March 10, 2047
Ames, IA — Watching him rocking gently on a porch swing, sipping a glass of Diet Carbo-Ice on a breezy summer afternoon, you'd never think that mild-mannered youth pastor Milo Hanrahan was once one of the most hated men in America. But he was.
Way back in the Twenteens, Hanrahan—who some of our older readers may remember by his former pen name, Milo Yiannopoulos—made a name for himself by writing blog posts (hey, millennials: remember blogs?!) that railed against equality for women, immigrants, trans people, and people of color. Yiannopoulos gained a big following among the then-nascent Fascist USA movement, and was widely reviled by opponents as a homophobic, gay, misogynist bigot who would do or say anything for money and attention.
"I'm not proud of it," Hanrahan says now, "but it was an extraordinarily easy time to get publicity if you were willing to express ideas that were abhorrent to people with a sense of dignity or proportion."
The gambit worked... for a while. He appeared frequently on television and commanded large crowds (and larger fees) at speaking engagements on college campuses. But Yiannopoulos's prosperity was short-lived. In 2017, his supporters turned against him after an interview surfaced in which he argued in favor of same-sex relationships between adults and minors—he now says these comments were all part of his "What will Milo say next?" strategy, and nothing he ever actually thought or felt. Soon after, a lucrative book contract was canceled, and just as soon as he'd gained notoriety, he utterly disappeared from the public eye.
"Which was the best thing that ever happened to me," Hanrahan says now, with a bashful smile that betrays only a hint of the mischievous laugh that used to follow his more outrageous public pronouncements.
Of course, no one needs to be reminded of what happened in late-2017—the year of the Thanksgiving Pogroms and the Christmas Uprising, which were followed by the ouster of the illegitimate Trump administration, and the great tribunal of 2018.
Yiannopoulos/Hanrahan narrowly escaped prosecution as a collaborator by the Senate committee, where the shocking crimes of The Traitor Stephen K. Bannon became the focal point of the investigation. In exchange for immunity, Hanrahan testified against his former publisher, making what was to be his last public appearance for decades.
Part of Hanrahan's immunity agreement, brokered during the historically brief nine-week term of then-acting president Mike Pence, was that he submit to "gay conversion" therapy before he testified. "I know it's controversial, and for good reason in many cases," says Hanrahan today. "All I can say is that it worked for me."
After that, Yiannopoulos seemed to disappear, disgraced by association like so many former supporters/employees of The Traitor Stephen K. Bannon, or forgotten altogether. He changed his surname back to Hanrahan, his name at birth, and returned to academia, where he pursued an advanced degree in divinity, and, just as significantly, where he met his future wife, the former Loni Camaletti.
"She saw me for who I really was," Hanrahan says. "And she helped me direct my energies toward helping people. If that's not love, I don't know what is."
Hanrahan, now 63, says he is "not a great one for looking backward," preferring instead to focus on the path ahead. When he does think about the past, it's with an attitude of "the sincerest regret," particularly when it comes to the people who were hurt—"and I mean physically hurt, even killed"—by what he calls "my former self."
At the height of Milo Yiannopoulos's fame, his public appearances were met by protests that often turned violent. Though at the time he blamed the violence on the protesters themselves, Hanrahan now freely admits that "every injury, every can of tear gas, every bullet was entirely my fault. I was only there to egg them on, and I did it by hiding behind my First Amendment rights. I was hired to do it, trained, coached, and well-funded—but at the end of the day, the responsibility is mine. I'll spend the rest of my life being ashamed of myself for every word I wrote or spoke during that period. And atoning, if I can."
Hanrahan is quick to point out that the work he does with Feed My Sheep, the Ames-based Christian youth outreach ministry he and Loni founded 12 years ago is "a humble but meaningful effort" toward that atonement.
Though he doesn't love talking about what he now calls his "misspent youth," Hanrahan says he's going on the record now because he wants his parishioners "and anyone else who will listen" to understand how the power of faith helped him come to terms with his "many horrible sicknesses."
Taking one last sip of Diet Carbo-Ice, he pauses thoughtfully. "If the love of Jesus Christ can save a vile old charlatan like me," Hanrahan says, "it can save all of us."