Bishop Otis Charles

b. April 24, 1926

b. April 24, 1926

Bishop Charles was the first gay bishop in any Christian denomination to come out formally and publicly as gay.

From LGBT Religious Archives:

Since 1979 he has been among a growing number of bishops who have spoken out for full and complete inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church without restriction, recognizing their calling to ministry and rejecting the notion that a baptized homosexual must live a celibate life. In 1980, he was the recipient of the national Integrity Award. He is represented in Out in the Workplace: Gay and Lesbian Professionals Tell Their Stories.

Upon his retirement in 1993, Charles publicly announced his homosexuality, becoming the first openly gay bishop of any Christian denomination. That September he sent an epistle to his colleagues in the House of Bishops that said, in part: “I have promised myself that I will not remain silent, invisible, unknown. After all is said and done, the choice for me is not whether or not I am a gay, but whether or not I am honest about who I am with myself and others. It is a choice to take down the wall of silence I have built around an important and vital part of my life, to end the separation and isolation I have imposed on myself all these years.”

John McNeil, former Jesuit and author of Freedom, Glorious Freedom speaks of Bishop Charles’ coming out as “an extraordinary example (of the) public exposure… required… to… provide an image… of what it is to be mature as Christian and as gay” (pp.82-83). In Last Watch of the Night, Paul Monette wrote of Bishop Charles’ coming out as “an important moment in gay and lesbian history, and a ringing challenge to the status quo of invisibility” (p. 304).

The Sunday edition of the New York Times (October 10, 1993) as well as both gay and straight press around the country reported the bishop’s action. Boston’s Bay Windows editorialized: “the news of a 67 year old bishop coming out of the closet is something at which to marvel. Charles puts it less grandly, however, saying simply that it was a matter of integrity.”

After making his public witness Bishop Charles, who appreciates being addressed by his baptismal name, Otis, has welcomed the opportunity to share his story. Whether in an informal gathering or the pulpit, he characteristically begins, “I am a gay man, an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop, a queer who only just mustered the courage to publicly acknowledge the truth of my life.”

Charles has continued as an active and voting member of the Episcopal House of Bishops taking many stands on behalf of his community. In 1995, Charles co-founded Oasis/California, the Bay Area Episcopal Lesbian and Gay ministry. In 1998, Charles was appointed Interim Dean of the School for Deacons serving northern California. During this time he also served as  Bishop-in-residence at the Church of St. John-the-Evangelist in San Francisco and a founding editor of Millennium3, an on-line and print publication distributed to all 13,600 Episcopal clergy. He was an Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of California until 2004.

Charles is currently working on his memoirs and editing a collection of personal reflections on the contribution of entheogens as an opening to mystical experience. Since 1993 he has been a resident of San Francisco where he lives with his partner, Felipe Sanchez Paris.

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Jack Denton Reese, Mormon Suicide

Jack Denton Reese, a gay teen of LDS background committed suicide on April 22 in Mountain Green, Utah. He was 17 years old.

According to Jack’s boyfriend, Alex Smith, Jack was bullied at school. On April 23, Alex, who didn’t know yet that his boyfriend had taken his life, spoke at a panel about the bullying Jack experienced. The panel was held in connection with the screening of the documentary film, “Bullied.”

Jack attended Morgan and Weber High schools. On April 27, Weber High students attended class in their Sunday best in Jack’s honor. “You’ll always be remembered,” wrote a close friend on the mortuary’s guestbook. “I know you’re looking down on us all right now, telling us all to be ourselves no matter what people say or how harshly they judge. I know it because that’s all you wanted. I love you, Jack. Love forever in our hearts. You’re amazing just the way you are.”

“I remember Jack when he was in our ward and when he would pass the sacrament,” reads another entry. “What a handsome and dedicated young man!”

“How is it possible that on the same day on one side of the country we are being affirmed as gay and Mormon [at the Circling the Wagons Conference] while on the other side another gay Mormon is taking his life?” wrote Randall Thacker, senior vice president with Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons. “How will this suffering ever come to an end?”

read more at Affirmation, Suicide Memorials

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Hildegonde of Neuss 20/04

(Also spelt Hildegund) She was born at Neuss, near Cologne. After the death of her mother, at age 12, she went with her father, a knight, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For her safety, during the trip, she was dressed as a boy and called “Joseph” for her protection.
While returning from the Holy Land Hildegund’s father died, but she was able to make her own way home and maintained her disguise first as a boy and then as a man. Later, she made a pilgrimage to Rome, during which she had several adventures.
On one of them, she was condemned to be hanged as a robber and escaped only when a friend of the real robber cut her down from the gallows.
After that, she returned to Germany and was accepted into the Cistercian monastery at Shönau, near Heidelberg, concealing her gender, and to her death she was believed to be a man. Her true sex went undiscovered until her death in 1188.
A few years later, abbot Engelhartof Langheim wrote her biography. She is considered saint, even though her cult is not approved by the Roman Catholic Church.

Christina of Sweden (1626 –1689)

b. 18 December 1626
d. 19 April 1689

Queen regnant of Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia, from 1633 to 1654, Christina was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. As the heiress presumptive, at the age of six she succeeded her father on the throne of Sweden upon his death at the Battle of Lützen. Being the daughter of a Protestant champion in the Thirty Years’ War, she caused a scandal when she abdicated her throne and converted to Catholicism in 1654. She spent her later years in Rome, becoming a leader of the theatrical and musical life there. As a queen without a country, she protected many artists and projects. She is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto.
From the moment of her birth, Christina confounded sexual and gender stereotypes. Her parents had been anxious for a male royal heir, and astrologers had confidently predicted a boy would be born. When the robust baby arrived, it was first thought to be a boy, on account of a hairy body and strong voice. After it had been recognized that she was in fact a girl, her father the king was undeterred, and proceeded to raise her as the boy she had been expected to be: with an education education of a prince. Thus, her lessons included languages, political and military science, riding, and shooting- all of which suited her much better than women’s traditional activities such as needlework, for which she claimed to have no aptitude whatsoever.
After her father’s death, she was proclaimed “king” by the Swedish parliament – not queen. During the regency until she began to rule in her own right, she continued to receive an excellent education.
As an adult, she continued to resist all gender conformity. She showed no interest at all in fashion and adopted mannish styles of dress. She ignored traditionally approved “feminine” interests, and instead continued to pursue and promote her love of scholarship, books and culture. She also resisted marrying, and rejected several proposals. Immediately after abdicating in favour of her cousin Gustav, she left Sweden for Rome, dressed as a man.
Details of her sexual relationships, if any are not known conclusively, but she did have close personal friendships with both men and women. Some frank letters to her lady-in-waiting Ebba Sparre suggest that their relationship may have been sexual. The question of her biological sex is also unclear. In addition to the confusion around the matter at birth, other physical details suggest that she may have been intersex. However, it has not been possible to confirm this, in the absence of soft tissue remains.
What is clear, from the evidence of her rejection of marriage and feminine pastimes, ambiguous love relationships and cross-dressing, that in modern terms she should be thought of as either lesbian or trans.
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Harry Hay, Queer Spirit

b. April 7, 1912
d. October 24, 2002

Henry “Harry” Hay, known as the founder of the modern American gay movement, has died at age 90. The pioneering gay activist devoted his life to progressive politics and in 1950, he founded a state-registered foundation and secret network of support groups for gays known as the Mattachine Society.

He was also a co-founder, in 1979, of the Radical Faeries, a movement affirming gayness as a form of spiritual calling. A rare link between gay and progressive politics, Hay and his partner of 39 years, John Burnside, had lived in San Francisco for three years after a lifetime in Los Angeles.

Hay had been diagnosed weeks earlier with lung cancer. Despite his illness, he remained lucid and died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of October 24

Gay Today

 

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