Shaun McKinney: A star returned to the universe

Shaun McKinney was born on the 5th of September, 1986. And sadly, Shaun passed away on the 18th November, 2012.

I met Shaun in April 2009, at the project launch of DPSN. At that stage it was the PSN Project, Peer Support Network Project. Of course it developed into what it is today, Diversity Promotion through Social Networking.

I don’t know how or why, but sometimes you just click with some people. And Shaun and I clicked. To the point that my next biggest memory is of us planning our trip to Sydney, for Sydney’s Mardi Gras, in March 2010.

Shaun did the trip justice and created a short film, in the DPSN MyFilm Project, supported by MIC Toi Rerehiko (Media and Interdisciplinary Arts Centre in Auckland). Full of great memories!

Of course on returning from a fabulous trip Shaun got an interview with Gay Express at the beginning of 2011 Beyond “disabled”.

That was more than a solid beginning to a great friendship. We kept in regular contact and when I learnt of the inaugural Be.Leadership programme, and gave Shaun a nudge. And he nudged me back.

So we both became Be.Leaders by the end of a year long programme in 2011. And we grew in that process. Side by side, not always consciously aware of each other, but I know now that his presence was an influence on me.

He was a thinker, and a writer. And he wrote ‘From Struggle Comes Compassion’ and ‘Compassion Triumphs Fear’ for the Be.Blog.

And from several discussions with Shaun this was his passion. His legacy. As Philip Patston writes in Remembering Shaun McKinney: a legacy of a kinder world, “He wanted to find ways to apply compassion in management, particularly integrating his previous year’s learning about leadership. Shaun wanted to inspire people to rethink compassion, remove its commonly held association with pity, and consider how “smart compassion” could alleviate suffering and create new solutions to old problems.
Most of all, Shaun wanted to leave a legacy of a kinder world.”

Shaun was a large part of Rainbow Youth for many years, and executive director Tommy Hamilton says “The Rainbow Youth motto is know who you are, be who you are. Shaun embodied this completely. Shaun shared with us his time and passion for changing the world we live in to be better place for everyone. Our organisation will remember him for his compassion, joyous energy, charming smile, integrity and wisdom.”

In Shaun’s passing Gay Express write again about Shaun, Tragic loss of an amazing young man. “Known as a kind and compassionate man who was out and about in the queer community, Shaun seemed to have touched the lives of everyone he met.
Hannah Jennings-Voykovich who interviewed Shaun (in 2011) says that although she only met him once she “was blown away by his tenacity and by his kindness. He spoke freely about muscular dystrophy but sought no sympathy for his condition. His determination and compassion for others will be missed. ”

Along with many many other the Be.Accessible whanau send a message of condolence in their November 2012 newsletter.
“Our deepest wishes are with Shaun’s family and friends at this difficult time. We will always cherish his legacy of compassion and remember him when we are required to lead with love and kindness.”

Shaun was my star, so I told him, and called him Shaun Star (of course it has a rude connotation – but I’ll let you work that one out).

My final public words to Shaun, or about Shaun ….
Shaun Star! Thank you for your friendship, your wisdom, your comfort, and your witty humour. You touched everyone who knew you. And it’s a greater world for you having been in it. You wanted to create a legacy – Mate, you undoubtedly did it!! If we could all carry a piece of your attitude, determination and love, it would be an awesome world. But you did it so well we forgot to take notes, and we forgot that you wouldn’t always be with us.
I hope the universe gave you a huge welcome! Because I will miss you a lot! ♥ Love Ya! ♥

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