Oscar Wilde is a 19th-century Anglo-Irish writer whose reputation as a gay martyr and LGBTQ role model often overshadows his spiritual journey as a follower of Christ and Anglican convert to Catholicism.
Although he is better known as a forerunner of modern LGBTQ activism, the flamboyant and witty Wilde was also a spiritual seeker. He loved church rituals and took Christ seriously, especially during and after prison. He identified with Jesus as a persecuted rebel artist with an individual vision, writing, “Christ’s place indeed is with the poets.” Wilde is best known for his ever-popular works “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” — and his notorious imprisonment for homosexuality.
His lifelong flirtation with Catholicism ended with a flourish in a deathbed conversion. Wilde’s imprisonment for “gross indecency” stemmed from his relationship with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, the poet who famously wrote about their same-sex desire as “the love that dare not speak its name.”
But while in prison, Wilde wrote that Christ “took the entire world of the inarticulate, the voiceless world of pain, as his kingdom, and made of himself its external mouthpiece.” During his prison stay, Wilde wrote a book-length letter to Douglas revealing an understanding of Christ that is as radical, unorthodox, creative and profound as the writings of today’s queer theologians.
Excerpted with permission from an article by Rev. Kittredge Cherry, Qspirit.net. She is an author and retired MCC clergy who served as National Ecumenical Officer for MCC. (Image credit: Oscar Wilde, 1882. Photo by Napoleon Sarony.)
Rev. Robert Watson Wood, an ordained Congregational minister who started advocating for LGBTQ rights in the early 1960s, died Aug. 19, 2018. In 1960 Wood urged churches to welcome lesbian and gay people in America’s first book on homosexuality and Christianity, “Christ and the Homosexual.”
He went on to become the first member of the clergy to picket for LGBTQ rights, wearing his clergy collar at a 1965 protest. His advocacy for LGBTQ rights continued throughout his long life, although he was so far ahead of his time that his contributions have been forgotten by many.
Wood grew up in Ohio and became aware of his homosexuality in high school. Although he advocated for LGBTQ rights and lived openly with his male partner, he didn’t come out publicly as gay himself until his retirement in 1986. In 1962 Wood met his life partner Hugh M. Coulter, an abstract artist, former rodeo cowboy and a fellow World War II veteran. They lived together as a couple while Wood served as pastor of three different parishes over the next 26 years until Coulter’s death.
Excerpted with permission from an article by Rev. Kittredge Cherry, Qspirit.net. She is an author and retired MCC clergy who served as National Ecumenical Officer for MCC.
Joan of Arc was a tough cross-dressing teenage warrior who led the medieval French army to victory when she was 17. She is a queer icon, girl-power hero and patron saint of France. Her feast day is May 30.
Smart and courageous, Joan of Arc had visions of saints and angels who told her to cut her hair, put on men’s clothes and go to war. At age 18 she helped crown a king and at 19 she was killed by the church that later made her a saint. She died for her God-given right to wear men’s clothing, the crime for which she was executed on May 30, 1431.
Excerpted with permission from an article by Rev. Kittredge Cherry, Qspirit.net. She is an author and retired MCC clergy who served as National Ecumenical Officer for MCC. (Image: “Queer Saints: St. Joan of Arc” by Katy Miles-Wallace)