The “How Does a Presbyterian LGBTQ Advocate Work?” Transcript

Read what Alex McNeill had to say about the intersection of faith, policy, and education in changing times.

Alex McNeill.
Alex McNeill.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by More Light Presbyterian.

This is a transcript of the Dec. 24 edition of Working. These transcripts are lightly edited and may contain errors. For the definitive record, consult the podcast.

Jacob Brogan: This season on Working, we’re talking to individuals whose jobs touch on aspects of LBGTQ life. For this episode, we spoke with Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, an organization that’s been promoting LGBTQ inclusion in the Presbyterian Church for almost 40 years.

What is your name and what do you do?

Alex McNeill: My name is Alex McNeill and I am the executive director of More Light Presbyterians, which is a national organization working on LGBTQ issues in the Presbyterian Church and helping people of faith to get active in their local communities around LGBTQ rights and recognition.

Brogan: That’s awesome. I will also admit, though, that I am a, I guess you would say, lapsed Jew, so I don’t have a lot of background on Presbyterianism generally. Can you tell us a little bit about—before we get into the details of your organization—about how Presbyterian organizations have related to LGBTQ issues historically?

McNeill: Absolutely. So we have historically worked within the Presbyterian Church USA, which is a Presbyterian denomination that many call one of the mainline Protestant denominations, that has been in existence for, since the time of the Reformation, almost. Within the United States the Presbyterian Church has existed in various forms but we have worked within this branch since 1974, when issues around homosexuality and who could be a minister within the denomination really started coming up. More Light was founded when a Presbyterian minister stood up at a gathering of the Presbyterian General Assembly, which is their governing body, and held up a sign that read “Is anyone else out there gay?” and his act really launched a group called Presbyterians for Gay Concerns that really helped bring people together who were first starting to identify as LGBT.

In 1978 the Presbyterian denomination was asked whether homosexuals could be ordained and be ministers and that was really the first time that they were asked to take a particular stance on it and through a long convoluted process there was a report that was offered to the same general assembly that was this big Presbyterian gathering where votes were held and policies voted on and originally the report read that yes, homosexuals could be ordained and serve in leadership and membership within the denomination. But at the last minute a minority report—to get pretty wonky on you—a minority report was adopted that said that homosexuals couldn’t serve in church leadership but could be full members of the church including baptism, which, that act really launched the 40 years or so of the church’s work around LGBT inclusion.

Brogan: Where does More Light Presbyterians, your organization, enter into that dynamic, enter into those conversations?

McNeill: That same weekend after the minority report was public, was accepted in 1978, one of the pastors who’d worked on the majority report that was going to allow for gay people to be ordained went back to his home church, West-Park Presbyterian Church in New York City, and he preached a sermon that borrowed from a famous line by the Sermon on the Hill around there is yet more light. He said to break forth on the Scriptures around homosexuality and as such that they were going to be a More Light church and they weren’t going to discriminate in leadership or in membership within the church and his act really caused a number of churches across the country to follow suit and say “Yes, we’re going to be a More Light church as well,” and that the numbers of those churches have grown and eventually the Presbyterian Gay Caucus evolved to the Presbyterian Gay and Lesbian Caucus and then joined forces with More Light Presbyterians in the ‘90s so that it encompasses both congregations and individuals.

Brogan: This is an organization with a pretty deep history, a long one. What does its work involve today? What are you and others who you work with doing under the More Light umbrella?

McNeill: Yes, it is a long history. We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary of More Light churches.

Brogan: Congratulations.

McNeill: Which is exciting. A lot of people would tell me that’s before I was born, I’m 35. So in the past decade they worked for LGBT inclusion in the church just as it has within the country, has been at a breakneck pace, and we are sitting in a point now where in 2011, after years of struggle changed the policy so that openly gay and lesbian, bisexual people could serve in ordained ministry within the Presbyterian Church.

Then in 2015—I started with More Light in 2013—and 2015 changed the policies so that marriage was recognized as between two people, not just between a man and a woman, and the pastors could perform same-sex weddings, which many ministers over the course of the past 10 years were asked by same-sex couples within their congregations to perform weddings. And as marriage laws changed, different pastors were even brought up on trial and had their ordinations almost revoked because they were being faithful to the people within their congregation by marrying them. So changing marriage policies in the domination was a really important step to allow for the fullest participation of LGBT people within the domination. So what does that work look like right now?

Brogan: Yeah.

McNeill: Well, we all know that changing policy doesn’t necessarily mean that practice changes at the same pace. We’ve been really fortunate that we’ve changed these policies so that churches don’t have to be out of sync with a denomination anymore for welcoming LGBTQ people within their midst. But what we at More Light have really been working on for the past two years is how to help churches live into what welcome looks like, not just as a statement of inclusion, but a practice both within the church walls and out in the communities.

Brogan: We can talk more about the practice of that in a few minutes I hope but I’m curious about your background, how did you end up committing your life, your career to this work of promoting inclusion and openness and hospitality within Presbyterian churches and communities?

McNeill: I grew up deeply Presbyterian in North Carolina. My family moved around a lot to different cities when I was growing up, but we always ended up at a First Presbyterian Church no matter what town we lived in. In fact, I didn’t know there were other Presbyterian churches beyond the first such as The Second Presbyterian Church until embarrassingly late in life. And the other thing you need to know about me is that I am a transgender man, so I was raised as a girl throughout my life and growing up as pre-transgender, moving around a lot, church became the place that I felt the most safe, actually, that school wasn’t that place, and it was at church where I felt like I could be the most myself.

I grew up running around the Fellowship Hall after worship, with juice and cookies in my hands, just being my full self in early-elementary school. Later on I would join the youth handbell choir and the youth choir and be the first person there for youth group on Sundays. Church was a home to me and as I was in high school it occurred to me that perhaps my calling in life was to help church be a home for other people as well. At the same time, this is in the late ‘90s and I was realizing that I was attracted to women and as someone who was raised as a woman the way I knew how to identify that was as a lesbian. So right before college I sat my parents down on a summer night before I was about to pack up and go to orientation and I said, “Mom, Dad, I’m a lesbian and I feel called to go to seminary after college to be a pastor.” I’m not sure which shocked them more. Fortunately they were supportive of both but they had just never thought that the two could exist in the same place.

The problem was that within the denomination at the time there were laws on the books saying that as an openly lesbian person I could not be ordained into the Presbyterian Church but my naïveté at 18 made me feel like, “Well, we’ll just change that and it will be possible one day.” So I went to college at the University of North Carolina and then later on to seminary at Harvard Divinity School and I graduated in 2008 and there … that year was one of the most, the closest attempt, at changing the laws within the church that we’d ever come. But I sat on the sidelines for that because at the time I was really wrestling with my gender identity and my place within the church. I didn’t know where my gifts were going to be used but I knew that it wasn’t within a pulpit, within a congregation, because there was something wrong between my head and my heart around my sense of self and identity and who I was in my body.

But then in 2011, actually 2010, another vote at the general assembly allowed for a change within our Presbyterian Book of Order, which is the constitution and governing documents of our church that would change the policies around ordination and replace it with a paragraph that actually asked people to look for gifts of service to ministry that were about the way you read Scripture and following Jesus, not who you loved. So I knew that I had to get off the sidelines and participate if I wanted to call myself a Presbyterian.

I joined as a volunteer with More Light Presbyterians, that have been leading the charge around changing these policies for so long, and they put me to work calling pastors across the country, talking to them about why we needed this change in our policies and asking them what they loved about this church, about this denomination, about serving in ministry, and to seek out their feelings about what this change in rules might mean for them. And calling those pastors—we made hundreds of calls—really changed my life because it allowed me to see the number of people across the country who were willing to have a conversation with a stranger about why this denomination meant so much to us. And even hearing from some pastors who even changed their minds and voted yes to this change after our conversation reminded me of the power of telling your story and speaking honestly to someone.

In 2011 the laws changed and suddenly the question moved from “What are you going to do since you can’t get ordained?” to “When are you going to be an ordained minister?” That is when I realized that in order to live out this calling I needed to transition medically and really be in the body and gender that I felt called to be in, and after I started that process I got the call that More Light Presbyterians was seeking a new executive director in this new era of what it might mean to be an LGBT-serving organization in this new dawn of the church and I felt that if I had gifts to give that I’d like to give them in service to this organization to be at the forefront of what’s next.

Brogan: You know from that story you just told it seems like part of the educational work that you and More Light have been doing isn’t just about informing but also asking, questioning, soliciting people’s own stories and not just telling your own. Is that accurate, is that a correct characterization of some of what you’ve done?

McNeill: That is absolutely right. Part of the work we do is to help remind people that they too have a story whether it’s about gender or sexuality or even their call to be Christian and that story is worth hearing. And we share this together, we can find common points of relationship that is more important than any of the rules that we’re trying to change and the foundation for how we want to live in the world.

Brogan: What along the way, what kinds of issues have you been able to inform people about? I mean, do you feel that you are opening people’s minds to new ways of living and loving and feeling and being in the process of doing this work?

McNeill: Well, the first issue we worked on, once I started with More Light, was changing the policies around marriage and changing the rules that pastors could marry same-sex couples. And the way that we went about doing that was the same way we did it through the process of changing ordination policies, which is that we actually had conversations with hundreds of people across the country, because the way to change the constitution of the church is we needed … it’s a ratification process, and you need 51 percent of these regional governing bodies to vote yes. I knew that when people don’t have a chance to talk about their fears and their feelings and their questions, that will lead to people voting no out of fear.

We undertook this process to talk to folks across the country about what this change might mean in the hopes that it would open up people to really empathizing more with those who they may not have ever met who were seeking to be married by their pastor in their home church. And in a moment when different states were changing their laws, and ultimately the Supreme Court made its ruling in the summer of 2015, we ended up having a 71 percent majority yes vote on marriage equality. When I joined More Light in 2013, I did so openly as a transgender man.

I had been out as transgender for a few years by that point and was just getting to the point in my transition when I could go through airport security without being patted down … but I made the decision to be visible as transgender even though I had no idea how that was going to be received even within the More Light community and as someone who was leading a Christian organization at a time when transgender issues I think we’re really just beginning to be even more visible than they had been before. Instead of getting negative feedback or hate mail, actually being open as transgender allowed for this huge wave of people coming to me and asking to be educated and learn more about what it means to be transgender and how they could better welcome transgender and nonbinary people within their congregations so it actually allows for this wave of education.

But the way I went about doing some of those workshops and education opportunities was really in the same way of storytelling, inviting people to think about their own gender identities and the ways in which they learned about what it meant to be male or female or somewhere in between or nonbinary and how they’ve been on a journey around that as well to be able to build empathy with transgender people rather than just have transgender or some separate thing that they have no idea what it means.

Brogan: Do you think that people are more receptive to that sort of learning, that kind of empathy, when it’s emerging out of a religious context? We often think some of us have been taught to think of religion as something that needs to be overcome in LGBTQ activism, but in this case it kind of seems like it may have been a way in, to focus hearts and minds.

McNeill: Certainly the call for empathy across difference exists very strongly within religious communities, or at least it does within the Presbyterian Church and many mainline Christian Protestant denominations, that we are called to love those even when we don’t know their full identities and we’re called to love our neighbor. So starting from a place of empathy was very much in the language, but I found that leading that kind of workshop outside of this church has been really effective as well, that I think folks who want to know more about transgender people are looking for connection points in ways that might touch their own experience rather than wanting to keep it separate. I think there’s … that can be scary for some people but most folks that I get to talk to really want to know how we are similar rather than how we are different.

Brogan: Have you ever encountered any kind of moment of strong resistance from folks along the way or is it mostly been welcoming in the way that you’re describing now?

McNeill: I think that the moments of resistance that I’ve experienced are around the unfamiliar, and when people come against the places that they feel like they really don’t know how to imagine someone else’s experience, my work is to really try to find a through line for them in that imagination. It may not even be about me standing before them as a transgender person, but it might be about just in the unknown-transgender person that’s not standing there, that they can imagine they don’t know how to welcome.

I once had a conversation with a man at a More Light Church who was telling me the story of his church’s work with More Light. He was an older gentleman and he said —well … they’ve been More Light for about 20 years—he said, “Well, first we welcomed gay people and then lesbians and then we learned about bisexual people and now transgender people?” He threw his hands up in the air and he said, “What’s next?” And it had baffled him that there could be something that he couldn’t imagine or know about and I don’t sense that as actual resistance to transgender people but rather to something that feels so unknown that he can’t wrap his mind around it, so my work is to help them wrap their minds around it.

Brogan: Yeah, does it make a difference at all in these conversations, in these projects, that you are standing before them not just as a transgender person but also as someone in a leadership role? Do you think that, that helps shape their perception of others, of the unfamiliar?

McNeill: I think it’s helpful that I’m standing there and I’m in a leadership role because that, for a lot of reasons, means they’re willing to accept my opinion as valid and I really wrestle with that because I’m someone who is a white transgender man who most people on the street don’t read as transgender because they just see me as male. And when I’m in these church basements as an openly transgender man running a nonprofit and within a Christian perspective that many of them can relate to, you know we have a lot of points of continuity. My work is really to help open the space for whose not in the room for people whose gender identities someone may not know how to read right off the bat or who may be bringing multiple intersections of oppression into the space. I try to use my privilege in those moments as a springboard to say, “OK, go with me on this journey of seeking greater openness in a way that perhaps you haven’t been able to do before.”

Brogan: Yeah, you also hold—I mean, speaking of points of authority—you hold a master’s in divinity from Harvard. Does that background, and I assume that kind of familiarity with theological inquiry that comes with it, play a role in your professional life?

McNeill: The short answer is yes, it does play or role. There’s an interesting distinction within the Presbyterian Church where there are Presbyterian-specific seminaries and Harvard is obviously not one of those, so in some sense going to Harvard is a little cultural cache. In other communities, not going to a Presbyterian seminary is actually strange, so it’s interesting the interplay of those, depending on where I am in the country and who I’m talking to.

The other thing is that I’m not yet ordained as a Presbyterian minister. So, yes, I have a master’s of divinity but haven’t finished the ordination process because of when I started in it, during the time that the rules were on the books that weren’t made it—making it not legal for me to finish ordination process. I’ve been in this journey for coming up on 12 years and in some sense, yes, I have a master’s of divinity but, no, I’m not a pastor. So I hold this weird line that’s pretty blurry that I do have the training but I don’t have the credential. But personally what I learned at seminary and at Harvard Divinity School impacts me regularly in the ways that I approach my work.

Brogan: Are you working on Presbyterian ordination now?

McNeill: Yes, I am, I’m still in the process. There’s a number of items to check off the list of things you need to do to enter the last phase of the process, which is called “certified ready to receive a call” and I have one step left and the goal is to ultimately be ordained to the position I have now at More Light.

Brogan: What’s that one step that you have left?

McNeill: I need to do a unit of hospital chaplaincy, which is commonly referred to as “CPE,” and it’s either a 40-hour-a-week intensive for 10 weeks or an extended unit across four months. My challenge has been with the more than 40-hour-a-week job I have, to be able to work that into my daily life and still have enough hours to sleep and eat.

Brogan: Well, hopefully you’ll find a time eventually, but maybe this is an appropriate juncture to ask you about your typical day. You talked a lot about meeting with people, about talking with you, asking them questions and finding points of connection and empathy, but do you also work out of an office? Do you have a kind of the ordinary, boring stuff that all of us have to deal with in one way or another that you do as well?

McNeill: Oh I get plenty of boring, don’t worry. Yes, I often tell people that I work from home when I’m not traveling. I travel a ton for my job and then when I’m back at the home front I actually have an office in my house, which is a lovely place to work from.

Brogan: And do you … are you someone who starts working at 8 in the morning, or when you’re working from home, do you have sketchier hours?

McNeill: Being an executive director and in conversations of other executive directors I know, it is a nonstop process in that it’s always on your mind. It’s always present, this work, but I’ve worked really hard to establish boundaries around my work, especially when I’m not traveling. I try to get to my desk around 9 a.m. if I’m not at a deadline and I need to do some writing in the morning. 9 a.m. and then try and log off around 5:30 or 6. Those are days when I don’t have an evening meeting, our board meets at night over the phone once a month, or a church may need me to call in and do a conversation with them about exploring becoming More Light, so those typically haven’t … happened in the meeting, in the evening. But when it’s just a regular day I try to do a 9–5:30, which is a really … it’s harder than it sounds, but it really requires me to structure my day pretty specifically so that I can get everything done that I need to do.

Brogan: What are the things that you need to get done—you alluded to writing a moment ago—but what kind of stuff are you writing? What other work are you doing?

McNeill: The kinds of work I do, right now I am working on bringing some potential, what they call “overtures” to the Presbyterian general assembly, which I’ve talked about before. There’s another meeting this summer and a group of us are trying to bring forward some affirmative statements around transgender identities, LBGTQ identities, and allowing the church to say more emphatically that we disagree with the current use of religious liberty in the public square right now, and so the writing I was doing last week was on an overture of transgender affirmation—so writing rationale for why we need this overture, which requires the research around statistics of transgender exclusion within the U.S. and drawing from some of our presently and foundational statements about care and equality for our peoples. That’s one thing I wrote last week.

Another piece I wrote last week was a fundraising appeal, which is another part of my job, writing email. Writing an email to folks inviting them to support More Light this month and into 2018 and yeah, writing on a number of different topics.

Brogan: Then are you, I assume, I guess I should say that you are also managing volunteers and maybe other employees of the organization, if there are any?

McNeill: At More Light we are tiny but mighty. We have three full-time staff, and a part-time finance guru and a fundraising-consultant firm and this is actually the first year that we’ve had three full-time staff, which is amazing. And, yes, the other part of my day is spent managing staff who are doing program and organizing work. We’re really involved right now in North Carolina, following HB2 that happened two years ago, getting people of faith—

Brogan: Is that the bathroom-exclusion bill?

McNeill: Yeah, the bathroom-exclusion bill. Getting people of faith to really name a positive vision of LGBTQ inclusion within our state. One of our staff is organizing pretty full-time on that and then another staff member runs our programs and communications work, and so visioning for that and helping them to feel empowered to do the work that they need to do is a huge part of my day as well.

Brogan: Did you have background from other work you had done in management and in managing other folks or is it something that you had to learn in the process of doing this work?

McNeill: When I finished seminary in 2008, my first job was in a nonprofit and there I became the director of development and really got some on-the-job experience for how to manage staff and really look at program and vision alignment. I think it was some of the best training for me to enter into this job at More Light. But I’ve also been really assisted in management through an amazing organization called The Management Center. We have a book called Managing to Create Change, I believe it’s called Managing to Create Change. My staff and I call it the bible because it has such great ways to go about management that’s real co-empowered. It’s not just one person top-down, and then I’ve had the benefit of coaches for the first two years of my time at More Light. I had a coach that I worked with pretty regularly that really helped me understand the deep wisdom that I had to bring around how to manage staff and program and vision and all the things you’re juggling while you’re sitting in the seat of executive director.

Brogan: You also, though, in addition to all of this, you’re also doing a lot of traveling, right? Is it difficult to balance that time that you spend on the road with this home-office-based managerial and organizational work that you have to do?

McNeill: Trying to figure out the balance between travel and being at home is, I think, the constant quest in my life. Maybe I’ll figure it out by the time I’m finished with this job, but it is really hard because when you’re traveling to a place to visit a church, to visit a community, you really need to be present with that community. So I try not to overly check my email, try not to overly just feel distracted from the other things that I’m thinking about. So I do put some of my staff-management stuff arranged around travel so we use Slack a lot of the time for staff conversations.

I often say thank God for the internet and Google Docs because without it I don’t know how I’d do my job. So having shared documents and shared conversations around work allows us to both feel connected even when I’m gone or when they’re gone for a different event and also be able to take the space we need to be present with the communities that where working with.

Brogan: Whether or not you’re on the road, and this may be a silly question, but do your religious commitments in the forms of practice that go with it inform the way you approach managing folks and running an organization?

McNeill: That’s a great question. I would say yes, that my sense of Christian ethics dictates how I manage staff. I’m very collaborative in my approach around management and believe that the staff that I’ve hired, I did so because they’re brilliant at what they do and so I want to invite their wisdom and creativity into the process as much as my own, because I believe that what we can create together is much stronger than what I could just do sitting in my own house. And if there’s something where someone messes up and makes a mistake, my approach is really around how do we fix it and have you make sure it doesn’t happen next time, rather than punitive. Even if there’s a staff member that’s not working out, for whatever reason that’s not a good fit, my approach even in that’s instance has been to recognize their dignity and worth as a human first and that this is not the right fit for them that there is a better fit for them somewhere else and to believe in that and help them find that if we need to let them go.

I actually think that it really does infuse everything that I do. And working with a religious organization, I think one of the biggest challenges—a religious organization that is also a nonprofit in this way—the biggest challenge is to remember that there we’re also nurturing not only the spirits of people that work with us but also tending to our own spirits and spiritual growth. So at my best, I think trying to find ways that we can infuse that within our work and practice, which will allow us to be our most creative, best-connected selves.

Brogan: It seems like inevitability other factors do impose themselves on the work you’re doing now, and I’m thinking especially here of the political climate. You talked about working in opposition to HB2, but there’s a lot of ugly stuff going on around trans issues, around LGBTQ rights more generally right now. How do you, as someone who’s working on these issues within a specific context, how do you interact with the sort of larger political currents that are affecting our lives in the moment that we live in?

McNeill: In Christian practice we are often invited to look at the already and the not yet. To hold what’s happening with the hope for what could happen. I woke up the day after the election last year feeling scared but also so clear about what More Light was called to do in this time, which is to hold that up for and with people that we must work to preserve or advance or push back against the erosion of rights and recognition and dignity at the same time that we hold a vision of a world where all people can be free from oppression.

As Christians, I think we go out into the world holding that vision and it can be very powerful to work within a political climate that wants you to be afraid and wants you to retract and wants you to believe that the administration has the final word on things or seven words you can’t say, for example, and that we are called to resist that with not just our minds and our hearts but our bodies and our spirits as well. So it allows for some fuel to get us through what has been a really challenging time for many people across identities across status, et cetera, and so I hold it as an opportunity to keep us moving forward despite where the political climate is in this moment.

Brogan: Are you working to collaborate with secular-activist organizations as well, or is your work primarily focused on religious communities and organizations?

McNeill: We absolutely collaborate with secular organizations. For example the work we’re doing in North Carolina is through a coalition that we participate in that includes several organizations working from a faith-based perspective or within a particular faith community as well as secular organizations such as Equality North Carolina, that really have some of that vision … have the wisdom and vision of the landscape that I don’t think we could work without. So I think it’s really imperative that secular organizations and faith organizations when they can, collaborate, because you’re getting kind of the gifts of the whole so that you’re really staying attuned to the political moment in a very deep way and not forgetting that people show up to protest with bodies and with spirits so that we can nurture both at the same time.

Brogan: Yeah. And it does seem like, within the Presbyterian communities that you work, at least to impart within, that you’re institutionally focused on, you have seen a lot of change in the last few years, but also over the last 40ish years that More Light has been operating. Is that heartening to you at all when you think about the work that remains to be done in the world, more generally?

McNeill: Seeing the scope of work and the scope of change that has happened over the past 40 years, I sometimes call myself a “hope evangelist,” that part of my role is to help keep people hopeful and helpful to bring about a better world and continue this progress forward. It does feel very heartening to me. I mean, even after HB2 passed in North Carolina, to bring it back there, which denied transgender people the ability to use the bathroom that align with their gender identity, we heard from churches and people all across the state who called us wanting to again take on more transgender education, who wanted to change their church’s bathroom policies, who wanted to make sure that their youth groups were sensitive to be LGBTQ youth. So in the face of these rollbacks and restrictions I have seen countless faith communities across the country really stepping up to say “Not in the name of our faith,” and really “Not in our worship spaces” but also “Not in our communities.” So those moments that happen every day make it imperative but also easier to keep walking on this journey of bringing the movement forward.

Brogan: Do you feel like you’re making the world a better place?

McNeill: One of the parts of my job is touring with this documentary called Out of Order that started in 2012 and I actually helped produce, and part of my story is told in that documentary. It started in 2012, one year after the ordination policies changed within the denomination, and the people featured in that film are LGBTQ folks who are going through this ordination process like I described before, and there’s a question in the air in that documentary at the beginning of “What’s going to happen? Are churches going to be willing to hire us? Is the wider faith community that we’re a part of going to be accepting of LGBTQ folks in leadership in ministry?”

The film ran for four years and now it’s been out for about a year and a half and I’ve attended over 25 screenings of it in person, and watching it with audiences is such a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much more work there is to do, certainly, and audiences really get a sense for that. But at the end of the film, inevitably a young person will come up to me and give me a hug with tears in their eyes or whisper that they too are LGBTQ and for the first time have seen themselves in film.

I can’t deny the impact that that has on the world and my hope is that everywhere we take this film and everywhere we take a training leaves the community a little stronger than we found it. And with the resources and tools to continuing … to continue opening up inclusion within their spaces and within their states. And I’ve seen, I think you don’t get to 71 percent people affirming marriage equality without some real positive change happening. We wouldn’t have gotten that vote in 2013 if we’d just taken a vote. So I believe that every single person who changes their heart … changes their heart or learns something new and incorporates that into their life, that is part of how we change the world.

Brogan: That’s wonderful, thank you so much for joining us to talk about your work today.

McNeill: Well, thank you for having me. This is really fun to get to take part of my day to talk about my work today.