Thursday, February 11, 2016

Success: Facebook approves controversial ad for gay Passion of Christ book



Great news: Facebook reversed its decision and approved the controversial ad for our book "The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision" yesterday on Ash Wednesday.

They rejected it as pornography as reported earlier, but I sent and appeal letter and it worked. The ad is up and running now.

Paintings in the book depict Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city.

Here is the text of my successful appeal:



Please approve my ad for “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.” The ad does not promote an “adult product” or pornography. It advertises a religious art book that tells the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT Christian viewpoint.

The word “Passion” does not always mean sexual desire. “Passion” also means the suffering and death of Jesus. You can look it up in any dictionary.

As you can see, the ad does not feature nudity or a sexually suggestive situation. It shows a modern Jesus on the cross wearing pants but no shirt.

I don’t understand why you rejected this ad. Do you think everything LGBT is pornography?! It is not.

The artist, the publisher and I are prepared to contact Lambda Legal Defense Fund over this unfair and discriminatory rejection. Thanks for reconsidering my ad.


And here is Facebook's response. Note: Cherry is my last name, but people get it mixed up all the time and think it's my first name:

Hi Cherry,

Thank you for notifying us about your ad disapproval. We've reviewed your ad again and have determined it complies with our policies. Your ad is now approved.

Your ad is now active and will start delivering soon. You can track your results in Facebook Ads Manager.

Let me know if you need any further clarifications or assistance from me. Have a great day!

Did you find our support helpful? Please give us feedback.

Thanks,

Anna Pebbles



___
Related links:

Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography
(Jesus in Love)

Here we go again (Counterlight's Peculiars)

News release Feb. 9, 2016: Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday: Queer martyrs rise from the ashes

Today on Ash Wednesday queer martyrs rise from the ashes as we recall the thousands who were executed for homosexuality throughout history.

This is not just a historical issue. The death penalty for homosexuality continues today in 10 countries (Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and United Arab Emirates).

Christians traditionally put ashes on their foreheads as a sign of repentance on Ash Wednesday. It is an appropriate time to reflect on the sins of the church and state against queer people, including the burning of “sodomites” and thousands of executions for homosexuality over the past 800 years.

Some of the executions for sodomy were recorded by artists, either long ago or in recent times. This post features images, both new and historical, to remember and honor those whose lives were desecrated and cut short.

The whole sad history of church- or state-sanctioned executions of queer people stretches from the 13th century almost to the present. For the first 1,000 years of church history, Christianity was relatively tolerant of homoerotic relationships.

Then came campaigns of terror that started to use the terms “heresy” and “sodomy” interchangeably.  Eventually hostility began to be directed at same-sex erotic behavior in particular. Terence Weldon of Queering the Church discusses the fateful period when the atrocities began in a well researched overview titled “Lest We Forget: The Ashes of Our Martyrs”:

In 1120, the Church Council of Nablus specified burning at the stake for homosexual acts. Although this penalty may not immediately have been applied, other harsh condemnations followed rapidly. In 1212, the death penalty for sodomy was specified in in France. Before long the execution of supposed “sodomites”, often by burning at the stake, but also by other harsh means, had become regular practice in many areas.

The church contributed to the deaths of thousands for homosexuality over the next 700 years. Witch burning occurred in the same period and claimed the lives of countless lesbian women whose non-conformity was condemned as witchcraft. (Current events in Uganda and elsewhere prove that some are STILL using Christianity to justify the death penalty for homosexuality up to the present day.) As Weldon concludes:

Obviously, the Catholic Church cannot be held directly responsible for the judicial sentences handed down by secular authorities in Protestant countries. It can, however, be held responsible for its part in fanning the flames of bigotry and hatred in the early part of the persecution, using the cloak of religion to provide cover for what was in reality based not on Scripture or the teaching of the early Church, but on simple intolerance and greed.

It is important as gay men, lesbians and transgendered that we remember the examples of the many who have in earlier times been honoured by the Church as saints or martyrs for the faith. It is also important that we remember the example of the many thousands who have been martyred by the churches – Catholic and other.

Sodomy is often considered a male issue, but the facts of history make clear that queer women were persecuted under sodomy laws too. The meaning of sodomy has changed a lot over the centuries. The “sin of Sodom” in the Bible was described as arrogance and failure to care for travelers and the poor.

“Catharina Margaretha Linck, executed for sodomy in Halberstadt in 1721” by Elke R. Steiner. Steiner’s work is based on Angela Steidele’s book "In Männerkleidern. Das verwegene Leben der Catharina Margaretha Linck alias Anastasius Lagrantinus Rosenstengel, hingerichtet 1721." Biographie und Dokumentation. Cologne: Böhlau, 2004. ("In Men's Clothes: The Daring Life of Catharina Margaretha Linck alias Anastasius Rosenstengel, Executed 1721.")

German artist Elke R. Steiner illustrates the last known execution for lesbianism in Europe. Born in 1694, Catharina Margaretha Linck lived most of her life as a man under the name Anastasius. She was beheaded for sodomy on Nov. 8, 1721 in Halberstadt in present-day Germany. Linck worked at various times as a soldier, textile worker and a wandering prophet with the Pietists. She married a woman in 1717. Her mother-in-law reported her to authorities, who convicted her of sodomy with a "lifeless instrument," wearing men's clothes and multiple baptisms. The subject is grim, but Steiner adds an empowering statement: “But even were I to be done away with, those who are like me would remain.”

“Catharina aka Anastasius Linck” by Ria Brodell

Genderqueer Boston artist Ria Brodell portrays Linck and several other historical women who were killed for sodomy in her “Butch Heroes” series. They include Katherina Hetzeldorfer of Germany, drowned in 1477 for female sodomy, and Lisbetha Olsdotter aka Mats Ersson of Sweden, who was decapitated in 1679 for cross-dressing and other crimes.

“The Shameful End of Bishop Atherton and his Proctor John Childe,” hanged for sodomy in 1641 in Dublin (Wikimedia Commons)

John Atherton, Anglican bishop of Waterford and Lismore, and his lover John Childe were hanged for “buggery” in 1640 in Dublin, Ireland. The bishop was executed under a law that he helped to institute! The picture comes from an anonymous 1641 booklet titled “The Shameful End of Bishop Atherton and his Proctor John Childe.” The title tries to shame and blame the victims, but the shame belongs to the church and society who killed them for who and how they loved.

Balboa executing two-spirit Native Americans for homosexuality in 1513 in Panama -- engraving by Théodore De Bry, 1594 (Wikimedia Commons).  

The Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa found homosexual activity among the Native American chiefs at Quarqua in Panama. He ordered 40 of these two-spirited people thrown to his war dogs to be torn apart and eaten alive to stop the “stinking abomination.” Executions for homosexuality continued during the “Mexican Inquisition,” an extension of the Spanish Inquisition into the New World. In one of the most notorious examples, 14 men were executed by public burning on Nov. 6, 1658 in Mexico City.

The knight of Hohenberg and his servant, accused of sodomy, were executed by burning in Zürich in 1482. (Wikimedia Commons)

The knight of Hohenberg and his servant, accused sodomites, were executed by burning before the walls of Zurich, Switzerland in 1482. Source: Diebold Schilling, Chronik der Burgunderkriege, Schweizer Bilderchronik, Band 3, um 1483 (Zürich, Zentralbibliothek)


Execution of sodomites in Ghent in 1578 -- drawing by Franz Hogenberg (Wikimedia Commons)

Five Catholic monks were burned to death for homosexuality on June 28, 1578, in Ghent, Belguim.


"Timely Punishment..." shows Dutch massacre of sodomites in Amsterdam in 1730-31 (Wikimedia Commons)

A total of 96 gay men were executed for sodomy in the Netherlands years 1730-31.

More recent examples include the Holocaust or "homocaust" of persecution by the Nazis, who sent an estimated 5,000 to 60,000 to concentration camps for homosexuality. Executions on homosexuality charges in Iran continued to make news multiple times since 2011.

Many more die in attacks fueled by religion-based hate, including those killed in the arson fire at the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans.

Milder forms of anti-LGBT persecution continue in the church. Now it is common to freeze LGBT people out of church leadership positions. Gay pastor and author Chris Glaser writes about the exclusion from clergy roles as a “fast imposed by others” in the following prayer based on the practice of fasting during Lent, the season of individual and collective repentance and reflection between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

One: Jesus,
     our fast has been imposed by others,
     our wilderness sojourn their choice more than ours.
Many: Our fast from the sacraments,
     our fast from ordination:
     our only choice was honesty.
One: With the scapegoats of the ancient Hebrews,
     sexual sins of generations
     have been heaped upon our backs,
     and we have been sent away,
     excommunicated, into the wilderness to die.
Many: Yet we choose life,
     even in our deprivation
One: Jesus, lead us to discern our call
     parallel to your own:
     rebelling against the boundaries,
     questioning the self-righteous authorities,
     breaking the Sabbath law
     to bring healing.


This prayer comes from “Rite for Lent” by Chris Glaser, published in Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations. Glaser spent 30 years struggling with the Presbyterian Church for the right to ordination as an openly gay man before he was ordained to the ministry in Metropolitan Community Churches in 2005. He writes progressive Christian reflections at chrisglaser.blogspot.com.

Faggots We May Be,” a 2015 poem by Georgia poet S. Alan Fann, makes connections between gay men burned to death, global warming and the Rainbow Christ.

It is horrifying to remember the "burning times," especially for those LGBT people who consider themselves part of the Christian tradition. Let us rise from the ashes with these verses from the Bible:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
For thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
[Psalm 51: 10, 17]

Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a you to humble yourself?
Is it to bow down your head like a rush,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under you?
Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to God?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily.
[Isaiah 58:5-8]

___
Top image credit: Dutch massacre of sodomites, detail (Wikimedia Commons)
___
Related links:

“Burned for sodomy” (Queering the Church)

Lest We Forget: The Ashes of Our Martyrs (Queering the Church)

The blood-soaked thread (Wild Reed)

List of people executed for homosexuality (Wikipedia)

LGBT Victims (Gay History Wiki)

List of unlawfully killed transgender people (Wikipedia)

Victims of anti-LGBT hate crimes (Wikipedia)

Victims of Hate” gallery on Facebook

Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death (Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2014)

Significant acts of violence against LGBT people (Wikipedia)

BURN BABY BURN: A Knight, a Squire, a Bishop, a Steward, Five RC Monks and Millions of murders initiated by bigots at Church! (Eruptions at the Foot of the Volcano Blog)

The Gay Holocaust (Matt and Andrej Koymasky)

Catharina Margaretha Linck, Executed for Sodomy (Queering the Church)

A History of Homophobia, 3 The Later Roman Empire & The Early Middle Ages (Rictor Norton)

A History of Homophobia, 4 Gay Heretics and Witches" (Rictor Norton)

Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook (Rictor Norton, editor)

“Pilloried” - a poem by Andrew Craig Williams

Queering All Saints and All Souls, Celebrating the Queer Body of Christ by Adam Ackley (Huff Post) (litany also suitable for Ash Wednesday)

Blessing the Dust: A Blessing for Ash Wednesday by Jan Richardson

Iran's New Gay Executions (Daily Beast, 8/12/2014)
"Two men, Abdullah Ghavami Chahzanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri, were hanged in southern Iran on August 6, possibly for consensual sodomy..."

Four Iranian men due to be hanged for sodomy (Pink News, 5/12/2012)
"Iran court sentenced four men… to death by hanging for sodomy… named ‘Saadat Arefi’, ‘Vahid Akbari’, ‘Javid Akbari’ and ‘Houshmand Akbari.’"

Iran executes three men on homosexuality charges (guardian.com 9/7/2011)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: We all wear the triangle (Jesus in Love)

Ex-gay movement as genocide (Jesus in Love)

Book: Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton
____
This post is part of the LGBT Holidays series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series celebrates religious and spiritual holidays, holy days, feast days, festivals, anniversaries, liturgical seasons and other occasions of special interest to LGBT and queer people of faith and our allies.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

RIP Ibrahim Farajajé: Queer theologian, AIDS activist, interfaith scholar, spiritual leader




In memory of
Ibrahim Farajajé

queer theologian, HIV/AIDS activist, professor, artist, activist and spiritual leader

Died Feb. 9, 2016


white candle Pictures, Images and Photos




I light a memorial candle for Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé (formerly Elias Farajajé-Jones), queer theologian, HIV/AIDS activist, professor, artist, activist and spiritual leader.

He died last night (a few minutes after midnight on Feb. 9) surrounded by family and friends at Alta Bates Medical Center in Oakland. He had been hospitalized since mid-January after a massive heart attack. He was 63.

He spent 21 years as professor of cultural studies at the Starr King School for the Ministry, a Unitarian Universalist/Multireligious member school of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. He was planning to retire at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

I knew him as Elias, and I remember him as a great thinker who embodied fluidity of sexuality, race, religion, language and much more.

His eclectic and seemingly endless scholarly interests included heteronormativity, multireligiosity, transphobia, ‘earthodoxy’-religion and care for the Earth, immigration policies, hasidic/sufi overlaps, death penalty abolition, colonisation, gynephobia, and Buddhist/Muslim intersections. He knew 16 languages. He considered himself to be a “scholartivist” -- scholar, artist, activist and spiritual leader.

Elias made a big impression on me personally when I first heard him speak at a Metropolitan Community Church conference in the 1990s.

I took the initiative and invited him to submit a liturgy for “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations.” As co-editor of the book, I worked to ensure that his unique voice was included in the book.

In his bio for the book, he described himself as “a queer-identified bisexual / two-spirit person” of African and Cherokee ancestry.

As I remember it, Elias was the last of about 30 contributors to submit his manuscript. I was thrilled when it came by fax in a large typeface, using up the entire roll of fax paper!

It was titled “Invocation of Remembrance, Healing and Empowerment in a Time of AIDS.” His opening words then are strikingly appropriate as we celebrate the life of the theologian who wrote them:

To the living and the dead, we bear witness. We gather in an act of remembrance of all of our ancestors and in a particular way of all those LGBT people of color who have died in the struggle with AIDS, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer, but also of those who were denied adequate health care and were target of racism, sexism, poverty, violence, homohatred, and other evils. Ours is a remembrance rooted in a spirit of solidarity and a spirit of resistance -- a resistance that strengthens and empowers us to live and act boldly….

He also wrote the foreword to “Sexuality, Religion and the Sacred: Bisexual, Pansexual and Polysexual Perspectives,” edited by Loraine Hutchins and H. Sharif Williams (2012).

His voice lives on in a video interview and in the hearts of those who knew him.


___
Related links:

News brief: Starr King announces death of provost Ibrahim Farajajé (Unitarian Universalist World)

Oral history of Ibrahim Farajajé (LGBT Religious Archives Network)

Our Great Loss (sksm.edu)

____
This post is part of the GLBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography (news release)

News release sent today:
LOS ANGELES, CA -- Feb. 9, 2016 -- Facebook rejected an ad for an LGBT book about the Passion of Christ, calling it an “adult product” and pointing out their ban on pornography.

Authors Kittredge Cherry and Doug Blanchard are going to appeal the decision.

“Our book is not porn!” Cherry says. “It is a religious art book that presents the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT viewpoint. Does Facebook believe that everything LGBT is automatically obscene?!”

They had planned to get the Passion book advertisement running tomorrow for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Paintings in the book depict Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city. Nudity is similar to standard Christian crucifixion scenes. The only image in the book that might be considered sexually suggestive (but not porn) is when Jesus kisses God during his Ascension to heaven.

The rejected ad shows a shirtless Jesus on the cross with this text: “LGBT Passion of Christ: Meet a modern Jesus in ‘The Passion of Christ.’ Recommended book for Lent and Holy Week.” It links to the book’s website: passionofchristbook.com.

Some ad formats also include this extra text: “Powerful paintings show a gay vision of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Diverse friends go with him from suffering to freedom. Includes 24 paintings and meditations. ‘Accessible but profound.’”

“This rejection is an important reminder that LGBT interpretations of Jesus are still radical and very much needed,” Cherry says.

Douglas Blanchard is a gay artist who teaches art and art history at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian author and art historian who founded JesusInLove.org, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches. “The Passion of Christ” (ISBN 194067140X) was published by Apocryphile Press.

For more info, visit the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com) or the book website (passionofchristbook.com).

###

* Book website: www.passionofchristbook.com

Monday, February 08, 2016

Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography



Facebook rejected a new ad for our gay Passion of Christ book this week, calling it an “adult product” and referencing their ban on pornography.

“Ads may not promote pornography of any kind, whether artistic or commercial,” states the Facebook guideline referenced in the rejection notice.

Our book is not porn! It is a religious art book that presents the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT viewpoint.

Facebook won’t let us pay to advertise “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by myself (Kittredge Cherry) and artist Doug Blanchard. So please send your friend to the book’s website (passionofchristbook.com) and invite them to like its Facebook page.

Paintings in the book depict Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city. Nudity is similar to standard Christian crucifixion scenes. The only image in the book that might be considered sexually suggestive (but not porn) is when Jesus kisses God during his Ascension to heaven.

The rejected ad shows a shirtless Jesus on the cross with this text: “LGBT Passion of Christ: Meet a modern Jesus in ‘The Passion of Christ.’ Recommended book for Lent and Holy Week.” It links to the book’s website: passionofchristbook.com.

Some ad formats also include this extra text: “Powerful paintings show a gay vision of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Diverse friends go with him from suffering to freedom. Includes 24 paintings and meditations. ‘Accessible but profound.’”

The ad itself doesn’t seem remotely pornographic or sexually suggestive -- unless the censors at Facebook misunderstood the word “Passion.” Do they think it only means sexual desire? “Passion” also means the suffering and death of Jesus.

Do they believe that everything “LGBT” is automatically sexual and pornographic?!

Maybe gay visions of Jesus just scare them.

Strangely Facebook stated that saying “Practice safe sex with our brand of condoms” is OK, while “LGBT Passion of Christ” is obscene.

The LGBT Passion of Christ is apparently more dangerous than safe sex to the censors at Facebook!

Since the ad’s image and text are pretty tame, it seems that Facebook is not just rejecting this particular ad, but ANY ad for the book because they imagine it must be an “adult product.”

This rejection is an important reminder that the gay Passion book is still needed. I forget how radical is to show a queer Christ. I honestly thought this Facebook controversy was behind us.

When the book was first published in 2014, Facebook rejected a different ad for the same book by using a different excuse. They said it was too “shocking” because it showed a wounded Jesus carrying his cross. They claimed it violated their guideline against images that “may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.” Specifically they stated that it violated their prohibition on images of “dead or dismembered bodies, ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires.”

Doug appealed their decision while I contacted the Lambda Legal Defense Fund and the LGBT news media. Facebook backed down and approved the ad after Gay Star News contacted the social networking site for comment. For the whole story, see the previous post “Victory! Facebook approves gay Passion of Christ ad.”

Here is the entire text of this year’s rejection message:

Your ad content violates Facebook Ad Guidelines. Ads are not allowed to promote the sale or use of adult products or services, including toys, videos, publications, live shows or sexual enhancement products. Ads for family planning and contraception are allowed if they follow our targeting requirements.
Before resubmitting your ad, please visit the Help Center [link] to learn more and see examples of ads that meet our guidelines.
If you’ve read the guidelines in the Help Center and think your ad follows the rules and should have been approved, please let us know.

Clicking the “Help Center” link leads to this text:

Adult Products
Ads may not promote pornography of any kind, whether artistic or commercial. Ads may not feature nudity, adult toys, adult products, or images of people participating in activities that are excessively suggestive or sexual in nature.Ads promoting sexual health products or services, such as contraceptives, lubricants, gels, or sexual health resources may be allowed and must be targeted to people over the age of consent for sexual activity in the target jurisdiction or, if applicable, of age to avail of sexual health services and products in that jurisdiction.
Acceptable: "Free condoms at your local student health center." "Practice safe sex with our brand of condoms."
Unacceptable: "Condoms to enhance your pleasure."
To read more, visit the Facebook Advertising Policies.

I planned to get the Passion book ad running before Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10), which begins the Lenten season of prayer and reflection on the Passion of Christ.

Instead I am writing to Facebook appealing their decision. It’s time to contact Lambda Legal and the LGBT news media again too.

You can show support by telling your friends about the website that Facebook won't let us pay to advertise.


****
Update on Feb. 10, 2016

Great news: Facebook approved the ad after I submitted an appeal!



Here is the text of my successful appeal letter:

Please approve my ad for “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.” The ad does not promote an “adult product” or pornography. It advertises a religious art book that tells the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT Christian viewpoint.

The word “Passion” does not always mean sexual desire. “Passion” also means the suffering and death of Jesus. You can look it up in any dictionary.

As you can see, the ad does not feature nudity or a sexually suggestive situation. It shows a modern Jesus on the cross wearing pants but no shirt.

I don’t understand why you rejected this ad. Do you think everything LGBT is pornography?! It is not.

The artist, the publisher and I are prepared to contact Lambda Legal Defense Fund over this unfair and discriminatory rejection. Thanks for reconsidering my ad.

___
Related links:

Here we go again (Counterlight's Peculiars)

News release Feb. 9, 2016: Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography