This open letter was submitted by Tony Hagen in response to the sudden loss of Lynn Barfield, a dedicated supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community.


Why does this feel so different? We’ve lost many others, but losing you hurts in a different way.

Perhaps it’s because you made Midtown feel like, well, Midtown. Like a small community in the middle of a big city. You brought the charm to our gayborhood. Without you, we’re left wondering where to find it.  

You were a friendly neighbor to every person in town: You welcomed us to Blake’s, rallied us for fundraisers and made us feel like everything was going to be alright.

When you lost loved ones to AIDS, you made it your mission to help the community. You advocated for awareness. You showed us what real leadership looked like. 

We weren’t ready to say goodbye. You weren’t done leading the way. But you left us stronger, and it’s time for us to take your lead. 

Losing you hurts more than I ever imagined. Not because of your legendary hugs, or even the love you spread. Losing you hurts most because of what you represented. You represented a local community where we all belonged. A community that welcomed everyone with open arms. A community to be proud of. 

And as our local gay establishments continue to crumble around us, we’re losing that sense of community. We’re starting to lose what made Midtown different, it’s heart. And that’s exactly what you were: The heart of Midtown.

I can only hope this loss inspires us to bring back that heart. For you. And for our queer community that needs it so desperately.

To an ally, inspiration, and life-changing force, thank you. Thank you for making us better.

We love you forever,