First U.S. gay bishop remembers Desmond Tutu’s generosity, kindness

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CONCORD, N.H. — 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

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