Sunday, October 31, 2010

Memorial for All Saints, All Souls and Day of the Dead



white candle Pictures, Images and Photos
In memory of: Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Cody J. Barker, Harrison Chase Brown, Caleb Nolt; Billy Lucas, Jeanine Blanchette, Chantal Dube and all other gay and lesbian youths who have committed suicide. Gwen Araujo, Rita Hester, Brandon Teena and all others who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard, Alan Schindler and all others who were murdered in homophobic violence. Jill Johnston, Mary Daly, and all lesbians whodied in 2010. Rock Hudson, Rev. Ron Russell-Coons, Rev. Jim Sandmire, Rev. Howard Wells and all others who died of AIDS. And for all saints and all souls, named and unnamed.

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Compassionate Spirit of God, unite us with the lives and visions of lesbian and gay heroes of our time… Unite us with all the souls living and dead, especially those souls taken by violence and AIDS. Unite us with all who boldly pioneered a way of pride and justice.
--from “Invocation for All Saints Day” by James Lancaster, published in Equal Rites

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In memory of
Frank Kameny
gay rights pioneer
(1925-2011)
Died Oct. 11, 2011

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In memory of
Jamey Rodemeyer
Suicide brought attention to gay bullying
(1997-2011)
Died Sept. 18, 2011


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In memory of
32 victims of New Orleans fire at gay bar
the deadliest LGBT massacre in US history
Died June 24, 1973

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This candle was lit by Kittredge Cherry

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In memory of
Peter Gomes
Harvard minister, gay African American, LGBT rights advocate
Died Feb. 28, 2011

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In memory of
David Kato
Ugandan LGBT rights activist
Murdered Jan. 26, 2011
white candle Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Kittredge Cherry


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In memory of
Rev. Elder Jean White
MCC elder from London
white candle Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Kittredge Cherry


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“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints,
went up before God from the angel’s hand.”
      -- Revelation 8:4

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In memory of
Alex Hivoltze-Jimenez
White Votive Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Xochitl Alvizo

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In memory of
Mary Daly
candle animated avatar Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Xochitl Alvizo.

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In memory of
Bonnie Strom
my mother
white candle Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Scott and Eric Hays-Strom.

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In memory of
Bonnie Marie Whalen
 my cousin… and first confidant in my family
candle animated avatar Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Scott and Eric Hays-Strom.

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In memory of:  All Kelley's Loved Ones. Patti, a very brave Kweer woman. Irving "Herb" Finger 10/20/36 - 1/22/87. Winson "Winn" Strickland 4/12/45 - 1-21-86. All those who have died of environmental illness, multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome, Gulf War syndrome and environmental sensitivities. Julia Kendall, mother of all anti-perfume activism in the US. Monika Quinlan, tireless lay catholic voice for the chemically injured. Cindy Deurhing, longtime CI voice in the high plains. Bill Wilkie, partner in anti-scent "crimes."

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“Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven” by Fra Angelico, 1428-30, Wikimedia Commons

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In memory of
CPT Bruce Hays
thank you Bruce
White Votive Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Scott and Eric Hays-Strom

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In memory of
Ailene
my maid of honor
white candle Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Trudie
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In memory of
Steve
my son
candle animated avatar Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Trudie

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In memory of
Mary Daly
White Votive Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Audrey

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I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the God they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green;
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
-- from “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” by Lesbia Scott, 1929

***
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In memory of: Joe Totten-Reid, Matthew Garrison, Mitch Kincannon, Joe Bevins. Jimmy Schiavone.

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In memory of
Tyler Clementi
White Votive Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Kittredge Cherry

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In memory of Winston
animated candle Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Kittredge Cherry

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‘Tis the ancestor’s breath when the fire’s voice is heard.
‘Tis the ancestor’s breath in the voice of the waters.
Those who have died have never, never left.
The dead are not under the earth
They are in the rustling trees
They are in the groaning woods
They are in the crying grass,
they are in the moaning rocks
The dead are not under the earth.
-- From “Breaths,” sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock, based on a poem by Birago Diop

***
In memory of
Dr. Ken Blair
(1954-11/1/2010) Pioneering AIDS doctor in Austin, Texas
candle animated avatar Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit anonymously

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To acknowledge our ancestors means
we are aware that we did not make 
ourselves,that the line stretches
all the way back, perhaps, to God; or
to Gods. We remember them because it 
is an easy thing to forget: that we
are not the first to suffer, rebel,
fight, love and die. The grace with
which we embrace life, in spite of 
the pain, the sorrow, is always a
measure of what has gone before.
-- from “In These Dissenting Times” by Alice Walker

***
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In memory of: Richard O'Dell. Rev. Jim Dykes. Lannie Dykes. Rev. Bruce Hill. Dean Sandmire. Rev. Rick Weatherly. Rev. Austin Amerine. Rev. Floyd Oler. Michael Mank.

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If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

***
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
--Hebrews 12:1


“Heaven” from “Ecce Homo” by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin


So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ himself as the cornerstone.
--Ephesians 2:19

Paul addressed this to those who had formerly been “aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (2:12). These words were spoken to Christian converts at the time of their baptism.

Along with many other saints throughout history, we have been alienated from the church. The church has viewed us as strangers. We wondered if God’s promise included us. When we doubted, we felt hopeless and abandoned by God.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near” (2:13). We are not aliens, but citizens of God’s commonwealth. We are not strangers, but we are the church. We are not without foundation, for we have the prophets, apostles, saints, and most centrally, Christ Jesus. And we share the common spiritual wealth of scripture.

 “Jesus loves us, this we know, for the Bible tells us so.” We are all saints, and this is our day.

For all of us saints, O God, we give you thanks! Alleluia!
--from “The Word is Out: Daily Reflections on the Bible for Lesbians and Gay Men” by Chris Glaser

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In memory of: Douglas DeCarlo. Thomas Michael DiFrancesco and the patients of C4.

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Anyone’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in humankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
--John Donne, 1624

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If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by…. Do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, 
for we shall meet again . . .
--letter from Sullivan Ballou, 1861

***
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In memory of: Jo and Tony Barreras; Lee and Ted Schuyler; my sister Noelle; our friend Charles Hosley; our former pastor Reid Christensen; and a fellow parishoner, Dick Pugh.

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Up through an empty house of stars,
Being what heart you are,
Up the inhuman steeps of space
As on a staircase go in grace,
Carrying the firelight on your face
Beyond the loneliest star.
   

  -- from “Ballad of the White Horse” by G.K. Chesterton, 1911

***
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle Autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush.
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
-- Anonymous




You may leave a comment to suggest other names.

Related link:
LGBT Saints Series


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(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

How to light a candle here

For a free listing with a group of candles: Send the names of your loved ones to kitt@jesusinlove.org. They will appear with a special group of flickering candles at no charge.

For an individual flickering candle: Click the button below to donate $10 per candle. Tell us the name of your loved one -- and how you want your own name listed.  You may include up to 8 words describing your loved one.
White Votive Pictures, Images and Photos



Thank you! Candles will be posted in our memorial for All Saints, All Souls and Day of the Dead. More info

Light a candle here for All Saints, All Souls and Day of the Dead

Candles like these will start flickering today, Oct. 31
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In memory of
Tyler Clementi
White Votive Pictures, Images and Photos
This candle was lit by Kittredge Cherry

Light a memorial candle for a loved one here for All Saints and All Souls Days, also known as Day of the Dead. Flickering virtual candles are posted here starting today, Oct. 31, 2010.

Religion and society have often dishonored and desecrated queer lives. We are providing a queer-friendly online memorial, open to all.

May all saints and all souls be restored to wholeness and holiness here.

Normally we focus on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer saints here, but on All Saints and All Souls we warmly welcome ALL saints and ALL souls. People of all faiths or no faith are invited.

The flickering candles will be placed with a tasteful mix of traditional and alternative readings and art. Readings come from gay clergy Chris Glaser, African American author Alice Walker, Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, the Bible and many others.  New names and candles and names can be added through Nov. 2.

I lit the first candle above as an example of how the individual candles will look. Your candle will do even more than honor your loved one. Your gift supports the Jesus in Love Blog and Newsletter on LGBT spirituality and the arts.

When the candles are posted, it will be Halloween (Oct. 31) in the USA, but All Saints Day (Nov. 1) will have already begun in other parts of the world.

In Catholic and Protestant Christianity, the Feast of All Saints commemorates all saints, known and unknown. The following day, the Feast of All Souls, pays respect to the faithful departed who have not yet reached heaven. Prayers are offered to ask the saints to help the living, and to offer help to the souls of deceased friends and family.

All Souls Day is celebrated in Latin America as the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). The holiday is especially popular in Mexico, where the happy celebration is one of the biggest events of the year.

All Saints Day used to be called All Hallows Day, and the preceding evening was the Eve of All Hallows, now celebrated as Halloween. These holidays are associated with the Celtic Festival of the Dead (Samhain). They grow out of the pagan belief that the souls of the dead return to visit at this time of year.

All the candles will continue flickering on the 2010 All Saints / All Souls post here as a tribute for the lifetime of this blog.
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The first candle honors Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide after being outed as gay in a live webcast of his sexual encounter with a man. Tyler’s death is the most recent in a string of gay teen suicides linked to anti-gay bullying and harassment.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Artist makes waves with protest art for marriage equality

“The Wave” by Lucinda Naylor in collaboration with 2,000 households

An inclusive sculpture made from anti-gay DVDs was unveiled Friday in Minneapolis.

Artist Lucinda Naylor showed off “The Wave,” which she created out of 2,000 DVDs that were originally sent by the Catholic Church to oppose same-sex marriage.

Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt.sent 400,000 of the DVDs to Minnesota Catholics, urging them to seek a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Naylor responded by asking people to give her their DVDs for recycling into art with an inclusive theme of hope.

Naylor’s project made waves in the church and led authorities to fire her from her job as artist-in-residence at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis.

“The Wave is about the Spirit of inclusion and love, which is sweeping though the Catholic Church as it continues to change, as usual from the people up to the hierarchy,” Naylor says in the artist’s statement that she just posted on her DVD to Art Blog.

Let's ride the Wave to a world where everyone is free to love, including same-sex couples!

Related posts:
Artist turns anti-gay DVD into inclusive art

Inclusive Christmas tree: Anti-gay DVDs become ornaments

More info:
DVD to Art Facebook Group

DVD to Art Blog

Anti-gay DVDs were dyed blue and built into an inclusive “Wave” sculpture

Friday, October 29, 2010

American Academy of Religion hosts LGBT programs at 2010 annual meeting

The American Academy of Religion is meeting from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Best wishes to the many friends of the Jesus in Love Blog who will be attending.

Here is a list of LGBT and queer-related workshops and programs at this year’s AAR annual meeting. Click the titles for more details. These sessions cover an amazing variety of new scholarship, with everything from gay male cyberculture to black queer family values and the eternal question, “Can a male savior save a lesbian?”

Carving Spaces for Lesbian–Feminist Identities in Religion
Presiding* Christine Libby, Indiana University
Presenters
* Catherine Lafuente, Claremont Graduate University
* Eziaku Nwokocha, University of California, Santa Barbara
* Heike Peckruhn, Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver
* Jacob J. Erickson, Drew University
* Marie Cartier, Claremont Graduate University
Responding
* Susan E. Henking, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Exploring Gay Male Desire
Presiding* Donald L. Boisvert, Concordia University
Presenters
* W. Scott Haldeman, Chicago Theological Seminary
*Patrick S. Cheng, Union Theological Seminary, New York
*Catherine Roach, University of Alabama
*Roger A. Sneed, Furman University
Responding
* Paul J. Gorrell, Stockton, NJ

Celebrating and Cerebrating Mary Daly
Presiding* Emily Culpepper, University of Redlands
Panelists
* Mary E. Hunt, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual
* Zayn Kassam, Pomona College
* Xochitl Alvizo, Boston University
* Laura S. Levitt, Temple University
* Judith Plaskow, Manhattan College
* Carol J. Adams, Dallas, TX
* Traci C. West, Drew University

Queering Race, Politics, and Religion: Queer Values, Queer Worldmaking
Presiding* Claudia Schippert, University of Central Florida
Presenters
* Nessette Falu, Rice University
* Thelathia Young, Emory University
* Alicia Juskewycz, Princeton University
* B. Howell Belser, Emory University
Responding
* Janet Jakobsen, Barnard College

Bedazzling Diversity: Mary Daly’s Transformative Influence on Lesbian, Gay, and Feminist Identities
Presiding* Yvonne Zimmerman, Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Panelists
* Tiffany Steinwert, Boston University
* Jennifer Rycenga, San Jose State University
* Dirk von der Horst, Claremont Graduate University
* Sheila Briggs, University of Southern California
* Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Allen Schindler: Gay martyr in the military

The Murder of Allen Schindler by Matthew Wettlaufer

Allen Schindler (1969-1992) brought international attention to anti-gay hate crimes and gays in the military when he died on this date (Oct. 27) in 1992.

Maybe Allen Schindler is resting more peacefully now that the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays and lesbians in the military ended on Sept. 20, 2011.

Today also happens to be Navy Day in the United States. Remembering the service of Allen Schindler is a fitting way to mark the day.

Allen R. Schindler, Jr.
Schindler was a U.S. naval petty officer who was brutally beaten to death because he was gay by two of his shipmates in a public restroom in Sasebo, Japan. Schindler’s murder was cited by President Bill Clinton and others in the debate about gays in the military that culminated in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The crime is portrayed in an epic painting by gay artist Matthew Wettlaufer, who makes connections between anti-gay violence and other human rights struggles in his art.

At first the Navy tried to cover up the circumstances of Schindler’s death. The movie “Any Mother’s Son” tells the true story of how his mother, Dorothy Hadjys-Holman, overcame her own homophobia and Naval cover-up attempts to get justice for her gay son. She also spoke at the 1993 March on Washington for LGBT Rights.

Wettlaufer discusses his painting of Schindler and his other gay-related political art in my previous post “New paintings honor gay martyrs.”

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Related link:

American Veterans for Equal Rights
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This post is part of the GLBT Saints series at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, heroes and holy people of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) 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

Monday, October 25, 2010

It Gets Better: Message to LGBT Youth



“It gets better” is the theme of my new video message to LGBT youth.

I made the video as part of the It Gets Better Project, a new website where LGBT adults can share stories of hope with LGBT youth. Straight allies -- including President Obama -- also make messages of support there.

The project was founded in September by gay author Dan Savage in response to the recent suicides by gay teenagers who were harassed for their sexual orientation. It grew quickly, reaching 1,000 videos, 100,000 supporters and 10 million video views.

In my video I recall how mean boys yelled “lezzie” at me in school when I was growing up in Iowa. But even worse than the bullying was the loneliness. But life got better. I grew up and I’m still together with the wonderful woman who was my college sweetheart. We came out as lesbians to our families and on the job, and the world didn’t end. In fact, it got better! For me it also got better because I realized that there is a God, and God loves me just as I am. I became an openly lesbian minister and author.

Many GLBT youths can’t picture what their lives might be like as openly queer adults. The “It Gets Better” videos allow them to see with their own eyes that they can have a future with love and happiness.

I also signed the “It Gets Better” pledge: “Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that ‘It Gets Better.’”

To take the pledge, see more videos or submit your own video, visit:
http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com/

See my video, click the image above or click here.

If you do make a video for the It Gets Better Project, please let me know and I will post it here too.

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Kittredge Cherry ends on a positive note in her “It Gets Better” video message

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Fight fundamentalists - with your love”

(Photo by Peter Carni)

“I call you to fight the fundamentalists -- with your love,” said lesbian activist professor Sally Gearhart in a powerful 1990 sermon in San Francisco. Her words still ring true today as they did 20 years ago.

The same conflict between the Christian right and the LGBT community continues to rage two decades later. Only a few of the names have changed.

I was clapping along with the rest of the crowd when Gearhart preached the sermon on Aug. 19, 1990 at Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. We kept bursting into applause as she talked about how to counteract the Christian right while rethinking our own beliefs.

I never forgot her sermon, so I decided to listen to it again recently while duplicating tapes of worship services. I was amazed by how contemporary it seemed. She could have preached it yesterday! I wrote the following summary of Gearhart’s sermon so that we can keep on learning from her wisdom.

Gearhart taught speech and women’s studies at San Francisco State University, where she was the world’s first open lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position (in 1973). Her books include the lesbian utopian novel “The Wanderground” and “Loving Women/Loving Men: Gay Liberation and the Church.” She lives in California.
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Gearhart opened her sermon with a friendly question to the congregation of MCC, which affirms the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as people of God. “Who else could better confront the people who CALL themselves Christians than a church that I think understands Christianity far better than they do?” Gearhart asked.

She described her recent visit to a conference sponsored by the Traditional Values Coalition, a Christian right group founded by Lou Sheldon.  The theme of the conference was “eradicating homosexuality.” This evoked lots of laughter -- she called the congregation “rowdy.”

Gearhart was surprised to some shared concerns with the right-wing activists. They discussed common issues such as, “What do you do when you’re getting ready for a demonstration?” It turns out there were other proudly gay and lesbian people there to check it out, too.

Then she posed the question: Why should we concern ourselves with the Traditional Values Coalition? When we do, “we’re right at the heart of the storm… at the fire’s center” “They’ve got us on their hit list. We are second only to abortion.”

She pointed out that conservative Christians are effective and control a lot of media. She said that televangelism scares her, especially the hypocrisy of preachers involved in sex scandals such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.

“The mindset underlying fundamentalism is the thing that’s doing most of the damage to the world. Christian ideology is supplying a lot of the rationale for the destruction of the earth and for the oppression of women and for the oppression of people of color, etc. etc. etc.,” Gearhart declared.

In her view, the root of capitalism is greed. It comes from the feeling of not having enough, not feeling loved. She described how the oppression of women leads to overpopulation and more unloved people. Lack of love also manifests as theology that condemns sex is sin, dating back to St. Augustine in the 4th century..

“St. Augustine hated his penis,” Gearhart joked, provoking HUGE laughter and squeals!

The contrasted “God the Father” as an outside authority versus God inside each individual. She critiqued the exclusivity of the fundamentalist approach. “‘No one comes to the Father but by me’ leads to nothing short of judging other people,” she said.

Gearhart advocated pluralism. “The more ways we see to salvation… the better off we actually are,” she said.

She admitted that she used to espouse a kind of lesbian fundamentalism. She recalled telling her classes that all women are lesbians and all women are superior. “Now I’m a lot less certain, but a lot more secure,” she confessed.

She urged the crowd to rethink the concept of salvation, asking, “What is it that we need to be saved from?”

Gearhart identified the root of the problem as the concept of original sin. “We’ve got to stop believing that we’re bad…. Original sin is the source of a lot of self-hatred,” she said.

She got HUGE applause when she stated, “The only bad we have in the world is the bad of serving someone else at the expense of ourselves.”

Finally Gearhart issued a call to action: “I call you to fight the fundamentalists -- with your love.”

She recommended the following tactics:

  • Education (not persuasion because “persuasion is violence”)
  • Living our lives as an example
  • Telling our own stories
  • Listening. She emphasized the importance of listening by quoting feminist theologian Nelle Morton’s vision of God as “a great ear at the heart of the universe.”

Gearhart concluded by listing the particular strengths of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. (“Transgender” was not yet part of the common vocabulary in 1990 when she gave this sermon.)

1. We have a special capacity to perceive, understand and affirm variety and difference.

2. We have some growing understanding of death and dying. (This evoked BIG “amens” from the crowd, which included many people with AIDS at a time when there was no effective treatment and a lot of people were dying.)

3. We know something as a community about feminism, which Gearhart called “the transformative philosophy of our time.”

4. We know something about love.

___

Immediately after Gearhart’s sermon, the MCC-SF choir sang the anti-apartheid anthem “Something Inside So Strong” by Labi Siffre. Their voices rose with such power that the whole church seemed to shake. The soloist was the wonderful Scott Galuteria, who later died of AIDS. The audience clapped in time with the music. The energy level built to a feverish pitch, especially during these lines:

When they insist that we’re not good enough,
What am I gonna do?
Look ‘em in the eye and say,
I’m gonna do it anyway!

Scott got the congregation to sing that line over and over, louder and louder:


I’m gonna do it anyway!
Sing!
I’m gonna do it anyway!
Sing!
I’’M GONNA DO IT ANYWAY!

___
Here’s a video of the song performed by its composer, Labi Siffre. His version sounds mild compared to the boisterous way that MCC-SF belted it out on the night that Sally Gearhart shook our souls.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Matthew Shepard: Modern gay martyr

“The Passion of Matthew Shepard” by William Hart McNichols ©
www.fatherbill.org

Matthew Shepard (1976-1998) brought international attention to anti-gay hate crimes when he died on Oct. 12, 1998.

Shepard was a 21-year-old gay student at the University of Wyoming at the time of his death. He was brutally attacked near Laramie, Wyoming, on Oct. 6-7, 1998 by two men who later claimed that they were driven temporarily insane by “gay panic” due to Shepard’s alleged sexual advances.

Shepard was beaten and left to die. The officer who found him said that he was covered with blood -- except for the white streaks left by his tears. Father William Hart McNichols created a striking icon based on his report. McNichols dedicated his icon The Passion of Matthew Shepard to the 1,470 gay and lesbian youth of commit suicide in the U.S. each year, and to the countless others who are injured or murdered.

Now the Matthew Shepard Foundation seeks to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. U.S. President Obama signed "The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" into law on Oct. 28, 2009. It broadens the federal hate-crimes law to cover violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


The grim scene of Matthew’s death is vividly portrayed in “The Murder of Matthew Shepard,” above, by gay artist-philosopher Matthew Wettlaufer. He lived in El Salvador and South Africa before returning recently to California. For an interview with Wettlaufer and more of his art, see our previous post “New paintings honor gay martyrs.”

At left is a lyrical painting dedicated to Matthew Shepard: “The Last of Laramie” by gay artist Stephen Mead.of New York. It appears in his book “Our Book of Common Faith.” For more about Mead and his art, see our previous post “Gay Artist Links Body and Spirit.”

Matthew’s story has also been dramatized in films such as “The Laramie Project” and the newly released “The Matthew Shepard Story” with Sam Waterson and Stockard Channing as the grieving parents.

McNichols is a New Mexico artist and Catholic priest who has been rebuked by church leaders for making icons of saints not approved by the church, including this one of Matthew Shepard. McNichols’ own moving spiritual journey and two of his icons are included in the book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More by Kittredge Cherry. His Matthew Shepard icon appears in his book “Christ All Merciful,” which he co-authored with Megan McKenna.

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Credits:
“The Murder of Matthew Shepard” by Matthew Wettlaufer
Oil on canvas, 2006. 1-1/2 meters x 1 meter.

“The Last of Laramie” by Stephen Mead
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This post is part of the GLBT Saints series at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, heroes and holy people of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.

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