Friday, November 01, 2013

All Saints Day 2013: Queer and LGBT saints and martyrs honored

Altar Cross of LGBTQ Martyrs from Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco

All Saints Day is celebrated today by adding seven new profiles to the LGBTQ Saints page at

“Saint Sebastian”
by Il Sodoma
The most popular new addition is Saint Sebastian, a third-century martyr who has been called history’s first gay icon and the patron saint of homosexuals.

Other newcomers on the list include traditional saints Bernard of Clairvaux and the Black Madonna of Czestochowa as well as modern figures such as the founders of PFLAG, the martyrs of the 1973 Upstairs Lounge fire and Vida Dutton Scudder, a lesbian teacher and Episcopal saint born in 1871.

Queer and LGBT saints are important because people are searching for alternative ways to lead loving lives. Churches have tried to control people by burying queer history. The LGBTQ saints show us not only their place in history, but also our own place -- because we are all saints who are meant to embody love. We can tap into the energy of our ancestors in faith. For some they become friends, helpers and miracle-workers. I created the LGBT Saints page to give people an easy way to find the spiritual resources that they seek. For more info, see my essay Why we need LGBT saints.

In addition five profiles of saints (or paired saints) received major rewrites, including some long-time favorites at the Jesus in Love Blog: martyrs Sergius and Bacchus and Biblical heroes David and Jonathan. Almost every profile on the page has been updated and expanded in minor ways this year.

Another breakthrough this year is bringing LGBT saints to Spanish readers. Profiles of traditional LGBT saints are translated into Spanish at the new Santos Queer Blog. Some even attracted more readers than the original English versions. Saint Sebastian was the most popular saint at Santos Queer.

LGBT Saints page
With these new saints, the LGBT Saints page has grown to 62 profiles. They include 34 traditional Christian and 28 alternative figures. Along with official saints, there are martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to LGBTQ people and our allies.

Here is a list of new saints who are welcomed to the LGBT Saints page today.

Traditional Christian

“Bernard of Clairvaux”
by Rowan Lewgalon

New additions:

Saints Bernard of Clairvaux and Malachy: Honey-tongued abbot and the archbishop he loved

Saint Sebastian: History’s first gay icon

Black Madonna becomes lesbian defender: Erzuli Dantor and Our Lady of Czestochowa

Major rewrites:

David and Jonathan: Love between men in the Bible

Francis of Assisi’s queer side revealed by new historical evidence

John the Evangelist: Beloved Disciple of Jesus

Saints Sergius and Bacchus: Male couple martyred in ancient Rome

Saint Wilgefortis: Bearded woman

19th to 21st century

Vida Dutton Scudder

New additions:

Jeanne Manford: PFLAG founder loved her gay son

Vida Dutton Scudder: Lesbian saint, teacher and reformer

Adele Starr and others: Patron saints for straight allies of LGBT people

UpStairs Lounge fire remembered 40 years later: 32 died in deadliest attack on LGBT people
This article is illustrated with the Altar Cross of LGBTQ Martyrs. It was constructed by a congregant at Metropolitan Community Church of San Franscico for All Saints Day (All Hallows) worship services there. The cross features newspaper photos of Matthew Shepard and Harvey Milk. In the center of the cross is the fence where Shepard was tortured and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming.  He died on 10/12/88.

Other LGBTQ martyr named on the cross are:
Brian Wilmes – Hate Crimes Slaying 09/08/99 in San Francisco
Lawrence King – Hate Crimes Murder 02/12/08 in Oxnard, Ca.
Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill – Murdered 12-04-95 in Medford, Oregon
Harvey Milk – Assassinated - 11/27/78
Tyra Hunter – Medical Care Denied – 08/07/95 in Washington D.C.
Gwen Araujo – Hate Crimes Murder – 10/03/02 in Newark, Calif.
Thank you to Lynn Jordan for the photo and information about the Altar Cross of LGBTQ Martyrs.

Let us be inspired by the LGBT saints who surround us as a “great cloud of witnesses.”  May we commit ourselves to our own queer spiritual journeys.
Related links:

Why we need LGBT saints by Kittredge Cherry

An All Hallows' Eve Vigil to Begin Transgender Awareness Month by H. Adam Ackley (Huff Post)

A queer theology of sainthood emerges (99 Brattle blog of Episcopal Divinity School)

Feminism leads to a queer theology of sainthood (Feminism and Religion Blog)

Who are the "Queer Saints and Martyrs"? by Terence Weldon (Queering the Church)

LGBT-friendly memorial for All Saints, All Souls and Day of the Dead

LGBT litany of the saints: Harvey Milk, pray for us; Joan of Arc, pray for us... by Rachel Waltz

Santos Queer (LGBT Saints by Kittredge Cherry in Spanish / en español) (innovative icons, including some LGBT saints)

A Litany of All the Saints by James Kiefer

Sanctity And Male Desire: A Gay Reading Of Saints by Donald Boisvert

Passionate Holiness: Marginalized Christian Devotions for Distinctive People by Dennis O’Neill

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

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