TOPMAN ¶ Online Writings by and about John Preston

John Preston Decides to Abandon Work Within the Episcopal Church

1970s? and c. 1993

By Louie Crew

[Editor's Note: In February 1976, the newsletter of a recently formed organization for gay Episcopalians, Integrity, reported on the priestly blessing of the San Francisco home of Episcopalian John Preston. The report concluded by saying, "John, recently resigned as editor of the Advocate, was one of the pioneers in organizing Gay Episcopalians, as the leader of the first Episcopal Gay Caucus several years ago." Shortly before Preston's death in 1994, Louie Crew, founder of Integrity, met with Preston in Chicago for lunch. He recalls here the meeting.]

That was my first time actually to be in the same place with John, though we had corresponded occasionally.

He explained at our meeting that he had not actually had an organization, though I thought in the early days of Integrity that he had. Instead, as an ardent activist he had created a name for an organization or caucus (likely [the Gay Episcopal Caucus]) and encouraged people to write him. He had considered doing more, but upon being hit upon in a very unpleasant way while visiting a monastery, he had decided to chunk the idea of working within the Episcopal Church. (He was propositioned, in a rather ugly way, by someone who had spoken against him and his advocacy for gay people earlier in the visit before the other monks. It was the hypocrisy and the manipulation that most offended him if my memory serves me.)

He was quite gracious to me when I founded Integrity. He also was kind to me in reporting on a few of my academic projects while he was editor of the Advocate.

Louie Crew is Professor Emeritus of the English Department at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

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