This weekend met many of us with a shocker: Andy Towle will be leaving Towleroad.

The founder of one of the earliest and most popular gay blogs said in a post that he’s trading in his laptop for some paintbrushes and hoping to have some free time on the weekends again.

“Longtime readers and friends, we’ve come a great distance together,” Andy wrote. “But after nearly 18 years scouring the web for LGBTQ news and bringing it to you on a daily basis, this has been my last week at Towleroad.”

For almost two decades, Andy has been the Internet’s gay curator. At Towleroad he was able to unearth interesting tidbits both big and small from across the globe. He focused a lot on LGBTQ-specific news, but he also shared funny, quirky and sometimes frightening news from entertainment and politics that he thought his readers would find interesting.

I was lucky enough to meet Andy in the late Nineties, before Outsports or Towleroad ever existed. We were two kids living it up in the Los Angeles, hitting the beach and talking about our love of writing.

When he was named editor of Genre magazine, Andy brought me on as the publication’s “sports editor,” building a monthly article that touched on topics from gay athletes to my personal fear of swimming. It was the first time (and probably the last time) a regular gay publication had someone in that role.

He gave me my first magazine cover, for a story on Harvard water polo player Mike Crosby. My guess is that issue sold pretty well.

When he launched Towleroad, Andy didn’t shy away from amplifying some of the work we were doing at Outsports. Gay athletes coming out, straight athletes offering support, schools barring athletes from supporting gay rights… you name it, Andy and his crew at Towleroad were on top of it.

While plenty of his readers hated me (never letting me forget that I was once a Republican), Andy always saw through that with kindness. When Dan and I got married, Andy wrote a lovely post congratulating us. When a homophobic high school principal called a photo of Dan and me kissing “sick,” Andy made sure people knew about it. I even have the distinction of having a Towleroad byline, penning a post about one of my favorite moments from an Atlantis cruise a couple years ago.

Outsports was also a member of the Towleroad family for a time, working with Andy’s business partner, Michael Goff, and their advertising network.

Andy’s work in LGBTQ media over the last two-decades-plus has helped define what’s news, elevate voices in the community and bring us all a smile. While he said Towleroad will continue to be published by Goff, Andy’s voice will be missed until he surfaces elsewhere. Until then, you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter. His artwork can be found here.

Thank you, Andy, for so many years of incredibly hard work and long hours. Few people realize how much work goes into an endeavor like you have put forward tirelessly all these years. I hope you enjoy your new freedom.