I believe the gay community owes the late Fred Phelps a debt of gratitude. Without his vocal, public, hateful vitriol, the rest of this nation may have never truly understood how nasty and harmful homophobia and anti-gay bigotry could be. Now, they know. I won’t celebrate but I won’t mourn his passing, either. Instead, I will spend time today reaching out to the people who were the very opposite of Phelps, the ones who were ahead of the times in their support for me. Their love and friendship carried me through when even I didn’t believe I was okay, and I am alive and happy today as a direct result of their words and actions. For me, today will not be about the death of a hateful man. Instead, today is a day to honor the beacons and safe harbors amongst us.