Friday, December 26, 2014

Queer Kwanzaa: Queer black Jesus icon presented for African American holiday

“Neither” by David Hayward

A rare icon of a queer black Jesus is presented here for Kwanzaa, a weeklong celebration of African American culture starting Dec. 26. Many families and congregations have adopted Kwanzaa into their spiritual life.

It’s almost impossible to find a Christ figure that expresses both LGBTQ identity AND non-white racial / ethnic identity. “Neither” by David Hayward is one of these uncommon treasures.

“Neither” shows a dark-skinned Jesus who is male on one side and female on the other in the style of the Hindu deity Ardhanarishvara. He/she has a rainbow halo and holds a transgender symbol.

The title “Neither” comes from the Bible: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). Thus it embodies Kwanzaa principles of unity and faith.

People celebrate Kwanzaa by giving gifts, lighting a set of seven candles in the African colors of red, green, and black, and sharing an African feast on New Year’s Eve. Each of the seven days honors a principle from African heritage: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). Kwanzaa was created in 1965-66 by Maulana Karenga, chairman of black studies at California State University, in Long Beach based on harvest festivals in Africa.

“Neither” was painted by Canadian artist David Hayward, also known as Naked Pastor. He has a master's degree in theology and 30 years of pastoral experience. His books include “The Art of Coming Out: Cartoons for the LGBTQ Community” and “Questions are the Answer.” Prints of “Neither” are available from Naked Pastor’s online shop.

Happy Kwanzaa from Kittredge Cherry and Jesus in Love!

A few recent books on LGBTQ African American Christian subjects are highlighted here as an extra Kwanzaa gift:


“Religion, Flesh, and Blood: The Convergence of HIV/AIDS, Black Sexual Expression, and Therapeutic Religion by Pamela Leong.

Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology” by Pamela R. Lightsey.

LGBT: In The Name of God: The Black Church's Response to the LGBT Community” by Christopher James Priest with a foreword by Benjamin L. Reynolds.


A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose” by E.L. Kornegay.

In the Life and in the Spirit: Homoerotic Spirituality in African American Literature” by Marlon Rachquel Moore.

Related links:
Kwanzaa 2014 (Metropolitan Community Churches)

This post is part of the LGBT Calendar series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series celebrates religious and spiritual holidays, holy days, feast days, festivals, anniversaries, liturgical seasons and other occasions of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people of faith and our allies.
Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

1 comment:

Jayden Cameron said...

Beautifully done. It took me a while to recognize the beard on the left side of the figure's face, since at first viewing it comes across as strongly feminine. Thank you for this.