My friend died.
Though I’ve said these words aloud many times in my 30 years on this earth, it never gets easier. So when Alex told me that Lily had passed away, and Pink News confirmed my worst fears, I went numb.
Lily Jayne Summers was an incredible human being. If you knew her, you knew warmth, compassion, and humour. If you didn’t, gee, did you miss out on knowing someone amazing. Lily was the kindest, most decent person I knew. The outpouring of grief on British political Twitter, regardless of party, speaks volumes. Lily was a young woman who judged people based on their personalities, not politics. She sought not to languish over our divisions, but to find commonality. A stalwart Labour activist and prospective council candidate in Swansea, she was still willing to not only work with, but befriend and love, people from across the political spectrum.
Lily first came into my life over three years ago. She, and her dear friend Ben, were running an upstart political commentary site called The Columnist. I asked if I could contribute, and she agreed. Lily was still a teenager; I was a recently-made-redundant 27-year-old looking to start a new career. I didn’t believe in myself, but this teenage girl gave me a chance because she saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. It was Lily that encouraged me, promoted my work, and has led me to where I am today. Without her, I would not have a career.
Beyond that, though, Lily was a friend. In the early part of 2014, when I was too depressed to get off the couch and spent months on end in my apartment, Lily talked to me, counselled me, and never judged me. She understood. She routinely checked up on me, making sure I was eating, I wasn’t drinking too much, and that I was looking for jobs. Lily, the teenager, saved this adult’s life.
As time went on, Lily committed herself to her studies and to Labour activism. But we never lost touch, and she never lost the compassion she is renowned for. After Trump won, Lily messaged me to make sure I was okay and to encourage me not to give up on my home country. Working class people, she said, needed me. She was that way: she always saw good in people who didn’t necessarily see good in us as LGBT people. She always believed that humans are, at their core, decent. And she sought to bridge divides that many of us thought too broad to broach.
This was no mean feat. Lily faced transphobia almost everyday of her life. She dealt with transphobic trolls in person and online. Yet she still kept faith that people were, on the whole, good and kind. Maybe they lacked understanding, she thought, but they didn’t lack compassion.
Lily Jayne Summers was unlike anyone I’ve ever known, and I can unequivocally say unlike anyone I’ll ever know again. While our epic Facebook chats will forever remain dear, and private, to me, below are some of my favourite exchanges on Twitter with her.
The start of a beautiful friendship:
When I realised she understood my sense of humour:
And then later served as tech support:
Our first massive disagreement:
And then our second:
When she low-key shaded our friend Ben Pelc:
Our third massive disagreement:
We were soon back on the same page though
Oh and there was that time she totally draaaaged Robyn for her Bieber fever
Still, she understood thirst:
And held us accountable:
Without lowering standards:
I mean this was not a woman who suffered fools gladly:
Lily was not a woman who was afraid to set the record straight:
Though never say she didn’t cross party lines:
Always a good friend:
Even if she was a hashtag opportunist:
Though she was always there to lend a helping hand:
While smacking me with truth:
Yet still speaking truth to power:
Something we can’t forget about Lily is how anti-Corbyn but pro-Labour she was:
She never lost her charm, though:
Until she supported Sanders, haha:
I wish she had, Lily. 😦
Back to her principles:
Let Mitt Romney never forget how she felt about him:
And never forget her last tweet to me, and to America:
I love you, Lily.