February has been designated as LGBT History month is February in the UK. It’s a time to commemorate LGBT history, and to celebrate gay rights and civil rights movements. This year LGBT History month has ‘Religion, Belief and Philosophy’ as its theme. With this in mind Fr Chris offers a reflection as the month comes to a close:
For LGBT History month I’ve been thinking about a Christian LGBT figure for us to commemorate at Church. There are many famous people who have been “tagged” as gay in the broadest sense of that word. I’ve been taken with the stories of two men who suffered, and “witnessed” to their faith in Nazi Germany, and I’d like to share their moving stories with you.
The first is Leonard Roth – a gay Dominican Priest who worked among the inmates of the Dachau concentration camp who were dying of Typhus. After the war he remained at Dachau to serve the spiritual needs of the SS men who had guarded and tormented him. More can be read about him here
The man I would especially like us to commemorate is an anonymous 60 years old gay priest who was brutally beaten to death in Sachsenhausen because he refused to stop praying. Eyewitness Heinz Heger reported that the murder was so brutal that “I felt I was witnessing the crucifixion of Christ in modern guise.”
The icon shows the priest wearing the pink triangle, the badge used by the Nazis to identify prisoners sent to concentration camps for homosexuality. Originally intended as a badge of shame, the pink triangle has become a symbol of pride for the LGBT rights movement. More about him here
To be martyred because you wouldn’t stop praying, to be singled out for extra brutality because you are gay, to be singled out for being “anti-social” – to be stigmatised. All part of LGBT history, and frighteningly still part of our stories today – whether in parts of Africa, or parts of Manchester.
Let us thank God for these priests’ witness, and ask for their support to our prayers.
Stonewall, an LGBT rights charity, has produced a very attractive Christian role models booklet for this year’s LGBT History Month – you can read it (pdf) here.