In clear contradiction of the Church’s often-repeated claims of a “constant and unchanging tradition” of strong opposition to homoerotic relationships, there are numerous notable men and women from a range of sexual and gender minorities who have been recognised by the church in different ways, as canonized saints, as consecrated bishops and even popes, or as same sex couples, joined by the church in liturgical rites of union, or buried by the church in shared tombs. Knowledge of these can help modern LGBT Christians to resist the misinformed insistence of the intolerant that their bigotry is dictated by faith.
In assembling a listing of people in history who deserve specially interest from LGBT Christians , I carefully use the word “queer” here to avoid the tedious arguments over exactly what qualifies as “gay”, especially for monks who have taken vows of celibacy, and to admit discussion of cross-dressing women who assume male identity for purely religious motives. I also include some notable women who are important not because they are in any sense gay, but who have notably transcended the usual limitations of socially imposed female gender roles.
Under “Saints and Martyrs”, I include some figures from before Christianity took root as a distinctive religion – including figures from the Christian and Jewish scriptures, and also some notable figures from other religions. At the other end of the time scale, I also include as “modern heroes”, some who have been persecuted rather than honoured by the Church -but who I believe will in time be more widely recognized as early witnesses for ideas on LGBT inclusion that will in the future become widely accepted.
Prologue: Before Christianity (In Jewish scriptures, the New Testament, and in other religions)
The Early Christians (Roman martyrs, bishops and some near-mythical figures)
Medieval Homoeroticism (Monastic literature, early gay popes, powerful abbesses)
The Great Persecution (St Joan, Burning the Sodomites, The Papal Paradox and Homoerotic Vatican Art)
Modern Martyrs, Modern Revival (Newman and conscience, Silencing the theologians, Into the Light)
Epilogue: All Saints
In addition to the recognised saints and martyrs, there are many other men (and far fewer women) who are known to have achieved high office in the church as popes, bishops and abbots, in spite of well-known homoerotic interests or sexual activities. I have gathered these into several thematic groups:
Queers in Church History
For a listing of the recognised saints and modern heroes ordered by the calendar, see
For more specific posts, use the links below. These are mostly to my own posts here at QTC, but I also include several to two other key sources: to the established and comprehensive lists included in the Calendar of LGBT Saints (“Calendar”) at the LGBT Catholic Handbook, and also to the rapidly expanding and impressive series on LGBT saints at Jesus in Love Blog (“Jesus in Love”.)