Many gay men and lesbians are familiar with the names Sergius & Bacchus, the Roman soldiers and martyrs who are the best known of the queer saints. Somewhat fewer are familiar with SS Polyeuct and Nearchos, who were also Roman soldiers and martyrs, in a very similar story. But hardly anyone, I find, is familiar with Boris and George.
This is sad, as it comes from a period and a region where there are not too many others, but reminds us that the queer saints were not only a feature of the earliest church, as it sometimes appears.
I fear I have been rather neglecting the calendar recently, and so I almost forgot to place a celebratory post for their feast day. Fortunately for us all, Kittredge Cherry at Jesus in Love is clearly better organized than I am. You will have to read the story there. Here is her openining:
The love between Saint Boris and George the Hungarian ended in tragedy in 1015 in medieval Russia. Their feast day is July 24.
Boris was a prince and gifted military commander who was popular with the Russian people. He was married, but he had enormous love for his servant George the Hungarian. Slavic professor Simon Karlinsky has highlighted their gay love story in his analysis of the medieval classic, “The Legend of Boris and Gleb” compiled from 1040 to 1118. Karlinsky writes:
Boris had a magnificent gold necklace made for George because he “was loved by Boris beyond reckoning.” When the four assailants stabbed Boris with their swords, George flung himself on the body of his prince, exclaiming: “I will not be left behind, my precious lord! Ere the beauty of thy body begins to wilt, let it be granted that my life may end.”
-(Read the full story at “Jesus in Love“)