The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Last Dance

It was late last night, after putting the kids to bed and doing a bit of work, that I learned Patrick Swayze died of the pancreatic cancer he’d battled since last year.

Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze, the actor and classically trained dancer whose role in the enduringly popular “Dirty Dancing” made him a movie star, one who struggled with the alienation of fame and against being typecast as a leading man, died Monday. He was 57.

Swayze, who also starred in the blockbuster film “Ghost,” died in Los Angeles with his family at his side, his publicist, Annett Wolf, said.

Early last year, Swayze learned he had pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis that came two weeks after production wrapped on the pilot of “The Beast,” an A&E series in which he starred as an unorthodox FBI agent.

Swayze has long been a favorite male celebrity of mine, ever since he caught my eye as a just-coming out, southern gay boy. So, I thought it appropriate to post my two favorite Swayze movie moments.

Yup. Dirty Dancing. My senior year of high school. It was all the rage. We “dirty danced” at school dances, though none of us knew what we were doing, really. I danced with girls, then. Mainly because there weren’t any guys who’d dance with me at the time. But also because Patrick Swayze never showed up at a dance, and asked me to join him.

After seeing Dirty Dancing, I would have.

I had to give Swazye (and Snipes and Leguziamo) props. These characters could have been caricatures, but they all turned in performances that made their characters real and sympathetic. Swayze, in particular, gives his Vida Boheme grit, grace, and heart — and a glimpse of the pain that made those qualities necessary.

I’ll let other people argue over how good of an actor he was. He touched an awful lot of people, and that’s probably the most an artist could ask for.

R.I.P. Patrick Swazye. I have a feeling you’ll soon be dancing across a lot of our television screens.

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