Goodbye, Paul Varnell

by Jonathan Rauch on December 11, 2011

On the heels of Frank Kameny’s passing, another gay pioneer is gone. Paul Varnell was a columnist, thinker, and founder of the Independent Gay Forum.

I never met Paul, but we spoke pretty often back when he was editing the IGF website. I always found him exceptionally thoughtful and decent. It seemed as if there was nothing that didn’t interest him, nothing he didn’t know something about. And his columns (most of which first ran in the Chicago Free Press) were an IGF anchor. Here’s one example, one of many, of how his gentle, firm voice could summon moral reflection more effectively than outrage could have done.

Paul never got national attention, and probably wouldn’t have wanted it (in fact, probably would have despised it), but in his quiet way he was a pioneer and leader among those who made the world safe to be non-leftist and gay…partly through the power of his logic, partly through the gentleness of his touch.

Goodbye, Paul. You were a good man and you made a difference.

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