2013 has been dubbed the “Year of gay marriage”. Pope Francis was named “Person of the Yea” by gay magazine the Advocate, and as number two “Gay Rights Hero of the Year” by New Yorker magazine. The words of the Psalm for today’s Mass will theerefore have particular cogency for LGBT Christians, as we await the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, later this week.
d. 2 October 1633
The name “Borghese” will be familiar to many art lovers and tourists in Italy from the name “Villa Borghese”, the palace which was designed by the architect Flaminio Ponzo from sketches by Cardinal Borghese himself, and which housed his impressive art collection.
In 1607, the Pope gave the Cardinal 107 paintings which had been confiscated from the studio of the painter Cavalier D’Arpino. In the following year, Raphael’s Deposition was removed by force from the Baglioni Chapel in the church of San Francesco in Perugia and transported to Rome to be given to the Cardinal Scipione through a papal motu proprio.
At this site, however, I am not interested in exploring the iniquities of the historical church. Instead, what interests me here is the nature of the artists and the works in the collection. Several commentaries of the collection note its substantial number of clearly homoerotic works, and he bestowed direct patronage on several well -known homosexual artists – Caravaggio the best-known among them.
He was also implicated in numerous scandals around his homosexual interests, including a close friendship with one Stefano Pignatelli, who acquired such a strong influence over Borghese that the Pope banished him entirely. Borghese thereupon fell into a long and serious illness, from which he only recovered once his dear friend was eventually allowed to return.
This is how it is described in Aldrich & Wetherspoon, “Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History from Antiquity to WWII”
He was adopted by his uncle who, when became pope with the name Paul V, made him Cardinal at age 29. His uncle’s favour allowed Borgese to accumulate an immense fortune, which he used to acquire which he used to acquire the vast land-holdings where he built Villa Borghese, now one of the most important Museums in Rome.
Scipione was oriented towards his own sex, and this led to full-blown scandals. In 1605, soon after being made a cardinal, Borghese wanted to bring to Rome Stefano Pignattelli, his intimate “friend”.
Paul V compelled Stefano to move out of Shipone’s house, but the cardinal doubled his love for his friend and succumbed to a severe melancholy which resuletd in a long and serious illness. Only when Stefano was allowed to return to Rome to look after Scipione, did the cardinal recover.
Shipione’s uncle the pope, thereupon decided that in order to keep a check on Pignattelli he must co-opt, rather than combat, him. He had Stefano ordained, the beginning of a carreer which led to his becoming a cardinal in 1621. But Stefano died in 1623. Scipione died ten years later.
- Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the 14th Century
- Crompton, Louis: Homosexuality and Civilization
- Duffy, Eamonn: Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes
- Fletcher, Lynne Y: The First Gay Pope and Other Records
- Quattrocchi, Angelo: The Pope is Not Gay!
- Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
- Crompton, Louis: Homosexuality & Civilization
- Duffy, Eamonn: Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes; Third Edition
- Fletcher, Lynne Y: First Gay Pope
- Quattrocchi, Angelo: The Pope Is Not Gay!
d. 27 August 1627
Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, full name Francesco Maria Borbone Del Monte Santa Maria was an Italian cardinal, diplomat and connoisseur of the arts, who is best remembered for his patronage of the artist Caravaggio, and other baroque artists. He served as Prefect of the Tridentine Council 1606-1616 and had (unsuccessful) ambitions of being elected Pope at the conclave of 1621. Art historians such as Posener, Frommer and Hibbard have drawn upon extant documents (principally the correspondence of Dirk van Ameyden) that suggest the strong likelihood that he was homosexual and this may have influenced his tastes in the art he commissioned, as well as damaging his prospects of assuming the papacy, Van Ameyden claiming that he displayed more than a paternal care for the boys in his charge.
Quite apart from his personal sexual proclivities, Cardinal Del Monte is just one of a series of popes and Italian Cardinals from around this period who patronized homosexual artists, and contributed to the extensive collection of frankly homoerotic art in the Vatican.
- Cardinal Borghese (1576 – 1633), Homoerotc Art Lover (queerhistory.blogspot.com)
- Gay Popes: Sixtus IV (r. 1471-1484) (queerhistory.blogspot.com)
- Gay Popes: Julius III (queerhistory.blogspot.com)
- Benedict IX: The First (Primarily) Gay Pope (queerhistory.blogspot.com)
- Gay Popes: Leo X (r. 1513-1521) (queerhistory.blogspot.com)
b. May 29, 1947
“It’s not so much a dream as a calling from God.”
“Episcopalians Approve Gay Bishop.” CNN. August 6, 2003
“Gene Robinson Biography.” Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. June 20, 2008
Monroe, Rev. Irene. “Perspective: Gene Robinson.” Windy City Times. June 11, 2008
Steele, Bruce C. “Robinson Redux.” The Advocate. July 17, 2007
Burns, John F. “Cast Out, but at the Center of the Storm.” The New York Times. August 3, 2008
Costello, Andrew. “Let God Love Gene Robinson.” GQ. June, 2008
Goodstein, Laurie. “Episcopalians are Reaching Point of Revolt.” The New York Times. December 17, 2006
Goodstein, Laurie. “Gay Bishop Plans His Civil Union Rite.” The New York Times. April 25, 2008
Keizer, Garret. “Turning away from Jesus: Gay Rights and the War for the Episcopal Church.” Harper’s Magazine. June, 2008
Lawton, Kim. “Interview: Bishop Gene Robinson.” PBS. May 2, 2008
Millard, Rosie. “Interview: The Rev. Gene Robinson.” The Sunday Times. July 27, 2008
In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (2008)
For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)
Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire Website
b. May 4, 1889
d. December 2, 1967
The archconservative Spellman was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s’ communist and homosexual witch hunts. The church has squelched Spellman’s not-so-secret gay life quite successfully, most notably by pressuring The New York Times to don the drag of the censor back in the 1980s. The Times today may be out front exposing every little nasty detail in the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal–a testament to both the more open discussion of such issues today and the church’s waning power in New York–but not even 20 years ago the Times was covering up Spellman’s sexual secrets many years after his death, clearly fearful of the church’s revenge if the paper didn’t fall in line. (During Spellman’s reign and long afterward, all of New York’s newspapers in fact cowered before the Catholic Church. On Spellman’s orders New York’s department stores–owned largely by Catholics–pulled ads from the then-liberal New York Post in the 1950s after publisher Dorothy Schiff wrote commentary critical of his right-wing positions; Schiff was forced to back down on her positions.)
In the original bound galleys of former Wall Street Journal reporter John Cooney’s Spellman biography, The American Pope… Spellman’s gay life was recounted in four pages that included interviews with several notable individuals who knew Spellman as a closeted homosexual. Among Cooney’s interview subjects was C.A. Tripp…In a telephone interview with Tripp last week, he told me that his information came from a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. When the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Tripp says Spellman answered, “Who would believe that?”
Signorile, Michelangelo,”Cardinal Spellman’s Dark Legacy“
- Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G: Who’s Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History : From World War II to the Present Day (Who’s Who) (Vol 2)
- Loughery, John:The Other Side of Silence: Men’s Lives & Gay Identities – A Twentieth-Century History
- Jordan, Mark: The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism
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.
- A Gay Catholic Coming Out Story (queeringthechurch.com)
- Bishop Gene Robinson, Then and Now (queeringthechurch.com)
- Gay Bishops: Ralph of Tours (promiscuous, gay) and John of Orleans (saints.queerchurch.info)
- “Blessed Are the Queer in Faith”: Quest Presentation, 2012 (queeringthechurch.com)
- Catholic Rebellion on Gay Marriage: US – and Italy (queeringthechurch.com)