I've been avoiding writing about this for the last several weeks. You have to admit, it's a pretty contentious subject. It might have me lynched by mobs of religious zealots who would probably come into the city by way of a rented, yellow, catholic school bus.
But when VO's publisher and my new friend, Linda, sent me a little YouTube video showcasing a recent performance at Vancouver's Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive*, I felt compelled (maybe by the wild and fabulous gay loving spirit of Judy Garland herself) to put my fingers on the keyboard to see what would happen...
This really isn't anything new. For years now, scholars have debated Jesus' sexuality, be it hetero or homosexual. The big problem is that even the mere question or implication that Jesus may have had any sexual inclinations is considered blasphemous and a mockery of deeply held religious beliefs. Chances are most likely that he preferred the company of women (in the religious sense) but it is fact that he surrounded himself with young men (his apostles) for most of his adult life.
Now I'm no theologian, and even though I was raised a good Catholic boy my knowledge of the scriptures is faded and blurry at best. I won't even start trying to pull quotes from that big book we all call the Bible. But I discovered that in 1958, a man named Morton Smith from Columbia University reported that he had found a fragment of a manuscript while studying at the Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem. It contained the full text of Mark, Chapter 10. Apparently the version in the Christian Scriptures is an edited version of the original. Additional verses allegedly formed part of the full version of Mark, and were inserted after verse 34. It discusses how a young man, naked but for a linen covering, expressed his love for Jesus and stayed with him at his place all night. More details. Interesting...
Then in 1997, Tony Award-winning American playwright Terrence McNally wrote quite a controversial play, Corpus Christi, a modern day retelling of the story of Jesus' birth, ministry and death, in which both he and his disciples are portrayed as homosexual. I have yet to see a production of this show but I have read it. It's a beautifully written story about love and forgiveness. Each and every time a production is planned, the protests are enormous. A holy sheik from the UK even issued a death fatwa against Terrence McNally for writing it.
A 2008 production of Corpus Christi in Sydney, Australia
This past March, a college production of the play in Texas stirred up a great deal of anxiety. The school had to hire extra security to protect the performers.
It's not just the idea of Jesus being 'gay' that gets believers up in arms. You must remember the wildly popular book by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. The book was essentially about a battle over the mere possibility that Jesus had married and had a daughter with Mary Magdalene. The shooting of the movie was even stalled by The Vatican when they were about to start filming there. Once again, even the notion that Jesus was like a real man in that sense caused an international uproar.