Friday, March 30, 2012

Gay Passion of Christ series starts Sunday

“The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by Douglas Blanchard, at JHS Gallery in Taos, NM (Photo by Dorie Hagler)

A gay vision of Christ’s Passion starts on this Sunday here at the Jesus in Love Blog. New posts will run daily through Easter.

The series includes all 24 paintings in Douglas Blanchard’s epic masterpiece “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” with new commentary by Kittredge Cherry and a short Bible passage. The paintings present Jesus as a contemporary gay man in a modern city as he lives out the dramatic events of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and his arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection.

Click the titles below to view individual paintings and text in the series. Links will be added as the series is posted.

1. Son of Man (Human One) with Job and Isaiah
2. Jesus Enters the City
3. Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers
4. Jesus Preaches in the Temple
5. The Last Supper
6. Jesus Prays Alone
7. Jesus Is Arrested
8. Jesus Before the Priests
9. Jesus Before the Magistrate
10. Jesus Before the People
11. Jesus Before the Soldiers
12. Jesus Is Beaten
13. Jesus Goes to His Execution
14. Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
15. Jesus Dies
16. Jesus Is Buried
17. Jesus Among the Dead
18. Jesus Rises
19. Jesus Appears to Mary
20. Jesus Appears at Emmaus
21. Jesus Appears to His Friends
22. Jesus Returns to God
23. The Holy Spirit Arrives
24. The Trinity

The posts are timed so that Christ dies on Good Friday and rises again on Easter itself.

Your comments on the gay Passion series are strongly encouraged, especially if something touches you deeply or raises an unanswered question. Comments from readers here will help me revise my text for publication in book form. I want to address the issues that are most important to readers.

Blanchard’s images show Jesus being jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes and rising again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God and friends. He faces forms of rejection that feel familiar to contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. He stands up to priests, businessmen, lawyers, and soldiers—all of whom look eerily similar to the people holding those jobs today. His surprisingly diverse friends join him on a journey from suffering to freedom.

New book
"The Passion of Christ:
A Gay Vision
Update: “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” with Blanchard's paintings and Cherry's text will be published in 2014 by Apocryphile Press. Click here to get updates on the gay Passion book.

“We are posting the gay Passion series to make Christ more accessible to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and our allies,” said Cherry, founder of The website promotes artistic and religious freedom by supporting LGBT spirituality and the arts. “Christ’s story is for everyone, but queer people often feel left out because conservatives use Christian rhetoric to justify hate and discrimination,” she said.

Blanchard, an active Episcopalian who teaches college art history, spent four years painting the gay Passion. He started in summer 2001, but it took on new meaning on Sept. 11 when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center near his studio on New York’s Lower East Side. “I understand that a lot of people rediscovered religious faith after September 11th. I had the opposite reaction,” he said. “I was horrified by the religious motivation of those attacks.” He used the paintings to address this conflict, concluding that Christ’s resurrection reverses the “grim arithmetic of power.”

The gay Jesus himself appears surprisingly accessible in Blanchard’s art. “I didn’t want him to seem in any way remote and unapproachably sacred,” he explained. Each of the Passion pictures is oil on wood panel, 18 inches by 14 inches.

Prints and cards
of Blanchard's Passion
are available
Reproductions of the Passion paintings are available as greeting cards and prints in a variety of sizes and formats online at Fine Art America.

Selections from Blanchard’s Passion appear in “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More” by Kittredge Cherry. “Art That Dares,” a Lambda Literary Award finalist, is filled with color images by 11 contemporary artists from the U.S. and Europe.

Cherry is the author of six books, including “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More,” a Lambda Literary Award finalist. “Art That Dares” is filled with color images by 11 contemporary artists from the U.S. and Europe, including selections from Blanchard’s gay Passion series.

The New York Times Book Review praised Cherry’s “very graceful, erudite” writing style. Her other books include “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations” and “Jesus in Love: A Novel.” Her books have been translated into German, Polish, Chinese and Japanese. Cherry was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer.

Cherry founded in 2005 to support LGBT spirituality and the arts and show God’s love for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. With a focus on gay Jesus and queer saints, Jesus in Love grew quickly into an online community with a popular blog, videos, e-newsletter and image archive.

Click here for the 2011 Gay Passion series (Blanchard's art with different text)
Related links for “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision”:


*Email list

*Blog series

*Prints and greeting cards

For more Holy Week reflections on the queer Christ, read excerpts from "Jesus in Love: At the Cross" by Kittredge Cherry"

Also of interest:
Made In God's Image: Stations of the Cross for Inclusive and Affirming Communities by Rev. Janine C. Stock

This post is part of the Queer Christ series series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others.


Trudie said...

The series last year was extraordinarily inspiring, and I am looking forward to the updated and expanded commentary this year. Also, I will be delighted when the book is published! Go, Kitt and David!

Trudie said...

I don't know how I got "David" from Doug! Talk about a "Senior Moment."

Well, anyway, you know what I mean!

Matt Leary Dover, PA said...

This is absolutely beautiful in so many ways. I was always fascinated by the procession of the Passion on walls when I attended Catholic or Methodist churches as a young boy. To me it illustrated that Jesus' life was a human story, not a bunch of lofty, empty dogma to be used for discrimination and abuse of power. I just wish I had experienced this kind of queer-positive Christianity when I was a teen struggling with both my sexuality and my religion as a whole. I am glad it is in place to influence this generation of those who are confused by the juxtaposition of Christ's message of fully-aware love with the ignorant, fearful words and actions of his 'followers'. The art & essays should definetely be made into a book and widely publicized.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Trudie and Matt, thank you for taking time to tell us how much the Gay Passion of Christ series means to you. Actions speak louder than words, and I agree that the story of Christ’s Passion really does express his message of unlimited love in a way that dogma never can.

I’m glad you mentioned that the book based on this Gay Passion series should be widely publicized. These days the publicity is much harder to get than publication. I hope to find the right publisher for this project soon.

roguebull64 said...

This scares me a little, as the unknown or perspectives not thought about often do. As a blessed baptized and confirmed Episcopilian of four years ( and a proud and out gay man ) I felt part of the ministry I was called to was to reach out to my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters that seemed to make sex and their sexuality the core of their existence and leave their faith in the dust, often to the detriment of their physical and spiritual health.
I know in my heart that sex and sexuality is a blessing from God. What I can't get my mind around is the concept of getting "turned on" ( homoerotic ) to accept the holiness and grace of The Trinity or Christ's Passion.
I also fear the backlash and damage this could cause in our struggle for inclusion.
However, I know the quickest way to overcome fear is to face it. I will do so by reading the authors works and praying to have God provide me an understanding and open heart and mind.
The artwork is gorgeous and it is truly a brave vision!

Kittredge Cherry said...

Rogue Bull, at first I thought you were commenting about my newest article about “Intimacy with Christ” paintings that really do push the boundaries of eroticism.

But you are wondering about the Passion of Christ paintings. Really only one of them is homoerotic -- “Jesus Returns to God” which shows a kiss between the risen Christ and God. This is in keeping with understandings of the soul’s union with God being like a marriage.

You’re not the first LGBT person to tell me that the material posted here may alienate straight people and cause a setback in the struggle for equality. I see my role as providing materials for the spiritual growth of LGBT people and our allies. When I represented MCC at the World and National Councils of Churches, I was on the front lines of winning over heterosexual Christians… but my calling has changed. I applaud others who fight those battles while I minister to needs of LGBT people and allies. Yes, some of what appears on Jesus in Love can be taken out of context and used against us. This has already happened. But the forces of hate and ignorance will always find an excuse. I cannot let fear stop me from singing God’s song.