Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Facebook rejects new gay Passion of Christ book ad as pornography (2/9/2016)

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Feb. 9, 2016 -- Facebook rejected an ad for an LGBT book about the Passion of Christ, calling it an “adult product” and pointing out their ban on pornography.

Authors Kittredge Cherry and Doug Blanchard are going to appeal the decision.

“Our book is not porn!” Cherry says. “It is a religious art book that presents the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection from an LGBT viewpoint. Does Facebook believe that everything LGBT is automatically obscene?!”

They had planned to get the Passion book advertisement running tomorrow for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Paintings in the book depict Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city. Nudity is similar to standard Christian crucifixion scenes. The only image in the book that might be considered sexually suggestive (but not porn) is when Jesus kisses God during his Ascension to heaven.

The rejected ad shows a shirtless Jesus on the cross with this text: “LGBT Passion of Christ: Meet a modern Jesus in ‘The Passion of Christ.’ Recommended book for Lent and Holy Week.” It links to the book’s website: passionofchristbook.com.

Some ad formats also include this extra text: “Powerful paintings show a gay vision of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Diverse friends go with him from suffering to freedom. Includes 24 paintings and meditations. ‘Accessible but profound.’”

“This rejection is an important reminder that LGBT interpretations of Jesus are still radical and very much needed,” Cherry says.

Douglas Blanchard is a gay artist who teaches art and art history at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian author and art historian who founded JesusInLove.org, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches. “The Passion of Christ” (ISBN 194067140X) was published by Apocryphile Press.

For more info, visit the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com) or the book website (passionofchristbook.com).

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* Book website: www.passionofchristbook.com

Monday, March 23, 2015

News release: Facebook censors gay Passion of Christ ad (10/29/2014)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Facebook censors gay Passion of Christ ad

NEW YORK, NY — Oct. 23, 2014 — Facebook canceled ads purchased for the new book “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” this week because the images “may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.”

The book features art by Doug Blanchard showing Jesus as a gay man in a modern city, including the crucifixion and resurrection.

“We are fighting what appears to be censorship and discrimination based on sexual orientation at Facebook,” said author Kittredge Cherry.

Blanchard suspects that complaints from religious conservatives scared Facebook into canceling the ads. He bought the ads to promote the book’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GayPassion

“The book is indeed controversial, but its intentions are not blasphemous, there is no sexual content, and the violence is unavoidable in any retelling of Christ's Passion,” he said.

The artist, author and publisher contacted Lambda Legal over the matter.

The ads were supposed to run for a week starting on Oct. 17, but Facebook shut down the promotion on Monday, Oct. 20. A message from Facebook explained, “Your ad wasn’t approved because the image or video thumbnail may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.”

Blanchard complained to Facebook, and they sent a surprising reply on Wed., Oct 22: “Your ad was rejected because the image violates the Ad Guidelines. Ads may not use images that are shocking. Prohibited images include: -Accidents -Car crashes -Dead or dismembered bodies -Ghosts, zombies, ghouls and vampires.”

One purpose of the book is to reawaken people to the reality that violence is unacceptable and shocking. But the artist and author believe that Facebook is being unfair in how it applies its policy.

“Facebook publishes crucifixes all the time, which would always violate the criteria that they lay out in their reply,” Blanchard said. “Why was our book singled out? I suspect strongly that it is because of the gay content.”

Cherry invited people to show support by "liking" the page that Facebook won't let them advertise: www.facebook.com/GayPassion.

In the book’s 24 paintings, a contemporary Christ figure is jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes, and rises again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God. His diverse friends join him on a journey from suffering to freedom. Each image is accompanied by an essay on its artistic and historical context, Biblical basis and LGBT significance.

Douglas Blanchard is a gay artist who teaches art and art history at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian author and art historian who founded JesusInLove.org, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches.

“The Passion of Christ” (ISBN 194067140X) was published this month by the Apocryphile Press, a publisher based in Berkeley.

Gay Passion of Christ book available now (10/16/2014)


Jesus challenges viewers by arriving as a young gay man of today in a modern city with “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a new book by Kittredge Cherry (author) and Douglas Blanchard (artist).

The book was released today and is available for purchase. Readers can buy the book now at Amazon.com and other bookstores.

In 24 stunning new paintings, the contemporary Christ figure is jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes, and rises again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God. His surprisingly diverse friends join him on a journey from suffering to freedom. He lives out a 21st-century version of Jesus’ last days, including the crucifixion and resurrection. Readers call it “accessible but profound.”

“These dramatic paintings break the deadly illusion that Jesus belongs exclusively to a particular time or group,” says author Kittredge Cherry, a minister and art historian. “A queer Passion is crucial now even for non-believers because Christianity is being used to justify discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The book speaks not only to the LGBT community, but to everyone who is passionate about building a more just world.”


The illustrated book brings together a gifted gay artist and an established lesbian author who specializes in LGBT Christian art. They take the most important narrative in Western culture and rescue it from fundamentalists and also from over-familiarity. Both are at the forefront of a trend towards envisioning Christ as queer.

Each image is accompanied by an insightful essay on its meaning, artistic and historical context, Biblical basis and LGBT significance, plus a short meditation with a scripture and one-line prayer. The Passion is placed in a larger context in introduction by the artist and an afterword by Toby Johnson, comparative religion scholar and author of “Gay Spirituality.” The book itself is a work of art with lavish full-color reproductions and an elegant design.

“Christ is one of us in my pictures,” says Blanchard. “In His sufferings, I want to show Him as someone who experiences and understands fully what it is like to be an unwelcome outsider.” Blanchard, an art professor and self-proclaimed “very agnostic believer,” used the series to grapple with his own faith struggles as a New Yorker who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The gay Passion book is “transformative in the most profound sense of the word,” says Michael Bronski, Harvard professor and author of “A Queer History of the United States.” “Whether you are religious or not, it is impossible to read ‘The Passion of Christ’ without having your basic beliefs shaken and expanded.”

LGBT religious leaders also praise the book. “I was deeply moved by this retelling of the Easter story,” says Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches. Soulforce founder Rev. Mel White calls it “an amazing read,” Rev. Patrick Cheng welcomes it as “a beautiful work of contextual theology,” and Rev. Chris Glaser describes it as “a great contribution.” Mary Hunt of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual declares, “The divine leaps from these pages into open hearts.”

Lambda Literary Award finalist Kittredge Cherry is an art historian who founded JesusInLove.org, an online resource for LGBT spirituality and the arts. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its National Ecumenical Officer, advocating for LGBT rights at the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. She holds degrees in religion, art history, and journalism. Cherry’s other books include “Art That Dares,” “Equal Rites,” “Jesus in Love,” “Hide and Speak,” and “Womansword.” The New York Times Book Review praised her “very graceful, erudite” writing style. She lives in Los Angeles.

Artist Douglas Blanchard teaches art and art history at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. He paints in a realistic figurative style to explore gay experience, religion, mythology, history, and current events. Born and raised in Dallas, Blanchard earned degrees in art and art history from the Kansas City Art Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and the New York Academy of Art. His Passion series was exhibited at New York’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in 2004 and JHS Gallery in Taos, New Mexico in 2007. Advocate.com called his Passion paintings “an emotional reminder of the courage it takes to resist the powers that be.”

The book functions both as a meditation aid for believers and as an informative analysis for secular readers interested in religion, art, history, and LGBT studies. “The purpose of reflecting on the Passion is not necessarily to worship Christ, but to remember the ongoing cycle of human violence, and to seek a way to move from suffering to freedom,” Cherry says “To Christians, the Passion is the ultimate affirmation that God stands in solidarity with humankind.”

“The Passion of Christ” (ISBN 194067140X) is published by the Apocryphile Press, a publisher and purveyor of fine books on religion, spirituality, philosophy and poetry since 2004. Based in Berkeley, Apocryphile has more than 100 titles in print by historical and contemporary authors.

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The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision
By Kittredge Cherry (author) and Douglas Blanchard (artist)
Publisher: Apocryphile Press
Paperback with color images: 150 pages
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11 inches
Price: $38.95
ISBN: 194067140X
Publication date: Fall 2014

* Book website: passionofchristbook.com
* Author website: jesusinlove.org
* Artist website: douglas-blanchard.fineartamerica.com
* Publisher website: apocryphile.org
* On sale now at at Amazon.com
* Spanish: El Libro "La Pasión de Cristo: Una Vision Gay" ya está disponible


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New LGBT spiritual resource pages launched (11/1/11)

Los Angeles, CA -- Nov. 1, 2011 -- Today JesusInLove.org launches four major new web pages on LGBT saints, holidays, artists and the queer Christ. They are announced now for All Saints Day.

“We created the new pages to give people an easy way to find the LGBT spiritual resources that they want,” says Kittredge Cherry, founder of JesusInLove.org. The website promotes LGBT spirituality and the arts.

The new pages provide user-friendly lists of links to resources at the Jesus in Love Blog. The new pages are:

The LGBT Saints page (http://jesusinlove.org/saints.php) honors 44 traditional Christian, alternative and interfaith saints, martyrs, mystics, heroes, holy people, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and our allies. The page lists 29 traditional and 15 alternative figures from the LGBT Saints Series by lesbian Christian author Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. People on the list include well known historical figures such as Jonathan and David and Joan of Arc, non-Christians such as Krishna and Rumi, and contemporary “saints” such as Harvey Milk.

The Holidays page (http://jesusinlove.org/holidays.php) celebrates 66 religious and spiritual holidays, holy days, feast days, festivals, anniversaries, liturgical seasons and other occasions of special interest to LGBT and queer people of faith and our allies. The chronological list includes LGBT events such as Pride Month as well as queer interpretations of mainstream religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

The Queer Christ page (http://jesusinlove.org/queer-christ.php) begins with a short introduction that starts, “Every community presents Jesus in their own way. There’s black Jesus, Asian Jesus -- and now queer Jesus to heal the damage done in Christ’s name. The queer Christ embodies God’s wildly inclusive love for all.” The page features a list of links to 29 profiles of artists, writers, theologians and others who present the queer Christ. They include gay theologian Patrick Cheng, lesbian artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, trans playwright Jo Clifford, and many more.

The Artists page (http://jesusinlove.org/artists.php) highlights 33 artists who create LGBT and queer spiritual and religious images. Their art is needed now because conservatives are using religious rhetoric to justify discrimination against queer people. The page includes a wide variety of up-and-coming contemporary artists, historical figures such as Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, and controversial newsmakers such as Alma Lopez and David Wojnarowicz.

All of these resource pages link to profiles and reflections written by Kittredge Cherry for the Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts. The pages are works in progress and more material will be added later.

JesusInLove.org promotes artistic and religious freedom and teaches love for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or religious faith. Founded by Cherry in 2005, it has grown to include a popular blog, e-newsletter, videos, image archive and an informal online community. For more info, visit Jesusinlove.org.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gay Passion of Christ series runs online (4/8/11)

Los Angeles, CA -- April 8, 2011 -- A gay vision of Christ’s Passion will run in daily installments from April 8-29 at the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com).
Each daily post features art by gay New York painter Douglas Blanchard, text by lesbian author Kittredge Cherry of Los Angeles, and a short Bible passage. The three-week blog series includes all 24 paintings in Blanchard’s epic masterpiece “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.”

The images show Jesus as a contemporary gay man jeered by fundamentalists, tortured by Marine look-alikes and rising again to enjoy homoerotic moments with God and friends. He faces forms of rejection that feel familiar to contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. He stands up to priests, businessmen, lawyers, and soldiers—all of whom look eerily similar to the people holding those jobs today.

“We are posting the gay Passion series to make Christ more accessible to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and our allies,” said Cherry, founder of JesusInLove.org. The website promotes artistic and religious freedom by supporting LGBT spirituality and the arts. “Christ’s story is for everyone, but queer people often feel left out because conservatives use Christian rhetoric to justify hate and discrimination,” she said.

Cherry wrote the reflections and prayers specifically to accompany Blanchard’s paintings. Blanchard’s gay Passion series has built a reputation since its completion in 2005, but Cherry’s text will make its first public appearance with this series.

The posts are timed so that Christ dies on Good Friday (April 22) and rises again on Easter itself (April 24). The series covers the dramatic events of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. It will run through Lent, Holy Week, Easter and beyond.

Blanchard, an active Episcopalian who teaches college art history, spent four years painting the gay Passion. He started in summer 2001, but it took on new meaning on Sept. 11 when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center near his studio on New York’s Lower East Side. “I understand that a lot of people rediscovered religious faith after September 11th. I had the opposite reaction,” he said. “I was horrified by the religious motivation of those attacks.” He used the paintings to address this conflict, concluding that Christ’s resurrection reverses the “grim arithmetic of power.”

The gay Jesus himself appears surprisingly accessible in Blanchard’s art. “I didn’t want him to seem in any way remote and unapproachably sacred,” he explained. Each of the Passion pictures is oil on wood panel, 18 inches by 14 inches.

Cherry is the author of six books, including “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More,” a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. “Art That Dares” is filled with color images by 11 contemporary artists from the U.S. and Europe, including selections from Blanchard’s gay Passion series.

The New York Times Book Review praised Cherry’s “very graceful, erudite” writing style. Her other books include “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations” and “Jesus in Love: A Novel.” Her books have been translated into German, Polish, Chinese and Japanese. Cherry was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer.

Cherry founded JesusInLove.org in 2005 to support LGBT spirituality and the arts and show God’s love for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. With a focus on gay Jesus and queer saints, Jesus in Love grew quickly into an online community with a popular blog, videos, e-newsletter and image archive.

For more info, visit the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com) or JesusInLove.org, or contact info@JesusInLove.org.

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Click here to view the Gay Passion of Christ series.

Monday, January 10, 2011

LGBT spiritual site marks 5th anniversary (11/17/10)

Los Angeles, CA -- Nov. 17, 2010 -- JesusInLove.org is celebrating its fifth anniversary as an online resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) spirituality and the arts.

“Christian rhetoric is often misused to justify hate and discrimination against LGBT people,” says Kittredge Cherry, the lesbian author and minister who founded JesusInLove.org. “We believe that God loves everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. That message is just as important today as it was five years ago.”

In honor of its birthday, the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com) is starting a new series on “Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People Today” by Patrick S. Cheng, theology professor at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. The series begins Wed., Nov. 17.

Since its launch on Nov. 17, 2005, JesusInLove.org has grown to serve more people in more different ways. The Jesus in Love Blog receives 30,000 visits per year and its e-newsletter recently surpassed 500 subscribers. It showcases a wider range of art and writing by more diverse contributors. The content has also grown beyond the original emphasis on gay Jesus art, and now includes a popular series on queer saints.

“We have won many honors for promoting religious and artistic freedom -- and we also get a lot of hate mail from conservative Christians,” Cherry says. A typical negative comment is, “Gays are not wanted in the kingdom of Christ! They are cast into the lake of fire.”

“The ongoing religious bigotry proves that JesusInLove.org is needed now as much as ever. Jesus loved everyone, including sexual outcasts,” she says.

JesusInLove.org grew out of Cherry’s own personal journey to reconcile being lesbian and Christian. Cherry was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer. One of her main duties was promoting dialogue on homosexuality at the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches. Her books include “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More” and “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations.” The New York Times Book Review praised her “very graceful, erudite” writing style.

JesusInLove.org is a grassroots effort, with more than 99% of its funding coming from individuals, not institutions. This frees JesusInLove.org to present cutting-edge art and nurture each person’s unique spiritual journey.

“We take creative risks and show controversial material that most websites won’t touch,” Cherry says. “We specialize in new GLBT Christian art that is too queer for churches and too religious for GLBT organizations.”

For more info, visit the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com), JesusInLove.org, or contact info@JesusInLove.org.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blog hosts LGBT-friendly memorial for All Saints, All Souls and Day of the Dead (10/31/10)

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Oct. 31, 2010 -- A queer-friendly online memorial for All Saints and All Souls Days, also known as Day of the Dead, is happening now at the Jesus in Love Blog.

Visit jesusinlove.blogspot.com to submit names and light virtual candles. Everyone is invited to light a memorial candle for a loved one now through Nov. 2. Free listings are available, and individual candles can be lit for a donation.

“Religion and society have often dishonored and desecrated queer lives. We created a place for ALL saints and ALL souls to be restored to wholeness and holiness,” says Kittredge Cherry, the lesbian spiritual author who runs the online memorial.

The flickering virtual candles are posted with a tasteful mix of traditional and alternative readings and art.

“Normally we focus on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer saints at the Jesus in Love Blog, but on All Saints, All Souls and Day of the Dead we warmly welcome all saints and all souls,” Cherry says. “People of all faiths or no faith are invited.”

Cherry founded JesusInLove.org in 2005 to support LGBT spirituality and the arts with a blog and e-newsletter. The website promotes artistic and religious freedom, with an emphasis on queer saints and gay Jesus images. Cherry was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer. Her books include “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies and Celebrations” and “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.”

The memorial begins on Oct. 31, when it is Halloween in the United States, but All Saints Day (Nov. 1) in other parts of the world. Readings come from gay clergy Chris Glaser, African American author Alice Walker, Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, the Bible and many others.

In Catholic and Protestant Christianity, the Feast of All Saints commemorates all saints, known and unknown. The following day, the Feast of All Souls, pays respect to the faithful departed who have not yet reached heaven. Prayers are offered to ask the saints to help the living, and to offer help to the souls of deceased friends and family.

All Souls Day is celebrated in Latin America as the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). The holiday is especially popular in Mexico, where the happy celebration is one of the biggest events of the year.

All Saints Day used to be called All Hallows Day, and the preceding evening was the Eve of All Hallows, now celebrated as Halloween. These holidays are associated with the Celtic Festival of the Dead (Samhain). They grow out of the pagan belief that the souls of the dead return to visit at this time of year.

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Click here to visit the memorial