I learned through reading a couple of gay blogs that porn actor Erik Rhodes died in his sleep at the age of 30. Rhodes was an active steroid user and many bloggers believe that it was his drug use that contributed to his death.
A glance at Rhodes’ personal blog paints a picture of a troubled, and severely depressed person. It led me to wonder if drug use led to his death, or mental illness.
As a whole, we don’t like to talk about mental illness, because it’s an uncomfortable topic. We often erroneously believe that a person with clinical depression is plain crazy, and leave it at that.
I’ve left a few comments on the blogs saying that I believe Rhodes depression was the reason he died, and that his steroid use was merely a symptom of a greater problem. It’s telling that gay bloggers tend to blame it on his fitness etiquette, and are using his death as an opportunity to preach against steroid use.
Let’s face it, if he was insecure about his body image to begin with (which many of us are), it’s unlikely that it would have been alleviated by working in the gay porn industry, where personal value is determined solely on one’s physical appearance.
I’ve written about this before, but from my experiences, the gay community has placed limited parameters, and standards on physical appearance. Those who buy into this fallacy, are always the first to say, “but everyone is beautiful just the way they are.” Clearly it’s rhetoric, designed to mask their vanity. To preach that everyone should accept their body type, while coveting a specific physique for yourself, is the ultimate mixed-message.
Maybe I’m missing the point all together, but drug addicts are often attempting to ease their emotional pain from years of abuse, whether it be physical or emotional. They’re finding it challenging to face and overcome their insecurities. Why not call a spade a spade? Why pretend that it’s less complex, when drug use is never that simple?
There were possibly many enablers to Rhodes, and our general complacency towards the affliction of others and our apathy towards mental illness didn’t help. I understand the reluctance to get involved in someone else’s personal troubles, but I know, as a friend, I would be there if someone I loved was having a hard time.
Rhodes’ blog is a fine example of someone struggling with clinical depression, and I wonder why those who claim to have loved him, didn’t get him the help he desperately needed?
In the end, this had nothing to do with steroids, and everything to do with mental illness. I don’t know what caused his depression, but it’s clear that he was screaming out for help well before his death.