? Did you ever hear him play the harpsichord? Seeking lovers, friends and patients of my uncle Dr. Benny Waxman, of Washington DC, who died from AIDS related illness in 1989. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, please contact me. #letterfromthe4thson

Dr. Ben Waxman, my late uncle, was a highly esteemed obstetrician and gynecologist in Washington D.C. He came out as gay in the mid 1970’s and succumbed to AIDS in 1989. We were estranged during the 1980s. Though I did have the chance to see him before he passed away, I never got to come out to him. The title refers to the last of the four questions asked during the Passover service, from the son who does not know how to ask. I am seeking out Dr. Waxman’s friends and colleagues in order to correspond and hopefully visit and interview. These communications are an attempt to know him as a gay man, in my search for mentorship, and lineage. If you knew my uncle, or were his patient, or socialized with him, or davened with him, please write to me. I would really appreciate it.

Exhibition history:

“letter from the 4th son / Last Dance” text and photography in ‘This Is Not Art Therapy, This Is Group Work’ book launch/installation, Art Metropole, Toronto.

Book now available at Art Metropole Toronto, Printed Matter, NY, BGSQD, NY.

“One writes ones own haggadah. What does it mean to be a migrant, what is generational, what is freedom from constraint? Where are you from, what is your name, what is your language and what do you want to know? The 4th Son is asking you and you are not listening. #letterfromthe4thson (a kaddish for Lilla Maros, on the occasion of visiting her grave, for the first time, 30 years later.)”

“one writes one’s own haggadah
#letterfromthe4thson
from Sefer Yetzira and James Baldwin: “We are all androgynous, not only because we are all born of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other — male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it.”
–from “Here Be Dragons” (1985) by James Baldwin