Category Archives: Martyrs

Let Us Remember, for October 27th:

Erasmus of RotterdamRenaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and theologian who tried to bridge the gap between Catholic and Reformation impulses – and who is also known for a series of passionate love letters he wrote to  a young monk Servatius Roger, and  allegations of improper advances made to the young Thomas Grey, later Marquis of Dorset, while he employed Erasmus as his tutor.

Allen R Schindler Jr. (1969 – 1992 ) US

Naval Petty Officer, murdered in hate crime killing – a modern gay martyr, who was killed for not hiding his sexuality during the era of DADT in the US military.

Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466 – 1536), Netherlands. 

Erasmus, born on the 27th October 1466, was a Dutch humanist and theologian,  who merits serious consideration by queer people of faith.

Born Gerrit Gerritszoon, he became far better known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam: Erasmus was his saint’s name, after St. Erasmus of Formiae; Rotterdam, for the place of his birth (although he never lived there after the first few years of early childhood; and “Desiderius” a name he gave himself – “the one who is desired”.

Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, b. Oct 27th 1466

Erasmus, a “gay icon”?

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Allen R Schindler Jr. (1969 – 1992 ) US

Radioman Petty Officer Third Class in the United States Navy. On October 27, 1992, he was killed in a public toilet in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan by shipmate Terry M. Helvey, who acted with the aid of an accomplice, Charles Vins, in what Esquire called a “brutal murder”. Schindler was gay, and had previously complained to naval authorities of harassment, including death threats in comments such as “There’s a faggot on this ship and he should die”. Conscious of the dangers to his personal safety, he had begun separation process to leave the Navy, but his superiors insisted he remain on his ship until the process was finished.  The good military man that he was, he obeyed orders, and remained in the Navy, waiting to be discharged. Instead, he was murdered for being gay – a modern gay martyr, killed for not hiding his sexuality.

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Jerome Duquesnoy II , Burned October 24th, 1654

On 24th October, 1645, the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy II was bound to a stake in the Grain Market in the center of Ghent, strangled and burnt. His crime (which he strenuously denied) was sodomy, with two boys, assistants who had been working with him on what should have been his masterpiece , the mausoleum of Antoine Triest, bishop of Ghent.
From a modern perspective, the issue here is that of child abuse, but that is not the way it would have been seen in the 17th century: similar activities with girls of the same age would have passed without comment. The issue then was same-gender sexual activity. The age of his partners was of minor importance – in many similar cases, the boys were also punished for their part in the “crime”. In common with thousands of other men between the fourteenth and early nineteenth centuries, he was executed for no other reason than the allegation that his sexual life was directed at his own sex.
Most of these men are known to us only by the sketchiest of details, but with Duquesnoy we know more than with most, thanks to his family background, and his own artistic legacy. His father, also Jerome Duquesnoy, was a notable sculptor, famed today for the statue “Mannekin pis”, so beloved of tourists in Brussels. Jerome II, and his brother François , were also sculptors, like their father.François today has a definite place of his own in art history: his brother Jerome in all likelihood would have done so too. Like his brother, he served an apprenticeship in their father’s workshop, and studied alongside François in Rome, under some of the greatest sculptors of the age. Later, he attracted the attention and patronage of powerful figures, including the king of Spain, and the bishop of Ghent, before the accusations and subsequent execution abruptly ended his career.

His reputation as a sculptor was tarnished by the circumstances of his death. In common with the practice of the time, his name was removed from many of his works, and his career literally was forgotten, but he is now re-emerging from the artistic shadows as a result of work by dedicated twentieth-century scholars. :

Infant Hercules
struggling with a serpent

The execution of the Belgian sculptor Jérôme Duquesnoy the Younger (1602-1654) must have served as a warning to other artists about the consequences of any “improprieties” in their lifestyles or their works. Although his reputation is today eclipsed by that of his elder brother, François, Jérôme Duquesnoy was widely regarded as a prominent sculptor during his lifetime.

…..Duquesnoy’s exuberant and appealing statues of young boys, such as Hercules Fighting with Serpents (ca 1650), attest to his sexual proclivities, which led to his downfall. In the Pietà (ca 1640), he envisioned a beautiful young angel, passionately kissing the arm of a sensual Christ.

Richard B Mann, glbtq encycloedia

…… he produced such famous works asGanymede and the Eagle of Jupiter (ca 1540-1545) andChildren and the Young Faun (ca 1542-1547). Many of Duquesnoy’s works depict strong, muscled male figures in the Hellenic tradition, the polished bronze often seeming to mirror the sculptor’s innate fondness for the form he was creating.

For centuries after his death, Duquesnoy’s reputation was both tarnished and repressed, and it is only recently that his works have enjoyed critical attention. A sculptor of remarkable talent, Duquesnoy’s vigorous body of work finally serves to celebrate that talent rather than stand as a reminder of the sad end to a very promising career.

 Michael G. Cornelius, glbtq encycopedia

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Let Us Remember, for October 24th:

All those executed or murdered for their sexuality, or driven to suicide as a result of a perceived conflict between their inmost being and Christian faith, including

Jerome Duquesnoy II , Burned October 24th, 1654

A notable Belgian sculptor, bound to a stake in the Grain Market in the center of Ghent, strangled and burnt on allegations of sodomy (which he strenuously denied) .

and

Bryan Michael Egnew ( 1970 – 2011) US

Mormon, who paid the price for honesty when he acknowledged his orientation. He served an LDS mission, studied at BYU, married and had children in accordance with Mormon teaching. But after coming out to his wife, she left him, taking the children with her, and outed him to the church authorities, resulting in excommunication. He then committed suicide at his home on September 10, 2011.

 

Carlyle D. Marsden (1921-1976) Mormon Suicide

b. December 9, 1921

d. March 8, 1976

Carlyle Davenport Marsden was born on December 9, 1921, in Parowan, Utah. He was the son of William and Della Jane Marsden. He was survived by his widow, three sons and two daughters, 10 grandchildren, two brothers and four sisters.

He had been a music teacher at Eisenhower Junior High School in the Granite School District in Salt Lake, and also taught at Brigham Young University.

He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Army in the Pacific Theater.

He attended the College of Southern Utah in Cedar City for two years, and received his bachelor degree from Brigham Young University and his masters degree from the University of Utah. He also did graduate work at Claremont College, Occidental and Cal State in Los Angeles, California.

He had filled an LDS Mission in the New England States and had been a member of the bishopric and high council in Pomona, Calif. He had been music regional representative, stake and ward organist, and stake choir director. He had also been Sunday School superintendent in Salt Lake City.

Carlyle was outed in March 1976. This led him to take his own life on March 8, 1976. He was 54 years old.

Carlyle is buried at the Kaysville City Cemetery in Utah.

Carlyle’s grandson Douglas Stewart was a gay Mormon and sadly committed suicide on March 8, 2006, exactly 30 years to the day his grandfather committed suicide.

Affirmation Suicide Memorial

About “Queer Saints and Martyrs”

At my primary blog, “Queering the Church”, and at my blogger site, “Queer Saints and Martyrs (and Others)“. one of the strands I have been exploring for some years now has been the place of LGBT/queer people in Christian history.

However, I have been dissatisfied with the blogger technology(and the way I set it up originally), and am in the process of transferring the entire site here, to the WordPress platform. Continue reading About “Queer Saints and Martyrs”

Bryan Jordan Smith (1983-2004), Mormon Suicide

b. March 27, 1983

d. August 18, 2004

Bryan Jordan Smith was born March 27, 1983 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from American Fork High School and LDS Seminary. He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served an LDS mission in Omaha, Nebraska.

Bryan was a loving son and brother who enjoyed the outdoors, scrap booking, animals, and gardening. He loved cars and especially, his white Ford convertible Mustang. Bryan worked for Alpine School District at the Pony Express Elementary School. He planned on attending Joseph Patrick Academy of Hair this fall.

Bryan committed suicide on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 in American Fork. He left a suicide note stating that he could not handle the fact that he was gay and that was at least one of the reasons for his suicide.

Affirmation, Suicide Memorial

Christopher Paul Ricksecker (1982-2003), Suicide

b. January 22, 1982

d. June 16, 2003

Christopher was born in San Diego on January 22, 1982, and attended Highland High School in Salt Lake City. Life was not easy for Chris; he felt overwhelmed with emotional problems and suffered depression. He committed suicide in Salt Lake City on June 16, 2003. Christopher was cremated at his request, and his ashes were later scattered on the Pacific.

A vigil for Chris was held on July 1, 2003, in Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake. The service was conducted by Chris’s step mom, Sheri Young; Chris’s dad, David, also said a few words.

Through a candlelight ceremony, the audience remembered not only Chris but all gay and lesbian people who have taken lives. Charles Milne, GLBT advisor for the University of Utah, helped conduct the candle lighting ceremony and made some remarks. Kristine Clifford said a prayer.

These are some experts for the remarks made by Chris’s dad:

“I went to several churches for answers. The answers that they gave me were that gay people are evil and bad. One pastor in a local church told me that gay people are possessed with demons—that they are bad and that they are going to hell.”

“Chris wanted to be accepted for who he was, but he could never accept himself who he was and how he felt.”

“We don’t need special groups for gays or anyone else. We cannot judge gay people and put them in special groups. What makes us better than gay people? We need to save our children.”

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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Chris Wayne Beers, Mormon Missionary – and Suicide

d. March 18, 2012

According to stories posted on several Mormon blogs, Chris Wayne Beers, a returned missionary and former church employee, took his life on March 18. He was 38 years old.

Beers was a returned missionary and had worked for years at the Church Office Building in the missionary and travel department, and at the time of his passing he was working at the University of Utah Hospital.

A native from Bountiful, Utah, Beers graduated from Woods Cross High, where he played football and other sports. After serving an honorable mission for the LDS Church, he touched the lives of countless youth as an EFY counselor.

“If we, as Mormons, did what we were supposed to do for all of our brothers and sisters–love them unconditionally–Chris would never have been stripped of his family of faith,” wrote Mitch Mayne on a Facebook entry. “He would not have been forced to choose. He would have had a deeper, richer and more spiritual support network to walk him through what life brought his way. Sadly, like many, he was given the ‘Sophie’s Choice:’ live life according to a heterocentric cultural practice and do so alone, without a partner–or live life without your family of faith and the strength of that spiritual community.”

– from “Affirmation” (LGBT Mormons)

SS. Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs, 07/03

Felicitas Perpetua” = eternal bliss – and also the names of the two saints the Catholic Church remembers and celebrates every year on March 7, SS Felicity and Perpetua, who were martyred together in Carthage in 203. Their story is not well known, but their names are familiar to older Catholics as one of a few same sex couples that were once listed in the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. These paired names are an echo of their place in the ancient rite of adelphopoeisis (literally, “making of brothers”), the liturgical rite once used to bless same sex unions in Church.
As two women martyred together, and from the kiss of peace which they exchanged at the end, they are frequently described as a lesbian counterpart to Sergius and Bacchus. This is inaccurate. Their relationship was not primarily one of lovers in the modern sense, but of mistress and slave. But that description is also inaccurate to modern ears, as it overlooks the very different status of women,and the very different nature of marriage relationships, in Roman times. In the journal kept by Perpetua (from which we know the story), she never once even mentions her husband. It is entirely possible (even probable?) that whatever the nature of her sexual life, Perpetua’s emotional involvement with Felicity may have been more important than her relationship with her husband.

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