Sunday, February 28, 2016

Peter Gomes: Gay black Harvard minister preached "scandalous gospel"

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Peter Gomes: Gay black Harvard minister preached "scandalous gospel"

“The Rev. Peter Gomes, of Plymouth, 1942 – 2011” by Jon Dorn

Peter Gomes was a gay black Baptist minister at Harvard and one of America’s most prominent spiritual voices for tolerance. He used his national celebrity as a “gay minister” to make the religious case for LGBT people, even though he reportedly disliked the label. He died at age 68 on this date (Feb. 28, 2011).

A man of many contradictions, Gomes became a Democrat in 2007 after decades as a conservative Republican. He even gave the benediction at President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985 and preached at the National Cathedral for the inauguration of Reagan’s successor, George Bush.

Gomes (May 22, 1942 - Feb. 28, 2011) was born in Boston to a black African immigrant father and a mother from Boston’s African American upper middle class. He grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He studied at Bates College (where a chapel was named after him in 2012) , earned a divinity degree at Harvard University, and taught Western civilization at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for two years before returning to work at Harvard in 1970. Four years later he became the first black person to serve as chief minister to Harvard. He held the positions of Pusey minister at Harvard’s Memorial Church and Plummer professor of Christian morals for the rest of his life.

He came out publicly as “a Christian who happens as well to be gay” at a student rally in 1991 after a conservative student magazine at Harvard published a condemnation of homosexuality.  “I now have an unambiguous vocation -- a mission -- to address the religious causes and roots of homophobia,” he later told the Washington Post. “I will devote the rest of my life to addressing the 'religious case' against gays.”

In his 1996 best-seller, “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” he showed how the Bible was misused to defend homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and sexism.

His 2007 book “The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?” went on to show that Jesus was a subversive whose radical gospel always overturns the status quo.

Among Gomes’s many admirers is artist Jon Dorn, who drew the portrait at the top of this post. Dorn is a cartoonist, filmmaker, and Master of Fine Arts student at Emerson College in Boston. He also serves on the Plymouth Cultural Council.

A musical tribute to Gomes is “I Beseech You Therefore, Brethren” by composer Craig Phillips, music director at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills. It was originally commissioned by members of Harvard’s Class of 1978 to celebrate Gomes' retirement, but he died before its premiere so it was sung at his memorial. The anthem has become a memorial to Gomes' legacy. It is included on the 2014 album “Spring Bursts Today: A Celebration of Eastertide” by Harvard University Choir. Gomes himself selected the text, which was one of his favorite scriptures:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1–2)

Gomes’ blend of scholarship, wisdom and accessibility is expressed in a few selected quotations:

“Hell is being defined by your circumstances, and believing that definition.” -- Peter Gomes

“The question should not be ‘What would Jesus do?’ but rather, more dangerously, 'What would Jesus have me do?'” -- Peter Gomes in The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?

“To some, the temporal triumph of the Christian community in the world is a sign of God's favor and the essential righteousness of the Christian position. The irony of the matter, though, is that whenever the Christian community gains worldly power, it nearly always loses its capacity to be the critic of the power and influence it so readily brokers.” --Peter J. Gomes in The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?

“The battle for the Bible, of which homosexuality is the last front, is really the battle for the prevailing culture, of which the Bible itself is a mere trophy and icon. Such a cadre of cultural conservatives would rather defend their ideology in the name of the authority of scripture than concede that their self-serving reading of that scripture might just be wrong, and that both the Bible and the God who inspires it may be more gracious, just and inclusive than they can presently afford to be.” -- Peter Gomes in The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart

Books by Peter Gomes include:

The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?

Sermons: Biblical Wisdom For Daily Living

The Good Life: Truths that Last in Times of Need

Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living


Related links:

Peter Gomes at LGBT Religious Archives Network

Rev. Peter Gomes: The Accidental Gay Advocate (Irene Monroe at HuffPost)

Gay, Black, Republican, Baptist Preacher, Rev. Peter Gomes, 1942-2011 (Candace Chellew-Hodge at Religion Dispatches)

Rev. Peter J. Gomes Is Dead at 68; A Leading Voice Against Intolerance (New York Times)

Video: Peter Gomes discusses: Would Jesus Support Gay Marriage? (also posted below)

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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Level Ground Fest creates LGBT religious dialogue through art

I was inspired by attending this weekend's Level Ground Festival, which uses art to create space for dialogue on faith, gender and sexuality.

Most of the people organizing and attending the conference Feb. 24-27 in Pasadena, CA seemed to be millennials with evangelical roots. Their youthful energy and optimism gave me confidence that they are changing the church so that LGBT people will always be welcome.

I arrived at the Level Ground Festival with my life partner Audrey

I went to a reading by Deborah Jian Lee, author of “Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.” It is on my list of the Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2015. She reported how evangelicalism is evolving due to diverse younger members, especially openly LGBT people, women in leadership, and more people of color.

The main example she discussed at the festival was Biola Queer Underground, a student group at a conservative Christian university in southern California. They took risks to open up dialogue on a campus where students could be expelled for “homosexual acts.”

Lee, an award-winning journalist who teaches at Cornell College, also told her own journey of growing up Chinese American in a non-religious home in a mostly white Chicago suburb. She found her “first true belonging at a Chinese immigrant church…. They taught me Jesus’ message was for everyone, no exceptions.” But anti-LGBT messages from various churches eventually turned her into a “refugee from evangelicalism” and led her to try to “make amends” for the damage done by Christian bigotry.

Kittredge Cherry and Deborah Jian Lee

Deborah and I first “met” on Facebook last year when I put her book on my list of the year’s Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books. We are both journalists who write about religion, love Jesus and are interested in Asia, so we had a lot in common. It was a joy to meet face to face.

"Rescuing Jesus" panel

Her reading was followed by discussion led by a diverse panel of experts, including journalist Christian Brown. He blogs on faith, sexuality and race at The Dispatch.

Kittredge Cherry and Christian Brown

Level Ground Executive Director Samantha Curley is another Facebook friend whom I got to meet in person for the first time at the festival. She co-founded Level Ground three years ago with Chelsea McInturff. I was impressed by the diversity and positive spirit of the conference through their leadership.

Executive Director Samantha Curley, right, with Kittredge Cherry and Audrey

Hundreds of people attended the festival in Pasadena, not far from to my home in Los Angeles.

This was the first time I attended an event sponsored by Level Ground. But it won’t be the last.

I love the Level Ground motto: “A safe space for dialogue through art.”

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

Malcolm Boyd: Pioneering gay Episcopal priest who ran with Jesus

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Malcolm Boyd: Pioneering gay Episcopal priest who ran with Jesus

Malcolm Boyd is a pioneering gay Episcopal priest and author who died at age 91 on this date (Feb. 27) in 2015.

His best-known book is “Are You Running with Me, Jesus?” a collection of conversational prayer-poems with a million copies in print. He wrote 35 books, including “Gay Priest: An Inner Journey.”

His eclectic life journey included working in the film industry with silent screen star Mary Pickford before his ordination in 1955.  Boyd became a “Freedom Rider” for civil rights in 1961, and officially came out as gay in 1977.

I knew Malcolm personally as a fellow author, a colleague in LGBT ministry, and a good-natured friend who shared my passion for Taize music. One of the last times I saw him was at the 2008 Lambda Literary Awards ceremony, when he received a Pioneer Award and I was a Lammy finalist.
Malcolm Boyd, left, and Kittredge Cherry share a smile at the Lammy Awards in 2008 (photo by Audrey)

At my invitation, Boyd contributed to my book “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations” and was the keynote speaker at a Taize Festival that I organized in Los Angeles in the 1990s. In a wonderful keynote speech, he described his stay at the Taize monastic community in France in 1957.

I remember the fun and excitement of attending his Los Angeles reading for “Amazing Grace: Stories of Lesbian and Gay Faith,” which he edited with Nancy Wilson.

His 1965 classic “Are You Running with Me, Jesus?” includes “Prayers for Sexual Freedom” with a section that begins “This is a
bar, Jesus.”

Malcolm wrote two prayers for “Equal Rites.” I was pleased when he agreed to contribute to the book, and even more delighted when I read his manuscript. Unlike most writers, he submitted text that required no editing because it was already perfect. Here is an excerpt from his “Coming-Out Liturgy”:

Leader: Have you decided that you want to come out?
Participant: I have.
Leader: What do you want to come out of?
Participant: Repression.

Leader: What kind of repression?
Participant: I am a gay man / a lesbian. I have suffered the repression of not feeling that I could share my true identity with other people.
Community: We welcome you.

Leader: Have you felt isolation and loneliness?
Participant: I have. The cold waters of fear have covered my body and wounded my soul. I have sensed desolation and utter aloneness. I have suffered misunderstanding and even been greeted by others as someone who was a total stranger to me...
Community: We offer you validation for yourself as you have been created and celebration of your gayness as a gift of God.

Leader: What do you seek now to do with your life?
Participant: I seek freedom. I want to be myself and find acceptance and love. I never want to have to wear a mask again. I want other people to appreciate me for who I really am. I want to make an honest contribution to life in an open way, without any lies or ambiguity.
Community: We offer you the assurance of freedom....
Participant: I am ready now to set my feet on the path to freedom.

He and his longtime partner Mark Thompson married in 2013 after same-sex marriage became legal in Califorina.

Boyd’s life story is told in the book “Black Battle, White Knight: The Authorized Biography of Malcolm Boyd” by Michael Battle, an Anglican/Episcopal priest who has served the church in many capacities. The title reflects the dialogue between Battle, a younger black heterosexual priest, and Boyd, an older white gay priest who gave him unparalleled access to his personal recollections, writings, and archival records.
Related links:

Malcolm Boyd dies at 91; Episcopal priest took prayer to the streets (Los Angeles Times)

Malcolm Boyd profile at LGBT Religious Archives Network

Malcolm Boyd, the overlooked gay activist who pushed boundaries by Jay Michaelson (Religion News Service)

If a Tree Falls in the Forest... Remembering Rev. Malcolm Boyd by Nancy Wilson (Huffington Post)

Malcolm Boyd: Reflections from me and Louie Crew by Susan Russell (Inch at a Time)

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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 covers gay Passion of Christ controversy posted a big article today about how Facebook rejected an ad for our book “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.”

“These portraits still strike a nerve,” the Advocate points out. Indeed a debate on Facebook is raging with many impassioned comments for and against the art book, which shows Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city.

The article puts our experience into the context of other LGBT artists who face the same problem when they try to promote their art on social media.

See it at this link:

Founded in 1967, the Advocate is the oldest and largest LGBT magazine.

Related links:

Success: Facebook approves controversial ad for gay Passion of Christ book

Facebook rejects gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography
(Jesus in Love) features "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More"

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Marcella Althaus-Reid: Queer theology pioneer

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Marcella Althaus-Reid: Queer theology pioneer

Marcella Althaus-Reid

Marcella Althaus-Reid was a queer theologian whose controversial books include “Indecent Theology” and “The Queer God.” Born in Argentina, she became the first woman appointed to a chair in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 2006. She held that post when she died at age 56 on this date (Feb. 20) in 2009.

Althaus-Reid (May 11, 1952- Feb. 20, 2009) was baptized as a Roman Catholic and grew up in Buenos Aires. She earned her first theological degree there from ISEDET (Instituto Superior Evangelico de Estudios Teologicos), Latin America’s renowned center for studying liberation theology, which emphasizes God’s “preferential option for the poor.”

Next she gained recognition for working on social and community projects in the slums of Buenos Aires. As she continued her studies, Althaus-Reid applied the principles of liberation theology to women and sexual minorities, including LGBT people.

Her first book, “Indecent Theology,” was published in 2000 and established her international reputation as a self-proclaimed “indecent, Latina, bisexual theologian.” The book challenges the sexual oppression behind traditional Christian concepts of decency and introduces theology rooted in the context of people whose sexual freedom has been limited. In 2003 she wrote “The Queer God,” in which she aims to liberate God from the closet of sex-negative Christian thought and embrace God’s role in the lives of LGBTQ people.

According to her obituary in the Herald Scotland, Althaus-Reid was a member of Moderator Nancy Wilson’s advisory theological team in Metropolitan Community Churches and felt at home in MCC’s Edinburgh congregation although she was formally a member of the Quakers and the Church of Scotland.

Her writing style is dense and her books continue to be controversial, even among LGBT people of faith. But nobody denies that Althaus-Reid took risks to raise important issues based on queer life and spirituality.

Her originality and flashes of insight are expressed in the following quotation from “The Queer God”:

“Our task and our joy is to find or simply recognise God sitting amongst us, at any time, in any gay bar or in the home of a camp friend who decorates her living room as a chapel and doesn’t leave her rosary at home when going to a salsa bar.”

Links to books by or about Marcella Althaus-Reid:

Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics

The Queer God

From Feminist Theology to Indecent Theology

Liberation Theology and Sexuality

Dancing theology in fetish boots: Essays in honour of Marcella Althaus Reid

More books by Marcella Althaus-Reid

La teología indecente: Perversiones teológicas en sexo, género y política

Il Dio queer

Related links:

"Marcella Althaus-Reid: Saint of a sexually embodied spirituality" by Hugo Córdova Quero (Jesus in Love)

Prof Marcella Althaus-Reid obituary and memorial page: Light a candle or add your own tribute

Remembering Marcella Althaus-Reid, “Indecent theologian” (Queer Saints and Martyrs - And Others)

En La Caminata: Remembering Marcella Althaus-Reid” by Alejandro Escalante (Indecent Theology blog)

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.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Brothers by affection: Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus

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Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus: Brothers by affection

Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus
By Brother Robert Lentz, OFM. © 1995,

Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus were Roman soldiers in 3rd-century Armenia and “brothers by affection.” They are a prime example of same-sex lovers in the early church. Polyeuct’s feast day is Feb. 13.

The earliest account of Polyeuct’s martyrdom, a 4th-century Armenian biography, says that they were “brothers, not by birth, but by affection” and enjoyed “the closest possible relationship, being both comrades and fellow soldiers.”

St. Polyeuctus (Wikimedia Commons)
Nearchus was Christian, but Polyeuct was not. The men had a strong desire to spend eternity together, so Polyeuct converted from paganism to Christianity, the faith of his beloved Nearchus. With a convert’s zeal he attacked a pagan procession.  He was beheaded for his crime in the year 259 in the western Armenian city of Militene. Shortly before he was executed, he spoke his last words to Nearchus: “Remember our secret vow.” Thus Polyeuct is known as a protector of vows and avenger of broken promises, in addition to his role as a probable “gay saint.”

Yale history professor John Boswell names Polyeuct and Nearchus as one of the three primary pairs of same-sex lovers in the early church. (The others are Perpetua and Felicity and Sergius and Bacchus.) The love story of Polyeuct and Nearchus is told with extensive historical detail in two books, “Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe” by Boswell and “Passionate Holiness” by Dennis O’Neill. He is founder of the Living Circle, the interfaith LGBT spirituality center that commissioned the above icon of the loving same-sex pair.

The icon is by Brother Robert Lentz, a Franciscan friar and world-class iconographer known for his innovative icons. 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.

Polyeuctus and Nearchus by Jim Ru
Artist Jim Ru was also inspired to paint Polyeuct and Nearchus. His version was displayed in his show “Transcendent Faith: Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Saints” in Bisbee Arizona in the 1990s.

O’Neill reports that French writer Robert Dartois recently took the story of Polyeuct and Nearchus from “Passionate Holiness” and turned it into a libretto, which was then set by the Swiss composer Thierry Chatelain as the oratorio “Polyeucte et Nearchus.”

There are many variations in the spellings of their names, such as Polyeuctus, Polyeuctes, Polyeuktos and Nearchos and Nearch. Polyeuct’s feast day is Feb.13 in the Catholic calendar, but falls on Jan. 9 in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and Jan. 7 in ancient Armenian calendars. The feast day for Nearchus is April 22.

Related links:

Saints Polyeuct and Nearchos, 3rd Century Lovers and Martyrs (Queer Saints and Martyrs -- And Others)

Hermanos de afecto: Santos Polieucto y Nearco (Santos Queer)

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 Polyeuct and Nearchus and many others are available on cards, plaques, T-shirts, mugs, candles, mugs, and more at Trinity Stores


Thursday, February 11, 2016

15 LGBTQ Christian Valentine’s Day gifts, movies and books

Celebrate Valentine’s Day the LGBTQ Christian way with this list of 15 gifts and movies.

Show love to your sweetheart in a style that honors both LGBTQ identity and Christian spirituality. These unique finds can express LGBTQ romance without forcing couples to forget their faith. They range from the silly to the sublime, devout to semi-secular, subtle subtexts to out-and-proud.

Use this diverse guide to treat your beloved (or yourself!) with these gifts, and snuggle together to binge on date-night movies.

It’s hard enough to track down an LGBTQ film with a happy ending, let alone one that’s religious too. This list includes a few rare exceptions that show same-sex or queer love in a church/faith context without ending in total tragedy.

Do you have other suggestions? Leave a comment and let us know!

1. Movie: “Latter Days

Gay Mormon romantic dramedy “Latter Days” was the most often-suggested movie for this list. A closeted Mormon missionary moves to Los Angeles to spread his religion. Opposites attract when he meets a handsome West Hollywood party boy, ironically named Christian.

2. Book and Music: “Patience and Sarah” by Isabel Miller

One of the first lesbian historical novels to have a happy ending, “Patience and Sarah” is a classic with Christian themes that are usually overlooked. In 19th-century New England, love blossoms between Patience, an educated painter of Bible scenes, and cross-dressing farmer Sarah. The first picture that Patience paints when they move in together is the embrace of Biblical women Ruth and Naomi. If you read it long ago, it’s well worth a second look.

“I Want to Live,” a duet from the opera based on “Patience and Sarah,” is on the album “Lesbian American Composers.”

3. Book: “The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible

What could be better than erotic love poetry direct from the Bible itself?
Oh, for your kiss! For your love
More enticing than wine,
For your scene and sweet name --
That’s just a small taste of the Song of Songs, one of the most celebrated ancient love poems. Some scholars (such as Angela Yarber and Paul Johnson) believe the Song of Songs may have originally been written as same-sex love poetry between two women or two men.

The problem is that almost every book on Songs of Songs imposes a hetero interpretation and spiritualizes it as Christ-Church metaphor. The best version is “The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible,” translated by Marcia Falk, a feminist scholar who did her doctoral thesis on Song of Songs. Her book is not cluttered with hetero commentary and its lovely design leaves lots of white space. It even has the Hebrew text on facing pages. Lesbians will feel at home with this woman-oriented edition, but it should work well for almost anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum. The poetry is written as a dialogue between lovers. Try reading it out loud to each other on Valentine’s Day.

4: Shirts: “I love my boyfriend” or “I love my girlfriend” with I Corinthians 13

These bold shirts were not designed for same-sex couples, but they become instantly queer when a gay man wears “I love my boyfriend” or a lesbian wears “I love my girlfriend.” Be sure to order the size for the opposite gender. They’re not just cute. They also boast one of the world’s best known descriptions of love, which happens to come from the Bible: I Corinthians 13: 4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

5. Icon: “Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus

Some of the oldest role models for LGBTQ couples are same-sex pairs of saints. Third-century Armenian martyrs Polyeuct and Nearchus are a prime example of same-sex lovers in the early church. With their heart-shaped haoes, Polyeuct and Nearchus look the most like Valentines, but other male couples are also available as icons, including Sergius and Bacchus, Biblical heroes David and Jonathan, Russia’s Boris and George and Wenceslas and Podiven. Available on mugs, candles, shirts, cards, plaques, and framed prints, only from

6. Icon: “Saints Perpetua and Felicity

Saints Perpetua and Felicity look like a black lesbian couple in this icon by Robert Lentz. They were brave North African martyrs who died in each other’s arms in the third century. With their heart-shaped haloes, Felicity and Perpetua look the most like Valentines, but other female couples are also available as icons, including Ireland’s Brigid and Darlughdach and Germany’s Hildegard of Bingen and Richardis. Available on mugs, candles, shirts, cards, plaques, and framed prints, only from

7. Movie: “Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate)

In 1980s Cuba, a flamboyant gay artist who paints Christian religious themes befriends a straight Marxist man, amid the background of Santería practices. Diego’s Havana apartment is a combo of a religious shrine, art gallery and library in this bittersweet film. In Spanish with English subtitles.

8. Candy: Rainbow chocolate hearts with mint crosses in Bible-shaped tins

Chocolate makers haven’t caught up with the rising tide of welcoming churches and LGBT people of faith yet, so you’ll have to mix and match to create LGBTQ Christian confection. These rainbow milk chocolate hearts go well with the Bible-shaped tins filled with mint crosses.

9. Movie and book: “Blackbird

A fervently religious high school choir boy grows up in this interracial gay romance set in the Deep South. Oscar winner Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington play the parents whose 17-year-old son learns that love is part of God’s plan. The film is based on the first black gay coming-of-age novel, “Blackbird” by Larry Duplechan.

11. Music: “I’m Blessed” by Marsha Stevens-Pino

Openly lesbian contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Stevens-Pino makes same-sex love sound divine in songs such as “I’m Blessed” from her album “I Still Have a Dream”:

God, You’ve given treasure beyond knowing, beyond price,
No one else could ever measure her worth in my life,
And I know it’s not by chance Your mission from above,
I have been entrusted with this woman that You love.

12. Movie and music: “We’re All Angels” with Jason and DeMarco
Gay Christian pop music duo and real-life lovers Jason and DeMarco are profiled in this documentary film. And out their song “This is Love.”

13. Movie, book and music: “The Color Purple

Love between women is at the heart of this tale of two sisters in America’s rural South: abused child-wife Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg) and Nettie, a missionary to Africa. Watch for the transformative romance between Celie and Shug Avery. While it’s not focused on institutional religion, much of the novel is structured as letters to God. It includes many down-home spiritual words of wisdom, such as, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” Based on the novel by Alice Walker. Now a Broadway musical too.

14. Book: “Inclination” by Mia Kerick

A gay Catholic Korean high school student adopted into an Italian American family falls in love, gets bullied and faces opposition from his church in this young-adult novel by an author who focuses her fiction on the emotional growth of troubled young people.

15. Book: “Jesus in Love” by Kittredge Cherry

A queer Christ has today’s sexual sophistication as he lives the Bible story in first-century Palestine -- including his love for John the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene and the omni-gendered Holy Spirit. Speaking in first person, Jesus blends male and female as he does humanity and divinity. He transcends gender identity, sexual orientation and ultimately death itself. Virtually all mystical traditions speak of sexual ecstasy as a metaphor for union with the divine, but in Christianity the concept has been buried. “Jesus in Love: A Novel” reclaims this lost treasure.

Suggestions from readers

Richard, Lindsay, author of Hollywood Biblical Epics: Camp Spectacle and Queer Style from the Silent Era to the Modern Day,” suggests the following films:

1.) The Falls

2.) The Falls: Testament of Love

(Part I and part II of another Mormons-in-Love feature, but takes the faith aspect more seriously than Latter Days.)

3.) Wise Kids (Fantastic coming-of-age indie film about young people making sense of the world as evangelicals with a very confident young gay character.)

4.) Rock Haven (another gay Christian coming-of-age film)

5.) Ben-Hur (gay subtext galore)

John Demetry, film scholar and author of “Watch the Throne,” suggests the following movies:

4 Moons

Michael (by Carl Dreyer) (from the series “Gay-Themed Films of the German Silent Era”_

Last Summer

The Long Day Closes (though not a romantical love story, there is no better film about Christianity and gay experience. There's no greater movie. Period.

The Garden and Sebastiane (by Derek Jarman)

Related links:

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

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

Top 20 Gay Jesus books (from Jesus in Love)

Image credit: Pride Heart (Wikimedia Commons)

This post is part of the LGBT Calendar 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 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people of faith and our allies.

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