1st U.S. gay bishop remembers Tutu’s generosity, kindness

Dec 26, 2021, 3:31 PM | Updated: Dec 27, 2021, 2:42 pm

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — In 2008, when the Right Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was excluded from a global Anglican gathering because of his sexuality, Desmond Tutu, who died Sunday, came to his defense.

“Gene Robinson is a wonderful human being, and I am proud to belong to the same church as he,” Tutu wrote in the foreword to a book Robinson published that year.

Robinson, who in 2003 became the U.S. Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, said Sunday he has been trying to live up to those words ever since.

“It was quite surreal because I was taking grief from literally around the world,” he said in a phone interview. “There was probably at that time, and maybe still, no one better known around the world than Desmond Tutu. It was an astounding gesture of generosity and kindness.”

Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist for racial justice, died at age 90. He was an uncompromising foe of apartheid, South Africa’s brutal regime of oppression against its Black majority, as well as a leading advocate for LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage.

“Now, with gay marriage, it’s hard to remember how controversial this was, and for him to stand with me at the very time I was being excluded … it completely floored me,” said Robinson.

In the foreword to Robinson’s book, Tutu also apologized for the “cruelty and injustice” the LGBTQ community had suffered at the hands of fellow Anglicans.

Tutu, Robinson said, used his own experience of oppression to understand and empathize with others.

“He used that as a window into what it was like to be a woman, what it was like to be someone in a wheelchair or for someone to LGBTQ or whatever it was,” he said. “It was the thing that taught him to be compassionate.”

Robinson recalled the way Tutu’s laugh rippled across crowds of thousands as well as a private moment when they prayed together in the seminary Robinson graduated from in New York.

“There was nobody in pain that he wasn’t concerned about, whether that pain was a physical ailment of some kind or a mental illness or something to do with cruelty or degradation. It pained him,” Robinson said. “To sit in the room and hear him praying about those people was about as close to knowing the heart of God as I ever expect to know. I mean, I don’t even need to know more than that.”

Robinson served as the ninth bishop of New Hampshire until his retirement in early 2013 and later as a fellow at the Center for American Progress. Now 74, he recently retired as the vice president of religion and senior pastor at the Chautauqua Institution.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on the White House campus, June 17, 2022, in Washington. The Bide...
Associated Press

Biden aims at China in new illegal fishing policy framework

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat illegal fishing by China, ordering federal agencies to better coordinate among themselves as well as with foreign partners in a bid to promote sustainable exploitation of the world’s oceans. On Monday, the White House released its first ever National Security memo on […]
18 hours ago
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents gather before a raid to arrest immigrants considere...
Associated Press

Biden suspends rules limiting immigrant arrest, deportation

BOSTON (AP) — The Biden administration, reacting to a federal court ruling in Texas, has suspended an order that had focused resources for the arrest and deportation of immigrants on those who are considered a threat to public safety and national security. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Saturday it will abide […]
18 hours ago
An American flag waves in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Monday, June 27, 2022, in Washi...
Associated Press

Supreme Court backs coach in praying on field after games

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Monday that a high school football coach who knelt and prayed on the field after games was protected by the Constitution, a decision that opponents said would open the door to “much more coercive prayer” in public schools. The court ruled 6-3 for the coach with the conservative […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

US officials return to Venezuela amid gas price hike

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — Senior Biden administration officials have quietly traveled to Caracas in the latest bid to rebuild relations with the South American oil giant as the war in Ukraine drags on, driving higher gas prices and forcing the U.S. to recalibrate other foreign policy objectives. The delegation that arrived Monday in Caracas includes […]
18 hours ago
The Colorado River winds its way along the West Rim of the Grand Canyon in the Hualapai Indian Rese...
Associated Press

Grand Canyon starting water limitations after pumphouse outage

Grand Canyon National Park is starting water conservation measures on the North Rim due to an electrical failure involving the Roaring Springs pumphouse.
18 hours ago
In this photo provided by Dax McDonald, debris sits near railroad tracks after an Amtrak passenger ...
Associated Press

A look at recent Amtrak derailments and other crashes

An Amtrak passenger train struck a dump truck Monday at an uncontrolled crossing in a rural area of Missouri killing two people on the train and one in the truck. Others were injured. The crash happened just after noon near Mendon, Missouri. Several cars derailed. The train was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago. The […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
1st U.S. gay bishop remembers Tutu’s generosity, kindness