It was in November 2007 that I first met Andy Hobbs. I had sent him an article I had written for parents about handling holiday stress. In addition, I was passionate about a new sexuality education ministry we had started at our church called Our Whole Lives/Sexuality and Our Faith.
I mentioned in my email that I’d like to talk with him about a series of articles for The Mirror about sexuality education for parents, if he was interested. I hit send.
Truth be told, my heart was pounding a little bit. I mean, I had just proposed to some editor I didn’t know that I’d write some articles for the local paper about sex. How crazy was that?
Not five minutes later, the phone rang, and the next day, I was having a face-to-face meeting with the indomitable Mr. Hobbs. Andy liked my idea. He said I approached the subject respectfully and thoughtfully and that he’d give me a chance.
I suppose it’s fitting that it was again November of this year that I met with Andy face-to-face once again. This time to say thank you and goodbye as he embarks on a new adventure in Olympia.
We spent time reminiscing about some of the more controversial Sex in the Suburbs articles. Like when I wrote about states that outlawed sex toys, but not semi-assault weapons. I got a bunch of angry and condescending emails, and he got angry letters to the editor that called me names and said I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Later, I wrote about — If Jesus were a girl — and focused on women’s issues and got lots of women writing to tell me I couldn’t possibly be a real Christian. And there was the man who wrote in to say he’d no longer read the paper because I’d ruined Christmas by asking people to think about how they’d feel if Santa were gay.
Andy says he admires my courage to write these things in the paper. I admire his willingness to publish them. We both value the newspaper as a venue to present a variety of opinions and invite people to think. I always knew that whether people were angry with what I wrote or applauding it, Andy would be smiling. The conversation is what matters to both of us.
At this time of year, I am especially thankful that we live in a society and a community where free speech is valued. People have all kinds of opinions in Federal Way and The Mirror prints a variety of them.
Though Andy has moved on, I’m not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. So thanks to you, Federal Way, whether you’re someone who embraces your “sex lady,” argues with her, laughs with her, condemns her, asks her for help, prays for her soul, or feels compassion with her about issues that affect the children and families in our community.
What matters is that we keep the conversation alive.
Got a question for Amy Johnson? email firstname.lastname@example.org.