Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gay spirituality vs. everybody spirituality: A new closet?

“After the Rainbow Ceremony” by Peter Grahame

Gay spirituality may be replaced by “everybody spirituality. ” That’s an important idea that emerged during a recent gay spirituality weekend in New Mexico. Guest speakers included gay author Toby Johnson and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr.

One of the organizers was gay artist Peter Grahame, who sends this report:

The Spirituality weekend here in Albuquerque at the end of April '08 went well. We had 30 or so for the dialogue Friday evening between Toby and Richard; the audience participated and it was quite a discussion. The retreat on Saturday and half of Sunday was attended by 18 people or so, and it was very good; Toby offered much information that many found really very helpful and inspiring.

But as it turns out, we learned from this whole thing that the trend seems to be away from 'Gay Spirituality' to 'Everybody Spirituality.' Apparently, there may be many GLBT people these days, especially among the young, who don't seem to want to be labeled anything. Of course we're all equal. And nobody is trying to say we should be 'separate' or that we're 'better' at all. But many, especially the young GLBT people, don't seem to want to recognize their unique gifts – especially their unique spiritual gifts; a unique spiritual point of view that I believe comes with being GLBT. Again, these unique gifts don't make us 'special' or 'superior,' but they are unique, different, and these gifts are much needed.

Maybe some Straight people have gifts like these, too, but to me, not in quite the same way. I agree with Toby that by just wanting to be, or appear to be, just like everybody else... to want to assimilate... well, it seems like a subtle way of just going back in the closet. There are GLBT folks who say, 'We're just like everybody else except for what we do in bed,' but even causal observation shows that just isn't true. And yet, oddly, at the same time, these GLBT folks can still be very much involved in highly visible Gay Pride activities. Go figure.

In the end, the real point is, as I think Toby keeps saying, that GLBT people do have particular spiritual gifts to offer the development of religion as we head further into the 21st century. Well, anyway, that's not the end of the discussion, I've only touched on a few ideas here, and I applaud you, Kitt, for wanting to open it up for more. Thanks.

Peter has just launched a gorgeous new website,, which highlights his book Contemplations of the Heart: A Book of Male Spirit.

I found it especially helpful to hear about the trend from gay spirituality to everybody spirituality. My partner and I have experienced this attitude with younger GLBT people and been puzzled and saddened by it. Now I see that, like it or not, it’s part of a larger social context. Maybe it’s even a sign that the GLBT rights movement has succeeded.

Has anybody else run into this attitude of “inclusiveness” that threatens to water down or gloss over the unique characteristics of gay and lesbian spirituality? Or if you think it’s time to move beyond the “gay” label, can you explain why?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Homoerotic Jesus T-shirt found -- what fun!

A homoerotic baptism of Christ T-shirt caught the eye of a New York blogger -- and made me laugh when I read his account. Here’s his story, reposted by permission from the fourfour blog.

“The fact stands that Wildwood, NJ, can still turn out a hell of a T-shirt. Witness the best T-shirt in the history of them. OMG, you are so jealous of me and my homoerotic baptism of Christ decal. I wanted this on black, and the girl was going to do it, but her Middle Eastern boss was like, "Will not show. For male, white or gray." I compromised with pink. No one seemed amused. Whatever. It's the best T-shirt in history. I dare you to present a better one. You have already failed. The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!”

Need we say more? As I wrote in the introduction to my book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More: “Certain scenes from the life of Jesus have fired queer imaginations, [including] the male-on-male water-play of Jesus’ baptism...”

A special thanks to Rich Juzwiak of the fourfour blog for sharing his story here. Visit his blog to read the many comments from others who admired the gay Jesus T-shirt, plus his truly scary photos of an amusement park not far from the T-shirt shop in south Jersey.

Close-up of the homoerotic baptism of Christ T-shirt

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nursing Madonna shocks and inspires

An unusual statuette of Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus shocked some with its nudity, but inspired the faith of others, including Atlanta writer Trudie Barreras. She submitted the photo above and the following story about this “marvelously sensitive and realistic perspective of the mother of Jesus.” The Jesus in Love Blog is sharing Barreras’ moving and important materials here because we support art that seeks to embody spirituality.

By Trudie Barreras

My husband Ray and I made a trip to Monterrey, Mexico in December of 2001, traveling by bus because we were disgusted with all the “security frenzy” that had gripped air travel in the aftermath of 9/11. The trip, even though via “express” buses, was a grueling 26 hours, and we arrived at our destination, the MCC church in Monterrey, quite worn out.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered a little statuette of Mary riding donkey-back and nursing the infant Jesus. This statue was in a “Christmas market” that specialized in figurines for the Nativity scenes that are very much a part of the Mexican culture. Most of the other figures were much more “traditional.” Indeed, this one was completely unique, representing a “perspective” I’d never seen before. Gazing at the face of the Mother, I was gripped by the thought: “This is Reality.” I reflected on my own extreme exhaustion after a 26-hour trip in a relatively comfortable bus, and wondered how a woman could have carried a nursing infant all the way from Israel to Egypt.

I felt it was very important to obtain this statuette, and bring her back to Atlanta to share with the various spiritual communities of which I am a part, including First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta and the Excel retreat ministry in which I participate. I christened her “Our Lady of Travels to Life with Reality,”or, in Spanish, “Nuestra Señora de los Viajes á la Vida con Realidad.” I believe that others who meditate on the meaning portrayed by this representation may experience some of the same thoughts that have come to me. There is, of course, much more to this story, and anyone who wants to dialog with me about it is welcome to contact me by e-mail at:

Sadly, when I attempted to share “Our Lady of Travels” with my own community at First MCC of Atlanta by placing the statue in our small meditation chapel, someone was apparently offended by the breast-feeding, and fashioned a “poncho” for her out of Kleenex! My pastor regretfully suggested that I should probably take her home. Fortunately, most of the other venues to which I have brought this marvelously sensitive and realistic perspective of the mother of Jesus seem to have responded with a sense of blessing and not of shock.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Signs of pride: “Maybe Jesus was gay!”

Church members carried a sign saying “Maybe Jesus was gay!” at the San Diego Pride march, according to a tip sent by a Jesus in Love supporter.

Does anybody have a photo of it? If so, please contact us so we can share it on this blog.

2010 UPDATE:
You can now see the photo at this link:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Gay artist does inspiring Jesus art

Take Away the Cross by Dirk Vanden

A gay artist’s inspired paintings of a naked Jesus are the newest additions to the Jesus in Love library of glbt spiritual art.

The two images were painted by Dirk Vanden, who is also the author of three early gay novels.

Take Away the Cross shows Jesus dancing beneath a glorious sunburst in the midst of a cross. The crowd around Jesus includes portraits of Vanden’s friends, references to Michelangelo, and some of the artist’s favorite rock stars. Look for Buffy St. Marie, Janis Joplin, Paul McCartney, David Crosby, George Harrison, Gracie Slick, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Paul Simon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Ecce Homo (Jumping Jesus) leaps for joy, with wings that carry him into the sky. [Correction from the artist added Nov. 6, 2008: "That is his long hair, spread out behind him as he flies, not wings - & not up to heaven! If he's back, he's here to stay. Actually, in my head as I painted him, he's jumping with joy to be free of the cross."]

Vanden painted these pictures in 1971, but they are still fresh. Now the artist is busy putting his latest gay Jesus ideas online. Click here to read his reflections on “Is Jesus Gay?”

Ecce Homo (Jumping Jesus) by Dirk Vanden

Kittredge Cherry blogs at the Jesus in Love Blog and edits the Jesus in Love Newsletter on queer spirituality and the arts. She offers GLBT and progressive spiritual resources at