Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blasphemy charges filed for Greek gay Jesus play "Corpus Christi"

“Corpus Christi” photo by EJ Camp, courtesy of 108 Productions

Blasphemy charges were filed against the actors, producer and director of the gay Jesus play “Corpus Christi” in Greece this month after violent protests forced cancellation of the show.

Greek Orthodox priests and members of the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party protested outside the Hytirio theater in downtown Athens almost daily for weeks, according to news reports by Reuters and others. Protestors blocked the theater entrance and clashed with police, forcing the premiere of “Corpus Christi” to be cancelled twice before the whole production was shut down.

Blasphemy laws are rarely enforced in Greece, but director Laertis Vasilio and the cast could face several months in jail if convicted of “malicious blasphemy” and “insulting religion.”

Corpus Christi has been causing controversy since 1998, when bomb threats from religious conservatives almost prevented its Off-Broadway opening. Written by American playwright Terrence McNally, the updated Passion play retells the gospel with Jesus as a gay man in 1950s Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Corpus Christi” continues to be produced around the world, including an international revival tour by 108 Productions that has continued to sell-out audience since 2006.

“We are not involved with the Greek production but have stayed acutely aware of its progress and certainly keep them all in our prayers and thoughts,” said James Brandon, producer, director and actor at 108 Productions, which is based in America. “Although we may get thousands of protest emails daily we are blessed and lucky not to be able to be charged!”

Controversy over the play is explored on film in “Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption,” a new documentary from 108 Productions (trailer below). The film follows the troupe, playwright and audiences across the United States and around the world on a five-year journey as protestors and supporters clash over a central issue facing the LGBT community: religion-based bias.

Related links:

Blasphemy charges filed over gay Jesus play in Greece (Reuters)

Greece Prosecutes Corpus Christi for Blasphemy (Greek Reporter)

Rehearsal photos from the Greek production of “Corpus Christi” (Facebook)

Gay Jesus kiss: "Corpus Christi" play behind the scenes (Jesus in Love)

This post is part of the Queer Christ series series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Harvey Milk: Gay rights pioneer assassinated Nov. 27, 1978

“Harvey Milk of San Francisco” by Brother Robert Lentz, OFM. (

Pioneering gay rights activist Harvey Milk was assassinated 34 years ago today on Nov. 27, 1978. Milk is the first* and most famous openly gay male elected official in California, and perhaps the world. He became the public face of the LGBT rights movement, and his reputation has continued to grow since his death. He has been called a martyr for LGBT rights -- and for all human rights.

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country,” Milk once said. Two bullets did enter his brain, and his vision of LGBT people living openly is also coming true.

Milk (1930-1978) served only 11 months on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before he was killed, but in that short time he fought for the rights of the elderly, small business owners, and the many ethnic communities in his district as well as for the growing LGBT community.

Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 after three unsuccessful election attempts. Haunted by the sense that he would be killed for political reasons, Milk recorded tapes to be played in the event of his assassination. His message, recorded nine days before his death, included this powerful statement:

“I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that's what this is all about. It's not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it's about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope.”

Shots fired by conservative fellow supervisor Dan White cut Milk’s life short. More than 30 years later, the hope and the movement for LGBT rights are more alive than ever.

Milk has received many honors for his visionary courage and commitment to equality. He is the only openly gay person in the United States to have an official state holiday in his name. Harvey Milk Day is celebrated in California on Milk’s birthday, May 22. The bill establishing Harvey Milk Day was signed in to law in fall 2009. State employees still have to work on Harvey Milk Day, but California public schools are encouraged to teach suitable commemorative lessons about the gay rights activist.

In 2009 Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He was included in the Time “100 Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century” for being “a symbol of what gays can accomplish and the dangers they face in doing so.”

He is the subject of two Oscar-winning movies, “Milk” (2008) and “The Times of Harvey Milk” (1984), as well as the book “The Mayor of Castro Street” by Randy Shilts.

The Harvey Milk icon painted by Robert Lentz (pictured above) was hailed as a “national gay treasure” by gay author/activist Toby Johnson. Milk holds a candle and wears an armband with a pink triangle, the Nazi symbol for gay men, expressing solidarity with all who were tortured or killed because of their sexual orientation. It is one of 40 icons featured in the book “Christ in the Margins” by Robert Lentz and Edwina Gateley.

It is one of 10 Lentz icons that sparked a major controversy in 2005. Critics accused Lentz of glorifying sin and creating propaganda for a progressive sociopolitical agenda, and he temporarily gave away the copyright for the controversial images to his distributor, Trinity Stores. All 10 are now displayed there as a collection titled “Images That Challenge.”

The icon has also been criticized for portraying Milk, a secular Jew, in a iconographic style rooted in Christian tradition. “The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, that my friends, that is true perversion!” He is honored in the interfaith LGBTQ Saints series here as a martyr who died in the struggle for gay rights.

[*Note: When Milk was elected, two gay politicians were already in office: lesbian Massachusetts State Representative Elaine Noble and Minnesota State Senator Allan Spear, who came out after he won re-election.]

Icons of Harvey Milk and many others are available on cards, plaques, T-shirts, mugs, candles, mugs, and more at

This post is part of the LGBT 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.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Jesus in Love Blog!

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

I give thanks for the many people who read and support my blog on LGBT spirituality with their time, talent and resources. Thank you!

Today this scripture expresses the song in my soul: “Sing and make music from your heart to God, always giving thanks to the Creator for everything.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving with an excerpt from “Thanksgiving Rite” by Zalmon Sherwood, published in Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations:

Reader: With the rainbow we celebrate the vibrance and diversity of lesbian and gay pilgrims. We’re everywhere. Every day. And we are forever the pilgrims in this land.

All: Blessed be, blessed be. We’ve always been here. We always will be. Pilgrims in this land.

Reader: As gay and lesbian pilgrims, we believe it is a matter of faith to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. We believe in recognizing equally and loving all members of the human family, whatever their race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental capacity. We believe the Earth, its creatures, and the universe are good, beautiful, and sacred parts of creation that must be protected and cared for. We believe that we are born to accept responsibility, to take a stand on vital issues, and to work to secure freedom, justice, and love for all persons.

All: We believe it is the divine power within us that gives us courage and stamina to face the truth and to live it, even to die for it. Let us go forth, continuing this celebration in the knowledge that we are pilgrims, that hope for a new world is in our hearts, that the struggle for justice is our calling. Let us greet each other with open arms, with heads held high. Grab hold of the future and change the world as pilgrims in this land.
This post is part of the LGBT Holidays 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 LGBT and queer people of faith and our allies.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Transgender Day of Remembrance: Nov. 20, 2012

For a new version of this article, click
Transgender Day of Remembrance: Spiritual resources

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy 7th birthday, Jesus in Love!

Today Jesus In Love celebrates seven years of supporting LGBT spirituality and the arts. I founded it on Nov. 17, 2005 to present a positive spiritual vision for queer people and our allies.

To send a birthday gift, click the “GoFundMe” button below or visit my donate page.

Jesus In Love promotes artistic and religious freedom and teaches love for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or religious faith. It is needed because Christian rhetoric is often misused to justify hate and discrimination against LGBT people.

I launched with a news release titled “New Website Dares to Show Gay Jesus.” Since then it has grown to serve more people in more ways.

Traffic at the Jesus in Love Blog more than doubled this year with 97,000 visits and 187,000 page views. Subscriptions to the free Jesus in Love e-newsletter continue to grow, recently surpassing 800 subscribers.

The content has also expanded beyond the original emphasis on the queer Christ, and now includes a wider variety of artists, holidays and my popular LGBT saints series.

Jesus in Love has won many honors -- and I also get a lot of hate mail from conservative Christians. A typical negative comment is, “Gays are not wanted in the kingdom of Christ! They are cast into the lake of fire.”

The ongoing religious bigotry proves that Jesus In Love is needed now as much as ever. Readers call it “the most radically progressive and life affirming Christian LGBT site on the Internet” and “one of the most refreshing voices I currently encounter online.”

Thank you for your support over the years. I look forward to another year of bringing joy and justice to LGBT people of faith and our supporters.

Image credit: Birthday cake from

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Top 22 gay Jesus books: Queer Christ is ready for readers

I compiled a list of 22 books about the gay Jesus and the queer Christ. These books are important because conservatives use Christian rhetoric to justify hate and discrimination against LGBT people.

The number of books about the queer Christ continues to grow. They include works of theology, anthropology and history as well as art, poetry, and fiction. There might be others, but I don’t know about them -- yet.

Every community presents Jesus in their own way. There’s black Jesus, Asian Jesus -- and now gay Jesus to heal the damage being done in Christ’s name. The queer Christ has been denounced as blasphemy, but I experience the queer Christ as a blessing that builds faith by embodying God’s wildly inclusive love for all.

Some of Christ's followers preach hate, but Christ loved everyone, including sexual outcasts -- and was killed for it. Whenever anyone commits violence against another, Christ is crucified -- including when LGBT people are attacked or killed for loving someone of the same sex. Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.” It’s okay to imagine yourself in the story of Jesus. He is ALL of us.” We are the body of Christ.

Nobody knows for sure whether the historical Jesus was attracted to other men. Being human, Jesus must have had sexual feelings. Being divine, Christ lives in every individual of every sexual orientation and gender identity. The following books explore his queer identity from a wide spectrum of different viewpoints.

1. The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament by Theodore W. Jennings Jr. Pilgrim Press, 2003.
The historical Jesus defied gender roles, supported same-sex relationships—and probably had a male lover himself. A Chicago Theological Seminary professor tells all. This is the definitive book on Biblical evidence for a gay Jesus.

2. From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ by Patrick Cheng. Seabury Books, 2012.
Cheng proposes seven new models of sin and grace based on LGBT experience. The author is an Episcopal Divinity School theology professor with a law degree from Harvard. He sweeps away the old law to make room for the Out Christ, the Erotic Christ, the Liberator Christ, and more.

3. Gospel of John in the Bible. The story is in every Bible, including fabulous new Queen James Bible with a rainbow cross on the cover and eight anti-gay verses edited. John’s gospel is where it all began -- with the account written by the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” The beloved disciple describes how he lay on Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper and witnessed the crucifixion. He reports how Jesus spoke to him from the cross, entrusting his mother and his beloved into each other’s care. If you don’t already have a favorite Bible translation, I recommend The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version.

4. Corpus Christi by Terrence McNally. Grove Press, 1998.
Bomb threats almost prevented the off-Broadway opening of this bittersweet play about Jesus as a gay teen in 1950s-era Texas. The play is still causing controversy. A theater in Athens, Greece canceled performances of “the gay Jesus play” this month after protests by neo-Nazis grew violent. A behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the play is also available.

5. Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More by Kittredge Cherry. AndroGyne Press, 2007.
Art that dares to show Jesus as gay or female has been censored or destroyed. Eleven artists tell the stories behind their controversial images, and an introduction puts them into context, exploring issues of blasphemy and artistic freedom. This Lambda Literary Award finalist was written by a lesbian art historian. Packed with glorious color illustrations.

6. The Kairos by Paul Hartman. CarpeKairos Publishers, 2011.
Get ready for a wild ride that reads like a gay version of “The DaVinci Code.” In this thriller an archeologist finds evidence confirming a favorite dream of LGBT Christians: Jesus was gay! Dead Sea Scrolls fragments with eyewitness accounts that say Jesus and John, the Beloved Disciple, became intimate life-companions in Qumran. Powerful forces, including the Vatican and the CIA, unite to stop him from revealing the truth. Hartman is a Presbyterian elder and retired PBS/NPR exec.

7. Queering Christ: Beyond Jesus Acted Up by Robert E. Goss. Pilgrim Press, 2002.
Scholarly yet provocative and sometimes personal, this Lambda Literary Award finalist explores the queer Christ through such topics as erotic contemplatives and the heart-genital connection. Ordained as a Jesuit, Goss wrote the book when he was a religion professor at Webster University.

8. “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by Kittredge Cherry with art by Douglas Blanchard.
Meet Jesus as a gay man of today in a contemporary city with these powerful paintings and commentary. The modern Christ figure and his diverse friends live out a 21st-century version of Jesus’ last days, including the crucifixion and resurrection. The illustrated book brings together a gifted gay artist and an established lesbian author who specializes in LGBT Christian art. Readers call it “accessible but profound.”

9. Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love by Will Roscoe. Suspect Thoughts Press, 2004.
Did Jesus do a naked baptism rite with the man he loved? An anthropologist seeks answers in the Secret Gospel of Mark, tribal cultures, and his own life.

10. Jesus in Love: A Novel by Kittredge Cherry. AndroGyne Press, 2006.
A queer Christ has today’s emotional sophistication as he lives out the Christian story in first-century Palestine. The gender-blind, gender-bending Jesus falls in love with people of both sexes -- and with the omnigendered Holy Spirit. He leads disciples of both sexes beyond ordinary consciousness to reach ecstatic union with God. In the sequel, At the Cross, Jesus transcends gender identity, sexual orientation and ultimately death itself.

11. The Secret Gospel: The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark by Morton Smith. Dawn Horse Press, 2005 (reprint).
A lost gospel with homoerotic details about Jesus’ relationship with a naked young man was discovered in 1958 by Morton Smith, professor of ancient history at Columbia University. His discovery caused a sensation and spawned other books studying the text. Alas, recently Secret Mark was discredited as a possible hoax in books. (See #15).

12. Conjuring Jesus by Brian Day. Guernica Editions, 2008.
A vibrantly alive Jesus, complete with homoerotic desires, emerges from the poetry of Toronto teacher Brian Day in this book. He conjures up a Jesus who is both sexual and spiritual, “wholly versatile” and “an unscrupulous party boy” who eats and drinks with sinners. Day’s 2013 poetry book “The Daring of Paradise” also includes some spectacular homoerotic poems about Jesus.

13. The Marien Revelation by Miguel Santana. Alligator Press, 2010.
Santana depicts Jesus as the lover of the male “Beloved” in this imaginative novel. Born in Mexico, Santana is a gay man and an internationally published author with a Ph. D. in Hispanic Literature from the University of Texas. His novel weaves together the lives of Mary, mother of Jesus, and Marién Valbuena, a 21st-century feminist theology professor whose roots are both Mexican and Mormon. The relationship between Jesus and his male lover is only a minor subplot -- but what a subplot!

14. The Gay Disciple: Jesus' Friend Tells It His Own Way by John Henson. John Hunt Publishing, 2006.
This novel reimagines the events of the New Testament from the viewpoint of minor characters such as the Beloved Disciple, who describes his infatuation with Jesus. The author is a LGBT Christian activist and retired Baptist minister in Wales.

15. The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark by Stephen C. Carlson. Baylor University Press, 2005.
Hopes ran high that the historical Jesus’ homosexuality could be proven by the Secret Gospel of Mark (See #6). Here an attorney debunks the document as a modern forgery. Another book unmasking the fraud is The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery by Peter Jeffery, Yale University Press, 2007.

16. Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low. AuthorHouse, 2011.
The author, a retired California physician, presents a disturbing portrait of a closeted Jesus who felt shame over his same-sex relationships. The whole book is an analysis of why Jesus was condemned to death. The “dark knowledge” of the title is that Jesus was executed for homosexual acts with John, witnessed by Judas.

17. If Jesus were Gay by Emanuel Xavier. Queer Mojo, 2010.
Both sacred and profane, Xavier’s poems honor Christ in a delightfully queer way. He makes sweet poetry out of his experiences as a gay Latino whose painful past includes sexual abuse at age 3 and rejection by his Catholic mother for being gay at age 16, leading to homelessness, drug dealing, prostitution -- and at last to poetry. The title poem questions whether people would still love and worship Jesus if he was gay.

18. It Was Too Soon Before: The Unlikely Life, Untimely Death, and Unexpected Rebirth of Gay Pioneer, Dirk Vanden”… by Dirk Vanden. Lethe Press, 2012.
In this autobiography Vanden tells how he fell in love with Jesus while growing up gay in a sexually repressive Mormon family. During an acid trip at a gay bathhouse in San Francisco in 1970, Vanden had a life-changing experience of seeing Jesus incarnated in every Gay man, including the author himself. He also writes about that gay Jesus vision in his gay murder mystery/romance All of Me (Can You Take All of Me?).

19. McCleary, Rollan. Signs for a Messiah: The First and Last Evidence for Jesus. Hazard Press, 2003. [Update: A newer, fuller treatment is in his 2012 book "Testament of the Magi: Mysteries of the Birth and Life of Christ."]
An Australian theologian finds evidence of Jesus’ homosexuality in the Bible and astrology.

20. Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey. Hodder Export, 2011.
Jesus is an actively bisexual hipster in America today in this novel. It follows the spirit of the gospels and critics call it “brilliant.” Frey is the bestselling author who caused a scandal by fabricating parts of his bestselling autobiography "A Million Little Pieces."

21. Gay Jesus by Steve Gillman. Webhiker LLC, 2012.
“What if Jesus was gay?” is the provocative question explored in the title essay of “Gay Jesus” by entrepreneur Steve Gillman. He makes some witty and valid predictions about how conservative Christians would reveal their anti-gay prejudice. However, it seems like Gillman uses “gay Jesus” mostly as a gimmick to gain attention.

22. The Gay Jesus by Michael Brooks. Essays provide a satirical look at politics.

Image: A selection of gay Jesus books from my personal library,
including the good old family Bible (photo by Audrey)

Recommended by readers

Christology from the Margins by Thomas Bohache. SCM Press, 2009.

The Queer Bible Commentary by Deryn Guest (Author, Editor), Robert E. Goss (Editor), Mona West (Editor), Thomas Bohache (Editor). SCM Press, 2006.

Related links:

Top 35 LGBTQ Christian books of 2016 named

Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2015 named (Jesus in Love)

Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2014 named (Jesus in Love)

Queer Theology book list (from theologian Patrick Cheng)

Jesus in Love Bookstore (includes LGBT Christian classics)

15 LGBTQ Christian Valentine’s Day books, movies and gifts (Jesus in Love)

This post is part of the Queer Christ series series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others. More queer Christ images are compiled in my book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ruth and Naomi: Whither thou goest, I will go

“Ruth’s Wise Choice,” 1907 Bible card by the Providence Lithograph Company (Wikimedia Commons)

Love between women is honored in the lives of Biblical figures Ruth and Naomi. Some churches observe their feast day today (Dec. 20).

Ruth’s famous vows to Naomi are often used in weddings -- heterosexual as well as same-sex marriages. Few people realize that these beautiful promises were originally spoken by one woman to another:

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
(Ruth 1:16)

For a new version of this article, click this link to
Ruth and Naomi: Biblical women who loved each other

The old-fashioned King James translation, still beloved by many, begins, “Whither thou goest, I will go…”

In the Bible Ruth was born to a pagan family and married the Jewish man Boaz. In Judaism she is honored as a convert. Ruth is an ancestor of Jesus Christ, listed in his genealogy in the gospel of Matthew. It reports mostly a male lineage, and Ruth is one of only four women who are included.

Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth and Orpah. After their husbands died, Naomi urged both of them to remarry. But Ruth refused, declaring her love in words that have extra meaning for LGBT people because they were spoken between women.

Were Ruth and Naomi lesbians? The same Hebrew word (dabaq) is used to describe Adam’s feelings for Eve and Ruth’s feelings for Naomi. In Genesis 2:24 it says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” The way that Adam “cleaved” to Eve is the way that Ruth “clung” to Naomi. Countless couples have validated this interpretation by using their vows as a model for how spouses should love each other.

The openly lesbian interpretation dates back at least to 1937, when the novel “Pity for Women” by Helen Anderson was published. The two main characters, Ann and Judith, recite Ruth's famous vow to show their commitment as a lesbian couple.

Contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Marsha Stevens of Florida used their vow as the basis for the song she wrote for her legal wedding to Cindy Pino: “Wherever You Go.” She sings about how Cindy grew up feeling alone as “a guest at every wedding, an extra place at meals,” with nobody recognizing her lesbian relationships as family. But the mood shifts after a chorus with Ruth’s vow to Naomi :

Now we stand on sacred ground, our families near,
Law allows these holy vows, your home is here.

“Wherever You Go” is available for listening and download at BALM (Born Again Lesbian Music) Ministries:

Enjoy a selection of Bible illustrations that celebrate the love between these two women of spirit. If you look closely, it sometimes seems that they are about to kiss.

Ruth and Naomi from

The previous two images are details from larger scenes that show Orpah leaving while Ruth stays with Naomi.

Ruth clings to Naomi (

“Naomi and Her Daughters-in-Law” from Doré's English Bible, 1866 (Wikimedia Commons)

“Ruth and Naomi” by Brandon Buehring

Artist Brandon Buehring included Ruth and Naomi in his “Legendary Love: A Queer History Project.” He uses pencil sketches and essays “to remind queer people and our allies of our sacred birthright as healers, educators, truth-tellers, spiritual leaders, warriors and artists.” The project features 20 sketches of queer historical and mythological figures from many cultures around the world. He has a M.Ed. degree in counseling with an LGBT emphasis from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He works in higher education administration as well as being a freelance illustrator based in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Ruth and Naomi’s love has been illustrated by many artists, including the great English Romantic painter William Blake.

“Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to the land of Moab” by William Blake, 1795 (Wikimedia Commons)

The hardships experienced by Ruth and Naomi are often overshadowed by their famous vow of love and their association with the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. Ruth is revered as a Jewish convert and an ancestor of Jesus. But Ruth and her Israelite mother-in-law were so poor that Ruth had to survive by picking up leftover grains of barley in the fields after harvest. Gay Israeli artist Adi Nes brings home the reality of their poverty by showing the pair scavenging onions from a contemporary street littered with trash after an open-air market. They are posed like the peasants in Millet’s “The Gleaners,” a painting well known for showing the dignity of society’s poorest members.

“Untitled (Ruth and Naomi)” by Adi Nes

The careworn faces of Ruth and her beloved Naomi become visible in a second portrait by Nes. He shows that their love for each other is all they have as they sit together among discarded crates. For more about Adi Nes, see my previous post "Adi Nes: Gay Israeli artist humanizes Bible stories."

“Untitled (Ruth and Naomi)” by Adi Nes

The painting below, “Whither Thou Goest” by Trudie Barreras, was commissioned in 2004 by Rev. Paul Graetz, pastor of City of Light / First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, for a sermon series that he was doing on the Book of Ruth.

“Whither Thou Goest” by Trudie Barreras, 2004
Acrylic, 18” x 14.” Collection of City of Light / First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, GA.

A billboard featuring Ruth and Naomi is part of the Would Jesus Discriminate project sponsored by Metropolitan Community Churches. It states boldly, “Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve. Genesis 2:24. Ruth 1:14.” The website gives a detailed explanation.

Ruth and Naomi billboard from from and

For more info on the billboards, see the previous post, “Billboards show gay-friendly Jesus.”

For more on Ruth and Naomi, visit the following links:

Queering the Church: Ruth and Naomi

Pharsea’s World: Homosexuality and Tradition: Ruth and Naomi

Stroppy Rabbit Blog: Naomi and Ruth in art

Conjubilant with Song Blog: “Song of Ruth” hymn by Fanny Crosby, 1875

Rut y Noemí: El amor entre mujeres en la Biblia (Santos Queer)

Special thanks to CJ Barker for the news tip.

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.