Tomorrow November 1st, we honour the acknowledged Christian saints in our history and Wednesday 2nd we remember “All Souls” – the others who have gone before us. For LGBT Christians, it’s important to remember our own saints and martyrs. Fr James Martin SJ has pointed out that among the vast number of recognised saints, some will certainly have been lesbian, gay or transgender. I wouldn’t use quite that terminology: the word “gay” has a particular connotation applicable to the modern world, not necessarily appropriate with reference to those of many centuries ago, and who may have lived lives of sexual abstinence.
However, some of these saints will certainly have had an innate same-sex affectional orientation. Many others can certainly be described as at least “queer” – in the sense of definitely not fitting a conventional heterosexual template. Also, just as there have been martyrs for the church, those who were persecuted and killed in witness to their faith, there are many thousands of undoubtedly LGBT people throughout history who have been martyred by the church – persecuted and killed on account of their sexual or gender identity.
For All Saints Day and All Souls Day, I will celebrate the story in more detail. Today however is the last day of LGBT History Month in the USA – and is also Hallowe’en – the eve of All Hallows Day. For now then, a taster, summarising the story of the queer saints and martyrs in Christian history, and before.