Saints appear as same-sex couples in brochure for “Passionate Holiness” exhibit
“Passionate Holiness: 22 Marginalized Christian Icons of Distinctive People” runs June 18 to July 16 at La Llorona Art Gallery, 1474 W. Webster, Chicago, IL.
Many of the icons have appeared in the GLBT saints series here at the Jesus in Love Blog. The show offers a rare opportunity to see the original paintings by artists Robert Lentz, Lewis Williams, William Hart McNichols, and David Lee Csicsko.
The images depict Christian saints and religious figures who loved someone of the same gender. A few, such as Joan of Arc, are well known, but their LGBT connection has been buried. Most are influential but overlooked people whose full religious importance is restored through these icons. Some even dare to picture same-sex couples together, including Saint Brigid and Darlughdach of Kildare, Saints Sergius and Bacchus, and Saints Perpetua and Felicity.
“The paintings are meant to remind everyone that regardless of sexual orientation, or any number of personal characteristics, everyone has his or her own place in the history of Christianity,” says the official announcement at the gallery website. The show is timed to coincide with LGBT Pride Month.
Not all church leaders have welcomed the icons and their message of acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Critics accused Lentz of glorifying sin and creating propaganda for a progressive sociopolitical agenda with some of these icons. They caused such a stink that Lentz temporarily renounced the copyright for 10 controversial images, including several in the new Chicago exhibit. Later he reclaimed authorship and all 10 are now displayed by Trinity Stores as a collection titled “Images That Challenge.”
The Chicago show’s 22 icons come from the collection of the Living Circle, a Chicago-based interfaith spirituality center for LGBT people and our friends. It was founded by Father Dennis O’Neill, author of “Passionate Holiness: Marginalized Christian Devotions for Distinctive People.” The book includes many of the icons and is also packed with historical detail about the lives of these queer saints.
I highly recommend this exhibit.. Please go to support this valuable project and to enrich your spirit. The “Passionate Holiness” exhibit begins with a wine reception starting at 6:30 p.m. Fri., June 18. I can’t be there in person, but I will be there in spirit!