I know lots of people who vie for the title - or certain variations of the same - but I think it's at least fair to say that Malcolm was the first Episcopal priest to come out as a gay man.
That was in the mid-60s.
I don't know how I can adequately express how absolutely courageous and bold and brave that was at that time.
Important as that is, it would be unfortunate to limit Malcolm to that singular distinction.
He was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement when that was shocking to members of a church which was then more a social club and conservative political party at prayer.
"Are You Running With Me, Jesus?" that changed the way people thought about prayer.
Well, Episcopalians, anyway.
These were not the graceful, eloquent, traditional prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. These were honest, raw, direct, insightful prayers whose power crept up on the reader, covering topics such as personal freedom, racial justice, and sexuality.
They were, as he wrote, “prayers for all of us today who are finding it harder and harder to pray,” which make them as relevant and timeless for us in our day and time.
Those are some "facts" about Malcolm. They certainly don't capture the essence of who he was and can't come near demonstrating the impact he has had on the church in general and The Episcopal Church in particular.
So, a personal memory to honor his spirit.
He sighed deeply and said, "You know, I've found that doing the work of justice requires that, from time to time, I have to use strong language. Sometimes, that language offends some people. Some people consider it vulgar. Me? I consider injustice vulgar. I curse at it with impunity. When you do that, it always surprises people when your breath smells sweet."
He looked at me with that delightful twinkle in his eyes (maybe you've been fortunate enough to see it) and said, "Onions smell sweet compared to homophobia. Want a mint?"
It was love at first mint.
I can see him now, in heaven, cursing up a storm and handing out mints.
Your memory will always be a blessing.