Conservative Catholics recently accused Q Spirit founder Kittredge Cherry of promoting “gay porn” with her article on Saint Sebastian, but supporters affirmed, “You’re doing God’s work!”
The attack article was posted by the far-right Catholic website Lifesitenews.com on Jan. 23 under the headline “LGBT ministry at New York parish promotes gay porn.” It criticizes the New York LGBT Catholic group Out at St Paul for sharing a link to Cherry’s article “Saint Sebastian: History’s first gay icon?”
Life Site News is operated by a pro-life Canadian non-profit lobbyist organization and rated as having “extreme right bias” by Media Bias / Fact Check.
“Right-wing attacks won’t stop me from sharing art that affirms LGBTQ people as part of God’s good creation,” Cherry pledged. “Q Spirit shows the work of contemporary LGBTQ religious artists along with classic art — even if conservatives disapprove.”
Dozens of supporters urged Cherry to “keep up the good work,” with Facebook comments such as, “You must be doing something right” and “If you’re stirring the pot of rigid religionists, you’re doing God’s work, sister!”
Much of the attack article focuses on Cherry and her “dissident theories.” They wrote:
“Kittredge’s analysis of art is agenda-driven and shoddy; she equates masterful works of art with pornography; not realizing that, for example Il Sodoma’s ‘St. Sebastian’ combines the ideal beautiful body as envisioned by the Ancient Greeks and completely transforms that form into a new paradigm of Christian beauty through the agony of martyrdom. Michelangelo repeatedly accomplished the same feat with the beauty of the male body reflecting the Love of the Creator for His creation.”
Instead of discussing the art that Cherry actually posted on Q Spirit, they blamed her for “highly graphic” images displayed on one artist’s personal website when readers click his name.
“Today’s LGBTQ Christian art is not always as sublime as Michelangelo, but it is still is valid — and sometimes porn is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t post what I consider to be porn,” Cherry said. She wrote about Saint Sebastian as part of the LGBTQ Saints series at Qspirit.net.
The attack article was written by Joseph Sciambra and originally posted on his website. His bio there states, “Throughout the 1990s, Joseph lived around the homosexual culture of the Castro District, offering him rare insight into the daily lives and struggles of many gay men. Later, he became an amateur porn actor and escort. In 1999, following a near death experience, Joseph returned to the Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.”
Cherry expressed sympathy for what he went through as a porn actor and how conservatives may be using his pain. “Attacks and censorship are not the answer to sexual exploitation,” she added. “Through Q Spirit I use art to disrupt oppression and encourage holy, loving, respectful relationships in the LGBTQ community and beyond.”
She is in good company because the same attack article also condemned well-known progressive Catholics James Martin, Robert Lentz and William Hart McNichols, Martin is the author of the controversial 2017 book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”
A related book is “Art and Pornography: Philosophical Essays,” edited by Hans Maes and Jerrold Levinson and published by Oxford University Press in 2013. It explores the distinction between art and porn with essays such as “Is Pornographic Art Comparable to Religious Art?”
The big Facebook discussion of the attack article included many positive comments such as, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been attacked by Lifesitenews, the Catholic arm of the global right-wing conspiracy machine. Be sure to put this on your resume!”
Another person commented, “Kudos to you for your on-going hard work and dignity in the face of blind bigotry. Sancte Sebastian Ora Pro Nobis.” In English, the Latin prayer means, “Pray for us, Saint Sebastian!”
Top image credit: Screenshot from “LGBT Ministry in the Archdiocese of NY Promotes Gay Porn” at josephsciambra.com
This post is part of the LGBTQ Saints series by Kittredge Cherry. Traditional and alternative saints, people in the Bible, LGBT and queer martyrs, authors, theologians, religious leaders, artists, deities and other figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and our allies are covered.
Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Qspirit.net presents the Jesus in Love Blog on LGBTQ spirituality.
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