Thursday, February 04, 2016

Saint Walatta Petros: African nun shared a lifetime bond with a female partner in 17th-century Ethiopia


Saint Walatta Petros is a 17th-century Ethiopian nun who had an intense lifelong friendship with another nun amd led a successful movement to drive out foreign missionaries.

Controversial evidence of same-sex love in her history is revealed in her biography, which was recently published in English for the first time: “The Life  and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros: A 17th-Century African Biography of an Ethiopian Woman” by Galawdewos.  It is translated and edited by Wendy Belcher, associate professor of African literature at Princeton University, and Michael Kleiner.

Walatta Petros is recognized as a saint by the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, which honors her for preserving early African Christian beliefs by expelling Jesuit missionaries from Portugal. Her feast day is Nov. 23.

Her biography, written by her disciples just 30 years after her death, is the earliest known book-length biography of an African woman. Written in 1672, it includes the earliest known depiction of same-sex desire among women in sub-Saharan Africa. That section was censored until last year, when the first English translation was published.

Portrait of Walatta Petros (Wikimedia Commons)

Walatta Petros (1592 - 1642) was a noblewoman who married at a young age. Her name is a compound meaning “Daughter of (Saint) Peter” and cannot be shortened. She gave birth to three children who all died in infancy. Then she then left her husband, shaved her head and became a nun.

Walatta Petros’ hair is shaved to prepare her for becoming a nun (Credit: SLUB Mscr.Dresd.Eb.415.e,2)

The biography vividly describes the day she met Eheta Kristos (1601-1649), another noblewoman who had given up married life to become a nun. Her name means “Sister of Christ.” The moment they met sounds like love at first sight:

“As soon as our holy mother Walatta Petros and Eheta Kristos saw each other from afar, love was infused into both their hearts, love for one another, and... they were like people who had known each other beforehand because the Holy Spirit united them.”

Before long they moved in together. The text uses language that evokes a marriage bond, saying that they “lived together in mutual love, like soul and body. From that day onward the two did not separate, neither in times of tribulation and persecution, nor in those of tranquility, but only in death.”

Belcher’s introduction points out that it would be “anachronistic” to identify Walatta Petros as a lesbian because it is a 20th-century Anglo-American term. Instead she says in the introduction that the two nuns were “involved in a lifelong partnership of deep romantic friendship,” noting that and they were committed to celibacy and asceticism.

Indeed the chapter newly translated as “Our Mother Sees Nuns Lusting After Each Other” describes how Walatta Petros objected to such behavior. The saint herself tells the story in the text:

“It was evening and I was sitting in the house, facing the gate, when I saw some young nuns pressing against each other and being lustful with each other, each with a female companion. Therefore my heart caught fire and I began to argue with God, saying to him, ‘Did you put me here to show me this?’”

The footnote in the book explains that the phrase “my heart caught fire” might have a double meaning: “On the surface, it expresses her anger against God for showing her this scene, but the words chosen also suggest that she is angry because she felt desire upon looking at the scene.”

Some Ethiopians reject this interpretation, and Belcher’s website includes a page devoted to the “Controversy over Sexuality in the Gadla Walatta Petros.”

The church that Walatta Petros served was one of the earliest forms of Christianity, the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church. It was established officially in the fourth century but may trace its roots back to the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized by Philip in the New Testament. There were only a few such pre-colonial Christian churches in the world.

During Walatta Petros’ lifetime, Jesuit missionaries came from Portugal and tried to convert the Ethiopians to Roman Catholicism. The Ethiopians found heresy in some Catholic doctrines, such as Original Sin. Instead the Ethiopians believed in transformation of human beings by grace. Walatta Petros led a successful nonviolent movement that expelled out the Jesuits in 1632 and preserved Ethiopia's ancient form of Christianity.

In addition her biography describes how she founded seven religious communities -- the first in Sudan and the rest around Ethiopia’s large Lake Ṭana.

The account also humanizes the saint with lively dialogue and colorful details from daily life. Some chapter titles reveal that conflicts similar to those encountered by women church leaders today. such as “Male Leaders Work Against Our Mother” and “Envious Monks Attack Our Mother’s Authority.”

Christ gives Walatta Petros souls in the likeness of crystal vessels (Credit: SLUB Mscr.Dresd.Eb.415.e,2)

There are also charming scenes of Walatta Petros’ spiritual life.  Most dramatic is her debate with Christ when he asks her to care for souls that appear in the form of doves and shining crystal vessels.

After more than two decades as a nun, Walatta Petros fell ill and appointed her long-time companion Eheta Kristos as her successor to head the religious community. Walatta Petros died on Nov. 24, 1642 after a three-month illness. She was 50 years old and had spent 26 years as a nun. Belcher points out in her introduction that their loving bond lasted until death:

“Upon her deathbed, Walatta Petros’ last thoughts and words were about her friend, worrying about how Eheta Kristos would fare without her, saying three times, ‘She will be disconsolate; she has no other hope than me!’”

Ehelta Kristos went on to lead the community for almost seven years until her own death on April 2, 1649.

There are no known images of Eheta Kristos, but she is undoubtedly one of the mourners in the image of the whole community mourning when Walatta Petros died.

The community grieved for Walatta Petros (from Gadla Walatta Petros MS F, image 64)

Death does not end Walatta Petros’ biography, since it also serves as a hagiography. The book continues with 27 miracles that she performed after she departed to eternal life. They include dramatic healings as well as more down-home assistance such as repairing a broken jar of ale and recovering a stolen book of poems.

Belcher, who spent much of her childhood in Ethiopia and Ghana, learned the Gəˁəz language in order to translate the biography known as Gädlä Wälättä P̣eṭros. She and Kleiner also worked on the translation with other experts, including an Ethiopian priest. She is one of the few Westerners who have studied the 340-year-old parchment manuscript, which is housed in a monastery near Lake Tana. Belcher visited local nuns and monks while searching for copies of the manuscript at Ethiopia’s remote monasteries.

She discusses Walatta Petros and Eheta Kristos in depth in her lecture on “Same-Sex Intimacies in an Early Modern African Text about an Ethiopian Female Saint,” which is available as a YouTube video. She also has an article coming out on the topic “Same-Sex Intimacies in the Early African Text Gädlä Wälättä P̣eṭros (1672) about an Ethiopian Female Saint” in Research in African Literatures, June 2016.



The new book on Walatta Petros is lavishly illustrated with images from illuminated manuscripts, some of which are posted here today. This 500-page book is much more than a translation, featuring thousands of footnotes and hundreds of pages of contextual and scholarly information based on comparing twelve different manuscripts.

Some manuscripts and the new book conclude with two praise poems about Walatta Petros. One celebrates the saint from head to toe, including her breasts and womb. The other is a hymn that begins:

Hail to you, Walatta Petros, a garden! Wrapped in heavenly scent,
you are shade for the doves, from the heat of misery
that fills our world.

___

Top image: Walatta Petros receives souls in the form of doves as a gift from Christ (Credit: SLUB Mscr.Dresd.Eb.415.e,2)

____
This post is part of the LGBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

New LGBTQ Christian books: “Brother-Making in Late Antiquity" and “Two Pews from Crazy”


New LGBTQ Christian books this month range from ancient brother-making rites to the challenges faced by a lesbian pastor today.

They are “Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual” by Claudia Rapp and “Two Pews from Crazy” by Cyd Andrews-Looper.

History


Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual” by Claudia Rapp

A scholarly book examines a medieval ritual that has been seen as an ancient same-sex wedding. Gay historian John Boswell said that adelphopoiesis was a church rite for blessing same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe. This comprehensive study presents evidence on how the brother-making rite is different from marriage. For example, it offers more equality than heterosexual marriage. The author says the rite was “not created for the purpose of sanctioning and sanctifying homosexual relationships… although… this evaluation of the historical evidence does in no way undermine the legitimacy of seeking recognition for same-sex partnerships in current societies.” She is professor of Byzantine studies at the University of Vienna in Austria. From Oxford University Press.



Memoir and biography


Two Pews from Crazy: My Insane Journey from Christian Fundamentalism to a Faith of Love Alone--LGBTQ Minister” by Cyd Andrews-Looper.

A lesbian pastor raised Baptist and ordained by the United Church of Christ tells the ups and downs of her journey, including adopting a child, losing three different partners, the pain of church politics and the power of God in her life. Short, easy-to-read chapters show her sense of humor. Endorsed by Soulforce founder Mel White. Published by Get Success Inc. (print) and Ronin Robot Press (Kindle).



Up for discussion


An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures” by Ann Cvetkovich.

American Academy of Religion groups on Queer Studies in Religion and Sacred Text, Theory and Theological Construction invite papers that find theological or biblical applications for the ideas in Ann Cvetkovich’s two books “An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures” and “Depression: A Public Feeling.” Click to read the Call for Papers.

___
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)

Queer Theology book list (from Patrick Cheng)

Jesus in Love Bookstore (includes LGBT Christian classics)

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.

http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts



Monday, February 01, 2016

Brigid and Darlughdach: Celtic saint loved her female soulmate

“Saint Brighid and Darlughdach of Kildare” by Rowan Lewgalon and Tricia Danby (tir-anam.weebly.com)

Saint Brigid and her soulmate Darlughdach were sixth-century Irish nuns who brought art, education and spirituality to early medieval Ireland. Brigid (c.451-525) shares her name and feast day (Feb. 1) with a Celtic goddess -- and she may have been the last high priestess of the goddess Brigid.  Her followers still keep a flame burning for her.

Raised by Druids, Brigid seems to have made a smooth transition from being a pagan priestess to a Christian abbess. Today she is Ireland’s most famous female saint. Her name is also spelled Bridget.  Legend says that when she made her final vows as a nun, the bishop in charge was so overcome by the Holy Spirit that he administered the rite for ordaining a (male) bishop instead.

A younger nun named Darlughdach served as Brigid’s ambassador and her “anam cara” or soul friend. The two women were so close that they slept in the same bed. Like many Celtic saints, Brigid believed that each person needs a soul friend to discover together that God speaks most powerfully in the seemingly mundane details of shared daily life. The love between these two women speaks to today’s lesbians and their allies. Some say that Brigid and Darlughdach are lesbian saints.

Brigid started convents all over Ireland and became the abbess of the “double monastery” (housing both men and women) at Kildare. Built on land that was previously sacred to her divine namesake, the monastery included an art school for creating illuminated manuscripts.

After Brigid turned 70, she warned Darlughdach that she expected to die soon. Her younger soulmate begged to die at the same time. Brigid wanted her to live another year so she could succeed her as abbess. Brigid died of natural causes on Feb. 1, 525. The bond between the women was so close that Darlughdach followed her soulmate in death exactly one year later on Feb. 1, 526.

Both Christians and pagans celebrate St. Brigid’s Day on Feb. 1. It is also known as Imbolc, a spring festival when the goddess Brigid returns as the bride of spring in a role similar to the Greek Persephone. People still celebrate her day by weaving twigs into a square “Brigid’s Cross,” an ancient solar symbol traditionally made to welcome spring.

Brigid’s main symbol was fire, representing wisdom, poetry, healing and metallurgy. The nuns at the Kildare monastery kept a perpetual fire burning in Brigid’s memory for more than a thousand years -- until 1540 when it was extinguished in Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The Order of St. Brigid was reestablished in 1807. Two Brigidine sisters returned to Kildare and relit the fire in the market square for the first time in more than 400 years on Feb. 1, 1993. The perpetual flame is now kept at the Solas Bhride (Brigid’s Light) Celtic Spirituality Center that they founded there. In addition, anyone may sign up to tend St. Brigid’s flame in their own homes through the Ord Brighideach Order of Flame Keepers.

Two Celtic Christian artists based in Germany collaborated on the sensuously spiritual portrait of Brigid and Darlughdach at the top of this post. On the left is Darlughdach, painted as a fiery redhead by Rowan Lewgalon, and on the right is fair-haired Brighid, painted by Tricia Danby. Lewgalon and Danby are both clerics in the Old Catholic Apostolic Church as well as spiritual artists whose work is online at tir-anam.weebly.com.

"Saints Brigid and Darlughdach of Kildare"
By Brother Robert Lentz, OFM. © 1999

Brigid and Darlughdach are shown with their arms around each other in the above icon by Brother Robert Lentz. He is a Franciscan friar and world-class iconographer known for his progressive icons. The two women are dressed in the white gowns worn by Druid priestesses and Celtic nuns. Flames burn above them and on the mandala of Christ that they carry. It is one of 40 icons featured in his book Christ in the Margins.

The icon was commissioned by the Living Circle, a Chicago-based interfaith spirituality center for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community and their friends. Four Living Circle members took the original icon to Kildare with them in 2000 for the flame-lighting ceremony at the recently excavated site of Brigid’s ancient fire temple.

Dennis O’Neill, the priest who founded the Living Circle, includes the icon and an in-depth biography of Brigid and Darlughdach in his book “Passionate Holiness: Marginalized Christian Devotions for Distinctive People.”

Brigid’s spirit of fun and hospitality is expressed in her reputation for loving beer. She made beer for the poor every Easter. In a well known poem attributed to Brigid, she envisioned heaven as a great lake of beer. Here are some of the words to St. Brigid’s Prayer, as translated and performed by Irish singer Noirin Ni Riain:

I’d sit with the men, the women of God
There by the lake of beer
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

Riain also sings a heavenly Ode To Bridget on the video below and on her Celtic Soul album.


___
Related links:

February 1st: Celebrate Brigit's Day by Diann Neu (WATER)

Santa Brigid y Darlughdach: Irlandés santo amaba a su alma amiga (Santos Queer)
_________

Icons of Brigid and Darlughdach and many others are available on cards, plaques, T-shirts, mugs, candles, mugs, and more at Trinity Stores



_______
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.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Holocaust Remembrance: We all wear the triangle

A gay priest killed in the Holocaust appears in the icon
"Holy Priest Anonymous one of Sachsenhausen"
By William Hart McNichols ©

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'sfirst 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:
http://andrejkoymasky.com/mem/holocaust/ho08.html

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 the video below and 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 (Qualia Encyclopedia of Gay Folklife)

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)

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 GLBT Saints series at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, heroes 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.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

David Kato: Ugandan LGBT rights activist and martyr

“David Kato” by Rod Byatt

David Kato, Ugandan LGBT rights activist, is considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights movement. He was beaten to death on this date (Jan. 26, 2011) in a case that some blame on anti-gay religious rhetoric.

David Kato
It is especially important to carry on Kato’s legacy now with legal rights diminishing for LGBT people in many places across the Africa. Laws against homosexuality made news n Africa countries such as Uganda, Nigeria and Gambia. (See links at the end of this article.)

Many have heard of the 45 Ugandan Martyrs who were killed for their Christian faith and canonized as saints. Kato can be seen as a new kind of Ugandan martyr, killed for the cause of LGBT equality.

American evangelicals helped stir up the hostility that led to Kato’s death because they promoted a law imposing the death penalty for homosexuality. The influence of the US evangelical movement in promoting the anti-homosexuality law is explored in the award-winning 2013 documentary “God Loves Uganda.” Watch the trailer below or on YouTube.



Shortly before his murder, Kato won a lawsuit against a Ugandan magazine for identifying him as gay and calling for his execution. Kato’s murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but the anti-gay motive for the murder was covered up in the trial.

A documentary about Kato, “Call Me Kuchu,” premiered in 2012 at the Berlin Film Festival. Watch the trailer for the video below.  "Kuchu" is the term used in Uganda for LGBT people.


Call Me Kuchu - Trailer from Call Me Kuchu on Vimeo.

Below is a news video about Kato from “The Rachel Maddow Show.” It includes scenes from Kato’s funeral, where Ugandan clergy speak both for and against LGBT rights, and David’s own voice in an NPR interview about homosexuality in Uganda.

Australian artist Rod Byatt drew the portrait of David Kato above. The stark, unfinished quality of the portrait conveys the sense of a life cut short. Byatt posted it on his blog **gasp!** (Gay Artists’ Sketchbook Project) with a reflection that begins, “We grieve over the loss of David Kato. We know that being gay is anathema to Family, Church and State, and increasingly The Media...” Byatt is part of the Urban Sketching movement that seeks to link personal identity to broader social issues.

On the anniversary of his murder, may those who honor David Kato’s legacy continue to work for justice and equality for all. May he find peace with all the other LGBT martyrs and saints who have gone before.



___
Related links:

Portrait of David Kato by Random Salmon

David Kato Kisule at the Legacy Project

Powerful Documentary ‘Call Me Kuchu’ Examines the Lives of Uganda’s Brave Gay Activists (Towelroad)

They will say we are not here (New York Times, Jan. 25, 2012)

In Uganda, a “Fearless Voice” for Gay Rights is Brutally Silenced (Wild Reed Blog)

David Kato: A new Ugandan martyr (Queer Saints and Martyrs - And Others)

Uganda Martyrs raise questions on homosexuality, religion and LGBT rights (Jesus in Love)

Martyrs of Uganda (Walking with Integrity Blog)

Ugandan Activist David Kato Never to be Forgotten (O-blog-dee-o-blog-da)


___
Recent news reports on anti-gay laws in Africa

Mapping anti-gay laws in Africa (Amnestry International)

Uganda planning new anti-gay law despite opposition (BBC.com)

Another African nation to enact anti-gay law (Gambia) (msnbc.com)

Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays (New York Times)

Shock Amongst Gays in Nigeria as President signs Jail-The-Gays law (O-blog-dee-o-blog-da)


Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
http://www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com/
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts