Cross Currents Fall 1972 cover with photo by Damon de Winters
A church magazine with a nude cover photo of a gay Christ figure with his friend was banned in 1972, but you can see it now at the Jesus in Love Blog. Almost 40 years later the photo is still risqué -- and beautiful.
The photo by Damon de Winters appeared on the cover of the fall 1972 issue of “Cross Currents,” the quarterly magazine of Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. The models, Todd and David Eric Charon, were positioned to discreetly hide any frontal nudity.
The photo seems to portray a gay Jesus with his Beloved Disciple. The bearded Christ figure offers a loving touch and a chalice of wine to his kneeling friend. Behind them stands a cross built from natural logs. The image echoes the Last Supper, when Jesus says, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:27-28).
The MCC-SF board of directors banned the magazine for release because they felt that the cover was “inappropriate for a church publication,” recalls Lynn Jordan, who served as editor-in-chief of Cross Currents. Jordan recently celebrated 40 years of membership at MCC-SF.
“Senior pastor Reverend Jim Sandmire received a lot of criticism over this issue of the magazine,” Jordan says.
In response to the uproar, Rev. Sandmire wrote an open letter dated Nov. 15, 1972. “While I do not think the cover or other pictures of nudes are in any way obscene, I believe the nudity does not enhance the religious message intended, and may detract from it,” Rev. Sandmire wrote at the time..
A headline on the cover also brings up another subject that remains surprisingly contemporary: “Gay marriage.”
Thank you, Lynn Jordan, for providing this Cross Currents cover image so it can finally reach its audience. It is historically, spiritually and artistically significant.
P.S. I received this update today from Lynn Jordan: “I spoke with founding member Frank Howell (now 72) who said he thought the photo tried to convey that we bring with us both our sexuality and spirituality when we receive communion.”