RIP Phil Barron

image of Phil Barron, a middle-aged black man with a mustache and beard; he is looking at the camera and smiling broadly
Phil, August 2008, at home.

Yesterday, Phil Barron died very suddenly from complications of a bacterial infection that went septic.

Phil wrote at his blog inauthentic (which was the successor to recursiveLoop, which was the successor to Philip Barron, which was the successor to Waveflux), was a former contributor at Shakesville (though always retained his account, in case he ever had anything else he wanted to say here), and was a popular presence on Twitter. This is just a document of his online life—the spaces in which he shared pieces of his offline life.

Phil was married to M; together they had (currently) seven cats: Baxter, China, Jack, Kismet, Leon, Roxy, and Venice. Their life is not mine about which to speak. I will only say that I had the pleasure of visiting their home, and it was a happy and warm and welcoming space, full of love.

Yesterday, my day became full of talking to people about how great Phil Barron is. Was. The day started as is, and became was. I want to tell you that it was not the first day on which I spoke to multiple people using adoring tones about him. That was not uncommon, actually, for several people who'd had some interaction with him on Twitter—about cooking or cats; or anything, really, but certainly cats and cooking top the list—to mention how great he was, on the same day.

Lots of people spoke of his abundant kindness, and his grand humor, and his sensitive intellect, and his enormous heart. All of these things are true. He was also a beautiful writer, and this is one of my favorite pieces he ever wrote: Black. White. And Asparagus.

He was also a passionate advocate, and if you ever heard the name Pfc. LaVena Johnson, it was probably because of Phil. It wasn't just that he championed justice for Pfc. Johnson; it was the way he wrote about it. With care and thoughtfulness and righteous anger and hope.

He was a liberal favoriter of tweets, and quick with a compliment or a word of support. He was, as but one of many examples of his friendship I could offer, extremely encouraging of my participation in the #365feministselfies project, and often boosted my confidence and helped me keep going.

Phil always sent me Golden Girls stuff, whenever he saw it.

I spoke to dozens of people yesterday, who were devastated by his death and shared stories of the times Phil had made them laugh, or said a nice thing right when they needed it, or engaged them in a good conversation. I hope he felt as loved as he was.

I don't intend to lionize him, just because he's gone. The truth is, although I'm sure he had his flaws, being human and all, I never saw them. Yesterday, Spudsy and I were reminiscing about my asking M if Phil was always so kind and patient, and she laughed and said, "No!" with great affection, in the way of someone who really knows another person.

Those of us to whom he gave his extraordinary friendship were privileged to know him and laugh with him and be the beneficiaries of part of the immense amounts of love he put into the world.

When Iain got his US citizenship, Phil sent this note:

Just wanted to pass along congrats to Iain from M, me, and the five kitties. Welcome to it, sir. Need more like you.

all best,
Need more like you. We need more like you, my friend.

I am going to miss Phil Barron tremendously, and forever feel grateful to have known him.

* * *

If you would like to make a donation in Phil's memory, his family asks for donations to be made to Planned Parenthood or ShadowCats Austin.

Phil's friend @javachik is collecting remembrances of him to send to his family, if you have any to share.

On Twitter, @graceishuman has started #ThanksThursday, to remember Phil and thank others who make Twitter a good place for you.

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