Sunday, December 14, 2014

Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2014 named

Dozens of books with LGBTQ Christian themes were published in 2014. Here is a list of the top 25 – starting with the fun stuff.

The list goes on to include the Bible, theology, art, memoir, novels and LGBT people in the church.

The year's diverse group of authors approaches the subject in all different ways: from Biblical to biographies, scholarly or simple, fiction and non-fiction, for young and old. Enjoy!

And please let me know if I missed anything. I will keep adding to the list.

Even I was surprised and inspired by the mind-boggling quantity and variety of LGBT Christian titles when I compiled this year’s book list. What was once marginal has gone mainstream. What began as a trickle has become an avalanche!

A few trends emerged. Several church leaders who used to preach against homosexuality chronicle how they changed their minds. And there are multiple titles about same-sex marriage.

Fun stuff

The Art of Coming Out: Cartoons for the LGBTQ Community” by David Hayward.
Cartoons by the artist known as “Naked Pastor” use humor to show the ups and downs of LGBT people in the church. It is divided into three chapters: the discrimination, the struggle, and the affirmation. His Jesus is always siding with rainbow people. Makes you laugh, makes you think.

Grace and Demion: A Fable for Victims of Biblical Intolerance” by Mel White.
Bestselling author Mel White writes a fable that uses a comic style for a serious purpose: It is a moving allegory for Mel's own life and his brave struggle to free himself and other LGBT people from religious oppression. Demon-in-training Demion battles guardian angel Grace for the soul of a young gay Boy Scout. White received the ACLU'S National Civil Liberties Award for his years of LGBT religious activism, including the founding of Soulforce.


The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical's Change of Heart” by Mark Achtemeier.
An Iowa Presbyterian pastor and theologian describes how his understanding of the Bible evolved to lead him from being a conservative, evangelical opponent of LGBT rights to an outspoken activist for same-sex marriage.

God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” by Matthew Vines.
Definitely the year’s most buzzed-about LGBT Christian book. Vines, age 24, is an evangelical gay Christian who has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today. His book expands on his YouTube video "The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality,” which went viral with more than 500,000 views. He took a leave of absence from Harvard to launch the Reformation Project, a non-profit dedicated to training LGBT Christians and  allies to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity.


Peculiar Faith: Queer Theology for Christian Witness” by Jay Emerson Johnson.
A quote from this book says it all: “Queer gifts emerge in Christian communities when LGBT people no longer feel compelled to justify their presence in those communities.” The author teaches at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley while serving as clergy at an Episcopal church.

A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin's Blues Project and Gospel Prose” by E.L. Kornegay.
A theology professor reconciles sexuality and faith by “placing sex in the place where rage produces theological violence understood as sexism and homophobia.” He brings together queer theory with the work of celebrated African American writer James Baldwin.

Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms” edited by Michael Pettinger, Kathleen Talvacchia, and Mark Larrimore.
Queer theory, religious studies, theology and Christian faith are used to re-examine celibacy, matrimony, and what is provocatively called “promiscuity” here.

Art books

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.”

Holy Women Icons” by Angela Yarber.
Artist and Baptist pastor Angela Yarber presents about 50 color images of her folk feminist icons, along with their biographies. Her diverse icons range from Mary, Mother of God to Maya Angelou, plus goddesses such as Pachamama. She features a variety of lesbians, such as Sappho and Mary Daly. Voluptuous, vibrantly alive and life-giving women dance through this treasury of female icons. Most are uncanonized by the church, but Yarber's paintbrush consecrates a wide variety of women to become unconventional saints whose lives inspire people with new models of holiness. Grounded in solid scholarly study, "Holy Women Icons" is as accessible as a rainbow and just as beautiful.

Memoir and autobiography

Hiding from Myself: A Memoir” by Bryan Christopher.
A difficult passage from self-denial to self-acceptance takes the author from a childhood in Bible-Belt Texas to ringing doorbells for Jesus in the Castro of San Francisco, being a butler at the Playboy Mansion, UCLA frat-house beer parties and wholehearted immersion in ex-gay conversion therapy.

And God Save Judy Garland: A Gay Christian's Journey” by Randy Eddy-McCain.
An openly gay pastor in Arkansas tells how he reconciled his sexuality and spirituality after growing up in the Assemblies of God church there.

The Thousand-Petaled Lotus: Growing Up Gay in the Southern Baptist Church” by Michael Fields.
A humorous and thought-provoking memoir of growing up gay in the strict Southern Baptist culture of Tennessee by an author who now works in the Department of Veterans Affairs. His life unfolds like the thousand-petaled lotus of enlightenment in Hindu tradition.

Facing the Music: My Story” by Jennifer Knapp.
A big Christian music star’s career ended abruptly when she walked away and came out publicly as a lesbian. This is her story. The Australian-American singer went from a troubled childhood to stardom and now advocates for LGBT people in the church, all without losing her faith.

Going Gay: My Journey from Evangelical Christian Minister to Self-acceptance, Love, Life, and Meaning” by Tim Rymel.
Evangelical minister Tim Rymel was a major advocate for ex-gay therapy as the Outreach Director for Love in Action. Now he reveals the journey that led him to identify as gay and heal the harm done by “reparative therapies.”

Teaching the Cat to Sit: A Memoir” by Michelle Theall.
An award-winning writer weaves together two stories: growing up as a lesbian Catholic in the Texas Bible Belt and her recent public battle to baptize her adopted son in the local Catholic church. Eventually she discovers that in order to be a good mother, she may have to be a bad daughter.

Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith” by Eve Tushnet.
Billed as “the first book from an openly lesbian and celibate Catholic.” The only child of two atheist academics, the author was the unlikeliest of converts, moving from liberal atheism to faithful Catholicism. She offers a “third way” between the usual two options of rejecting one’s church or rejecting one’s sexuality.

Saved From Salvation: A Journey from Fundamentalism to a Ministry of Spiritual Humanism” by Durrell Watkins.
A readable personal account of a queer spiritual journey includes the arts, Buddhism, Goddess/Nature spirituality, and New Age spirituality as well as the more common church paths, all leading to an inclusive ministry in Metropolitan Community Churches. The final sections discuss the Bible and humanistic spirituality.


The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus: A Novel of Truth” by David Reddish.
Saints Sergius and Bacchus were third-century Roman soldiers, Christian martyrs -- and a committed same-sex couple. The close bond between the two men has been emphasized since the earliest accounts, but the novelist fills in the blanks, including a fictional account of their brother-making (adelphopoesis) ceremony.

Playing by the Book” by S. Chris Shirley.
This young-adult LGBT novel tells how a gay teenage preacher’s kid from Alabama goes to New York for a prestigious high school journalism workshop, where his beliefs about the Bible collide with his attraction to a handsome Jewish classmate named Sam. The author is a writer/director and president of Lambda Literary Foundation.

LGBT people in the church

Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach between the Conservative Church and the LGBT Christian Community” by Kathy Baldock.
Straight evangelical Christian Kathy Baldock became an advocate for LGBT inclusion in the church after meeting a Native American lesbian on a local hiking trail in 2001. Here she explains how and why church and society came to discriminate against LGBT people. Along the way she tells stories and testimonies.

Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism” by R.W. Holmen.
This well researched history book how LGBT clergy won the right to full inclusion in mainline denominations, including the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodists, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Holmen, a lifelong Lutheran, is an attorney who volunteered for Goodsoil, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

Entering into the Mystery: Passion, Resurrection, Healing and Wholeness” by Julian Meek.
A series of meditations on the Passion of Christ are presented from an LGBT perspective by a Welsh poet and cleric who was the first openly bisexual chairman of a local council.

Unnatural: Spiritual Resiliency in Queer Christian Women” by Rachel Murr.
A Minnesota therapist interviewed 10 queer women and one transman about how they kept their faith alive despite family rejection, ex-gay therapies, homelessness, suicide attempts and other hardships. She also tells how she reconciled her own lesbian identity and Christian faith by coming out as a college student.

More Perfect Union? Understanding Same-sex Christian Marriage” by Alan Wilson.
The only bishop in the Church of England who advocates full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the church explains the scientific, theological and Biblical basis of his position.

Late Additions

Tough Love: Sexuality, Compassion, and the Christian Right” by Cynthia Burack.

A women’s studies professor exposes how ex-gay and post-abortion ministries operate on a similar system of thought, analyzing their social implications.

Watch the Throne” by John Demetry.
The introduction to this book a film critic says, "Filtered through the Catholic lens, Demetry makes particularly indispensable contributions to gay cinema..."

Slouching towards Gaytheism: Christianity and Queer Survival in America” by W. C. Harris.
An English professor argues that homophobia will not be eradicated in the United States until religion is ended. He says attempts to reconcile Christianity with homosexuality are inadequate or dangerous, using specific examples such as the “It Gets Better” project.

Uncooperative Baptist” by Sea Lowder.
This book follows the reconciliation of an author described as “an uncooperative Baptist--decidedly agender with ‘facial hair and all,’ liberal, universalist, and ‘troll’ perhaps most surprisingly of all with a Spirit of Biblical obedience.”

It's Life Jim . . .: A Journey to Sexual and Spiritual Reconciliation via the Road of Fundamentalist Religion” by Jim Marjoram.
Gay New Zealand author describes how he struggled with “same-sex attraction” and fundamentalist Christianity. After two marriages and “the complete collapse of everything around him,” he finally finds unconditional love and self-acceptance.

Man to Man: Desire, Homosociality, and Authority in Late-Roman Manhood” by Mark Masterson.
Homosexuality was much more common in the early Christian Roman Empire than previously believed says scholar Mark Masterson in “Man to Man: Desire, Homosociality, and Authority in Late-Roman Manhood.” He surveys the presence of same-sex desire between men in the later Roman empire. For example, he takes a fresh look at the love between Saint Anthony of the Desert and Saint Paul the First Hermit. “My work pushes the conversation further along about sexuality in ancient times,” the author told the New Zealand Daily News. Ohio State University Press published this book by a senior lecturer of classics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

In the Life and in the Spirit: Homoerotic Spirituality in African American Literature” by Marlon Rachquel Moore.
Assumptions about what it means to be a black person of faith are challenged as an English professor examines a wide range of literature. The first of the book’s three sections is devoted to “gay Christianity,” including the gay Christian narrative in Langston Hughes’s “Blessed Assurance.” Jesus and the Biblical parables are discussed in later sections through a literary lens.

In the Middle of It: A Memoir” by Rev. Bob Scott.
A gay Anglican priest in New Zealand describes his 50 years of ministry, including 14 years on the staff of the World Council of Churches. The book describes him as "Faithful. Radical. Gay Storyteller."

Defrocked: How A Father's Act of Love Shook the United Methodist Church” by
Franklyn Schaefer with Sherri Wood Emmons.
A Pennsylvania pastor tells how officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage led the Methodist church to put him on trial and strip him of his ordination.

Eros and Thanatos” by Melinda Selmys.
A leading Catholic thinker on LGBT issues writes a philosophical novel where one character’s gay sexuality is a major theme.

A Letter to My Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor’s Path to Embracing People Who Are Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender into the Company of Jesus” by Ken Wilson.
The founding pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor held traditional views until he met a transgender woman rejected by her church and began studying Biblical teachings that affirm eunuchs. Written as a letter to his congregation, his book is a contemporary epistle.

Related links:

Top 35 LGBTQ Christian books of 2016 named

Top 20 Gay Jesus books (from Jesus in Love)

Queer Theology book list (from Patrick Cheng)

Queering the Church book list

Jesus in Love Bookstore (includes LGBT Christian classics)

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

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