Was Jesus gay? Recent artwork from the University of California, Berkeley addressed this exact question. It appears to have been geared towards answering with a “yes.” The Atlanta, Georgia, campus of Emory University recently held an art exhibition. In an Instagram entry on the April 27th post, the university announced the senior Capstone Showcase: “We are thrilled to be hosting this event. Emory Integrated Visual Arts Co-Major The Senior Capstone Showcase The reception will begin tonight from 7 to 8 P.M. on two floors of ESC. Enjoy a meal and artwork. Bring your companions! If you miss the event,” the message promised, “you can still see several of the pieces through Commencement weekend.”
Part of the show is the self-portrait of graduate Tommy Greenler. According to Campus Reform, a photo of Tommy hanging from the cross, dressed as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and tagged “Nailed to Sin,” was explained with Tommy’s message that Jesus Christ was “probably” the most well-known person who has ever lived. In the past 2000 years, the “mythology” that surrounds Jesus' life has evolved into the most widely practiced religion, with more than two billion believers in the present day. The story of Jesus’ life is more significant to many Christians than the true story of the historical person, which is further exacerbated by the absence of credible historical records.
Tommy continued, “As a child in an evolving Christian worship service, I frequently was tempted to question the authenticity of the biblical portrayal of Jesus in the context of what aspects of his life were left untold. What was the reason he spent a large portion of his adulthood in a circle of 12 admirers? What made John the sole disciple to be at the Crucifixion, even though numerous gospels affirm that Jesus loved the man in a unique manner? My religious community was accepting of my homosexuality. However, the vocal denial of my sexuality from a variety of Christian institutions was always present. If the common belief of most Christians that Jesus sacrificed his life to free us of our sins is real, why was my sexuality deemed to be particularly offensive, and even inexplicably unforgivable? In this photo, I portray myself to be Jesus with a historically incorrect portrayal (I am white, as Jesus is often depicted in a false way) from the Crucifixion. I would like viewers to find this photo to be a bit threatening since I've been confronted with being called an infidel all my life due to what I believe Jesus of Nazareth and I might have shared in common.”
The inclusion of this work in the school's art exhibition might be seen as a bit surprising, considering that Emory is a Christian college. Emory is a member of the United Methodist Church (UMC). However, the UMC isn't well-known for its traditional values: “United Methodist Church Holds Drag Show to Protest Same-Sex Wedding Ban,” “Christian Church Offers Prayer to the God of Pronouns, the ‘Great They/Them One' Who Breastfeeds,” “Christian Divinity School Recites Prayer to the ‘Great Queer One' Who Is a Drag Queen as well as Trans Man,” “Southern Baptist Seminary President Lambastes United Methodist Church Over Drag Queen Leader,” “Church Hosts ‘Pride’ Drag Show.”
Then there's the matter of Tommy himself working part-time as a queen. Emory's LGBTQUIA club, Emory Pride, held the first drag show of the year—its largest annual event. According to the Emory Wheel, the Office of LGBT Life, formed in the fall of 1991, has utilized Emory Pride—an undergraduate LGBTQ and Ally group–as the conduit via which it is possible for the Office of LGBT Life to connect with students. According to the mission statement of the organization, the club's goal is to create a sense of community in which inclusion and education flourish. In a recent report from eCollegeFinder, Emory was named the “most LGBT-friendly school” in Georgia.
Following the performance, Instagram user “Pam.on.the.gram,” also known under the username Tommy Greenler, tweeted an email to thank them for the show. “Thank you @emorypride for allowing me as the host of this incredible show for the third time in consecutive years! It's been an absolute high point of my time at school. From my first drag show in the year 2004 to today, I've developed myself as an actress, host, and performer as well as a person. Happy for me as well as forever thankful for all the experiences.”
Pam was later quoted as saying, “There is something very subversive about hosting a drag show at a church, especially a Methodist church like Glenn Memorial.”
Although there's something sinister about a gay Jesus, it seems to be becoming less of a concern.