All posts by Terence

The Queer Family in the Book of Ruth

The story of Ruth and Naomi and their deep love has often been used to illustrate love between women in the Bible.  There is more to the book than that alone, for a queer reading. Although the book begins as the story of Ruth and Naomi, it ends as that of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, as Mona West makes clear in her chapter on Ruth for The Queer Bible Commentary, concluding with a reflection on its lesson for queer families – in all their variety.

With the strong public interest in the struggle for marriage equality and gay adoption, we often overlook the simple but important fact that not all queer families are imitations of conventional families, differing only in the minor detail of being headed by a couple of the same biological sex. We come in a multitude of forms – like the family I meet recently, comprising three men who have just celebrated 25 years of living as a mutually supportive and committed triple. This obviously does not fit with the modern conception of “traditional” marriage and family – but nor do the families of Jesus and his disciples in the New Testament, and nor does the family of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, as we know it by the end of the book.

Continue reading The Queer Family in the Book of Ruth

Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici, Gay Cardinal?

b. 12 November 1660
d. 3 February 1711

Born in Florence, the son of Grand duke Ferdinando II of Tuscany andVittoria Della Rovere. In 1683 he was appointed to governor of Siena, a position he maintained until his death. He was the grand prior of theSovereign Order of Malta in Pisa. Abbot commendatario of S. Galgano, Siena. Abbot commendatario of S. Stefano, Carrara, 1675. According to a family tradition was promoted to the cardinalate at a young age in 1686. He remained in Florence, in his villa of Lappeggi, devoting himself to a life not really religious, made of amusements and love affairs with men. He resigned cardinalate on June 19, 1709 and was named prince of Siena. He then was forced to marry in 1709 Eleonore Luisa Gonzaga, duchess of Guastalla, daughter of Vincenzo Gonzaga, in an attempt to save the dynasty, but they did not have children.
(Links to Amazon, UK)
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November 10: Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin, Pioneer Lesbian Activists

Del Martin 
b. May 5, 1921
d. August 27, 2008
Phyllis Lyon 
b. November 10, 1924

“Two extraordinary people … that have spent the greater part of a half century … fighting for their right to live the way so many of us, frankly, take for granted.

 – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon founded the first lesbian organization in the United States and have fought for more than 50 years for the rights of lesbians and gays. On June 16, 2008, Martin and Lyon became the first gay couple to be legally married in California.

Martin and Lyon both earned degrees in journalism. While working as journalists in Seattle, the two became romantically involved. The couple relocated to San Francisco and moved in together on Valentine’s Day 1953.

In 1955, finding it hard to develop a social network in San Francisco, Martin, Lyon and a small group of women founded the first lesbian organization, called the Daughters of Bilitis. The name was inspired by Pierre Louys’s “Songs of Bilitis,” a collection of poems celebrating lesbian sexuality.

Though it was intended to be a secret society, Martin and Lyon wanted to make the Daughters of Bilitis more visible. The group began publishing a monthly magazine, called The Ladder, which was the first-ever lesbian publication. As editors of the magazine, they capitalized the word “lesbian” every time it appeared.

In 1964, while fighting to change California sex laws criminalizing homosexuals, the couple joined religious and gay community leaders to form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH). This organization was at the forefront of the movement to gain religious support on gay rights issues. Both women served on the founding CRH board of directors.

In 2004, when gay marriage was offered in San Francisco, Martin and Lyon were the first to wed. A California appellate court ruling subsequently invalidated their marriage. Then in May 2008, a California Supreme Court decision provided same-sex couples the right to marry. On June 16, 2008, they were the first same-sex couple married in California. The wedding was officiated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Martin and Lyon have published two books together, “Lesbian/Woman” (1972) and “Lesbian Love and Liberation” (1973). On their 50th anniversary, the documentary “No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon” premiered. In 2005, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association inducted Martin and Lyon into the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame for their pioneering work on The Ladder. In 2007, they received the 2007 Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Pioneer Award.

Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon.” (The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network).

Kornblum, Janet. “Gay Activists Blaze Trail for half century.”  USA Today. March 4, 2004

Streitmatter, Rodger.  “Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin.”  National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association: LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame.  June 5, 2008

Gordon, Rachel. “Lesbian Pioneer Activists See Wish Fulfilled.” San Francisco Chronicle. June 16, 2008

Marshall, Carolyn. “Dozens of Gay Couples Marry in San Francisco Ceremonies.” The New York Times. February 13, 2004

McKinley, Jesse. “Same-Sex Marriages Begin in California.” The New York Times. June 17, 2008


Lesbian love and liberation (The Yes book of sex) (1973)
Battered Wives (1976)

Other Resources

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Let Us Remember, for Nov 9th:

The cross-dressing saints of the Church.

From Queer Saints and Martyrs:

St Matrona / Babylas of Perge, Cross-dressing  Saint? 

St Matrona /Babylas of Perge is one of a number of female saints in the early church who dressed as men to be admitted to all-male monasteries. The stories and motives of these women are remote from our time, and ‘transvestite’, or cross – dressing, is not to be confused with ‘transgendered’. Still, whatever the full historic truth, it seems to me these are useful stories to hold on to as reminders of the important place of the transgendered, and differently gendered, in our midst. Many of us will remember how difficult and challenging was the process of recognising, and then confronting, our identities as lesbian or gay, particularly in the context of a hostile church. However difficult and challenging we may have found the process of honestly confronting our sexual identities, consider how much more challenging must be the process of confronting and negotiating honestly a full gender identity crisis. Their stories collectively also carry a sobering reminder of the differing regard given by society of the time to male and female lives – else why would women have sought out male monasteries, in spite of the risks and discomfort to themselves of their lives in disguise, if not expectation of some greater spiritual reward than in a female convent?

Read more:

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Discrimination no longer an electoral asset

November 6th 2012 was a great day for LGBT political progress to equality, at all levels of American government.

Marriage ballots

Voters had never before approved marriage equality in a direct ballot, but this week they did so in four states simultaneously. In Maine, they reversed a ballot decision from 2009, re-instating the law passed earlier that year. In Maryland and Maine, they approved the legislation that had been passed earlier by the state legislatures, and that had been stalled by opponents belief that voters would overturn it. In  Minnesota, voters resisted attempts to entrench marriage discrimination in the state constitution.

This will embolden new marriage initiatives from state legislatures and citizens’ ballot propositions, to upgrade civil unions to full marriage, to introduce civil unions where they are not yet available, or to overturn existing constitutional bans. Keep an eye on Rhode Island, Illinois, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, and Colorado.

The resounding voter support will also send a strong message to the justices of the Supreme Court, as they decide on how to respond to the assorted appeals – on Proposition 8 in California, and challenges to DOMA. If they decide not to consider the appeal on the Proposition 8 ruling, it will stand. Proposition H8 will have been overturned, and marriage equality will return to the state. If they do take up the issue, they may well agree with the lower court, that Proposition 8 was invalid – but if not, voters will surely take up the issue, as they did in Maine – and will win. Either way, marriage equality will return, and within the next year or two. We just cannot say how, or when.


Washington will have its largest queer delegation yet. Tammy Baldwin is the first LGBT person elected to the Senate, and three gay men joined two incumbents as congressmen: Mark Takano in California 41, Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, and Mark Pocan in Wisconsin 02.  Kyrsten Sinema in  Arizona 09 became the first openly bisexual Representative elected. Together with the existing Reps Jared Polis (Colorado) and David Cicilline (Rhode Island), that’s a total delegation of seven, spanning the East Coast, Midwest, Southwest and West Coast.


The big news and headlines have concentrated on the national results, but it is at state and local levels that many of the decisions are made that affect our lives most directly – and there are some really interesting stories lower down the ballot. 

  • In Minnesota, where Republicans in the  state legislature, with Catholic bishops as cheerleaders, initiated the proposed constitutional ban, the GOP lost both houses of the state legislature.
  • In New York, where the NOM and the rest of the religious right went after four GOP state senators who supported gay marriage last year, the Republicans appear to have lost the state senate, which they have held for years. (One key race has not yet been settled, but the Democrat holds a still lead).
  • In Iowa, where the Democrats control the state senate and have resisted attempts to initiate a repeal of gay marriage, the Republicans failed in a determined attempt to take control. Also in Iowa, where two years ago voters unseated three of the judges who had ruled in favour of gay marriage, this year a similar conservative assault on a fourth judge failed. Same – sex marriage in Iowa is here to stay.
  • In Colorado, where the GOP Speaker of the state House blocked a bill for civil unions that would have passed simply by refusing to allow a vote, the Democrats have regained control. Speaker McNulty will soon be ex-Speaker, and is likely to be replaced by  – an openly gay man. Expect civil unions, or even full marriage equality, to feature high on his to-do list for 2013.

This will send a strong message to the opponents of equality in other state legislatures. The National Organisation for Marriage and their allies had promised to demonstrate that Republican support for equality would damage their careers. The reverse is true – it’s discrimination, not support for LGBT equality, that is now an electoral liability.

As recently as 2004 the Republican strategist Karl Rove prompted Republicans in key states to put up gay marriage bans in the federal election. The object was to anger the base and draw Christian conservatives and religious black voters out to the polls, and in so doing bolster the vote for George Bush jnr. It worked, and for a time some Republicans believed they could use fear of gay marriage to maintain a permanent majority.

The results across America on Tuesday night appear to put the notion to rest 

– Sydney Morning Herald

State House election gains:

The electoral gains at congressional level were repeated right down the ballot. Gay Politics reports that

Seven state legislatures gained their first or only openly LGBT state lawmakers this year, including North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, New Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida, which went from zero to two gay legislators.  And in Oregon and Colorado, state legislative election results have positioned two out lawmakers to become House Speakers.

Those supported by the Victory Fund and elected included:
California – Senate
  • Ricardo Lara
  • Mark Leno

California – State Assembly
  • Tom Ammiano
  • Toni Atkins
  • Susan Eggman
  • Richard Gordon
  • John Perez

Colorado – Senate
  • Jessie Ulibarri
  • Patrick Steadman

Colorado – State House of Representatives
  • Dominick Moreno
  • Paul Rosenthal
  • Mark Ferrandino
  • Joann Ginal
  • Sue Schafer

Florida – State House of Representatives
  • Joe Saunders
  • Dave Richardson-State House of Representatives

Georgia – State House of Representatives
  • Simone Bell
  • Karla Drenner
  • Keisha Sean Waites

Illinois – State House of Representatives
  • Deb Mell
  • Sam Yingling
  • Kelly Cassidy

Massachusetts – State House of Representatives
  • Denise Andrews
  • KateHogan
  • Carl Sciortino
  • Sarah Peake

Maine –  State House of Representatives
  • Justin Chenette
  • Andrew McLean
  • Matt Moonen
  • Terry Morrison

Minnesota – State House of Representatives
  • MN-Scott Dibble

Minnesota –  State House of Representatives
  • Susan Allen

Missouri –  State House of Representatives
  • Mike Colona

Montana -State Senate
  • Christine Kaufmann

Montana-State House of Representatives
  • Bryce Bennett

North Carolina -State House of Representatives
  • Marcus Brandon

North Dakota – State House of Representatives
  • Joshua Boschee

New Hampshire -State Senate
  • David Pierce

New Hampshire -Executive Council
  • Chris Pappas

New Mexico – State Senate
  • Jacob Candelaria

Nevada – State Senate
  • NV-David Parks

Nevada – State Assembly
  • James Healey
  • Andrew Martin

New York– State Senate
  • NY-Brad Hoylman

New York – State Assembly
  • Harry Bronson
  • Matthew Titone
  • Danny O’Donnell

Ohio – State House of Representatives
  • Tim Brown
  • Nickie Antonio

Oklahoma – State Senate
  • Al McAffrey

Oklahoma – State House of Representatives
  • Kay Floyd

Oregon – Secretary of State
  • Kate Brown

Oregon – State Supreme Court
  • Virginia Linder
Oregon – State House of Representatives
  • Tina Kotek

Pennsylvania – State House of Representatives
  • Brian Sims

Rhode Island-State Senate
Donna Nesselbush
Rhode Island-State House of Representatives
  • Gordon Fox
  • Deb Ruggiero
  • Frank Ferri

South Dakota -State Senate
  • Angie Buhl

Texas  State House of Representatives
  • Mary Gonzalez

Vermont -State House of Representatives
  • Herb Russell 
  • Matt Trieber
  • Suzi Wizowaty

Washington -State House of Representatives
  • Jamie Pederson
  • Marko Liias
  • Jim Moeller
  • Wisconsin

WI – State Assembly
  • JoCasta Zamarripa

West Virginia -State House of Delegates
  • Stephen Skinner

Wyoming -State House of Representatives

  • Cathy Connolly

That’s a long list, but it’s incomplete. There will be more who should be added: there are others who did not seek or accept help from the Victory Fund, some races are still not yet decided (pending absentee or provisional vote counting, and recounts), and others may have been omitted in simple error. 

Then there’s a whole slew of new representatives elected still lower down – ballot, at local level – but I’m not going into that. See the complete list (including also the candidates who lost) at Gay Politics’ Victory Fund Celebrates Huge Night for Gay Candidates
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“Jesus and Gay Marriage”

While visiting friends in the Baltimore area, I saw Dan Rodricks’ column “A priest speaks up for same-sex marriage” (Nov. 4). As a Catholic priest myself, I am dismayed by Archbishop William E. Lori’s assertion that “preaching … requires subordination of personal views to the word of God” in response to the Rev. Richard T. Lawrence’s nuanced distinctions. It was precisely Jesus’ personal views that led him to freely and frequently dissent in interpreting Torah Law (word of God). This is what prompted the religious leaders of his day to accuse him of “stirring up the people,” according to Luke 23:5. It is the Reverend Lawrence, not Archbishop Lori, who is being faithful to the dissenting tradition of Jesus by distinguishing between marriage as a sacrament and as a social contract.

Emmett Coyne, Exeter, N.H.

(letters page,

Gay marriage has strengthened Canadian society, Anglican Rev tells New Zealand

Rector of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Vancouver tells congregation of Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral that gay marriage has increased respect and tolerance


Mark Munn

An Anglican leader told the congregation at St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin yesterday that gay marriage has strengthened Canadian society.

The Very Rev Dr Peter Elliot, Rector of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Vancouver was visiting New Zealand from Canada, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005.

Dr Elliot, who is gay, told Otago Daily Times that respect and tolerance for gay people had increased since the legalization of gay marriage.

A marriage equality bill passed its first reading in New Zealand’s parliament in August with support from all major parties.

However some Anglican church leaders have been preaching their opposition to the legislation.

The second reading of the bill, after consideration of submissions from the public, is expected next year.

via Gay Star News.


Viral video calls for equal rights of gay parents

Director Mike Buonaiuto questions why same-sex parent families go unrecognised in Europe

Today (5 November) sees the launch of a new campaign focusing on gay parenting rights throughout Europe.

The short film, entitled Invisible Parents, features the voice of a woman reminiscing about a happy childhood with her two fathers, before stating that the majority of Europe does not recognize families with gay parents.

The film is directed by Mike Buonaiuto, the man behind Homecoming, the video that went viral earlier this year. Invisible Parents launches to coincide with the UK’s National Adoption Week.

Michael Cashman, Member of European Parliament, is fully supporting the campaign.

He said: ‘Gay and lesbian parents can often find themselves legally invisible in a large percentage of the continent, putting their entire family in a very vulnerable situation especially with regard to healthcare, holidays or family legal systems.

A Catholic priest speaks up in favor of same-sex marriage

And the Archdiocese issues admonition against personal views from the pulpit

      Father Richard Lawrence is the long-time pastor of St. Vincent de Paul.

(Doug Kapustin, The Baltimore…)

Last Sunday in Baltimore’s St. Vincent de Paul Church, its longtime pastor, the Rev. Richard T. Lawrence, delivered a thoughtful and nuanced argument for support of the Question 6 ballot referendum.

This, of course, was news in Roman Catholic circles — an opinion from the pulpit fully at odds with the hierarchy of a church that has devoted much time and money to voter rejection of a Maryland law that allows couples of the same sex to wed.

Lawrence is the most eloquent homilist I’ve ever heard. I didn’t attend the Mass where he delivered his pro-Q6 homily. But I saw and listened to the video posted to the parish’s web site. I found it courageous, illuminating and inspiring. That was Monday.

Two days later, the video was gone. It had been deleted from its Vimeo platform at 3:27 am Wednesday.

I inquired about what had happened, but the pastor declined to comment and I haven’t heard back from St. Vincent’s. I assume Lawrence’s superiors might have had something to do with the removal of the video. The same day it disappeared, a message about “the teaching role of priests” appeared on the archdiocesan web site.

Baltimore Sun

Terrence McNally (1939 – ) US Playwright / Screenwriter / Librettist.

b. 3rd November, 1939

American playwright who has received four Tony Awards, an Emmy, and numerous others awards.

 What the gay movement is really about is being yourself. You must be yourself, else you risk becoming invisible.

In the 1990’s, Terrence McNally emerged as the best-known, and possibly the greatest, American gay playwright since Tennessee Williams, largely on the back of a series of plays dealing with the AIDS epidemic – The Lisbon Traviata (1985, rev. 1989); Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991); A Perfect Ganesh (1993); and Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), as well as in the Emmy-award-winning Andre’s Mother (1988, televised 1990).

This success though was the culmination of a long career going back to 1964, when his first play, “Things that go bump in the night” met with a decidedly frosty critical reception, and played only 12 nights.  The intervening years were filled with hard graft, a steady stream of output, an ability to learn and improve his craft, and growing critical recognition.

McNally has spoken of the importance of honesty and coming out early in his personal life, and has never shirked from putting gay characters and gay life characters on stage, even long before it became commonly accepted to do so. (The Ritz was set in a gay bathhouse). Two major themes are the difficulties people find in making human connections between each other (and the importance of the search for those connections), and
the power of art (especially opera, and by implication, the theatre) to help us to make these connections, by breaking down the walls that divide us.

In 1997, McNally stirred up a storm of controversy with Corpus Christi, a modern day retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death in which both he and his disciples are portrayed as homosexual. In fact, the play was initially canceled because of death threats from extremist religious groups against the board members of the Manhattan Theatre Club which was to produce the play. However, several other playwrights such as Tony Kushner threatened to withdraw their plays if Corpus Christi was not produced, and the board finally relented. When the play opened, the theatre was besieged by almost 2,000 protesters, furious at what they considered blasphemy.

In spite of the big themes he addresses in his plays, McNally insists that he does not set out to write plays about issues: his primary concern is to write characters – because that is what audiences pay to come and see.

In addition to his major work in the theatre, McNally has also written the books for musicals and screenplays, and in opera

Selected Plays:

Sweet Eros (1968)
Next (1969)
Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? (1971)
Bad Habits (1974)
The Ritz (1975)
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1982)
Andre’s Mother (1988)
The Lisbon Traviata (1989)
Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991)
Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994)
By The Sea, By The Sea, By The Beautiful Sea (1995)
Master Class (1995)
Corpus Christi (1998)
Some Men (2006)
Deuce (2007)
The Golden Age (2010)