Queer Saints & Martyrs

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.

In assembling a listing of people in history who deserve specially interest from LGBT Christians , 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.

Under “Saints and Martyrs”, I include some figures from before Christianity took root as a distinctive religion – including figures from the Christian and Jewish scriptures, and also some notable figures from other religions. At the other end of the time scale, 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 the future become widely accepted.

The Story of Our Queer Saints and Martyrs

Prologue: 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 (Monastic literature, early gay popes, powerful abbesses)

The Great Persecution (St Joan, Burning the Sodomites, The Papal Paradox and Homoerotic Vatican Art)

Modern Martyrs,  Modern Revival (Newman and conscience, Silencing the theologians, Into the Light)

Epilogue: All Saints

In addition to the recognised saints and martyrs, there are many other men (and far fewer women) who are known to have achieved high office in the church as popes, bishops and abbots, in spite of well-known homoerotic interests or sexual activities. I have gathered these into several thematic groups:

Queers in Church History

Gay Popes, Papal Sodomites

Gay Bishops: How Many?

Gay Lovers in Church History

Some Cross-Dressing Saints and Martyrs

Lest We Forget: The Ashes of Our Martyrs

For a listing of the recognised saints and modern heroes ordered by the calendar, see

The Calendar of LGBT saints.

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 ManJesus and the Gay Wedding at Cana

John the Evangelist

The Gay Centurion

Eunuchs & the Kingdom of HeavenEarly MartyrsCross-dressers, Gender QueerFelicity & PerpetuaSergius & Bacchus

Polyeuct & Nearchs

Protus & HyacinthusSome cross-dressing Saints & MartyrsAppolinaria/ Dorotheos, Cross-dressing monk.

Eugenia/ Eugenios

Matrona / Babylas of Perge

Joan of Arc,  Martyred by the ChurchDistorted by Myth?Gay & Lesbian LoversSt George the Dragon SlayerSt 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 WenceslasSame Sex Lovers in Church HistorySergius & 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 TogetherSaintly Gay ClericsNot -So- Saintly Bishops & PopesHomoerotic Christianity: the Medieval FloweringPaulinus 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 ChurchModern HeroesJoan of Arc, Cross-Dressing MartyrLest 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 McNeillFr Robert Carter

Bernard Lynch

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

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