For All the Saints (Part 1)

A few days ago, Bondings 2.0 asked its readers: “If you could canonize any LGBTQ person or ally, living or dead, Catholic or not, fictional or real, who would it be, and why?”

The response has been overwhelming. We received so many responses that we cannot fit them into one blog post, so we ordered the names alphabetically by last name and we are presenting the first group (A-H) today, and tomorrow, we will present the second group (I-Z).  Each name carries with it a brief description of the person, and why people nominated each one.  For those with multiple nominators, the descriptions were edited for brevity and clarity.  The names of the submitters follows each description. Photos are provided if they were available.  (For Part 2, click here.)

Though it was a lot of work to compile these names, it was truly a blessing to do so.  So much love and inspiration is evident in these people!  We are truly a blessed to have such a cloud of witnesses, living and dead, to teach and inspire those involved in Catholic LGBTQ ministry on how to follow the path of Jesus.

The Saints

Any LGBTQ person who speaks up for their equality as Catholics

Jesus provided a Big Tent and all, according to Jesus, are to be allowed into this tent. There are no exclusions!  LGBTQ people deserve to be heard.   –BC Cotter, Alexandria, Virginia

Rev. D. Berrigan

Father Daniel Berrigan, SJ

Father Daniel Berrigan was a poet and longtime activist for peace. He had a ministry to people dying from AIDS who were shunned by so many in the Church.  He spent his life working for peace.  —Betsy Linehan, RSM, Philadelphia; Susanne Cassidy, Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania

Dr. Robert Blair

Dr. Robert Blair was born in Ohio in 1939, and he earned a PhD writing his doctoral thesis (circa 1968) about the validity and goodness of the same sex orientation. Dr. Blair became a psychoanalyst practicing in New York City. I heard him on the radio one early (1:30 am) morning in June 1972 talking with gays and their parents. This was the first time that I had heard someone talk so positively about that orientation. I met him within one week and started psychotherapy that changed my life. Dr. Blair over the years has debated with many others concerning sexual orientation. In the later 1970s he started a bible study for gays and this bible study continues to meet weekly. He holds retreats that meet in Pennsylvania and New Jersey on a yearly basis. He is a biblical scholar. I once heard a Protestant minister give a sermon entitled ‘The Windows of My Cathedral’. We were asked to consider non-family members who have contributed to our growth, including spiritual growth. My first choice was D.r Ralph Blair.  –Robert Zillich, New York City

Benjamin Britten

Sir Benjamin Britten

Sir Benjamin Britten was an English composer whose operas cover LGBT experience (Peter Grimes, Death in Venice), and his concert music breaks new ground always. He is always teaching new ways to listen and let feeling arise deeply, slowly. To commemorate WWII in his homeland, he composed the War Requiem,  with words by fellow Englishman (and gay man probably) Wilfred Owens. Britten lived an open life as a gay man, in faithful love with his partner Peter Pears, a tenor who premiered much of Britten’s music. They are both great human beings.  –Richard Bollman Cincinnati

Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn is a Christian singer/songwriter. Without ever becoming preachy or self-righteous, he displays the deep ways in which one’s awareness of the Divine Presence in our daily life transfuses everything we say, think or do.Get a copy of the song “Lord Of The Starfields”, and let it go to work on you. Then follow up with “Pacing The Cage,” which describes how we often feel trapped and inhibited by our challenging human incarnations. Enough said. Simply listen. –-Dave Richards, Western Massachusetts

Mother Juana de la Cruz

Mother Juana de la Cruz

Mother Juana de la Cruz (1481-1534) believed that God was originally forming her as a male, but the Blessed Mother intervened, asking that she be made female so that she might reform a women’s community. God left her with an Adam’s Apple as evidence of the miracle. Fearing an arranged marriage, Juana fled her family home dressed as a man and carrying a sword. She was welcomed by a Franciscan convent where she eventually became Abbess. She went on to preach sermons there, attended by king, Cardinal, and Muslim. In 2015, Pope Francis declared her Venerable. Her community near Madrid is praying for a miracle for her cause for canonization to move forward.  –Kevin Elphick, Wolcott, New York

Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon

Michael DeLeon and Greg Bourke

Michael DeLeon and Greg Bourke are a gay Catholic couple who were co-plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges case which legalized marriage equality.  They are adoptive parents, and they have established a college scholarship fund for Catholic students or graduates of Catholic high schools who are LGBT.   They have been involved in a number of other situations in which they publicly struggled for LGBTQ equality in the Church.  –Don E. Siegal, Three Rivers, California

Sr. Luisa Derouen, OP

Sister Luisa Derouen, OP

Sr. Luisa Derouen has done pioneering work (since 1999) to accompany and minister with transgender personsin the Catholic Church, offering spiritual and personal guidance for their journeys.  She has also been an effective advocare for transgender persons within the Catholic Church, strategically pushing the institutional envelope, sometimes anonymously, yet remaining welcome and respected within the institution. And she has done this despite struggling with health problems of her own that threatened to end her ministry. Her dedication to the people she engages with led her to alternate ways in which she continues her passionately persistent work. Thank you St. Luisa!  –Casey Lopata, Rochester, New York

Dr. Tom Dooley

Dr. Tom Dooley, III

Tom Dooley was a humanitarian doctor who founded many hospitals in Southeast Asia during the 1950s and 1960s.  He began his medical career in the U.S. Navy, but was discharged, despite a sterling medical record, because he was gay.  Dooley, one critic said, is an example of “celebrity sainthood” and the “intersection of show business and mysticism occupied the space where Tom Dooley was perhaps most at home.” Nevertheless, he “helped to pull American Catholicism away from its insular, angry anti-Communism” and he lived a life that does not “invite facile judgment.”  He inspired many others to become involved in philanthropic work.
Dooley’s work was cited by President John F. Kennedy when launching the Peace Corps. Randy Shilts,  author of Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military. said Dooely is a prime example of gays in uniform: “No matter what the content of his character, Dooley, like millions of others, would always be identified as queer” and considered “unworthy.”  —S.R.,  Fort Collins, Colorado

Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM

Sister Margaret Farley, RSM

Sr. Margaret Farley is a Catholic moral theologian who taught for many years at Yale Divinity School, New Haven.  A feminist theologian and advocate for a new understanding of sexual ethics, her best-known work is Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.  Among the many important ideas in the book is developing a framework for right relationships that paves the way for the acceptance of same-sex committed relationships.  In 2002, New Ways Ministry presented Sister Margaret with its Bridge Building Award for her scholarship and advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ Catholics.  –Noraleen Renauer, Michigan

Shelly Fitzgerald.

Shelly Fitzgerald

Shelly Fitzgerald lost her job as Guidance Co-Director of Guidance at Roncalli H.S., Indianapolis, last year because she is married to a woman. She turned this heartbreak into a crusade for positive change.  Soon after her dismissal, her father, who for many years was a volunteer retreat leader for the school, was fired from his volunteer position.  Since then, two other employees have been dismissed fromm Roncalli H.S. because of LGBTQ issues, and many students have complained that they  have been silenced by administrators for speaking out in support of these educators.  A group of students, alumni, and school community members organized “Shelly’s Voice,” a group to advocate for justice for Fitzgerald and other LGBTQ employees of Catholic schools.–Anonymous, Indianapolis

Jose Igancio Formoso

Jose Ignacio Formoso

My brother, Jose Ignacio Formoso was a very religious, kind, and gentle person.  He was educated by the Jesuits in Cuba.  He taught languages at Fordham Preparatory School, Bronx, for over 25 years.  He was a parishioner at St. Francis Xavier parish, Manhattan, for many years.  He died of AIDS on July 27, 2002. He suffered a lot in his life.  He really was a saint.  –Maria Formoso, Bronx, NY

Gay Martyrs in the Concentration Camps

Beginning in 1933, the German Nazis arrested 100,000 gay men and lesbian woman.  Between 5,000-15,000 were sent to concentration camps.  Estimates of how many died there vary, but one scholar puts the number at 60%.  In the camps, the gay men were made to wear the pink triangle insignia so that the Nazis could identify them. Lesbian women wore a black triangle. They have been forgotten and overlooked in history of the horrors during World War II.  After the war, many of the surviving internees were re-arrested and imprisoned because of the ordinary anti-gay laws that were on the books.  –Anonymous, Philadelphia

Ida Gerhardt

Ida Gerhardt

Ida Gerhardt (1905-1997) was a Dutch scholar and poet.  She began her education studying classical languages in Leiden. Due to family problems, she had to continue her studies in Utrecht and graduated in 1933. She became friends with Marie van der Zeyde, who was studying Dutch in Utrecht at the time. In 1956 they startedliving together. In the years 1951-1963, Gerhardt founded the gymnasium department of De Werkplaats, the progressive educational institute in Bilthoven. Among her many literary efforts to receive awards was her translation of the Psalms, which she produced in collaboration with van der Zeyde.    Her translations of  the Roman poet Vergil earned her the prestigious Martinus Nijhoff Award.  The Ida Gerhardt Poëzieprijs (Dutch for Ida Gerhardt Poetry Prize) , one of the Netherlands’ top literary awards is named for her. –Sybille Joniaux, Kampen, Netherlands

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SL

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SL

Sister Jeannine Gramick is a co-founder of New Ways Ministry, a 42-year old national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBTQ Catholics and the wider Church.  She is one of the pioneers of LGBTQ ministry.   The following quotations are excerpts from some of the many people who submitted her name as a candidate for sainthood (presented in boldface and italic to make it easier to read):  “An LGTB advocate in our church through thick and thin, even when it was frowned upon by Rome.” “Her fierce and untiring devotion to the welfare of the LGBT community, despite opposition from the hierarchy and at steep personal cost, make her a living example of Christ’s presence on earth.”  “She helped hundreds of thousands of persons discriminated against due to their identity as homosexuals. Sister Gramick is deserving the highest respect and gratitude from all of us.” “She was engaged in supporting LGBTQ rights when it was not accepted by most people. he survived flack from the Vatican! She came out the winner!” “She has been a gentle, firm humble hand moving the Church toward acceptance of LGBT persons by providing an intellectual and pastoral basis toward acceptance of Christ’s love for all. From a time of no mention allowed to acceptance by the people if not the hierarchy of the Church she had been a smiling guide. Her grace is to take the stone rejected by the builder and include as a cornerstone of the open Church. She is a saint walking among us.” “I know of no one else who so epitomizes full acceptance and support of every person, especially those isolated by some Christians.”  “Her endless energy and passion for LGBTQ people is incredible! Simply said: she loves us! Thank you, Sister!” “Sr. Jeannine not only reads the gospel of Jesus, she lives it.” –Submitted by:  Valerie Kosmicki, Chula Vista, California; S.G., New York City; John Kevin Donovan, San Francisco; Nancy Corcoran, Ferguson, Missouri; Maureen Fiedler, Nerinx, Kentucky; Thomas Bower, Washington, DC; Helen Kock, St. Paul, Minnesota; Nancy Knipper, Dubuque, Iowa; Susanne Cassidy, Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania. 

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is a dedicated servant who works tirelessly for peace and justice. He has been a courageous advocate for justice and equality for LGBTQ people and for many other oppressed groups. The first time I heard him speak, I went out of the retreat house and looked up at the night sky, looking for a bright star in the East. He was an incarnation of Jesus in our times. For this mother of two gay sons, he was a voice in the wilderness, changed my life.  –Susanne Cassidy, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold was the second Secretary General of the United Nations, and the youngest person to hold that position. He died in a plane crash (which may or many not have been an assassination) en route to try and negotiate peace in the Congo. As recorded in the new book Noble Lives: Biographical Portraits of Three Remarkable Gay Men, though all of his life Hammarskjold was intensely private about this sexuality, arguably his “Yes” to “Someone or Something” gave his life of heroic service a profound sense of meaning and value.  His book, Markings, a collection of personal and spiritual reflections, inspired a generation.  –John McDargh, Boston

–Robert Shine and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 1, 2019


8 replies
  1. Carla N
    Carla N says:

    Great work on the list of A-H. However regarding “Gay Martyrs” in concentration camps. I’ve been to the US Holocaust Museum in DC, and I recall vividly their info stated that lesbians were made to wear a black triangle along with the prostitutes (trafficked women) of that day. There were pins or magnets commemorating this in the bookstore as well. The Pink Triangle is more widely known because of the play “Bent”, (and perhaps from the few men who were liberated).

  2. Kittredge Cherry
    Kittredge Cherry says:

    I’m delighted to see this because I write about LGBTQ saints at Q Spirit. I just posted my new Litany of Queer Saints ( ) — which will need to be expanded with many new names from here. God bless you for putting this together!

  3. Teresita Perez
    Teresita Perez says:

    GOD LOVES US ALL!!! Who are we to judge negatively our brothers/sisters who are gay? I hope we do not fail loving ALL as we say we follow Christ’s acceptance of EVERYONE.


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