A poster with a lesbian Virgin Mary was withdrawn in Croatia yesterday after religious and political pressure. It advertised the play “Fine Dead Girls” at the municipal Gavella Theatre in Zagreb.
According to Croatian news reports, the mayor of Zagreb ordered theater director Darko Stazic to remove the poster from all public areas after an unprecedented campaign against it by Catholic and other religious groups. They denounced the poster as blasphemy.
Now the theater director is being criticized for cowardice by some LGBT Croatians advocating freedom of expression.
The controversial poster shows a traditional statue of Mary being embraced from behind by another woman. “Fine Dead Girls” (Fine Mrtve Djevojke) by Dalibor Matanic is about a young lesbian couple who move into a seemingly quiet apartment building in Zagreb. Soon they face hostility from neighbors and family, including a religious fundamentalist father. The theatrical version is based on the award-winning 2002 film of the same title.
As a lesbian Christian, I am upset by the censorship of the lesbian Virgin Mary. The conservatives got rid of the lesbian Virgin Mary posters by demanding their religious rights, but what about my right to see images that affirm me as a lesbian Christian?! I welcome images that show lesbian love as sacred, but they are hard to find.
The Croatian controversy is the most recent of many conflicts over LGBT religious images as freedom of religion clashes with freedom of speech. It is important to support LGBT Christian images because conservatives use religious rhetoric to justify discrimination against queer people.
Similar controversies are covered in my book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More. I report about the more recent controversies on this blog, including a gay Nativity in Columbia, a queer baby Jesus poster in New Zealand, a gay Jesus exhibit in Spain, “Our Lady” by Latina lesbian artist Alma Lopez, and a crucifix symbolizing the pain of gay men with AIDS by David Wojnarowicz at the Smithsonian.
Lesbian Virgin Mary posters withdrawn (Croatian Times)
Fine Dead Girls film (Amazon.com)
David Wojnarowicz : Smithsonian censors gay artist when conservatives attack (Jesus in Love)
Alma Lopez: Our Lady and Queer Saints art attacked as blasphemy (Jesus in Love)
Fernando Bayona Gonzalez: Protests end gay Jesus exhibit in Spain (Jesus in Love)
Conservatives attack our lesbian and gay Nativity scenes today! (Jesus in Love)
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Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts