‘Queer Saints, Martyrs & Others’

In clear contradiction of the Church’s often-repeated claims of a “constant and unchanging tradition” of strong opposition to homoerotic relationships, there are numerous notable men and women from a range of sexual and gender minorities who have been recognised by the church in different ways, as canonized saints, as consecrated bishops and even popes, or as same sex couples, joined by the church in liturgical rites of union, or buried by the church in shared tombs. Knowledge of these can help modern LGBT Christians to resist the misinformed insistence of the intolerant that their bigotry is dictated by faith.

I carefully use the word “queer” here to avoid the tedious arguments over exactly what qualifies as “gay”, especially for monks who have taken vows of celibacy, and to admit discussion of cross-dressing women who assume male identity for purely religious motives.  I also include some notable women who are important not because they are in any sense gay, but who have notably transcended the usual limitations of socially imposed female gender roles.

I also include as modern heroes, some who have been persecuted rather than honoured by the Church – but who I believe will in time be more widely recognized as early witnesses for ideas on LGBT inclusion that will in time become widely accepted.

For brief summaries of the leading groups of queer people in church history (including recognized saints, martyrs and others who have achieved high office in the Church hierarchy in spite of clear evidence of homoerotic interests or activities, see:

Queer Saints and Martyrs – Historical Synopsis

    • Before Christianity (In Jewish scriptures, the New Testament, and in other religions)
    • The Early Christians (Roman martyrs,bishops and some near-mythical figures)
    • Medieval Homoeroticism
    • The Great Persecution
    • Modern Martyrs, and a Modern Revival


Queer Saints and Martyrs -Some Thematic Groups


For more specific posts, use the links below. These are mostly to my own posts here at QTC, but I also include several to two other key sources: to the established and comprehensive lists included in the Calendar of LGBT Saints (“Calendar”) at the LGBT Catholic Handbook, and also to the rapidly expanding and impressive series on LGBT saints at Jesus in Love Blog (“Jesus in Love”.)

Before Christianity New Testament
Queer Gods & Goddesses: 

Some Divine Patrons of Queer Love

Queer Gods & Their Priests: The Middle East

Saints & Mystics In Other Faiths

Kuan Yin: Androgynous Spirit of compassion (At Jesus in Love Blog)
Queer Themes in the Hebrew Bible:
Ruth & Naomi

David The Prophet & Jonathan, His Lover

Daniel the Prophet in the Lion’s Den &

Three Companions in the Burning Fiery Furnace


Was Jesus Gay?  The Gospel of Mark, and the Naked Young Man 

Jesus and the Gay Wedding at Cana

John the Evangelist

The Gay Centurion

Eunuchs & the Kingdom of Heaven

Early Martyrs Cross-dressers, Gender Queer
Felicity & Perpetua 

Sergius & Bacchus

Polyeuct & Nearchs

Protus & Hyacinthus

Some cross-dressing Saints & Martyrs 

Appolinaria/ Dorotheos, Cross-dressing monk.

Eugenia/ Eugenios

Matrona / Babylas of Perge

Joan of Arc,  Martyred by the Church

Distorted by Myth? Gay & Lesbian Lovers
St George the Dragon Slayer 

St Patrick, Gay Role Model

Wilgefortis / Uncumber, Bearded Woman?

SS Galla and Benedicta, 6th C Roman Nuns

At “Jesus in Love” GLBT Saints Series:
St Bridget

Gay King Wenceslas

Same Sex Lovers in Church History

Sergius & Bacchus

Polyeuct & Nearchs

Boris and George

Ruth & Naomi

David The Prophet & Jonathan, His Lover


Felicity & Perpetua

SS Galla and Benedicta, 6th C Roman Nuns

Same- Sex Unions: Wedded Brothers  & Sworn Brethren

Buried Together

Saintly Gay Clerics Not -So- Saintly Bishops & Popes
Homoerotic Christianity: the Medieval Flowering 

Paulinus of Nola,Bishop & Poet,

Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop & Poet,

Anselof Canterbury. Queer Bishop, Gay Protector

Alcuin of Tours

Aelred of Rievaulx

Sor Juanna: Nun Who Loved a Countess

Walpurga, Powerful Abbess

John Henry Newman

The Smiling Pope: Our First Gay Pontiff?
At “Jesus in Love” GLBT Saints Series:


Ralph of Tours, John of Orleans

Gay Popes, Papal Sodomite

Leo X

The Unfortunate Death of Pope Paul II

Julius II

Julius III

Outing the Church: Gay Popes, Gay Bishops

The Smiling Pope: Our First Gay Pontiff?


Martyred by the Church Modern Heroes
Joan of Arc, Cross-Dressing Martyr

Lest We Forget: The Ashes of Our Martyrs

Holocaust Memorial: We All Wear the Triangle

(at Jesus in Love Blog)


The Priest With the Pink TriangleJohn McNeill

Fr Robert Carter

Bernard Lynch

Sr Jeanine Grammick
At “Jesus in Love” GLBT Saints Series:

2 Responses to “‘Queer Saints, Martyrs & Others’”

  1. Kittredge Cherry Says:

    I share your interest in gay saints. Thanks for a fascinating post. I will be trying to find out more about those cross-dressing nuns for my series about GLBT saints at the Jesus in Love Blog.

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Hi Kittredge. It was your interest in gay saints that first got me to look at Jesus in Love, with your post on Sergius & Bacchus. My info on the cross-dressing saints came originally from the LGBT Catholic handbook, specifically the section on lesbian gay and transvestite saints, then fleshed out with references fro the on-line Catholic encyclopaedia. When I started out my intention was to do a lot more on saints, but I ahve ended up spending so much time on general writing that I fear that it is not looking as intended. I’m glad you’re doing it – people need to know about these role models.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: