The Church

The church building was small – no more than 1000 square feet all told. My granddaddy’s name is on the cornerstone, along with the date – 1941 – when they built the brick building after the wooden structure that had been built in 1870 would no longer serve, but there was an even earlier building before they built that one that had burnt to the ground.

It was built in the height of wartime, and raising the money to build it was a struggle in this small community, 10 miles outside any incorporated town. But they did, and over time they would add on some Sunday school rooms, and when I was a little fellow in the mid-1970s, a fellowship hall that was the scene of all the church potlucks I remember. There were beautiful chandeliers in the ceiling that had been salvaged from the old building, converted from candles to electricity, and three different pictures of Jesus on the walls, all portraying him in varying shades of white.

Across the street is a small cemetery. Dozens of people who loved me are in that cemetery, including Monty and Doc, and my Dad. I suspect I will end up there one day too, one way or another. Our fortunes seem intertwined, this church and me.

I learned about Jesus in this brick church, and I memorized the Apostle’s Creed there, which was printed on a piece of paper that had been pasted to the flyleaf of the hymnal. The words Holy Catholic Church had a line through the word Catholic, with the word “Universal” written over it. Brother Burton, our pastor, explained to me that Catholic meant universal, but we didn’t say Catholic, because we didn’t want to confuse anyone.

During Vacation Bible School I learned how to look up verses in the Bible, and did it so well I won a Bible with my name written in it as a prize. We ate butter cookies and Kool-Aid, made crafts with popsicle sticks, and learned the ancient stories about donkeys that talked and floods and stones that rolled away because of love.

When I went away to the Marines, my mailbox was packed with letters and cards from the people of that church. They prayed for me like it was real, and they sent me care packages of homemade cookies as I moved from base to base.

Like a lot of kids, I drifted around as I got older, and I hadn’t set foot in that sanctuary in years. I came home from the Marines for a week’s leave, and I stopped by when I saw Brother Burton working in the yard of the church. I stopped to talk to him.

I had a lot on my mind. I had fallen in love with Heather, a woman who had broken up with me when it turned out she was a lesbian. I had never met a lesbian before, but I had learned in this building right here that same-sex relationships were sinful. I knew we couldn’t be together, and I knew I loved her, and I was powerfully concerned she was going to hell, and if I kept hanging out with her, I was afraid I might be going to hell, too.

I figured I would ask Brother Burton what he thought. He and I sat in the yard of that old brick church for an hour or so, just chatting about first this thing and then that, about how things had changed since I had been gone. I was trying to work up my nerve to ask him about Heather, when he said, “Now, take that house right there”, and pointed at the house across the road, by the cemetery.

“Yes sir. That’s Mrs. X’s house”, calling the name of the lady who lived there my whole childhood.

“Not anymore. She died, and now it’s a rent house. For a while, two gay fellows and some kids lived there. I never thought I would see gay guys living together like a family in this place, but things change, I guess.”

I got real still.

“Did they ever come to church?” I asked.

“The kids came to Vacation Bible School that summer. But then one of the guys lost their job, and things got hard for them, and they had to move. They didn’t have any money for groceries or anything, so we took up a collection and bought them a bunch of groceries. You can’t let kids go hungry, just because you don’t agree with the parents.”

This was exactly the conversation I had wanted to have when I stopped the car, and I hadn’t even brought it up!

“But wait”, I said. “Isn’t that condoning sin?“

He looked off into the sky like perhaps the answer was written there. Then he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Maybe. I don’t know if it is or it isn’t. Maybe I’ll pray on that for a while. But I do know that if you see somebody that needs help, and you can help them, then to not help them is definitely a sin.”

As I got in the car and drove off, I still didn’t have any answers. In the end, Heather and I would remain friends until the day she died 25 years later. Eventually, I learned that what I had learned about same-sex attraction was wrong and that there were many ways to be Christian beyond what I learned in that red brick building. But in the yard of that small brick building, I also learned, and have held onto, the idea that there were things you could not be sure about, and that was OK, but that didn’t ever absolve you from doing what you knew to be right.

Nouns and Verbs

June is Pride month for the LGBT community in the US.

From Wikipedia: LGBT Pride Month occurs in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world.

My current Facebook timeline is a damn riot of rainbow flags. I love it.

Yesterday, I wrote a story that involved my friend Tony. It got shared a lot around places on the Internet, and I went snooping, as I do, to see what people are saying about it.

One woman who shared it on her Facebook timeline called me a “courageous ally”.


I’m not sure the courageous part really is applicable – I work at an open and affirming church, in a denomination where my credentials are not at risk for my being affirming. I’m aggressively “out”, no pun intended, about my being affirming. I’m not really risking anything, so it doesn’t take much courage on my part to be affirming. I did all my losing because of that a long time ago.

But quibbles aside, I found the use of the term ally to be interesting. I mean, I’ll take it, but it isn’t a term I use to describe myself.

There is an apocryphal story I have heard in Mennonite circles for years that goes something like this:

A traveling evangelist is lost in Mennonite country and sees a farmer plowing a field that runs beside the road. He stops to ask the man for directions. After getting them, he figures, as an evangelist, he can kill two birds with one stone, and asks the farmer, “Sir, do you mind my asking if you are a Christian?”

The farmer looks at him for a long second, then he says, “Well, I’m not sure. I mean, I think so, but then again, I could tell you anything. I suggest you call my neighbor and ask him whether I am or not.”

I think some titles are not for us to claim for ourselves. Like Christian. Or ally.

Don’t get me wrong: I am straight, and I want a world where LGBT people are affirmed. I spend significant portions of my time and resources working for that sort of world. But I still won’t call myself an ally. Because I don’t get to determine if my actions are allied with oppressed people’s interests – they do.

All too often, we who are in the majority find it easy to pick up titles for ourselves that make us look good in certain contexts. We want to claim nouns – like ally – rather than doing the hard work of actually doing work that puts us in solidarity with LGBT people. Trust me – if you are doing solidarity work, no LGBT person will doubt where you stand, without your having an #Ally hashtag on your profile page.

Like, I know a white guy who calls himself a feminist in his Twitter bio. If I were desperate to get that point across, I might use, “Promoter of women’s rights”, but for the most part, I just prefer to let my actions speak for themselves. After all, if the only way people know I believe in and advocate for the political, economic, and social equality of women is because I told them, I would be a pretty shitty feminist, I think.

I could understand that things like titles do come in handy when you are creating difference: Like, I will sometimes describe myself as someone who supports LGBT rights, so people who oppose LGBT rights won’t be confused and try something, but I still wouldn’t call myself an ally.

I tend to use verbs rather than nouns.

It’s more important that I write than that I call myself a writer. I advocate for LGBT folk, but I wouldn’t call myself an ally. There are people who said I was a prophet, but none of those people were me.

As Dad once advised me, I just try to be both indispensable and invisible. I want to be, rather than seem. And to do the verb, rather than claiming the noun.

The Giddiness of God

Tony is a Black man who lives on the edge of homelessness, with occasional bouts of sheltered living. Tony is also a gay man, but not completely out, largely due to concerns about his safety in the world he lives in. And Tony is also Christian in a very intense and Evangelical way, mostly, I suspect, as a way of dealing with his shame around his sexuality.

So when Tony came into my office and asked if he could talk to me, I knew this was going to be interesting.

I want to say upfront that while I know that there is no single Black Church Experience and that there are many positive manifestations of the Black male-led church, Tony is involved in none of those. Instead, he regularly attends a storefront Pentecostal church led by a power-hungry man who preaches prosperity theology with a side dish of shaming, who demands that people refer to him as “Pastor”. Like it’s his name.

One of Tony’s friends is Jimmy, and Jimmy is very gay and very out. Jimmy had been going to Tony’s church, and was recently “convicted” about his sexuality, and had recently been, at the encouragement of the pastor over there, committed to praying that God will take away his “homosexual desires”.

Earlier in the week, Jimmy had confessed to the pastor that it wasn’t working. Despite all his praying, Jimmy was still just a big old gay man, and this made Jimmy feel ashamed and made the pastor angry.

So at the Wednesday night prayer meeting, and at the leadership meeting afterward (that Tony was a part of), Pastor doubled down. They had a ‘Come to Jesus” meeting, Tony told me, where Pastor let it be known in no uncertain terms that being gay was a sin, against the law of God, and to prove it, they had a verse by verse reading of Romans chapter one.

Everybody in the room was supposed to read two verses out loud, and when it got to Tony, he was supposed to read verses 26 and 27 out loud.

For this reason, God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

There was a long pause while they waited for Tony to read.

“I can’t do it. I won’t do it.” Tony said. And then he left.

Pastor was upset, obviously. He isn’t used to being defied. He sent Tony several texts, basically threatening his eternal salvation if he didn’t repent and come back to church.

So Tony thought about it and came to see me. Because that’s sort of what I do. I’m the pastor you come to when you don’t have anyone else to talk to. The conversation went like this:

Tony: Pastor told me last night that my being gay was a sin, and that God was angry at me.

Me: Well, what do you think?

Tony: I really don’t think it is a sin. I think God made me this way. What do you think, Hugh?

Me: I think you’re right Tony. I don’t think it is, either, and I think God made you this way.

Tony: You do? (This two-word phrase was so filled with hope, tears, and pain that it almost broke my heart.)

Me: I really do. God made you, and God doesn’t make mistakes. You are exactly the way God meant for you to be, and God loves you, and God loves that you are gay. You being gay is exactly what God wanted, and it makes God happy.

Tony, thru tears: No pastor has ever told me that before. I wish they had.

Me: I really wish they had, too.

We talked a bit after that about what Romans chapter one was actually talking about, and I lent him a couple of books that would be helpful to someone from an Evangelical background. But mainly, I let him know he was loved, by both me and by God.

As he was getting ready to leave, I asked him if he would let me read another Bible verse to him. He agreed.

So I read Romans 8:38 and 39 to him.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Him: That sounds like it’s saying that nothing can come between me and God.

Me: That’s exactly what it’s saying.

He hugged me, and then, heading to the door, stopped and turned to look back at me.

“No pastor has ever told me that before, either.”

And he walked out the door.

# # #

If you are gay, and like Tony, you have never had a minister tell you that God is happy you are gay, then please, allow me to be the one to say it.

You are made, the book of Genesis tells us, in the very image of God. You are not an afterthought or a mistake. You are not defective. Your being gay was part of the plan, and has been all along.

And because every creator delights in seeing their creation being fully utilized, God is delighted that you are gay. Not just delighted that you are attracted to other people, but your expressing your sexuality makes God happy. In exactly the same way that it makes God happy that you like to paint, or that you like to run, or that you enjoy singing songs or making music.

Your being gay, realizing you are gay, seeking to express your gayness – all of that makes God giddy with joy.

And as to what can separate you from the love of God?

Not a damned thing. Not a single damned thing.

Current Events

I really dislike blogging about current events. There are a number of reasons for this: One is that these posts take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to write, and I don’t want to invest that effort in something that will have a short self-life. Another is that I don’t have the staff or resources to do it well, and with the exception of a very few subjects, I don’t have the knowledge. And that shallow sort of posting that would result just encourages hot-takes, which provokes much more heat than light, which is sorta the opposite of what I want to do.

As I write this, there is a news story that has the attention of a lot of people. A lot of people are commenting on it – all people who don’t know any of the participants, and largely are people who don’t share any major identities with the participants. And I have resisted saying anything of substance about it, and I have had some people message me and ask why.

So, I thought I would take this time to tell you a story.

On Sunday, June the 12th of 2016, I was at the beach. I had snagged a weekend away and had turned off my phone, and we were enjoying the small town of Carolina Beach, which was our happy place when we lived in North Carolina.

It had been a rough year, and we were thankful for the weekend away. That Saturday night, after a day at the beach, soaking up the sun, we ate at our favorite restaurant and I ate popcorn shrimp. It’s funny the things you remember.

The next morning we lounged around the hotel room, moving slowly. We went out for coffee and donuts and then headed towards Fort Fisher, to take the Ferry to Southport, a cute little marina town and home to perhaps a dozen antique shops and flea market operations. Once there, we intended to grab lunch before spending the afternoon antiquing before slowly edging ourselves toward the 3-hour drive home. It was a trip we had made many times.

We stopped at the Fort Fisher Park gift shop – I was looking for a particular gift for a friend, and I had seen something similar at the gift shop before, so I stopped there, to see if they still had it. They did not. Renee and I hit the bathroom before heading to the ferry, and when I was done, I went to the car to wait for her.

While I waited, I turned on my phone for the first time in nearly 36 hours. It was around noon, and I got a bunch of texts from friends – all of whom were LGBT. All of them mentioned a nightclub shooting.

It turned out the night before, a madman had shot up a nightclub in Orlando, deliberately targeting members of the LGBT community. He killed 49 people and wounded 53. I called Kelly, who was the assistant director at the LGBT Center in Raleigh at the time.

She was in tears.

That night they were planning a vigil in Raleigh. They wanted me to be there. Could I do it?

Yes. When Renee came back from the restroom, we changed plans, grabbed a quick bite, and headed home.

That night I sat in a parking lot, holding a candle and listening to Trans folx and Queer folx and Gay folx and Non-Binary folx cry and confess their fears, their anger, and their rage. I hunted out the folk I knew, hugged them and prayed with the ones who wanted it, and listened to the ones that didn’t.

The next day I wrote a post that went sorta viral, with a title like, 6 Things Straight Christian Folks Can Do In the Aftermath of the Pulse Shooting. It got lost in a site redesign, but it wasn’t brilliant. It did things like asked us to listen, to offer help as defined by the people who needed it, and to curate and amplify and prioritize the voices of people with less power than we had. It was the most shared thing I wrote that year.

Then on Tuesday, I got a call from the LGBT Center. They had a group of people who were grieving hard, and they wanted a clergy person to be there to help them process, and would I be willing to do that?

I reminded them that I was straight, and questioned if I was the right person to do it. They laughed and said yes, but that the Ven diagram of clergy folks and people they trusted pretty much only had me in the overlap.

So I said that of course I would.

That Thursday night, I sat in a room, surrounded by people who had been persecuted by people who looked a lot like me and had held exactly the same credentials I held, and together we talked about the things that scared us, and the things that gave us hope, and mostly, I just listened and held space. And after that was done, there was hugging and crying and for not the last time in my life, I felt honored that I got invited to sit with hurting people in the midst of their pain.

I don’t tell you that story to highlight my role. I wasn’t any sort of hero or star at all. But I did want to tell it to make a little room to talk about something else: How to use our platform.

Historically, only movie stars and politicians had platforms. But now, we all do. And the whole world is listening. Even people like my great-aunt, who has 222 Facebook friends and is a retired librarian, have a platform these days. I mean, imagine the length a retired librarian would have had to go in 1995 to get her message out to 222 people. Now, she need only hit enter on a post on Facebook.

So, since we all have an audience, I think we all have an obligation to use it wisely.

When something happens, I do a sort of internal algorithm. It starts with something like, am I more identified with the victim or the oppressor in this? When the Pulse nightclub shooting happened, the victims were largely Latinx and LGBT, neither an identity I hold. However, both of those identities have been persecuted by Straight Christian people, which ARE two identities I hold. So I identified, in this case, more closely with the oppressor.

Another question is, “What can I do?”. Where can I bring my gifts to bear? I can show up, in a way that doesn’t center me. I can ask the people affected how I can be helpful and then do that thing. I can use my assets (like a social media following) to speak to people who look like me and tell them what I had learned.

And the last thing I consider is, “What is mine to do?”. In that case, I made myself available, and then as I was asked, I showed up in ways they deemed helpful.

But I had, at that point, worked with and among the LGBT community in Raleigh for a decade. I had a deep well of trust built up. I didn’t just show up with my hot take on what they should do, or ought to feel, or how to move on. They didn’t need my words – they could speak for themselves. They needed my solidarity. So, based on trust acquired over a long period of relationship, they asked for what they needed. And I said yes.

So, that is how I handle contemporary events. I don’t do hot takes. I don’t rush to have a position on controversial issues. I don’t use my platform to incite anger. And I don’t ever want to tell people who have been harmed how they ought to feel, or what they ought to be doing.

Instead, I ask myself: Am I the victim or the oppressor? What can I do? What is mine to do? What needs to be said? Who needs to hear it? And, perhaps most importantly, am I the person who needs to be saying it?

Sometimes, that means I’m just amplifying minority reports and voices. And sometimes, it’s calling out people who look like me and asking them to do better. And sometimes, that looks like being silent.

Independence Day

On this day in 2009, at 11:51AM Eastern Time, I went on Twitter and changed my world forever.

I had been bothering over something all morning. I had read an article about a church in Michigan that had disbanded their ministry that gave food to people experiencing homelessness rather than serve people who were LGBT.

This really pissed me off. On multiple levels.

I vague tweeted about it earlier in the day.

Again, the church that claims the name of Jesus would rather be right than compassionate. I love the church, but they don’t make it easy.

You have to understand that up to that point, we had been largely supported by Evangelical churches – not because our theology agreed with them, but because they said yes. Every Mainline or left of center church we approached either demurred or tied me up in committees for months. The Evangelicals would say yes quickly.

And I learned how to dance. I would couch what I said to them in ways that made them think I agreed with them, or at least, that they would not disagree with me. I once joked and said that fundraising in those days was like being a phone sex operator. I made the noises they wanted to hear, and then they gave me money.

But it was grating on me. I argued I was doing good work with their money – and I was. But more and more I came to see that the church was my actual “mission field” – that if the work of conversion needed to be done, it was converting those who would erect barriers to keep people out, who would gate keep love, that would put limits on God’s love and grace.

So it wasn’t so much this article I read itself, but more like it was the final breaking point. I decided, in a fit of anger, that I was done with dancing. I didn’t consult anyone. Didn’t warn anyone. Didn’t even really think it was going to be as bad as it was.

I tweeted the following post from the Twitter account of the small scrappy Christian Ministry I had started a few years before. And almost instantly, my world changed.

We will feed anyone, regardless of who you pray to or who you love. And we welcome ALL people of faith or no faith to help us.

I hit send on that tweet and set off an absolute shitstorm.

I lost two advisory board members that day. Over the next three months, I would lose most of the Evangelical churches that supported us. Three other folks who had been with us from the beginning left. Half our income was gone inside a month. I got a job selling hotdogs late at night outside a local leather bar to pay my rent.

I had, at that point, been married for just over a month.

I was terrified. We barely survived. I questioned my call to that work, my suitability to that work, and many other things. But I never regretted sending that tweet.

And I learned some things that year.

I learned who my friends were, and made many new ones. Queer folk rose up and saved us, promoted us, and fought for us.

I learned that I could look failure and fear in the face and survive.

I learned that if I don’t take your money, you don’t get to tell me what to do.

And that everything I wanted in life was on the other side of my fears.

But the most important thing I learned is that by planting a flag and loudly declaring my position, I made room. By declaring our position loudly and unequivocally, I used our privilege to create space for people who felt they had no space, and thus made room in a previously closed off space for them to be all they were made to be. And along the way, this also opened us up to far more opportunities and alliances than I ever imagined possible.

And I have never looked back.

It was my Independence Day.

NB: I don’t deserve a cookie for finally doing the right thing. If anything, I deserve condemnation for the years when I bowed and scraped for funds from people who, if they had known the truth, would not have funded us. By doing that, I centered the comfort of those with resources rather than vulnerable people, and I regret the years that happened, and have worked ever since to never do that again.


On the 27th day, I’m grateful for Heather, and the things she taught me.

A long time ago, I was a 19-year-old Marine, and I was in love with a fellow Marine named Heather. We were an unlikely pair. She was a liberal Catholic from Montana. I was a conservative Methodist from Mississippi.

We were inseparable. One weekend I brought her to Byhalia, to see where I grew up. We then went to Oxford, where The University of Mississippi is, and talked about how cool it would be to live there when we got out of the Marines. For 28 years now, I can’t go to Oxford without thinking about walking across the grounds of William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak with her that crisp fall day. She was filled with derision at the monument to the Confederate dead that was on the town square, on the lawn of the courthouse. As an aside, that monument finally came down last year.

We talked a lot about children, and figured between my round head and her dimples, we would make some pretty babies. We talked about marriage, and she told me about the examples of strong women she had in her life, and that I shouldn’t expect her to be June Cleaver sitting at home making dinner.

When we were dating, Heather drank. A lot. And the closer we got, the more she drank. It was a huge problem in our relationship. Drinking has never been really important to me, and drunk people annoy me in the way they can only annoy sober people. Her birthday was coming up, and I had planned a great day for us to spend together. We would go to the art museum, then a picnic afterwards.

She didn’t show up. She had gone out with her friends the night before to celebrate and gotten incredibly drunk, and then overslept. Actually, that isn’t quite true – she just didn’t remember that we were doing anything. I was, in a word, forgotten.

It’s hard to remember what life was like in those days before cell phones. Her roommate told me what happened and that Heather was passed out in their barracks room, and that she would tell Heather I had called when she woke up. I sat in the lobby of the barracks, waiting for her to show up. Just after lunch, she showed up, looking like hell.

She apologized profusely. I was royally pissed. But I could never be mad at her for long. We went for a long walk, and then I took her back to the barracks and we agreed I would take her to the art museum tomorrow instead.

And we did. It was a lovely fall day. We walked through the museum grounds, hand in hand. I saw my first Warhol that day. And when we were in the parking lot, she told me she had something she wanted to talk to me about. We went to a diner she liked and that we ate at a lot, and then she took my hand and told me she wasn’t going to be able to marry me, because she was a lesbian. She had seen how much she had hurt me the day before, and knew that if she didn’t tell me now, it would only hurt me more later. I had been her last shot at trying to be straight, she said, and apparently, wanting to be straight wasn’t enough.

I wish I could say how accepting I was. I wish I could say I saw her coming out to me as the gift that it was, that I recognized she was putting her safety and her career in the Marines in my hands, that she loved me enough to tell me the truth about who she was.

But I didn’t handle it well. I mean, I am Southern enough I wasn’t rude, but I was hurt and confused by it all. It wasn’t just breaking up with someone. Instead, it felt like they were gone forever.

When we got back to the barracks, I went for a long walk to process. Everything I knew, everything I had been taught about sexuality told me that being gay was a sin. Everything I knew about Heather told me she was one of the kindest, best people I knew. It was my first real ethical crisis – do I stay true to the religion I grew up in, or do I stay true to the person I knew and (still) loved?

In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there is a point where Jim, the escaped slave, is captured, and Huck is faced with a choice: He can break the law and go against the everything he had been taught about religion, morality, and racial norms and try to rescue Jim. Or he can be safe, and follow the things he had been taught, and let them take Jim.

He knew what he had been taught. He knew what the preacher and the Sunday School teacher would have told him the right thing to do was. But he also knew he loved Jim, and that Jim loved him. And he believed that to throw in with Jim would damn him to hell forever – it would be the point of no return.

He came to a conclusion: “Alright then. I’ll go to hell!” And he helped Jim escape.

I decided that I was throwing in with Heather. I knew her, had loved her, and would support her, even if I would not be able to be her partner or her lover. And if it meant betraying the religion I grew up with, then so be it. If I was going to Hell, it was going to be while loving Heather.

I went back to the barracks and told her I loved her, that I would always love her, even if it meant we couldn’t be together, and that I would always be on her side.

Over the next six months or so, she introduced me to her friends – other Marines who were also lesbians, people I had known but who were not out. This was the first circle of LGBT folks I had ever been invited into. They were so accepting of me, answered so many of my questions – even the ones that were unintentionally rude – so loving toward me. I think I freaked some of them out, but they knew I was important to Heather, so I was accepted.

Our marriage plans ended the day she admitted to both me and herself that she was a lesbian, but our friendship stayed intact. She and I were the same age, and we watched each other celebrate milestones – she had first a partner, then a wife and then children and grandchildren.

She continued to struggle with alcohol the whole time she was in the Marines, back in those days when being Queer and in the Marines put you in danger of being arrested, but after she got out, she eventually got sober and became an EMS worker, then went back to school and got her RN and eventually fulfilled her dream of becoming a trauma flight nurse on the air ambulance.

The last time we saw each other face to face was in the early 2000’s, but we stayed in touch – first by email and then Facebook. When I was in NC, she supported my work there as a monthly donor – one of the first, actually.

About 5 years ago, she ended up with breast cancer. They did all the right things and the normal treatments and it went into remission – and while she was in remission her granddaughter was born.

But it came back. She died in December of 2018.

Heather was my first of so many things: My first liberal friend. My first feminist friend. My first Catholic friend. My first Queer friend. And the beginning of the end of the religious certainty of my youth.