Friday, October 24, 2014

Victory! Facebook approves gay Passion of Christ ad


Victory! Facebook backed down today and approved the ad for our gay Passion of Christ book. Thanks to good friends, the gay media, and God!

Artist Doug Blanchard was able to get the ad running again today. The book “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” features Doug’s paintings of Jesus as a contemporary gay man in a modern city.

I consider this a win for the power of the people and the press. As Doug said, “We have the best friends in the universe!” We are especially grateful to Tris Reid-Smith of Gay Star News.

"Gay Star News contacted the social networking site for comment, they have reversed their decision and ruled it didn’t breach their guidelines after all. … Facebook told Gay Star News the ad was blocked but they have now reviewed it and decided it doesn’t breach their terms and shouldn’t have been removed" Reid-Smith reported today in the article “Facebook u-turns to allow gay Jesus crucifixion ad.”

Facebook shut down ads promoting the book’s Facebook page on Monday because the image “may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.” They banned image was “Jesus Goes to His Execution,” which shows the gay Jesus carrying his cross.

In a strange and holy twist, the controversy brought the book even more attention than it would have gotten from the ads. Doug and I are deeply grateful to the many friends old and new who “liked” the Passion book page and invited their friends.

The page currently has 403 “likes,” and about half of them came AFTER the ads were shut down.

It reminds me of Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Facebook didn’t know what it was up against!

You can still show support by "liking" the page that Facebook didn’t want us to advertise: www.facebook.com/GayPassion.

Censorship of social media, especially social media advertising, is a grey area / new frontier with very few laws and legal precedents to govern it. It's the like the Wild West, and we won this round. I found a valuable article about it this week during the battle with Facebook: "The Brave New World of Social Media Censorship" (Harvard Law Review)
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Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

News release: Facebook censors gay Passion of Christ ad


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Facebook censors gay Passion of Christ ad

NEW YORK, NY — Oct. 23, 2014 — Facebook canceled ads purchased for the new book “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” this week because the images “may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.”

The book features art by Doug Blanchard showing Jesus as a gay man in a modern city, including the crucifixion and resurrection.

“We are fighting what appears to be censorship and discrimination based on sexual orientation at Facebook,” said author Kittredge Cherry.

Blanchard suspects that complaints from religious conservatives scared Facebook into canceling the ads. He bought the ads to promote the book’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GayPassion

“The book is indeed controversial, but its intentions are not blasphemous, there is no sexual content, and the violence is unavoidable in any retelling of Christ's Passion,” he said.

The artist, author and publisher contacted Lambda Legal over the matter.

The ads were supposed to run for a week starting on Oct. 17, but Facebook shut down the promotion on Monday, Oct. 20. A message from Facebook explained, “Your ad wasn’t approved because the image or video thumbnail may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.”

Blanchard complained to Facebook, and they sent a surprising reply on Wed., Oct 22: “Your ad was rejected because the image violates the Ad Guidelines. Ads may not use images that are shocking. Prohibited images include: -Accidents -Car crashes -Dead or dismembered bodies -Ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires.”

One purpose of the book is to reawaken people to the reality that violence is unacceptable and shocking. But the artist and author believe that Facebook is being unfair in how it applies its policy.

“Facebook publishes crucifixes all the time, which would always violate the criteria that they lay out in their reply,” Blanchard said. “Why was our book singled out? I suspect strongly that it is because of the gay content.”

Cherry invited people to show support by "liking" the page that Facebook won't let them advertise: www.facebook.com/GayPassion.

In the book’s 24 paintings, a contemporary Christ figure is jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes, and rises again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God. His diverse friends join him on a journey from suffering to freedom. Each image is accompanied by an essay on its artistic and historical context, Biblical basis and LGBT significance.

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 this month by the Apocryphile Press, a publisher based in Berkeley.

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Related links:
Facebook u-turns to allow gay Jesus crucifixion ad (Gay Star News)

"Facebook bans art book advert" by Madpriest - with funny cartoon (SaintLaika.com)

Victory! Facebook approves gay Passion of Christ ad (Jesus in Love Blog)


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Facebook censors gay Passion of Christ ad


Facebook canceled ads purchased for our book “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” this week because it was too “shocking.”

The book features art by Doug Blanchard showing Jesus as a gay man in a modern city, including the crucifixion and resurrection. We contacted Lambda Legal and the National Coalition Against Censorship for advice on how to handle the Facebook censorship.

People can show support by "liking" the Passion of Christ page on Facebook on Facebook and buying the Passion of Christ book at Amazon.com or other bookstores.

Doug and I assumed that Facebook was upset about the gay aspect, but today Facebook sent a surprising explanation: They rejected the ad because it shows “Dead or dismembered bodies -Ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires.”

Are they seriously upset at the shocking nature of the image of a crucified Jesus?! They see the risen Christ as a zombie?! One point of the book was to reawaken people to the reality that violence is unacceptable and shocking. But this is unfair.

Facebook features plenty of other images of Jesus on the cross, including ones that are more gruesome than anything in the book. And Facebook has many images of ghosts and zombies for Halloween, “The Walking Dead” TV show, etc. We still suspect that our book was singled out due to its gay content.

If Facebook wants to stop all image of the crucifix, we might even have fundamentalist Christians on our side with this!

We also wonder whether these explanations were automatically issued by a computer -- based on complaints from right-wing Christians. It feels like what one supporter called the “Robotic Inquisition” -- automated messages generated by algorithms without any human staff member taking a look at the images.

The following is a detailed chronology of the whole crazy chain of events.

Fri., Oct. 17: Doug Blanchard bought a series of ads to promote the Facebook page about our new book, “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.” They were supposed to run for a week.

Mon, Oct. 20: Facebook canceled the ads. They posted a message saying, "Your page wasn't promoted because your ad violated an ad guideline" with a link that said, "Learn More." Doug clicked on the link and didn't learn much. It said:

"Your ad wasn't approved because the image or video thumbnail may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers. However sometimes we make mistakes. If the image you used was not intended to shock but was still disapproved, get in touch." 

Doug began sending messages to Facebook while I contacted Lambda Legal and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Wed., Oct. 22: Facebook finally responded with this message:


Hi Doug,
Thanks for writing in. I'm here to help.

Your ad was rejected because the image violates the Ad Guidelines. Ads may not use images that are shocking.
Prohibited images include: -Accidents -Car crashes -Dead or dismembered bodies -Ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires


To resubmit your ad, edit the image from your ads manager.

Review our policies on ad images here: https://www.facebook.com/help/250509391644213/?ref=cr

Thanks,

Michelle Facebook Ads Team Facebook

Doug sent this reply today:

Dear Michelle,

Here is a link to the website for the book we are trying to promote and to all of the images in the book:

http://www.passionofchristbook.com/paintings.html

The book is indeed controversial, but its intentions are not blasphemous, there is no sexual content, and the violence is unavoidable in any retelling of Christ's Passion. Facebook publishes Crucifixes all the time, which would always violate the criteria which you lay out in you reply. If promoting a book of art means that we are limited to strictly happy uncontroversial subject matter, then only Thomas Kinkade and the work of a select few children's book illustrators would pass muster. Picasso and Michelangelo would both be out of bounds by your own definition.

Facebook publishes the most bloodthirsty homophobic rants all the time, but lately seems to have a lot of problems with anything with gay, and especially gay positive, content. Is this a problem for Mr. Zuckerberg?

I suspect that Facebook is trying to impose a kind of candied anodyne vision upon the chaotic variety and vitality of human communication that uses its social network. Where better to directly enforce that vision than in advertising policies?

The author, the publisher, myself, and a few friends are in conversation with Lambda Legal over this matter.

I notice that the Facebook page for the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of Christ -- a much more violent version of this subject than anything in our book -- has more than 3 million likes. Can you explain this to us, and why our book was singled out? I suspect strongly that it is because of the gay content.

--Doug Blanchard, the artist of the book.

Visit the page that Facebook won't let us pay to advertise -- and show support by clicking "like" and inviting your friends.

Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision

Promote Your Page Too


Here's a link to one of many lively discussions about the Passion ad censorship on Facebook today.  Feel free to join in:



___
Related links:
The Brave New World of Social Media Censorship” (Harvard Law Review)

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



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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gay Passion of Christ book available now


Jesus challenges viewers by arriving as a young gay man of today in a modern city with “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a new book by Kittredge Cherry (author) and Douglas Blanchard (artist).

The book was released today and is available for purchase. Readers can buy the book now at Amazon.com and other bookstores.

In 24 stunning new paintings, the contemporary Christ figure is jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes, and rises again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God. His surprisingly diverse friends join him on a journey from suffering to freedom. He lives out a 21st-century version of Jesus’ last days, including the crucifixion and resurrection. Readers call it “accessible but profound.”

“These dramatic paintings break the deadly illusion that Jesus belongs exclusively to a particular time or group,” says author Kittredge Cherry, a minister and art historian. “A queer Passion is crucial now even for non-believers because Christianity is being used to justify discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The book speaks not only to the LGBT community, but to everyone who is passionate about building a more just world.”


The illustrated book brings together a gifted gay artist and an established lesbian author who specializes in LGBT Christian art. They take the most important narrative in Western culture and rescue it from fundamentalists and also from over-familiarity. Both are at the forefront of a trend towards envisioning Christ as queer.

Each image is accompanied by an insightful essay on its meaning, artistic and historical context, Biblical basis and LGBT significance, plus a short meditation with a scripture and one-line prayer. The Passion is placed in a larger context in introduction by the artist and an afterword by Toby Johnson, comparative religion scholar and author of “Gay Spirituality.” The book itself is a work of art with lavish full-color reproductions and an elegant design.

“Christ is one of us in my pictures,” says Blanchard. “In His sufferings, I want to show Him as someone who experiences and understands fully what it is like to be an unwelcome outsider.” Blanchard, an art professor and self-proclaimed “very agnostic believer,” used the series to grapple with his own faith struggles as a New Yorker who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The gay Passion book is “transformative in the most profound sense of the word,” says Michael Bronski, Harvard professor and author of “A Queer History of the United States.” “Whether you are religious or not, it is impossible to read ‘The Passion of Christ’ without having your basic beliefs shaken and expanded.”

LGBT religious leaders also praise the book. “I was deeply moved by this retelling of the Easter story,” says Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches. Soulforce founder Rev. Mel White calls it “an amazing read,” Rev. Patrick Cheng welcomes it as “a beautiful work of contextual theology,” and Rev. Chris Glaser describes it as “a great contribution.” Mary Hunt of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual declares, “The divine leaps from these pages into open hearts.”

Lambda Literary Award finalist Kittredge Cherry is an art historian who founded JesusInLove.org, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its National Ecumenical Officer, advocating for LGBT rights at the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. She holds degrees in religion, art history, and journalism. Cherry’s other books include “Art That Dares,” “Equal Rites,” “Jesus in Love,” “Hide and Speak,” and “Womansword.” The New York Times Book Review praised her “very graceful, erudite” writing style. She lives in Los Angeles.

Artist Douglas Blanchard teaches art and art history at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. He paints in a realistic figurative style to explore gay experience, religion, mythology, history, and current events. Born and raised in Dallas, Blanchard earned degrees in art and art history from the Kansas City Art Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and the New York Academy of Art. His Passion series was exhibited at New York’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in 2004 and JHS Gallery in Taos, New Mexico in 2007. Advocate.com called his Passion paintings “an emotional reminder of the courage it takes to resist the powers that be.”

The book functions both as a meditation aid for believers and as an informative analysis for secular readers interested in religion, art, history, and LGBT studies. “The purpose of reflecting on the Passion is not necessarily to worship Christ, but to remember the ongoing cycle of human violence, and to seek a way to move from suffering to freedom,” Cherry says “To Christians, the Passion is the ultimate affirmation that God stands in solidarity with humankind.”

“The Passion of Christ” (ISBN 194067140X) is published by the Apocryphile Press, a publisher and purveyor of fine books on religion, spirituality, philosophy and poetry since 2004. Based in Berkeley, Apocryphile has more than 100 titles in print by historical and contemporary authors.

###

The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision
By Kittredge Cherry (author) and Douglas Blanchard (artist)
Publisher: Apocryphile Press
Paperback with color images: 150 pages
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches
Price: $38.95
ISBN: 194067140X
Publication date: Fall 2014

* Book website: passionofchristbook.com
* Author website: jesusinlove.org
* Artist website: douglas-blanchard.fineartamerica.com
* Publisher website: apocryphile.org
* On sale now at at Amazon.com



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Monday, October 13, 2014

Two-spirit Native Americans bridge genders on Columbus Day

“Dance to the Berdache” by George Catlin (Wikipedia)

Two-spirit Native Americans are remembered here today for Columbus Day. European explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492, initiating cross-cultural contact that had a devastating effect on the indigenous population, especially two-spirit people.

Almost all Native American tribes traditionally recognized third and sometimes even fourth genders for people who mixed male and female characteristics. “Two spirit” is one of the many and varied Native American terms for alternative genders because one body housed both feminine and masculine spirits. Sometimes they played a spiritual role mediating between the realms of body and spirit, male and female. From a Western cultural viewpoint, the two-spirited people have been seen as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or queer.

George Catlin, famous artist who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West, sketched the “Dance to the Berdache” in the 19th century while on the Great Plains with the Sac and Fox Nation. He depicted a ceremonial dance to celebrate the Berdache, a European term for two-spirit people. But Catlin refused to give two-spirit people a place in his paintings of “traditional” Indian life.

Executions for homosexuality were common in Europe for centuries, and Europeans soon imported homophobic violence to the Americas. For example, the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa found homosexuality among the Native American chiefs in 1594 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.”

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

Despite the violence, some two-spirit individuals are still remembered in history and contemporary art. They include We’wha of Zuni, the Woman Chief known as Pine Leaf. Their portraits and stories are posted for Columbus Day on the Jesus in Love Blog.

“We’wha of Zuni” by Br. Robert Lentz OFM, TrinityStores.com

We’wha of Zuni

We’wha was a two-spirit Native American Zuni who served as a cultural ambassador for her people, including a visit with a U.S. president in 1886. We’wha (pronounced WAY-wah) was the most famous “lhamana,” the Zuni term for a male-bodied person who lived in part as a woman. Lhamanas chose to specialize in crafts instead of becoming warriors or hunters.

We’wha (1849-1896) was a skilled weaver and potter who helped Anglo-American scholars studying Zuni society. In 1886 We’wha traveled from her home in New Mexico to Washington DC, where she met president Grover Cleveland. She was welcomed as a celebrity during her six months in Washington. Everyone assumed that the 6-foot-tall “Indian princess” was female.

The spiritual side of We’wha is emphasized in the above icon by Brother Robert Lentz, is a Franciscan friar known for his innovative and LGBT-positive icons. She is dressed for a religious ceremony as she prepares to put on the sacred mask of the man-woman spirit Kolhamana.

“We’wha” by Jim Ru

Jim Ru painted We’Wha with a dramatic blue background in the icon below. It was included in his show “Transcendent Faith: Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Saints” in Bisbee Arizona in the 1990s.

We’wha is the subject of the book “The Zuni Man-Woman” by gay anthropologist Will Roscoe. He also wrote “Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America” and “Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love.” Roscoe’s website willsworld.org offers resources in the Native American two-spirit tradition, third genders in the ancient world, and studies in early Christianity.

“Biawacheeitche or Woman Chief aka Barcheeampe or Pine Leaf” by Ria Brodell

Pine Leaf or Woman Chief

“Woman Chief” is one of the names for the two-spirit tomboy born around 1800 to the Gros Ventre tribe. She was captured by the Crow nation when she was 10 and was so adept at hunting and warfare that she rose to become their chief.

Historical accounts say that she wore women’s clothes but had “all the style of a man and chief,” with “her guns, bows, lances, war horses, and even two or three young women as wives.”

“Pine Leaf, Indian Heroine” from “The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth,” 1856 (Wikipedia)

She was killed in 1854 by the Gros Ventre, but her story lived on in the popular memoirs of a freed slave and fur trader named James Beckwourth. He called her Pine Leaf because he refused his multiple marriage proposals by saying she would wed him “when the pine leaves turn yellow.” Later he figured out that pine leaves never turn yellow.

She is portrayed in the “Butch Heroes” series by genderqueer Boston artist Ria Brodell. For more on Brodell’s work, see my article “Artist paints history’s butch heroes.”
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Related links:

Two-Spirit (Qualia Encyclopedia of Gay Folklife)

Kent Monkman (Canadian artist of Cree ancestry whose work has strong queer or gay male imagery dealing with sexuality and Christianity)

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This post is part of the GLBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, heroes, holy people, 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.

Icons of We’wha and many others are available on cards, plaques, T-shirts, mugs, candles, mugs, and more at Trinity Stores





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