After the Fab Five helped Queer Eye Season 5 hero Noah Hepler "take the past out of pastor and find faith in himself," the gay Philadelphia pastor proclaimed he’d become the kind of religious leader he always wanted to be. Since then, he’s continued to lead his congregation as the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. Only now, he’s doing it all without the guilt and shame he says he carried regarding his sexuality before appearing on the Netflix show.
Nominated for Queer Eye by members of the church council, Noah sought assistance from the Fab Five — Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness — to build more confidence as a leader. After being brought up in an ultra conservative, homophobic environment in North Carolina where he couldn’t play cards, dance, or listen to secular music, the once-timid pastor didn’t come out until he was in his 30s, after he’d married a woman. Following their divorce, he began a new chapter in Philadelphia, where he’s fostered an environment of acceptance at what he calls "the quirkiest church in Fishtown," which also got a Queer Eye makeover.
As a testament to his quest to be more outgoing and confident, Noah began the Pub Theology Fishtown podcast with Rev. Shawn Hyska in 2019. The podcast was described as a monthly conversation "exploring the intersection of faith and life in Fishtown." Although only three episodes are available on Apple, the conversation has continued as a monthly event at local Philly restaurants. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, however, Noah has continued hosting the theological gatherings digitally.
Although Noah is not particularly active on social media, he does continue to advocate for social justice on his personal Twitter account. His mission may be the same as it was before filming Queer Eye, but Noah’s newfound confidence in leading his church is proof that more has changed for him than throwing out his beloved cargo shorts.
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