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 presented the first group (A-H) yesterday, and today we 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.
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.
I nominate my close, recently deceased, friend Jim Milligan, a gifted teacher and addictions counselor, for canonization. Over thirty years I watched him spend himself for “unmanageable adolescents”, adults seeking ways to build a better society, etc. He chose to live as a celibate and his close friends included both gay and straight people. As our professional relationship began to become more personal, he shared deeply with me about his experience of being gay. Very early on he explained “My gayness is a lens through which I experience the world”! With such clarity and warmth he opened a path on which I could discover him in his full personhood. And that deepened our individual and mutual ability to experience others in the fullness of their personhood. — Fr. John M. Lee, C.P. Retreat Director, Bishop Molloy Retreat House, Jamaica, New York.
A fierce trans woman who helped lead the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, considered to be the beginning of the modern LGBTQ equality movement. A New York Times article talked about how she would pray before the Virgin often. She was a founder of the Gay Liberation Front, one of the first post-Stonewall LGBTQ equality organizations. A leading advocate in New York’s Greenwich Village, she was known as “the mayor of Christopher Street.” –Matthew Reese, New Orleans.
Father Mychal Judge, OFM
Fr. Mychal Judge was a Franciscan friar who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center while he was ministering to first responders in his role as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. He was also known for his ministry and outreach to people with HIV/AIDS, the LGBT community, homeless people, and those in addiction recovery. After his death, his identity as a gay man became public, something that he had shared privately with his friends. he 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): “He was vilified by some when he sexuality became known. But in the spirit of St. Francis, he lived the gospel, guided by love of God and neighbor.” “He is an inspiration for LGBTQ Catholics.” “His love for the firefighters (whose chaplain he was) was enormous…as was his loving care for patients when the AIDS pandemic hit the world, and few people would consider ministering to them. He was also a member to Alcoholics Anonymous where he helped many others. When the Irish Gay Association was forbidden to march in Manhattan on Saint Patrick’s Day, he quietly marched with the same group in Queens.” “He was a servant of the suffering.” “Fr. Judge was considered a living saint for his extraordinary works of charity and his deep spirituality long before his death. As Chaplain to the NYC Fire Department, he offered encouragement and prayers at fires, rescues, and hospitals, and counseled firemen and their families, often working 16-hour days. He was the hands and feet of Jesus walking on this earth for a short time and dying while giving freely his own life so that others might share in a new life with Christ in the next.” “The Saint of 9/11.” Submitted by: RJ Abada; S.A. Savage, Cleveland; Sue Gildea, Philadelphia; RJK, New Jersey; Michaelangelo Allocca, Brooklyn; Fred Sarno, Boston; Loras Michel, Reseda, California; John Conroy, Rhode Island; Michael Mary Addison, Sacramento, California; Lawrence Kavanaugh, Winter Haven, Florida; Zacchaeus Naegele, Big Sur, California; Roger Hoffman, Lyons, Illinois; Marcia Garber, Manchester, New Hampshire; Glenn Slocum, Washington, DC, Matthew Reese, New Orleans.
Blessed Ramon Llul
Ramon Llull (1232-1315), a Third Order Franciscan, wrote The Book of the Lover & Beloved, a romance between God and the human Beloved. While the romance is similar to the biblical Song of Songs, Llull maintains a male gender for both the Lover & Beloved. As male lovers they kiss, hug, cry together, and share a common bed. Llull was concerned that Christians should dialogue with Islam. His book reflected Sufi practices and literature. Llull is a bridge to both the LGBT community and Islam. –Kevin Elphick, Wolcott, New York
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) African-American feminist, womanist, lesbian woman. Among her most well-known quotations: “When I use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I’m afraid.” “Your silence will not protect you.” “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” “I am my best work – a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.” “Without community, there is no liberation.” “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” –Michelle Gorman, RSM, Sacramento, California
Father James Martin, SJ
Fr. James Martin is an influential Catholic writer, speaker, and social media personality. Because of his social media advocacy for LGBTQ people, New Ways Ministry presented him with its Bridge Building Award in 2016. The text of the talk that he gave at the award ceremony became the basis for Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, a widely popular book that has created great awareness of LGBT issues in the Catholic Church. 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): “Fr. Martin is standing out there reflecting what Jesus taught in his actions. I really believe he is reaching out to all to spread Jesus’s word!” “Fr. James Martin is a great example of someone who has prayerfully and respectfully responded to the great injustices being done to the LGBTQ+ community. He is honest in telling his story about being so disappointed in the lack of public support from most U.S. bishops in the wake of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting where many members of the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones were massacred. We need more prophetic voices like his.” “His writings, his fearless speaking on behalf of LGBTQ persons and ministries and patient endurance of criticisms and cancellations of his appearance all speak to prophetic and spiritual gifts.” “Unafraid to take on those who would oust or discriminate against LGBTIQ persons.” “He is the most significant voice in our church giving witness to the dignity and goodness of this maligned part of the Body of Christ. He does it courageously and strategically.” “Fr. Martin is a holy man and he leads a holy life of spreading the gospel in a way that is loving, inclusive, and non-judgmental. He is a living example of Christ-like love and charity. In response to the calumnies written and said about him by bigots and hate mongers who weaponize Christianity, Fr. Martin is humble and always willing to build bridges and promote better understanding.” “If there is anyone shaking and rattling the chains, it’s Fr. Jim. He is Jesus walking amongst us, challenging us to forget the old ways.” Submitted by: Danielle Butler, Fredericksburg, Virginia; Jeramy Sinopoli; Brad Leger, Louisiana; R.M., Austin, Texas; Fr. James Schexnayder Oakland, California; Bob Brady, Gaithersburg, Maryland; Steve Anonymous, Worcester, Massachusetts; J. Buchanan; Patricia Collinson, Australia; Sr. Luisa Derouen, St. Catherine, Kentucky; Christina S., Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Father John McNeill
Fr. John McNeill was a theologian and psychotherapist. He wrote The Church and the Homosexual , the first book-length critique of the hierarchy’s condemnation of same-sex relationships. He suffered at the hands of the Vatican who ordered him not to provide ministry to LGBT Catholics, and he was eventually expelled from the Jesuits when he refused to be silent about LGBT issues. He was a gay man who authored many influential books on lesbian and gay spirituality. New Ways Ministry presented him with its Bridge Building Award in 2009. –John Montague, Toronto, Ontario
His theological works, especially The Church and the Homosexual, saved my life! —Kevin Hibner, Dayton, Ohio
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person elected to political office in San Francisco, California. Serving on the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, he was a stronng advocate for LGBT rights. In 1987, he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by a former city Supervisor, Dan White. 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): “He was a valiant and unafraid activist for gay rights in San Francisco who was shot and killed for advocating what he believed in.” –James Sheya, Desert Hot Springs, California. “Harvey had the courage to run as an openly-gay political candidate in 1977. He knew this would put his life in danger. He was murdered by a notorious homophobe. He is a saint and martyr for the cause of Gay civil rights.” —Thomas Smith, Plainfield, New Jersey. “More than anyone I can think of, Harvey Milk inspired millions of people who were made to feel the their lives only mattered as long as they kept their true selves in a box. He gave to generations of LGBTQ+ the realization that they mattered as much as anyone else… he gave them hope.” —Steve Rosera, Albuquerque, New Mexico. “He worked for rights when it was unpopular to do so.” Raymond Brooks, Londonderry, New Hampshire. “Harvey worked for us and for youth coming out. ” –Barry Blackburn, Toronto, Ontario.
Father Joe Muth
Fr .Joe Muth is the pastor of St. Matthew Parish, Baltimore, Maryland. He is relentless in his support of LGBT people. He often states in his homilies how the church continues to hurt LGBT people and their allies. He always attends the monthly St Matthew LEAD meetings (LGBT ministry). Recently he attended a special “Sharing Your Story “ LGBT program at St. Vincent, another Baltimore parish. Fr. Joe speaks with other pastors and visits their parishes as they consider starting a LGBT Parish Ministry.. He is a Saint among his people! —Ryan Sattler, Baltimore, Maryland
Father Henri Nouwen
Fr. Henri Nouwen was a professor, writer, and theologian. He was a great writer about spirituality who had deep awareness of our brokenness. A gay man, he never came out in life, but in death we know the bigger story. –Peter Daly, Washington, DC
Mary Oliver (1935-2019) was a lesbian woman whose poetry won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her partner was the photographer Molly Malone Cook. Oliver has brought joy, love, and compassion to millions with her poetry. She knows the holy in nature, animals, and the human community. She has brought the “breath of the Spirit” to our world. –Christine Hearn, Hillsborough, New Jersey
Father Bob Pawell, OFM
Fr. Bob Pawell, OFM co-founded Project Lazarus in New Orleans at the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1985. I believe it was the first AIDS hospice in the United States. —Bob Hare, Cincinnati, Ohio
Rev. Troy Perry
Troy was the founder of Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the first church/denomination established openly for the LGBTQ+ family. He started MCC onOctober 6, 1968, in Huntington Park, California, with just 12 persons attending, MCC is now represented in 30 countries. –Gene Hutter, Venice, Florida
Garry Pye and Early Leaders of Acceptance
Garry Pye was the founder of Acceptance, a welcoming ministry of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families and friends in Australia. He started the group in Sydney in 1972. A group of gay men and women began meeting in each other’s houses for a monthly Mass. Priests were invited to celebrate this Mass, sometimes travelling long distances. At that time it was difficult for gay and lesbian Catholics to participate openly in the church, but the priests at these Masses preached a gospel message that welcomed gays and lesbians as loved people of God. . He shared a house with friends in Paddington. Garry is remembered for his work amongst the gay community, including being one of the Catholic organisers of the first Mardi Gras march in 1978. After his HIV diagnosis in the mid 1980s, he setup Body Positive, one of the first groups in Australia for people living with HlV. He was also actively involved with ACON, the Quilt Project and the Pride Committee. Garry died of AIDS in 1990. Through the faith of Garry Pye and the many leaders of Acceptance for nearly half a century, our church is moving towards a more just place for LGBTIQ Catholics. –Benjamin Oh, Sydney, Australia
Bishop Gene Robinson
Bishop Gene Robinson is the first person in an openly gay relationship to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church. He showed great courage and leadership at a time when I needed my church denomination to take a visible stance on radical welcoming! –Daniel Senger, Cleveland
I’ve known Kathy since the early 1970s when she was in medical school and I was involved in a women’s spirituality group. Our paths crossed though a mutual friend we both knew working at the University of Pennsylvania’s book store. Kathy gazed into my eyes for a long time and said, “You know, don’t you?” Somehow in the seventies that wasn’t such an odd introduction and it bought us together in a bond that has lasted through the years. We’ve been through Patti Smith, forming relationships with women, leaving and returning to Catholicism and this past year going on a pilgrimage together to the Holy Land. We knew we had chosen the right tour when our guide revealed he was Jewish and gay. During our journey through Israel, I was struck by her devotion as she looked out at the Sea of Galilee; knelt before the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of the Beatitudes and tenderly touched the plaques along the Way of the Cross. Sharing these moments with Kathy and our Lord Jesus has nourished the roots of my faith deeply. It was Kathy’s idea to go and her love for me that brought me these experiences I would not have had without her. She is devoted to her family, her wife, her children, her friends and the people she serves in her work. She is my Saint Kathy. –-Linda Marucci, Philadelphia
Tim Seelig is the artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and he is featured in Gay Chorus, a new documentary movie about his musical group. He is drawn to examine tragedy, bigotry, and homophobia, along with his group of 200+ gay choir members who apply gentility and compassion where there is pain and fear, doubt, hate, and tragedy. He leads his singing flock like a good shepherd applying the salve of music and the ointment of love. I truly believe one day Tim Seelig will conduct the heavenly chorus. –Mike Barrett, Milwaukee
Matthew Shepard was a 21-year old gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten, tortured, and left to die by two young men who attacked him because he was gay. His story sparked great awareness about anti-LGBT hate crimes. I consider him a martyr. —V.L., New Mexico
Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a gay British mathematician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who is considered the father of artificial intelligence, computer scientist, and the modern day computer. His invention of what became known as the Turing Machine, the first modern computer, cracked the Nazis’ Enigma Code during World War II, helping the Allies to win decisive victories. In 1952, he was prosecuted for committing homosexual acts, and he accepted chemical castration as an alternative to a prison sentence. Alan Turing kept his authentic Gay self beyond science in to love. –Barry Blackburn, Toronto, Ontario
Alice Walker is one of the founders of womanist thought. She has provided one of the most powerful and indelible queer/feminist images of God through the relationship of Shug and Celie, two women, in her novel, The Color Purple. In her later adult life, Walker has participated in numerous civil rights and social justice movements (including anti-apartheid, anti-Jim Crow, and pro-Palestine movements), always on the side of the poor and oppressed. She has a deep and profound sense of her connection to and responsibility for Creation. She lives and speaks as an openly bisexual woman, and is an example of queer engagement in the world to many who come after her. –Sara H., Boston
–Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 2, 2019