Fred Phelps is dead.
Nobody in the LGBT community is sorry to see him go, but looking back on his legacy, from one perspective, he did us a great service.
With their "God Hates Fags" signs, Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church brought the evil of religion-based homophobia from a barely-talked-about social undercurrent into American living rooms.
And it was ugly.
And nobody wanted to be identified with those crazy bigots.
Fred Phelps inspired new allies to stand up for their LGBT children, brothers and sister, friends, neighbors and coworkers.
Fred Phelps made dissociating from him incumbant on all decent people.
Straight Christians had to start examining what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality.
Church conversations about welcoming LGBT people took on new urgency, because Fred Phelps represented a clear and present danger to Christians' LGBT loved ones and to their reputation as Christians.
Fred Phelps showed the world that religious persecution of gays is intolerable.
He was far from the only right wing bigot spewing evil about LGBT people, and our struggle for the safety of LGBT people is far from over, especially globally.
At the same time, I prefer to look at the life of the late, unlamented Fred Phelps and think:
"Isn't it miraculous how the Divine can turn evil intent to good purpose?"
More from MyOutSpirit.org