History

Was Jesus Christ gay?

We all know that Jesus Christ, the son of God, hung out with multitudes of men, spent nearly all his time with “sinners” and had an affinity for rainbows. But was Jesus Christ a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?

According to several theologians, the answer is a resounding yes.

Dr. Reverend Bob Shore-Goss, openly gay pastor and author of Queering Christ, argues that Jesus’ rejection of gender codes alone is proof of his queerness. He claims that since there was no term for homosexuality in ancient times, the fact that Jesus did not ascribe to the rules of his culture implies a subversion of heteronormativity.

In addition, Shore-Goss believes that Jesus had a homoerotic relationship with the disciple he called “beloved.” [While this disciple is never named, it’s widely believed to be John.] In an interview with Vice, Shore-Goss elaborates on his theory by describing a particularly personal exchange between the two men just before Jesus’ death.

“The beloved disciple is lying on the chest of Jesus at the last supper and is supposedly in his inner tunic,” says Shore-Gross. “[This] is what we would call underwear today. It’s a very intimate gesture, and it’s a special gesture of affection between the two.”

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(Jesus laying half naked with another man at dinner seems pretty gay to me, but what do others think?) 

Theologian Theodore Jennings, author of The Man Jesus Loved, also agrees that Jesus indisputably had relations with men as evidenced by the intimate biblical descriptions of the John. Aside from Lazarus, John is the only one ever referred to as “beloved” by Jesus. (Not too many platonic friends call each other beloved).

Gerard Loughlin, a queer theologian and religious scholar, takes Jesus and John’s relationship even one step further in his book Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body. He argues that Jesus and John were married and the famous parable, the Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1-11), is actually about their gay wedding. (Now wouldn’t that be quite the twist for the religious conservatives? They’d all have to end their marriages, repent and become gay themselves!) 

Shockingly, this theory was actually quite common during ancient times. Its popularity was perpetuated by the apocryphal Acts of John, which claim that John broke off his engagement to a woman in order “bind himself” to Jesus. 

In fact, the wide spread belief of Jesus and John’s queerness is well documented in surviving art from that time period.

In The Calling of St. John (12th century), the artist depicts two scenes: Christ coaxing John away from his female bride and John resting his head upon Jesus’ chest. Jesus, in turn, cups the chin of his “beloved” which, in artistic convention, is used to indicate romantic intimacy.  The Latin reads: “Get up, leave the breast of your bride, and rest on the breast of the Lord Jesus.”

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John the Apostle resting on the bosom of Christ,” Swabia/Lake Constance, early 14th century. Photo by Andreas Praefcke

But that’s not the only artistic display of Jesus and John’s affection for each other.

Continue reading “Was Jesus Christ gay?”

TV Shows

How TV has made us all gayer

In American television today, shows like Marvel’s Runaways, Orange is the New Black, Modern Family and One Day at a Time are simply considered good TV. They’re full of complex characters with dynamic, well-developed storylines that are frequently shown to be the moral backbone of their show.

However, The Broadcast Standards and Practices Board would have once considered these shows highly indecent for the presence of openly gay characters. In fact, in 1997 Ellen DeGeneres threatened to quit the sitcom “Ellen” after ABC issued a parental advisory before airing an episode simply because DeGeneres’ character jokingly kissed her best female friend.  The producers at ABC defended their position claiming, “the promise we have made to our audience is to provide them with as much information as possible so they can decide what is appropriate for their children to watch.”

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This aversion to homosexuality and homosexual conduct has been ingrained in the media since its conception. Time Magazine expressed disdain for homosexuality in 1966 when it published an essay titled “The Homosexual in America” claiming homosexuality “deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as a minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste-and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.” Even the American Psychology Association included homosexuality in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1973.

Naturally, during this time the percentage of gay, lesbian and bisexual people seen on television was practically nonexistent, forcing heartthrobs like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter to conceal their sexual orientation to ensure the success of their careers.

However, today DeGeneres, Samira Wiley, Neil Patrick Harris and Keiynan Lonsdale are all successful, highly popular television figures who make no attempt to hide their sexual orientation. This shift toward acceptance of homosexuality is reflected in a recent Pew Research Center poll that showed 62% of Americans support same sex marriage as opposed to the 27% who supported it in 1996. Since then, same-sex marriage has become legal in all 50 states.

So, what is causing this dramatic shift in opinions, visibility and acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual people? One answer is the prevalence of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the media.

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According to a recent study of college students, an increase in exposure to gay, lesbian and bisexual people in media enables groups with opposing positions to Continue reading “How TV has made us all gayer”

Books

5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe

We all remember the iconic moment when J.K. Rowling stunned crowds at Carnegie Hall in 2007 by admitting that she’d always perceived Albus Dumbledore, the wisest and most powerful man in the wizarding world, as gay. In the proceeding months, J.K. sustained hefty criticism from far-right, religious leaning people. They claimed her admission of Dumbledore’s sexuality was an attempt to indoctrinate children with the “gay agenda” by normalizing a sinful and disordered disposition. It was simply too liberal. Now, nearly 11 years later, J.K. is under fire once again… except this time it’s for not being liberal enough.

A few weeks ago, David Yates, director of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald, revealed that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be explicitly explored in the upcoming film. Many fans viewed this as blatant queer erasure and were rightfully infuriated by the avoidance of their love story.  [Any person who has read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows understands how crucial Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindewald were in the development of the plot].

However, in an attempt to reverse this most recent erasure, I am drawing attention to five possible queer characters that already exist in the Harry Potter universe! (Besides Albus Dumbledore, of course) 

1) Charlie Weasley:

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First on our list is the second eldest of the seven Weasley children, Charlie. Buff, beautiful, nicely tanned and incredibly well-liked, Charlie wouldn’t need amortentia to ensnare fellow witches or wizards. During his Hogwarts years, Charlie was the epitome of popular. He was both a prefect and the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. In fact, his prowess as a seeker could have landed him a spot playing for England. However, Charlie never seemed interested in following in his parent’s footsteps by being fruitful and multiplying (over and over). Instead, shortly after graduating, he left for a dragon sanctuary in Romania. While there, he developed strong familial ties to friends but never married, had no children and seemed to lack any romantic or sexual desire.

According to J.K. Rowling, Charlie is “just more interested in dragons than women” Charlie is way more likely to be found chilling with a Hungarian Horntail than any partner. Even Rita Skeeter, the toxic daily prophet reporter, speculates about his decision to remain alone in her somewhat recent column on the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. She writes, “ Charlie, (dragon wrangler, still unmarried – why?)” 

However, J.K does an incredible job of portraying his identity as normal and healthy. He doesn’t need to be married, he doesn’t need to have a romantic interest for his life to be full and valid.

However, canonically labeling Charlie as asexual and aromantic would have been incredible for LGBTQIA+ visibility.

Continue reading “5 queer characters in the Harry Potter universe”

web series

A Christian, Gay Positive Lesbian Love Story

Is it possible for a gay person to be fully self-actualized while ascribing to the Christian faith? Is the phrase “gay Christians” inherently oxymoronic?

The Faith Diaries, a web series spin off of Lifetime’s “UnREAL” expertly challenges this dichotomy between Christianity and homosexuality. The series begins when Faith, a deeply religious woman, moves to West Hollywood with her more than best friend, Amy. These two women were raised in “God’s country” and lacked exposure to anything other than traditional, heteronormative relationships.

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This type of “God fearing” upbringing is common in the United States and up to 85% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people report being raised in a religion that is “homonegative.”  The natural solution for many LGBT individuals is to either abandon their faith or to suppress their sexual orientation. The Faith Diaries refuses to accept that Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive.

Breeda Wool, who plays Faith, describes the series to Out Magazine as “a story about one person’s relationship to God and their relationship to love and discovering that those two things are not at odds.” This series is unique because neither Christianity nor homosexuality is portrayed negatively. Far too often, mainstream media treats “religion as a problem, and only as a problem” while most Christian programming refuses to show homosexuality as natural. However, The Faith Diaries manages to explore Christian themes, such as forgiveness and love, without negating the importance of accepting your true self.

When Faith and Amy first arrive in Hollywood they are two reserved “simple country girls” struggling with internalized homophobia. Neither woman can even utter the term “gay” let alone refer to the other as “girlfriend.” They were conditioned to view homosexuality as sinful and any expression of same-sex love makes them deeply uncomfortable.

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As the couple spends more time in Hollywood, they become infatuated with the freedom and vibrancy of the culture. “It’s like I’ve been living in this black and white world,” says Amy. “Now we’re out here and everything is in color.” Unfortunately, Amy experiences a kind of sensory overload that causes her to lose sight of her strict morality. She falls prey to the temptations of the big city and begins a relationship with another woman behind Faith’s back.

Continue reading “A Christian, Gay Positive Lesbian Love Story”

TV Shows

4 Lesbian Storylines Debuting in 2018

If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, then it’ll be no surprise that I’m utterly obsessed with fictional lesbians. Emily and Alison. Stef and Lena. Karolina and Nico. Tamsin and Bo. I’m the captain of so many queer ships that I’m thinking of investing in a fleet. And yes, I’ll admit it, I’m THAT girl. I will literally watch anything  (even this trash) if someone tells me a bisexual, queer or lesbian woman makes an appearance. For instance, I’m terrified of psychological thrillers but that didn’t stop my 20-year-old self from buying a ticket to see Black Swan. Sure, I didn’t sleep for weeks but hey that 45 second lesbian scene was worth the trauma!

(On a practical note, if the government ever needs lesbians for anything, just promise us queer content. We’ll all follow, no questions asked.) 

However,  with all the chants of “new year, new me” still faintly circulating the internet, I’ve decided to look toward the future! So, here are four lesbian characters who are either debuting or becoming more prominent in 2018.

1) Alice/Tilly, Once Upon a Time [March 2]

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Once Upon a time is no stranger to gay storylines. They teased a relationship tumblr_o5uiroygvU1tp0b8fo4_400between Mulan and Aurora in 2013 and even showed an iconic lesbian kiss between Dorothy and Little Red Riding Hood in 2016. However, each of these storylines were short lived and left fans feeling disappointed and underrepresented. Despite the show-runners’ attempts to normalize a homosexual love story by making it just “a part of every day life” they completely missed the mark. Each plot is rushed and the episodes end up feeling like an ill conceived publicity stunt.  (I won’t even get into SwanQueen and the massive missed opportunities there.)

Luckily, with the introduction of openly lesbian character, Alice, Once finally seems to be getting it right. In the 4th episode of season 7 titled “Beauty”, Alice is revealed to be a lesbian who has had at least one relationship with another woman in the past.

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However, this casual admission is more than just throwing us gays another rainbow colored bone. According to Once producer and co-creator Eddy Kitsis, “an epic love story” awaits Alice in the back half of season 7.  After watching the winter finale, it’s pretty obvious that this profound romance involves Robin, the daughter of Robin Hood and the Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena.

Alice and RobinWithout giving away the plot, something happens in the final episode before hiatus (7×10) that forces Robin and Alice to lose their memories and live apart from each other . However, it’s obvious this separation  won’t last for much longer. Kitsis assures viewers that we’ll “see Alice and Robin in love, and for the second half of the season, we’re going to see how they met and how they got to that place. Of course… they don’t know each other. They don’t remember each other, and they don’t even realize they’re in love. So we’re going to see how they met in the fairytale side, and we’re going to root for them to find each other.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to watch a plot unfold. This season of Once has been absolutely amazing in my opinion and I’m so excited that the writers are doing away with poorly constructed mini arcs about gay characters. Alice and Robin’s story is developing with patience, consideration and tact. It seems Once is finally giving us a true, enduring fairytale about lesbian love. How awesome is that?

(Also, just looking at how cute they are is enough to make anyone swoon. You’re welcome.)  

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Continue reading “4 Lesbian Storylines Debuting in 2018”

web series

“Man Enough” destroying and rebuilding the concept of masculinity

As a feminist who believes strongly in equality, the mere idea of men gathering together to discuss what it means to “be a man” would classify as my literal nightmare. Images of repressed emotions, false bravado and exaggerated displays of aggression immediately flash before my eyes. However, Justin Boldoni’s series “Man Enough” is a beacon of light in a world otherwise dominated by the darkness of toxic masculinity.

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According to Baldoni, Man Enough is a social movement that “invites all men to challenge the unwritten rules of traditional masculinity that have caused us to disconnect from one another, created the foundation of men’s violence against women and prevented us from taking the long journey from our heads to our hearts.” This series, which partially takes place around a dinner table, is informal, lighthearted and comprised of diverse voices. It enables the audience to feel like they’re an active participant in the discussion and not just a passive viewer. (Not to mention I’d like to hire Boldoni’s chef to make my food every day.) 

Within the first few minutes of episode 1, “Why Don’t Men Talk”, Baldoni asks his guests what it means to be “man enough.” Without hesitation, Bassem Youssef, who is considered to be the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, summarizes the defining theme of the series by saying, “Man enough. Man up. Be a man. It’s all bullshit.”

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Youssef goes on to express discomfort with even using the term masculinity in a positive light because of his experiences in the Middle East. He explains that some people in his native country define masculinity solely by how their women behave and the amount of power men exert over them. But as Derek Hough, a professional dancer known for his work on Broadway and Dancing with the Stars, interjects- that’s exactly what they’re trying to change.

The preceding conversations then shift to center on redefining and understanding modern masculinity.

Continue reading ““Man Enough” destroying and rebuilding the concept of masculinity”

History

This ancient gay love story was once as popular as our Romeo and Juliet    

We’ve all heard the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet but did you know that a queer love story was just as popular in archaic Greece?

I’m talking about the love affair between Patroclus and Achilles, whose friendship was established in Homer’s epic poem the “Iliad” but was immortalized as a homoerotic relationship by the ancient playwright, Aeschylus. Only fragments from Aeschylus’ once massively popular tragedy survive but his portrayal of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship is indisputably romantic. In his three-part series titled, “Achilleis,” Aeschylus wrote about the life and love of Greek mythological hero, Achilles.

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Artist credit:  https://goo.gl/JXFbN5

For those of you unfamiliar with Homer’s “Iliad”, Achilles was prophesized to either die a hero in battle or live a long, uneventful life. Ultimately, Achilles decides to become a soldier and fights in the Trojan War with his best friend, Patroclus. Sadly, Patroclus is slain by Trojan Prince, Hector, and Achilles goes wild with grief. He beats his chest, smudges ashes on his head and acts like a recent widow. Motivated by sadness and, despite being warned that pursuing vengeance will result in his own death, Achilles murders Hector.

In “Myrmindons”, the first installment of Aeschylus’ trilogy, Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship differs from the “Iliad” because it’s made to be explicitly sexual.

An example of this blatant eroticism can be seen after Achilles finds Patroclus’ body stripped naked on the battlefield by the Trojans. Achilles laments his dead lover by saying, “Had you no reverence for the unsullied holiness of your thighs/ Ungrateful for the many kisses I gave you?” (Can’t get much gayer than that).

It’s important to understand that these plays of Aeschylus were so popular that the content was considered common knowledge even a hundred years later. To put that in context, the Great Gatsby was published just under a hundred years ago and most people  in modern society are aware of the book’s plot. In fact, Aeschylus’ rendition and interpretation of Homer’s epic poem was nearly universally accepted or recognized in ancient Greece.

Continue reading “This ancient gay love story was once as popular as our Romeo and Juliet    “

TV Shows

[Spoiler] Potential lesbian couple on Marvel’s Runaways

[SPOILERS AHEAD] 

IT FINALLY HAPPENED! Everyone’s favorite rainbow glowing alien, Karolina Dean, finally locked lips with Nico Monoru during the ninth installment of Marvel’s Runaways titled “Doomsday” and it was utter perfection.

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After weeks of covert glances and subtle touches, Karolina showed Nico exactly what she’d been hinting at for weeks. (Is anyone else painfully jealous of Nico in this scene?! I wish Karolina would have kissed me in high school. It would have saved me so many pointless dates with all the Alexs and Chases.)

But Karolina’s confession isn’t unexpected.

The writers have been hinting at a romantic relationship between Nico and Karolina since the pilot. Despite not being friends for years, the girls both happen to be crying in the bathroom and share an uncharacteristically sweet moment. They put aside the years of distance and try to comfort the other. (UGH, talk about building a ship properly)

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As the episodes continue, their friendship progresses and it becomes wildly apparent that Karolina is developing “more than friends” feelings for Nico. I mean just check out this sexy side eye.

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Keep reading to see the kiss  Continue reading “[Spoiler] Potential lesbian couple on Marvel’s Runaways”

Movies

Love, Simon & my struggle with internalized homophobia

A few days before Christmas my mom asked if I wanted to go watch “The Greatest SNOWMAN” with her and some friends. Me, assuming this was some new animated, holiday movie, agreed excitedly! (Imagine my shock when I realized I was actually watching a movie about P.T. Barnum and there was no loveable snowman in sight!)

Regardless, I settled comfortably into my seat and began sorting the snacks I had smuggled into the theater. (I’m not trying to pay three dollars for a water.) Right as I was opening my chocolate s’more bar, a familiar scene filled my screen. I had seen it before, the awkward somewhat nerdy boy lying next to the typical girl next door in a very Fault in Our Stars way.

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I just couldn’t quite recall why it seemed so familiar. Was this actor in a TV show I had watched? (Technically yes, he played Ryder Scanlon in my girlfriend Melissa Joan Hart’s sitcom “Melissa & Joey”) But that wasn’t it. I knew I had seen the preview before and that’s when my stomach dropped.

The movie, Love, Simon follows the life of a gay teenager as he navigates the difficulties of friendship and love. It’s one of the first gay coming-of-age movies produced by a major Hollywood studio.  Simply put, it’s the movie I’ve been waiting my entire life to see. I just didn’t realize how afraid I actually was of seeing it.

The second I heard Nick Robinson, who plays Simon, say “nobody knows I’m gay”, I nearly had a panic attack.

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It took me back to the first time I had seen the promo. It was during a commercial break for CW’s Riverdale. I happened to be watching with (lets call him Dan for privacy.) Now Dan has known I’m a lesbian for the last four years. However, he still reacted viscerally to the promo. “Oh god,” he scoffed. “It grosses me out to see two guys together, sorry it just does. I think there’s something weird about it.”

Continue reading “Love, Simon & my struggle with internalized homophobia”

Marvel's runaways · TV Shows

“We’re murderers but we feel badly about it” Recap: Runaway’s “Rewind” 1×2

Writing these recaps has afforded me the ability to really sit with the content. Typically, I get some snacks, a cup of tea and binge three episodes in a single sitting. But Marvel’s Runaways deserves a little more attention. This show, which has an indisputably dark plot, is lightened through witty comments and relatable themes (loss, disappointing your family, rebellion.)

The second installation of Marvel’s Runaways, titled “Rewind”, begins immediately after Molly’s cellphone light disturbed the end of PRIDE’s meeting. The kids are fleeing the basement cathedral and despite just having witnessed their parents performing some weird ritualistic magic, still manage to crack jokes. (If I saw my parents in blood red robes sacrificing an innocent girl, I definitely think I’d just be crying in a corner but hey everyone copes differently.) 

 

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Luckily, the kids manage to escape before their parents notice (thanks to Molly’s superhuman strength) and are able to hoodwink them into believing they were just playing an innocent game of Twister.

Continue reading ““We’re murderers but we feel badly about it” Recap: Runaway’s “Rewind” 1×2″