Show love to your sweetheart in a style that honors both LGBTQ identity and Christian spirituality. These unique finds can express LGBTQ romance without forcing couples to forget their faith. They range from the silly to the sublime, devout to semi-secular, subtle subtexts to out-and-proud.
Use this diverse guide to treat your beloved (or yourself!) with these gifts, and snuggle together to binge on date-night movies.
It’s hard enough to track down an LGBTQ film with a happy ending, let alone one that’s religious too. This list includes a few rare exceptions that show same-sex or queer love in a church/faith context without ending in total tragedy.
Do you have other suggestions? Leave a comment and let us know!
1. Movie: “Latter Days”
Gay Mormon romantic dramedy “Latter Days” was the most often-suggested movie for this list. A closeted Mormon missionary moves to Los Angeles to spread his religion. Opposites attract when he meets a handsome West Hollywood party boy, ironically named Christian.
2. Book and Music: “Patience and Sarah” by Isabel Miller
One of the first lesbian historical novels to have a happy ending, “Patience and Sarah” is a classic with Christian themes that are usually overlooked. In 19th-century New England, love blossoms between Patience, an educated painter of Bible scenes, and cross-dressing farmer Sarah. The first picture that Patience paints when they move in together is the embrace of Biblical women Ruth and Naomi. If you read it long ago, it’s well worth a second look.
“I Want to Live,” a duet from the opera based on “Patience and Sarah,” is on the album “Lesbian American Composers.”
3. Book: “The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible”
What could be better than erotic love poetry direct from the Bible itself?
Oh, for your kiss! For your loveThat’s just a small taste of the Song of Songs, one of the most celebrated ancient love poems. Some scholars (such as Angela Yarber and Paul Johnson) believe the Song of Songs may have originally been written as same-sex love poetry between two women or two men.
More enticing than wine,
For your scene and sweet name --
The problem is that almost every book on Songs of Songs imposes a hetero interpretation and spiritualizes it as Christ-Church metaphor. The best version is “The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible,” translated by Marcia Falk, a feminist scholar who did her doctoral thesis on Song of Songs. Her book is not cluttered with hetero commentary and its lovely design leaves lots of white space. It even has the Hebrew text on facing pages. Lesbians will feel at home with this woman-oriented edition, but it should work well for almost anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum. The poetry is written as a dialogue between lovers. Try reading it out loud to each other on Valentine’s Day.
4: Shirts: “I love my boyfriend” or “I love my girlfriend” with I Corinthians 13
These bold shirts were not designed for same-sex couples, but they become instantly queer when a gay man wears “I love my boyfriend” or a lesbian wears “I love my girlfriend.” Be sure to order the size for the opposite gender. They’re not just cute. They also boast one of the world’s best known descriptions of love, which happens to come from the Bible: I Corinthians 13: 4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
5. Icon: “Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus”
Some of the oldest role models for LGBTQ couples are same-sex pairs of saints. Third-century Armenian martyrs Polyeuct and Nearchus are a prime example of same-sex lovers in the early church. With their heart-shaped haoes, Polyeuct and Nearchus look the most like Valentines, but other male couples are also available as icons, including Sergius and Bacchus, Biblical heroes David and Jonathan, Russia’s Boris and George and Wenceslas and Podiven. Available on mugs, candles, shirts, cards, plaques, and framed prints, only from TrinityStores.com.
6. Icon: “Saints Perpetua and Felicity”
Saints Perpetua and Felicity look like a black lesbian couple in this icon by Robert Lentz. They were brave North African martyrs who died in each other’s arms in the third century. With their heart-shaped haloes, Felicity and Perpetua look the most like Valentines, but other female couples are also available as icons, including Ireland’s Brigid and Darlughdach and Germany’s Hildegard of Bingen and Richardis. Available on mugs, candles, shirts, cards, plaques, and framed prints, only from TrinityStores.com.
7. Movie: “Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate)”
In 1980s Cuba, a flamboyant gay artist who paints Christian religious themes befriends a straight Marxist man, amid the background of Santería practices. Diego’s Havana apartment is a combo of a religious shrine, art gallery and library in this bittersweet film. In Spanish with English subtitles.
8. Candy: Rainbow chocolate hearts with mint crosses in Bible-shaped tins
Chocolate makers haven’t caught up with the rising tide of welcoming churches and LGBT people of faith yet, so you’ll have to mix and match to create LGBTQ Christian confection. These rainbow milk chocolate hearts go well with the Bible-shaped tins filled with mint crosses.
9. Movie and book: “Blackbird”
A fervently religious high school choir boy grows up in this interracial gay romance set in the Deep South. Oscar winner Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington play the parents whose 17-year-old son learns that love is part of God’s plan. The film is based on the first black gay coming-of-age novel, “Blackbird” by Larry Duplechan.
11. Music: “I’m Blessed” by Marsha Stevens-Pino
Openly lesbian contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Stevens-Pino makes same-sex love sound divine in songs such as “I’m Blessed” from her album “I Still Have a Dream”:
God, You’ve given treasure beyond knowing, beyond price,
No one else could ever measure her worth in my life,
And I know it’s not by chance Your mission from above,
I have been entrusted with this woman that You love.
12. Movie and music: “We’re All Angels” with Jason and DeMarco
Gay Christian pop music duo and real-life lovers Jason and DeMarco are profiled in this documentary film. And out their song “This is Love.”
13. Movie, book and music: “The Color Purple”
Love between women is at the heart of this tale of two sisters in America’s rural South: abused child-wife Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg) and Nettie, a missionary to Africa. Watch for the transformative romance between Celie and Shug Avery. While it’s not focused on institutional religion, much of the novel is structured as letters to God. It includes many down-home spiritual words of wisdom, such as, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” Based on the novel by Alice Walker. Now a Broadway musical too.
14. Book: “Inclination” by Mia Kerick
A gay Catholic Korean high school student adopted into an Italian American family falls in love, gets bullied and faces opposition from his church in this young-adult novel by an author who focuses her fiction on the emotional growth of troubled young people.
15. Book: “Jesus in Love” by Kittredge Cherry
A queer Christ has today’s sexual sophistication as he lives the Bible story in first-century Palestine -- including his love for John the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene and the omni-gendered Holy Spirit. Speaking in first person, Jesus blends male and female as he does humanity and divinity. He transcends gender identity, sexual orientation and ultimately death itself. Virtually all mystical traditions speak of sexual ecstasy as a metaphor for union with the divine, but in Christianity the concept has been buried. “Jesus in Love: A Novel” reclaims this lost treasure.
Suggestions from readers
Richard, Lindsay, author of Hollywood Biblical Epics: Camp Spectacle and Queer Style from the Silent Era to the Modern Day,” suggests the following films:
1.) The Falls
2.) The Falls: Testament of Love
(Part I and part II of another Mormons-in-Love feature, but takes the faith aspect more seriously than Latter Days.)
3.) Wise Kids (Fantastic coming-of-age indie film about young people making sense of the world as evangelicals with a very confident young gay character.)
4.) Rock Haven (another gay Christian coming-of-age film)
5.) Ben-Hur (gay subtext galore)
John Demetry, film scholar and author of “Watch the Throne,” suggests the following movies:
Michael (by Carl Dreyer) (from the series “Gay-Themed Films of the German Silent Era”_
The Long Day Closes (though not a romantical love story, there is no better film about Christianity and gay experience. There's no greater movie. Period.
The Garden and Sebastiane (by Derek Jarman)
Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2015 named (Jesus in Love)
Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2014 named (Jesus in Love)
Top 20 Gay Jesus books (from Jesus in Love)
Image credit: Pride Heart (Wikimedia Commons)
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.
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