Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mary Daly: Lesbian philosopher who went Beyond God the Father

Photo by Diana Davies/Sophia Smith Collection

Radical lesbian feminist theologian/philosopher Mary Daly’s memorial service will be webcast this Sat., May 1. Sign up to watch at:

Daly is known for her strong critique of patriarchy, especially the Roman Catholic Church. She was an early and original feminist thinker.

Born in 1928 and raised Roman Catholic, Daly was educated in Catholic schools and earned Ph.D.s in English, theology and philosophy. She taught at Boston College from 1967 to 1999. She died in January at age 81.

Her books include “The Church and the Second Sex” (1968) and “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation” (1973). After that she moved beyond Christianity.

Mary Daly’s most famous quote:

“If God is male, then male is God. The divine patriarch castrates women as long as he is allowed to live on in the human imagination.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day: Bless the animals

“Let my daddy marry,” says a bulldog at a Seattle march to protest the Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

Some people are taking their pets to be blessed at Earth Day celebrations today. I wrote an Animal Blessing Service for “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations.” Here are highlights:

For a new version of this article, click this link to
Earth Day: LGBTQ theologians join in protecting the environment

Animals are important in the lives of many lesbian and gay people. Cats and dogs often become surrogate children for same-sex couples. The health benefits provided by living with an animal companion are well-known, and in several cities gay and lesbian people have helped create unique organizations such as PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support) dedicated to enabling people with AIDS to keep their pets.

On a more philosophical level, the discrimination faced by lesbian and gay people is linked to attitudes that devalue animals and the rest of nature. Western thought sets up dualities in which spirit is better than body, male is better than female, human is better than animal, intellectual is better than sexual -- and sexuality defines gays and lesbians in this way of thinking. Gays and lesbians, like nature itself, are seen as something that must be controlled. The result is a sterile, exclusive church and a polluted earth. Many lesbians and gay men seek to remedy this situation by healing the spirit-body split in Christianity. For all these reasons, it is appropriate to bless animals in the context of lesbian and gay spirituality….

May we remember that humanity is but one small, fragile strand in the interdependent web of life.

May we remember that we human beings are not the only ones created to look at flowers, to taste cool water, to listen to the wind, and to feel the earth beneath our feet.

May we remember that what befalls the earth befalls all who live on her lovely shores.

May we never forget that to harm the Earth is to scorn the Creator.

We pray for the animals who are our companions.

We pray for the wildlife displaced as we develop land for human use.

We pray for the animals who work for us, including the seeing-eye dog, the carriage horse, and the laboratory rat.

We pray for animals who are bought and sold, animals who live in cages, and animals who live free.

We pray for animals indigenous to this particular place, including [name a few species].

We pray for the animals who have made our lives possible by becoming food and clothing for us.

We pray for endangered species, including the giant panda and the California condor, and we remember the dinosaurs, passenger pigeons, and other extinct species.

We pray for all human beings who have felt degraded by being compared to animals.

God, we know that you hear all or prayers, those spoken and those that we hold silently in our hearts. We claim your loving presence with us now.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sor Juana: Nun who loved a countess

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz by Miguel Cabrera, 1750 (Wikimedia Commons)

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a 17th-century Mexican nun whose critically acclaimed writings include lesbian love poetry. She is considered one of the greatest Latin American poets, an early advocate of women’s rights, and some say, North America's first lesbian feminist writer. Her feast day is today (April 17).

For a new version of this article, click this link to
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Nun who loved a countess in 17th-century Mexico City

Sor Juana (Nov. 12, 1648 - April 17, 1695) was born out of wedlock near Mexico City in what was then New Spain. She was a witty, intellectually gifted girl who loved learning. Girls of her time were rarely educated, but she learned to read in her grandfather’s book-filled house.

When she was 16, she asked for her parents’ permission to disguise herself as a male student in order to attend university, which did not accept women. They refused, and instead she entered the convent in 1667. In her world, the convent was the only place where a woman could pursue education.

Sor Juana’s convent cell became Mexico City’s intellectual hub. Instead of an ascetic room, Sor Juana had a suite that was like a modern apartment. Her library contained an estimated 4,000 books, the largest collection in Mexico. The portrait from 1750 shows her in her amazing library, surrounded by her many books.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
By Lewis Williams, SFO

She turned her nun’s quarters into a salon, visited by the city’s intellectual elite. Among them was Countess Maria Luisa de Paredes, vicereine of Mexico. The two women became passionate friends. It’s unclear whether they were lesbians by today’s definition, but Maria Luisa inspired Sor Juana to write amorous love poems, such as:

That you’re a woman far away
is no hindrance to my love:
for the soul, as you well know,
distance and sex don’t count.

Click here for more of Sor Juana’s lesbian poems in English and Spanish.

The romance between Sor Juana and Maria Luisa has long been an inspiration for authors and film makers. Poet and Chicano studies scholar Alicia Gaspar de Alba writes about it vividly in her novel “Sor Juana’s Second Dream.” The novel became the basis for the play “The Nun and the Countess” by Odalys Nanín.

Gaspar de Alba also writes about Sor Juana in her new book “[Un]framing the ‘Bad Woman’: Sor Juana, Malinche, Coyolxauhqui, and Other Rebels with a Cause.” It was published in 2014 by the University of Texas.

María Luisa Bemberg, one of Latin America’s foremost female directors, explored the love between the nun and the countess in “I, the Worst of All” (Spanish: Yo, la peor de todas). The 1990 film was Argentina’s Academy Award entry for Best Foreign Language Film that year. The DVD cover uses a quote from the Boston Globe to describe the film: “Lesbian passion seething behind convent walls.” It includes woman-to-woman eroticism without objectifying the women. The movie is based on “Sor Juana: Or, the Traps of Faith” by Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz of Mexico.

Production began in fall 2014 on a movie based on Gaspar de Alba's novel. Mexican actress Ana de La Reguera will play Sor Juana in "Juana de Asbaje," the film adaptation of Gaspar de Alba’s novel. She co-wrote the screenplay with the film's director, Rene Bueno.

Church authorities cracked down on Sor Juana, not because of her lesbian poetry, but for “La Respuesta,” her classic defense of women’s rights in response to opposition from the clergy. Threatened by the Inquisition, Sor Juana was silenced for the final three years of her life. At age 46, she died after taking care of her sisters in an outbreak of plague.

She is not recognized as a saint by the male-dominated church hierarchy that she criticized, but Sor Juana holds a place in the informal communion of saints honored by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith and our allies.  She is especially revered as a role model by Latina feminists.

The icon that appears with this post was painted by Colorado artist Lewis Williams of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO). Sor Juana sits between Mexico City’s two volcanoes, the male Popocatépetl and the female Iztaccíhuatl, symbolizing the conflict between men and women that she experienced in trying to get an education. She holds a book with a quote from her writings: “The most unforgivable crime is to place people’s stature in doubt.”

Related links:

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz at the Legacy Project

Sor Juana de la Cruz: La monja le encantó la Condesa en la Cidade do México en el siglo 17 (Santos Queer)

Related books:

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Feminist Reconstruction of Biography” (2014) by Theresa A. Yugar with a foreword by Rosemary Radford Ruether

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works” (2015), translated by Edith Grossman with an introduction by Julia Alvarez

This post is part of the LGBTQ Saints series by Kittredge Cherry. Traditional and alternative saints, people in the Bible, LGBTQ martyrs, authors, theologians, religious leaders, artists, deities and other figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and our allies are covered.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved. presents the Jesus in Love Blog on LGBTQ spirituality.

Icons of Sor Juana de la Cruz and many others are available on cards, plaques, T-shirts, mugs, candles, mugs, and more at Trinity Stores

Is this a sexual Jesus?

Controversial new crucifix from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church Warr Acres, Oklahoma

Oklahoma churchgoers are upset over what they see as a “pornographic” Jesus. Don’t they know this is the historical style for icons of Christ?!

Click the link below for the full news report:

I didn’t see what was “obscene” about the icon until I read about the phallic image on Jesus’ abdomen that the supposedly moralistic people perceived. It just goes to show that obscenity is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We're one of the “50 Best Spirituality Blogs”

It’s official. I have been named one of the “50 best spirituality bloggers” by Online Christian Colleges.

I feel honored to be listed along with Beliefnet and HuffPost Religion. The Top 50 includes many other cool blogs, too. It looks like only two out of 50 focus on LGBT spirituality: my Jesus in Love Blog and the MyOutSpirit Gay Spirituality Blog, where I am a guest blogger.

They wrote a a nice description of this blog for the Top 50 list: “Aimed at the GLBT community, the Jesus in Love Blog accepts all peoples and brings hope and light to an audience who may feel persecuted by many religious denominations.”

Click here for the whole list of “50 best spirituality bloggers.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Female Christ conference planned

Above: “Jesus of the People” by Janet McKenzie
Below: Nicola Slee

Female Christ figures are the theme of an exciting conference this weekend in Sheffield, England.

Christa: The Female Christ: Exploring the Humanity of Christ through Theology and Art” will be presented Saturday, April 17, at St. Marks Centre for Radical Christianity in Sheffield.

Nicola Slee, a respected scholar, author and theologian, will lead the conference.

“I will be exploring with participants a variety of artists’ images of a female Christ, and also tracing this idea in the work of contemporary feminist theologians, as well as looking at historical roots of the notion of a female Christ figure,” Slee told me when I contacted her about the conference.

One of the resources that she plans to recommend at the conference is my book, “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.” Both the Christa conference flier and “Art That Dares” use the same powerful image of a black female Christ: “Jesus of the People” by Janet McKenzie, shown above.

Slee’s next book is titled “In Search of the Risen Christa.” She gave me some advance details about it. “My own book, which is very near completion, explores the idea of the Christa through a sequence of poems that are focused on the passion narrative, but with a particular focus on resurrection and what it might mean to image a risen Christa,” Slee said.

She is research fellow and team leader of the MA in applied theological studies at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, England. She was the keynote speaker at the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement’s 2008 annual conference. Click here or on the image below for a video of her speech there.

A lay Anglican, Nicola has a deep love of poetry and the visual arts, and finds both can enliven and deepen theological exploration. Her previous books include Women’s Faith Development, The Book of Mary, and Praying Like a Woman.

Click here for more info on the Christa conference.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Holocaust Remembrance: We All Wear the Triangle

For a new version of this article, click
Holocaust Remembrance: We all wear the triangle

A gay priest killed in the Holocaust appears in the icon
"Holy Priest Anonymous one of Sachsenhausen"

International Holocaust Remembrance Day honors the victims of the Nazi era, including the estimated 5,000 to 60,000 sent to concentration camps for homosexuality. The United Nations set the date as Jan. 27 -- the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

Established by the UN in 2005, International Holocaust Remembrance Day recalls the state-sponsored extermination of 6 million Jews and 11 million others deemed inferior by the Nazis, including 2.5 million Poles and other Slavic peoples, Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies and others not of the "Aryan race," the mentally ill, the disabled, LGBT people, and religious dissidents such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics. Holocaust Remembrance Day aims to help prevent future genocides.

The date chosen is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, by Soviet troop on Jan. 27, 1945.

Approximcately 100,000 men were arrested from 1933 and 1945 under Paragraph 175, the German law against homosexuality. They were imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. Only about 4,000 survived.

Artists who address LGBT deaths in the holocaust (or “homocaust”) include Tony O’Connell, Mary Button, William Hart McNichols, Richard Grune, John Bittinger Klomp and those who designed the world's dozens of memorials to LGBT Holocaust victims. Their art is featured here today.

The defeat of the Nazis brought liberation for most prisoners in the concentration camps, but some of those accused of homosexuality were re-imprisoned in post-war Germany based on evidence found by the Nazis.

The world's first LGBT Holocaust memorial was the Homomonument, opened in 1987 in the Netherlands. Queer British artist Tony O’Connell made a photo and video record of his prayers and offerings at the Homomonument in Amsterdam on Christmas Day 2014 as part of his contemporary performance art series of LGBT pilgrimages.

Holocaust Memorial Pilgrimage to Homomonument in Amsterdam by Tony O'Connell

O'Connell visits historical sites such as to the Harvey Milk Metro station in San Francisco, New York City's Stonewall Inn, and the Alan Turing Memorial Bench in Manchester. Democratizing the idea of sacredness and reclaiming the holiness in ordinary life, especially in LGBT experience, are major themes in O'Connell's work. Based in Liverpool, O’Connell was raised in the Roman Catholic church, but has been a practicing Buddhist since 1995. For more info about O’Connell’s art, see my previous post Codebreaker Alan Turing honored in queer pilgrimage by artist Tony O’Connell.

Persecution of LGBT people during the Holocaust is juxtaposed with Jesus falling under the weight of his cross in the image at the top of this post: Station 3 from “Stations of the Cross: The Struggle For LGBT Equality” by Mary Button. The painting features headshots of men who were arrested for homosexuality under Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code and sent to concentration camps between 1933 and 1945.

Jesus falls the first time and Nazis ban homosexual groups in Station 3 from “Stations of the Cross: The Struggle For LGBT Equality” by Mary Button, courtesy of Believe Out Loud

Using bold colors and collage, Button puts Jesus' suffering into a queer context by matching scenes from his journey to Golgotha with milestones from the last 100 years of LGBT history. For an overview of all 15 paintings in the LGBT Stations series, see my article LGBT Stations of the Cross shows struggle for equality.

Richard Grune, a Bauhuas-trained German artist sent to Nazi concentration camps for homosexuality, also saw a connection between Christ’s Passion and the suffering of people in the camps. After being imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Flossenbürg, he created “Passion of the 20th Century,” a set of lithographs depicting the nightmare of life in the camps. Published in 1947, it is considered one of the most important visual records of the camps to appear in the immediate postwar years.

“Solidarity.” Richard Grune lithograph from a limited edition series “Passion des XX Jahrhunderts” (Passion of the 20th Century). Grune was prosecuted under Paragraph 175 and from 1937 until liberation in 1945 was incarcerated in concentration camps. In 1947 he produced a series of etchings detailing what he witnessed in the camps. Grune died in 1983. (Credit: Courtesy Schwules Museum, Berlin) (US Holocaust Museum)

Willem Ardondeus
A gay Dutch artist who died in the Holocaust was Willem Arondeus (Aug. 22, 1894 - July 1, 1943). He participated in the anti-Nazi resistance movement with openly lesbian cellist Frieda Belinfante and others. Arondeus was openly gay before World War II began and proudly asserted his queer identity in his last message before his execution: “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards.”  His life and art are featured in a YouTube video.

The Nazis also denounced and attacked lesbians, but usually less severely and less systematically than they persecuted male homosexuals. Their history is told online in the article Lesbians and the Third Reich at the US Holocaust Museum. Some lesbians claim the black triangle as their symbol. The Nazis imposed the black triangle on people who were sent to concentration camps for being “anti-social.”

Identification pictures of Henny Schermann, a shop assistant in Frankfurt am Main. In 1940 police arrested Henny, who was Jewish and a lesbian, and deported her to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp for women. She was killed in 1942. Ravensbrueck, Germany, 1941. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archives)

Nazis used the pink triangle to identify male prisoners sent to concentration camps for homosexuality. Originally intended as a badge of shame, the pink triangle has become a symbol of pride for the LGBT rights movement.

A recent painting on the theme is “Pink Triangle” by John Bittinger Klomp, a gay artist based in Florida.

“Pink Triangle” by John Bittinger Klomp, 2012

“The Pink Triangle was part of the system of triangles used by the Nazis during World War II to denote various peoples they deemed undesirable, and included Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals,” Klomp said. The painting is part of his “Gay Dictionary Series” on words and symbols related to being gay.

The pink triangle appears in a variety of monuments that have been built around the world to commemorate LBGT victims of the Nazi regime. In January 2014 Israel's first memorial for LGBT victims of the Holocaust was unveiled in Tel Aviv. Since 1984, more than 20 gay Holocaust memorials have been established in places ranging from San Francisco to Sydney, from Germany to Uruguay. Some are in the actual concentration camp sites, such as the plaque for gay victims in Dachau pictured below.

Plaque for gay victims at Dachau concentration camp by nilexuk

To see powerful photos of all the queer Holocaust memorials and read the stories behind them, visit:

The logo for the Jesus in Love Blog also shows the face of Jesus in a pink triangle. He joins queer people in transforming suffering into power.

The last surviving man to wear the pink triangle in the concentration camps was Rudolf Brazda, who died in 2011 at age 98. His story is told in his obituary at the New York Times.

Another of those who wore the pink triangle was an anonymous 60-year-old gay priest, brutally beaten to death because he refused to stop praying at the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, Germany. Eyewitness Heinz Heger reported that the murder was so brutal that “I felt I was witnessing the crucifixion of Christ in modern guise.”

The priest is honored in the icon at the top of this post, “Holy Priest Anonymous One of Sachsenhausen.” It was painted by Father William Hart McNichols, a New Mexico artist and Catholic priest who was rebuked by church leaders for making LGBT-affirming icons of unapproved saints. His Anonymous Priest of Sachsenhausen icon appears in his book “The Bride: Images of the Church,” which he co-authored with peace activist Daniel Berrigan.

Here is the beginning of his tragic story, as told by Heger in his book The Men With the Pink Triangle.

Toward the end of February, 1940, a priest arrived in our block, a man some 60 years of age, tall and with distinguished features. We later discovered that he came from Sudetenland, from an aristocratic German family.

He found the torment of the arrival procedure especially trying, particularly the long wait naked and barefoot outside the block. When his tonsure was discovered after the shower, the SS corporal in charge took up a razor and said "I'll go to work on this one myself, and extend his tonsure a bit." And he saved the priest's head with the razor, taking little trouble to avoid cutting the scalp. quite the contrary.

The priest returned to the day-room of our lock with his head cut open and blood streaming down. His face was ashen and his eyes stared uncomprehendingly into the distance. He sat down on a bench, folded his hands in his lap and said softly, more to himself than to anyone else: "And yet man is good, he is a creature of God!"

The book goes on to recount in heartbreaking detail how the Nazis tortured the priest, hurling anti-gay slurs and beating him to death. More excerpts are available at the Queering the Church Blog in a post titled The Priest With the Pink Triangle.

The award-winning 1979 play “Bent” by Martin Sherman helped increase awareness of Nazi persecution of gays, leading to more historical research and education. A film version of “Bent” was made in 1997 with an all-star British cast including Clive Owen, Mick Jagger and Jude Law. Its title comes from the European slang word “bent” used as a slur for homosexuals.

The 2000 documentary film “Paragraph 175” tells the stories of several gay men and one lesbian who were persecuted by the Nazis, including interviews with some of the last survivors.

In recent years new memoirs of gay Holocaust survivors have been published and queer theory has brought new understanding of the Gay Holocaust as not just atrocities, but also a system of social control. Valuable books include:

I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror by Pierre Seel (2011)

Lost Intimacies: Rethinking Homosexuality under National Socialism by William J. Spurlin (2008)

An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin by Gad Beck (2000)

"The Hidden Holocaust?: Gay and Lesbian Persecution in Germany 1933-45” by Gunter Grau (1995)

The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals by Richard Plant (1988) -- first comprehensive book on the subject

Homosexuality d Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany: The Youth Movement, the Gay Movement, and Male Bonding Before Hitler’s Rise” by Hubert Kennedy (1992)

Josef Jaeger by Jere' M Fishback (young adult novel based partly on the life of Jürgen Ohlsen, Nazi propaganda film star who turned out to be gay)

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed here with the prayer “We All Wear the Triangle” by Steve Carson. It appears in the book “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations.” Carson was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served congregations in New York, Boston and San Francisco.
One: We are in many ways a culture without memory. The Holocaust, a series of events that occurred just over a generation ago, changed the world forever. Yet by some the Holocaust is forgotten, or seen as irrelevant, or even viewed as something that never happened.

All: As people of faith, we refuse to forget. We refuse to participate in the erasing of history. As a community of faith, we decide to remember, as we hear the historical record from Europe a generation ago and reflect upon events in our own time. We dare to listen to the voices of the past, even as they echo today.

One: In this moment, we are all Jews wearing the yellow Star of David.

All: We are all homosexuals wearing the pink triangle.

One: We are all political activists wearing the red triangle.

All: We are all criminals wearing the green triangle.

One: We are all antisocials wearing the black triangle.

All: We are all Jehovah’s Witnesses wearing the purple triangle.

One: We are all emigrants wearing the blue triangle.

All: We are all gypsies wearing the brown triangle.

One: We are all undesirable, all extendable by the state.

…Leader: To God of both memory and hope, we pledge ourselves to be a people of resistance to the powers of death wherever they may appear, to honor the living and the dead, and to make with them our promise: Never again!

Related links:

Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-45 (US Holocaust Museum)

Lesbians and the Third Reich (US Holocaust Museum)

Pink Triangle at the Legacy Walk

Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust (Wikipedia)

Holocaust Memorial Day: The Nazi Bid to Exterminate Gay People by Peter Tatchell (Huffington Post)

Sachsenhausen (Counterlight’s Peculiars).

The Holocaust's Forgotten Victims: The 5 Million Non-Jewish People Killed By The Nazis by Louise Ridley (Huffington Post)

This post is part of the LGBTQ Calendar series by Kittredge Cherry. The series celebrates religious and spiritual holidays, events in LGBTQ history, 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. presents the Jesus in Love Blog on LGBTQ spirituality.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Houston Chron interviews lesbian Christian author

7 questions for lesbian Christian author Kittredge Cherry on Corpus Christi” is posted today at Houston Chronicle. (A shorter version with 6 questions was published in the print newspaper, pictured above.)

They interviewed me about gay Jesus themes and the play “Corpus Christi,” which is sparking controversy now in Texas. News reports say that a Fort Worth production was scheduled, then cancelled, then rescheduled yesterday at another local theater.  Here is a highlight from the interview:

Houston Chronicle: Why do you think representations of a gay Jesus in art are so controversial?

Kittredge Cherry: ANY type of sexual Jesus causes controversy, not just gay Jesus. Remember the fuss over his sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene in "The Da Vinci Code"? Mainstream Christianity has become a rather sex-negative religion, due to Western influences in the first few centuries after Jesus died. Jesus himself was part of a Hebrew culture that viewed the body and the spirit as one sacred whole. The homophobia of today's society makes people especially upset by the possibility that Jesus was gay. They may believe that homosexuality is a sin, but a growing number of Bible scholars now recognize that scripture does not condemn loving, responsible gay or lesbian relationships....

Click here for the whole interview at the Houston Chronicle. You can leave a comment there to encourage more coverage of LGBT spiritual subjects.

The interviewer was artist and art critic Menachem Wecker. His blog, Iconia, is a timely and insightful mix that explores “wherever faith meets art.”
P.S. on April 14, 2010:

I heard today that my interview is scheduled to run in the Houston Chronicle’s print newspaper this Friday, April 16, in the religion section.

There are now 20 comments pro and con at about my interview, including quite a debate over this ignorant statement: “The son of God would not be imperfect, therefore the Jesus could not be a homosexual.”

I agree with the person who replied, “The Jesus I know could be gay, and perfect.”
P.S. on April 28, 2010:

Special thanks to Edmund in Houston for mailing a copy of the print newspaper to me.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter from Jesus in Love Blog!

Happy Easter from Kittredge Cherry and the Jesus in Love Blog!

Here is an Easter basket of treats for you to enjoy. New today:

Jesus Rises on the first Easter (GLBT Holy Week series)

"Easter Day: Foreplay to Eternity prayer" by James Koenig

Easter offering

Fun goodies from past Easters at this blog:

Easter with the mustard flowers (video greeting by Kittredge Cherry)

Gay Easter bonnets show creativity

Day 8: Jesus rises on the first Easter

Take Away the Cross by Dirk Vanden

A queer version of Christ’s Passion is running in daily installments this week from Palm Sunday through Easter. Each daily post features a queer Christian painting and an excerpt from the novel Jesus in Love: At the Cross by Kittredge Cherry.

Mary was sobbing at the mouth of my tomb. Her long, luxurious hair hung loose and she had torn her robe as a sign of mourning. When I drew near, she turned and looked at me. I would have been embarrassed by my nakedness in the past, but I had left all that behind at the cross. “Why are you crying?” I asked.

“Sir, if you moved him, please tell me where you put him, and I will take him away,” she replied.

I could not believe it: She was looking right at me, completely nude, and she thought I was the gardener! Tears couldn’t have blurred her vision that much. I understood then that resurrection had transformed my body into something new. When Mary looked at me now, she no longer saw me. She saw what she expected to see. I hoped that I could awaken her faith so she could see me more clearly.

The waters of her soul had slowed to a sluggish ooze. I drew Mary’s soul to my divine heart and gave it a drink to get it flowing again. At the same time, I reached my hand out to her, aiming to comfort her. She recoiled in horror.

“Whoa! That is a serious wound! What happened? You need to see a doctor immediately. Or maybe I could heal you in the name of— No, no, we have to get you to a doctor now!”

I called her name out loud. “Mary. Mary Magdalene.”

She gasped as she recognized me. Her soul convulsed and she grabbed me. “Rabboni! My beloved Rabbi!”

She ran the palms of her hands over my arms and then my cheeks. We gazed at each other eye-to-eye, so close that our noses almost touched. “It’s really you,” she whispered. “You’re alive.”...

[Later Jesus reunites with his beloved disciple John]

…“Didn’t you hear me?” I half-shouted. “I said that you are forgiven!”

His eyes flew open and he jumped for fright. “Rabbi! How long have you been here?”

“Ever since you asked the Holy Spirit to come in my name. You heard my voice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” he answered uncertainly. “But I thought it was all in my mind.”

He huddled in front of me, and his soul bowed before my divine heart. The curls on the back of his head shone like tarnished silver in the starlight. He began to blubber. “I ran away when they arrested you.”

I waited one moment before I spoke, so we could both fully experience the way that his body and soul lined up in relation to me. “You’re here for me now. Begin again.”

“But I failed you in so many ways….

I tried a different approach. “Do you know the Song of Songs?”

John became more rational as he tried to remember. “I don’t think so.”

“Well, ask Nicodemus to recite it for you sometime. It’s an ancient poem about erotic love, but it also symbolizes the love between God and each individual soul. Here’s how it starts: ‘Oh, if only you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!’”

I leaned back a little and smiled at him, feeling full of mischief. John’s fiery, bejeweled soul was so alluring that I tried not to look at it. His dark eyes searched mine until a look of wonder dawned on his face. “You’re still flirting with me!” he accused happily.

Jesus Rises (from The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision)
by F. Douglas Blanchard

The Resurrection

Dirk Vanden is a gay artist based in California. In addition to painting, Vanden wrote early gay novels such as the classic “I Want It All,” originally published in 1969. F. Douglas Blanchard is a New York artist who teaches art at City University of New York and is active in the Episcopal Church.  Becki Jayne Harrelson is an Atlanta artist who challenges mainstream religious beliefs via art.

Happy Easter from author Kittredge Cherry and the Jesus in Love Blog!

Easter day: Foreplay to eternity

By James Koenig

This is a day of Alleluias!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!
This is a day of foreplay—the soul aroused to life
(The Springtime of our souls? Do not tease my spirit Lord—
Arouse my flesh when death has brought me down.)
Jesus lover of my soul—grim death shall not enthrall
I’ll dance a resurrection dance and hear a trumpet call!
We celebrate today, Lord, your victory leads the way
Your glorious resurrection—this glorious Easter Day!
“Spring is beginning in our front yard—
With jonquils peeking out of the ground.”
Through a glass darklies—
Resurrection reflected
And it’s good to know
The dead aren’t
Sleeping in cold clay,
But warm Earth,
Aroused by the Almighty
On the day of days
To bring forth Life.
Easter day—foreplay to eternity.
Christ is risen—the Lord is risen indeed!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia is attitude—
Laced with gratitude
Reaching out to life
And knowing it is there
Yet in my flesh, shall I see God
My spirit says “Applaud!”
The cross says we’re allowed
We don’t need Turin’s shroud
The cataracts of mortality
Are rolled away like the
Stone that sealed the tomb
And on this day we see clearly
In joy and in humility
The risen Christ!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

James Koenig is a classical musician, a singer, poet, singing teacher, writer, and arts advocate who is liturgically inspired and involved. “Faith like love, requires a response....” He and his partner of more than 35 years David Larson live in Los Angeles, CA. “It seems God blessed our relationship long before the church even thought about it.”

[Note: A churchgoer accused James Koenig, author of this Easter prayer, of having a homosexual agenda when this was published in their church bulletin on Easter 2007 -- because he used the word “foreplay.” I expect that friends of the Jesus in Love Blog will appreciate the beautiful way that he reconciles sexuality and spirituality. This post is part of an occasional series on Eros and Christ. Click here for the whole series.]

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kuan Yin: Androgynous spirit of compassion

Olga’s Kuan Yin

Buddhists celebrate the birth of Kuan Yin, androgynous spirit of compassion, on the day before Easter this year -- a holy synchronicity.

For a new version of this article, click this link to
Kuan Yin: A queer Buddhist Christ figure

I didn’t know about this “coincidence” when I invited gay author and comparative religions scholar Toby Johnson to write the following piece to post on Kuan Yin’s feast day as part of the GLBT saints series here.

Upon reflection, it seems appropriate that Kuan Yin was born the day before Christ rose to new life. After all, Jesus is the Christian embodiment of compassion. I am pleased to present Kuan Yin on Holy Saturday, as churches hold Easter vigils. As Johnson says, Kuan Yin is wonderful for LGBT people and our allies because he/she unites male and female.

Kuan Yin by Toby Johnson

Today, the 19th day of the second lunar month, Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the birthday of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Compassion. Kuan Yin, the Chinese form of the name, is also known by his/her original Indian name Avalokiteshvara.

The myth tells that the lovely, androgynous saint, Avalokiteshvara, was on the verge of entering into nirvana. Just as his meditation was deepening, he was distracted by a groan, rising up all about him. He came out of his trance and asked: What is this? The birds and trees and grass and all sentient beings replied to him: O Avalokiteshvara, our lives are times of suffering and pain; we live in a delusion from which we cannot seem to escape. You are so beautiful and so kind. Your presence here among us has given us joy and a reason for living. We all love you so, and we are saddened by the prospect of your leaving us. And so we groan.

The young saint was filled with compassion and chose to remain in the cycle of birth and death so that the others would not have to suffer. He saw that it was better that one should suffer than all. Avalokiteshvara, whose name means "The Lord Looking Down in Pity," agreed to take upon himself the suffering of the world. And he willed that the merit for this selfless act should go out from him to all beings, so that all should be saved. I will not enter nirvana, he vowed, until all beings have entered nirvana.

The name also means “The Lord Who is Seen Within,” for at that moment all sentient beings did enter nirvana. And Avalokiteshvara remained behind to live their incarnations for them. Thus each and every one of us is Avalokiteshvara fulfilling his vow. We are not separate individuals, we are really that One Being. Hence, compassion for others isn’t just about being nice; it’s about recognizing the reality that that other person really is you. The neighbor Jesus says to love as yourself is yourself.

It is said there are Three Wonders of the Bodhisattva. The first is that he is androgynous, simultaneously both male and female, transcending the polarity of gender. That’s why he is so sweet and lovable: he/she blends the best of masculinity and the best of femininity.

The second wonder is that he sees there is no difference between nirvana and the life of suffering and rebirth in time, no difference between eternity and temporality, no difference between heaven and earth. Thus he could renounce his own nirvana and embrace all human experience. This life is nirvana; this is heaven on earth.

And the third wonder is that the first two wonders are the same!

That’s why this is such a nice myth for gay people. It says we’re really all One, all reflections of one another, that the distinction between male and female is illusory and needs to be transcended and that transcending gender is part and parcel with experiencing heaven now.
Toby Johnson is a former Catholic monk turned gay author and GLBT activist. A student of Joseph Campbell, Johnson has written 10 books, including the classic Gay Spirituality, Two Spirits, and Secret Matter. He is production manager of Lethe Press and former editor of White Crane Journal. Click here for more of his writing about Kuan Yin / Avalokiteshvara.

P.S. on 5/25/10.  Click here to see the excellent article "Kuan Yin: Mirror of the Queer Asian Christ" by Patrick Cheng, assistant professor of theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.
William Hart McNichols is a renowned iconographer and Roman Catholic priest based in New Mexico. His icons have been commissioned by churches, celebrities and national publications.
This post is part of the GLBT Saints series at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints and holy people of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.

Day 7: Jesus visits hell

A queer version of Christ’s Passion is running in daily installments this week from Palm Sunday through Easter. Each daily post features a queer Christian painting and an excerpt from the novel Jesus in Love: At the Cross by Kittredge Cherry.

Whatever semi-disembodied state I was in, Satan was there, too. I was keenly aware of my body struggling against his. We were evenly matched in size and muscle. Judas’ corpse swung above us as we wrestled and punched each other. My lust for vengeance was an insatiable itch that made me want to scratch his eyes out and kill my enemy. I managed to pin Satan to the ground. He lay on his back with me on top, ready to strangle him. I wrapped my hands around his throat and squeezed. I was going to throttle the life out of Satan. That would stop him for good.

Just then he laughed with sheer delight. He wanted me to hit, hate, and kill him. He would never have come close enough to touch if he thought there would be any other outcome.

That ghastly laugh made me stop and remember who I was. Satisfying Satan horrified me. So did killing Satan, or killing anyone, even myself. In an extreme exercise of will, I relaxed my fist and stroked his leathery cheek and neck. Transcending myself like that required more strength than I thought I had.

Satan couldn’t help enjoying the touch. He turned his head and kissed my hand once shyly to let me know he wanted more. I caressed his invisible face again. He was hairy with a beard like mine. In fact, I noticed that his whole face was almost exactly like mine.

I found that I still had the power to whisper, “I forgive you, Brother. And I forgive myself.”

I broke the law of cause and effect that I myself had set up at creation, and a burst of energy was released. I was just as angry at Satan, but I gave him love anyway—something completely different from the worship that he had sought from me. My love was tough enough to withstand even the ongoing war between us. I reached a state of inner balance. If I was only human, I
would have been too weak to resist Satan, and yet without my humanity I would have lost, too, for my divine heart would not approach a sinner as vile as Satan. Loving in this way actually gave me more strength, although I found that I no longer needed to use it. Satan was resting peacefully beneath me.

“It is finished,” he announced.

I was confused. “Huh?”

“I release you. You win—this time.” He pushed me away.

The small amount of love that we exchanged was enough to topple his kingdom. I hurtled back toward the realm of solid light. I careened through a galaxy where the name of every human soul was spelled out in starlight, purging sin from human cellular memories as I went. The souls came untangled. In their newfound freedom, they looked to me like an omni-dimensional tapestry of stars shooting beams of energy, one to another. Each human soul chose to send its energy to every other soul, with the love between them lasting always.

In a flash, I comprehended a great truth: Once you love someone, that love lasts forever in the universe. Love never ends. Satan’s big lie was that hatred, fear, sin, and death can sometimes conquer love. No. Time makes them fade, while love endures forever. Love—love in any form whatsoever, any love that is ever loved—remains and is gradually filling the vast expanse of the universe.

(Continued here tomorrow)


Gary Speziale is an openly gay New York artist whose art flows naturally from his full-bodied Roman Catholicism and who experiences life as one holy, homoerotic whole. He did the cover art for the “Jesus in Love” novels by Kittredge Cherry.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Day 6: Jesus dies on the cross

The Crucifixion of Christ by Becki Jayne Harrelson

A queer version of Christ’s Passion is running in daily installments this week from Palm Sunday through Easter. Each daily post features a queer Christian painting and an excerpt from the novel Jesus in Love: At the Cross by Kittredge Cherry.

I looked at John. His sorrow affirmed his love for me. Grief caused him to tighten his gnarled fingers into fists, screw up his wrinkled face, and raise those dark, wistful eyes toward heaven. I longed to comfort him and remind him of the new relationship I foresaw between us, something like my marriage to the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t say much, so I chose simple statements.

I fixed my eyes on Mom until I was sure that she and John both saw me looking at her. Then I nodded my head a little to indicate John and called out, “Woman, here is your son.”

To John I cried, “Here is your mother.” I hoped that he would understand the nuance behind my words. I wasn’t leaving them alone. We were a new kind of family.

“Yes, we’ll take care of each other,” Mom shouted to me.

Satan’s chilling laugh cut her off. “Not likely! Not tonight!”

… The next time that I looked down from the cross to Golgotha… My divine heart bled for them and for all human souls tangled across time. The rosy light flared out from my heart, so intense that it seemed like darkness to some.

My breath was sputtering out.

“It is finished,” I sighed.

(Continued here tomorrow)

[Note: For a woman’s version of the crucifixion, see “Christa” by Edwina Sandys at:

AIDS Crucifixion by William Hart McNichols ©
Becki Jayne Harrelson is an Atlanta artist who challenges mainstream religious beliefs via art. Raised in a fundamentalist Christian family, she cares passionately about lesbian rights and other justice issues. Father William Hart McNichols is a renowned iconographer and Roman Catholic priest based in New Mexico. He worked at an AIDS hospice in New York City from 1983-90.