You can’t be gay and Christian, can you? This is a question that has haunted and exasperated everyone, not always in equal measure, for a long time. The conversation often doesn’t seem to go anywhere, largely because of disagreement on ends. In what sense do we want gay people to be able to count themselves as part of the body of Christ? In what sense do we believe that “gay” and “Christian” are mutually exclusive categories?
As someone who can meaningfully call himself both gay and Christian, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about all of this. And the more I read, learn, and live, the more incomprehensible my ideas about sexuality and Christianity seem to become for anyone who isn’t me or the close friends I see and swap ideas with on a regular basis.
Many, many, many, many, many, many other voices have contributed to the gay and Christian conversation already. While I have done my fair share of writing in private, I haven’t yet felt that I would be especially good at witnessing to the subject with the details of my own personal life in the way that others have. But how can I contribute? Well one thing I am particularly good at is making lists and cataloging things. Thus, here’s my contribution: a bibliography (to be updated regularly) of everything I’ve read and watched that has been helpful in shaping my ideas on the gay and Christian debate (such as it were). Some of these don’t have much to do with sexuality, some don’t have much to do with Christianity; some, on the surface, appear to be about neither! Wherever reconciliation, oppression, and inequality in the church are live issues, anyone interested in talking about gay people in the church specifically will have much to learn.
I wish there were a single book I could give out en masse that would cover everything there is to know about the topic, so everyone could just get themselves on the same page and move forward with reconciliation and love together. That’s unfortunately not how learning works, though. Educating yourself on this (or any) unwieldy subject will entail lots of false starts, unexpected detours, missing details, serendipitous breakthroughs. And there’s also a limit to how much you can learn through study alone.
Nevertheless, because there seems to be a demand, I’m volunteering my own personal bibliography. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the opinions of all the writers, speakers, and artists represented below—as my favorite intern once wrote in her job application, “anything can be argued for, and so it is not always logic that makes a thing true”—but I have learned something or other from even those people whom I think are flagrantly mistaken.
We don’t know what we don’t know, but what we don’t know matters. My own bibliography is in no way exhaustive, nor do I expect my learning to ever stop. But hopefully, the more I keep at it, the more I can try to make sense of what seems, on the surface, to be an absurd discussion.
I haven’t sorted by topic within these lists; my hope is for you to pick out what looks interesting, and then to go off and explore on your own with this list as a compendium to be returned to at any time for inspiration. With grace and peace, let us go forth and learn together.
Gay and Christian? A Bibliography
newest entries in bold; [my notes in brackets]
last updated 6/24/2019
Aciman, André. Call Me by Your Name.
———. Enigma Variations.
Ackerly, J.R. My Father and Myself.
Baldwin, James. Giovanni's Room.
———. The Fire Next Time.
———. The Devil Finds Work.
Basil the Great. On Christian Ethics.
Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
Bennett, David. A War of Loves: The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus.
Berry, Wendell. Sex Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays.
Bray, Alan. Homosexuality in Renaissance England.
Brown, Austin Channing. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Metamorphosis and Identity.
Capon, Robert Ferrar. Bed and Board: Plain Talk about Marriage.
Chrysostom, John. On Marriage and Family Life.
Clément, Olivier. You Are Peter: An Orthodox Theologian’s Reflection on the Exercise of Papal Primacy.
Coles, Greg. Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity.
Collins, Nate. All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality.
Conley, Garrard. Boy Erased: A Memoir.
Davis, Angela ed. If They Come in the Morning…: Voices of Resistance.
DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.
Downs, Alan. The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World.
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk.
Evdokimov, Paul. Ages of the Spiritual Life.
Felski, Rita. The Limits of Critique.
Forster, E.M. Maurice.
Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader.
France, David. How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Greenwell, Garth. What Belongs to You.
Han, Byung-Chul. The Agony of Eros.
Hill, Wesley. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.
———. Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian.
Iweala, Uzodinma. Speak No Evil.
Jacobs, Alan. How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds.
Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.
Lewis, C.S. The Four Loves.
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.
MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition.
Miller, Merle. On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual.
Moore, Darnell L. No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America.
Pope Francis. Amoris Laetitia: Apostolic Exhortation on the Family.
Robinson, Marilynne. The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought.
Russ, Joanna. How to Suppress Women’s Writing.
Russo, Vito. The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (Revised Edition).
Qiu Miaojin. Notes of a Crocodile.
Ruden, Sarah. Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time.
Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
———. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life.
Savin-Williams, Rich C. Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men.
Schmemann, Alexander. The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973–1983.
———. Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism.
Smith, James K.A. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.
Sullivan, Andrew. Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival.
Sveshnikov, Sergei. There Is No Sex in the Church!: On the Problematics of Sexuality and Gender in Orthodoxy.
Tagame, Gengoroh. My Brother’s Husband 1 & 2.
Taylor, Charles. The Ethics of Authenticity.
Tisby, Jemar. The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism.
Tonstad, Linn Marie. Queer Theology: Beyond Apologetics.
Tushnet, Eve ed. Christ’s Body, Christ’s Wounds: Staying Catholic When You’ve Been Hurt in the Church.
———. Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith.
Van Meter, Ryan. If You Knew Then What I Know Now.
White, Nick. How to Survive a Summer.
Yarhouse, Mark A. Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian College Campuses.
Kushner, Tony. “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.”
scholarly articles indicated with an *
Briody, Deanna. “What’s a Body to Do? The Place of Beauty and the Body in Non-Sexual Loves,” in Spiritual Friendship.
Collins, K. Austin. “‘Love, Simon’: Progress in the Form of Deliberate Banality,” in The Ringer.
*Damian, Christopher. “A Catholic Perspective on Homoerotic Desire,” in Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture.
DeLorenzo, Leonard J. “Love Is Always Conditional,” in Church Life Journal.
*Gallaher, Brandon. “Tangling with Orthodox Tradition in the Modern West,” in The Wheel.
Gleeson, Jules, “How Do Gender Transitions Happen? Encounters and Communities,” in Pluto Books.
Griffiths, Paul. “Is Queer Theology Christian Theology?” in Marginalia (Los Angeles Review of Books).
Hannon, Michael W. “Against Heterosexuality,” in First Things.
Hill, Wesley. “Love, Again,” in Comment.
Hirschy, Fr. Micah. “The Kavasilas Option,” in Public Orthodoxy.
Huneke, Samuel Clowes. “What’s Left of the Gay Left?” in The Point.
Maragos, Niko. “More Spacious Than the Heavens,” in Popula.
McDowell, Maria Gwyn. “Fragile Repentances,” in Women in Theology.
Mena, Adelaide. “Pop Artist. Provocateur. Catholic. Who was Andy Warhol?” in National Catholic Register.
Mendelsohn, Daniel. “The Man Behind the Curtain,” in the book How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken. [this review of John Boswell’s Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe is a barn-burner]
Moore, Darnell L. “The Bodies of Others Are Not Mine,” in them.
Morris, Adam. “Better Now?” in The Point.
Oliveira, Anthony. “Death in the Village,” in Hazlitt.
*Papanikolaou, Aristotle. “Sex, Marriage, and Theosis,” in The Wheel.
*Rao, Rahul. “Re-membering Mwanga: same-sex intimacy, memory and belonging in postcolonial Uganda” in Journal of Eastern African Studies.
Roden, Renée D. “Desire Can Also Be Destructive,” in Church Life Journal.
Rothfeld, Becca. “The Promise of Misery,” in The Baffler.
Salkeld, Brett, “An Interview with James Alison,” in Commonweal.
Sullivan, Andrew. “The Gay Church,” in New York.
Thomas, Frankie. “When Someone You Know Is Gay,” in The Paris Review.
Tucker, Gregory. “A Preliminary Response to Dr. Ford’s Open Letter on Homosexuality,” in The Wheel.
*———, Marjorie Corbman, and Steven T. Payne. “Jesus Christ & Same-Sex Marriage,” in The Wheel.
Tushnet, Eve. “Love That Goes Unnamed,” in Commonweal.
Wallace, David Foster. “Authority and American Usage,” in the book Consider the Lobster and Other Essays.
Wilson, William A. “The Myth of Scientific Objectivity,” in First Things.
Zwart, Jane. “Only Connect: A conversation with Zadie Smith,” in Books and Culture.
Talks and Podcasts
“Discerning the Mystery: The Nature and Task of Theology Today,” a talk with Fr. Andrew Louth [the part relevant to sexuality begins around 55:05]
“Persons, Not Agendas: Gay Christians and the Churches,” an interview with Bridget Eileen on the Mortally Speaking Podcast, which also features many other good episodes about LGBT people in the church
“Redeeming Queer Culture: An Adventure,” a talk by Grant Hartley from Revoice 2018
“Rekindling Hope as a Sexual Minority in the Church,” a talk by Jeb Ralston from Revoice 2018
“Spiritual Friendship Pre-Conference: Johanna Finegan” from Revoice 2018
“Theologians of the Cross Caught Between Two Churches of Glory,” another exceptional talk by Johanna Finegan, from Revoice 2019
“Sex and the Effects of Shame in Relationships,” a talk by Dave and Constantino Khalaf from 2019 Q Christian Fellowship Conference
Several episodes of the podcast We Are Orthodoxy: “I Had No Other Choice,” [gay marriage] “We’ve All Got a Piece of the Elephant,” [intersectionality, religious trauma, authority] “I Know Where You’re From,” [racism and reconciliation], “It’s Complicated: What We’ve Learned from We Are Orthodoxy (So Far)”
it should go without saying but some of these contain sexually explicit content which, uh, requires some viewer discretion
Akerman, Chantal. Je, Tu, Il, Elle.
Baker, Sean. Tangerine.
Berlanti, Greg. Love, Simon.
Bressan Jr., Arther J. Buddies.
Campillo, Robin. BPM.
Chan-wook, Park. The Handmaiden.
Cone, Stephen. The Wise Kids. [very few movies touch the gay-and-Christian thing on both sides; most of Cone’s movies do.]
———. Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party.
———. Princess Cyd.
Deitch, Donna. Desert Hearts.
Ducastel, Olivier and Jacques Martineau. Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau.
Dunn, Stephen. Closet Monster.
Epstein, Rob. The Times of Harvey Milk.
Fassbinder, Rainer Werner. Fox and His Friends.
France, David. How to Survive a Plague.
Frears, Stephen. My Beautiful Laundrette.
Guadagnino, Luca. Call Me By Your Name.
Haigh, Andrew. Weekend.
Haynes, Todd. Velvet Goldmine.
Heller, Marielle. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Honoré, Christophe. Sorry Angel.
Ivory, James. Maurice.
Jarman, Derek. Blue.
Joslin, Tom and Peter Friedman. Silverlake Life: The View from Here.
Kahiu, Wanuri. Rafiki.
Kar-wai, Wong. Happy Together.
Larkin, Christopher. A Very Natural Thing.
Lee, Francis. God’s Own Country.
Livingston, Jennie. Paris Is Burning.
Mungiu, Cristian. Beyond the Hills.
Oswald, Richard. Different from the Others.
Ozon, François. A Summer Dress.
Puccini, Matthew. Lavender.
———. The Mess He Made.
Reybaud, Jérôme. Jours de France.
Rodrigues, João Pedro. The Ornithologist.
Téchiné, André. Wild Reeds.