Queer Saints and Martyrs: Calendar for May

Queer saints, martyrs and other notable dates for October feature lesbian lovers, a renowned female mystic, a notable secular saint, and two dates of importance for combating homophobia.

May 3rd

May 6th

  • Benedicta of Rome , a  6th century Roman nun in the convent set up by Saint Galla (5 October). The two developed a relationship of such intensity, that when Galla lay dying and saw a vision of St Peter at the foot of her bed, she begged him to allow Benedicta to follow her to Paradise. A few days after Gall died – so did Benedicta.
  • 1933: Nazi burning of Magnus Hirschfield’s Institute for Sexual Science, an early precursor of the later crackdown which culminated in the gay holocaust.

May 8 th

  • Julian of Norwich, a  a 14th century mystic who experienced a series of visions on the Passion of Christ and on the love of God.  Her spiritual writing is of particular importance and value to us for its emphasis on the unbounded love of God, and for her unconventional gender language, referring for instance to “mother Jesus” and to  God’s care for Her people. 

(See also Julian of Norwich: Medieval mystic celebrating Mother Jesus at  Jesus in Love blog)

 May 16th

May 17th:

  • Idaho: International Day Against Homophobia. In London this year, Christians will be marking the day at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, with a workshop titled “Living in Prophetic Hope“, featuring a range of notable speakers, and a screening of the film “Call Me Kuchu“, the story of the martyred Ugandan organizer David Kato.

May 20th

  • Alcuin of Tours, an English monk who served at the French court of Emperor Charlemagne. He was renowned for the extent and depth of his scholarship, and also for the passionate letters he wrote to some of his dearest friends. Together with Paulinus of Nola and Venantius Fortunatus, he is one of three saints  who are included in the Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse.

May 22nd

  • Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California who was assasinated in 1978, is widely regarded as a secular gay martyr. His short political career was a landmark in LGBT visibility, and a turning point in political discourse about gay rights. His advocacy was not limited to only his own community, but also included fighting for the rights of other marginalized groups.    (Also see Harvey Milk Day at Jesus in Love Blog)

May 30th

  • St Joan of Arc is  probably the best known of all cross – dressing or gender transgressive people in history certainly the best known among the Christian saints. But she is also known as a martyr – convicted and burned by the Church on a charge of “heresy”, a charge based in part on her insistence on dressing in male clothing, and adopting a masculine, military role. She is honoured in French history as a military hero in the war against the English, but is also a reminder that those who are persecuted by the institutional church are sometimes later honoured for their truth telling. Condemned by the Church leaders of the time, Joan is now a major recognised saint. As Pope Benedict pointedly observed in a reflection on Joan, the theologians of the church can sometimes be wrong.

(Cross – posted at Queering the Church)

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