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September 30th, 2007

Then Jesus Said, “Hey Everyone…Let’s All Sit On This Side Of The Table…”

Seeing yet another outraged headline from some right wing crank site, about the so-called anti-Christianism of the annual Folsom Street Fair, coming across my Google News Digest, finally made my gorge rise enough that I started looking through Google images for other parodies of da Vinci’s Last Supper to post here.  I’d come close to doing it the other day when I saw Andrew Sullivan bloviating about the Ad being a provocation.  You can always tell that Sullivan’s taken his stupid pills, when he starts channeling the likes of William Donohue.  I was scanning Google for other examples of anti-Christian blasphemy, like this one of Christ as a medical marijuana advocate, and the truly bizarre painting titled Frida Kahlo’s Last Supper (I have No idea…), but I soon found that Dan Savage had beaten me to it.  Though he Did miss this little collection of Last Supper Cartoons.

Allow me to gratuitously join in the…provocation.  Here’s the image, from the Folsom Street Fair program that’s giving the kook pews vapors…


"The bread and wine representing Christ’s broken body and lifegiving blood are replaced with sadomasochistic sex toys in this twisted version of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper," says Concerned Women For America.  "’Gay’ activists disingenuously call Christians ‘haters’ and ‘homophobes’ for honoring the Bible, but then lash out in this hateful manner toward the very people they accuse".  Kiss my ass.  Listening to CWA yap, yap, yap about people not having respect for Christianity is like listening to Al Capone giving advice on fighting crime.  I’m no fan of the S&M subculture by any means.  My libido doesn’t go there, I’m not into it, I don’t grok it at all, it completely grosses me out.  But S&M is by no stretch particular to gay folk, as any casual stroll through the world of heterosexual sex fantasies will quickly show you, and I’ll endure lectures on hate from a lot of people, but not from Concerned Women For America.  Hate…did you say?  Hate?  Let me hear CWA denounce Paul Cameron’s The Medical Consequences Of What Homosexuals Do and I might consider listening to them talk about hate.

It’s a symptom of how the conversation about religion and spirituality has degenerated here in America, that people, even normally sane people, are treating a 15th Century wall painting (it isn’t actually a fresco) as though it’s a page right out of the bible.  Iconic it may well be, but that speaks to the skill of the painter, one of the true masters of the art form.  It’s Leonardo’s version, not Matthew’s, not Mark’s, not Luke’s, not King James’, not Cyrus Scofield’s.  And it’s not a particularly realistic representation of the event either (Hey everyone…let’s all sit on This side of the table…).  As I’m told some of the figures in the painting are supposedly representations of politicians who lived during Leonardo’s time, the painting may itself have elements of parody in it.  The fact is that this Folsom Street Fair graphic is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of parodies of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work that have been created over the years.  If anyone has a right to be offended here, it’s Leonardo’s ghost.

And…you have to laugh sometimes…Leonardo, if he wasn’t gay himself, certainly sets you wondering about it.  Charged (and acquitted) of sodomy as a young man, he never married, and once said that "the act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions".  And what did he consider a pretty face?  Take a look at the figure of John in The Last Supper.  It’s probably his pupil Salai, whom Leonardo fondly and often painted.  Another pupil, Melzi, the 15 year old son of a Lombard aristocrat, became his life companion, traveling with the painter and Salai (who was said to have been greatly jealous of the younger student at first), and remaining with the painter until his death.  If Leonardo was alive today, Matt Barber would be bellyaching that The Last Supper, with its androgynous John practically swooning at Jesus’ side, was a hate filled anti-Christian parody of…er…The Last Supper.

[Update…] As I scan the images of representations of The Last Supper, one thing that strikes me is how often John is represented as a beautiful young man, often in a…er…Very friendly pose with Jesus.  As John is, by legend, The Beloved Disciple, that’s not all that surprising.  But…Look at some of these.  Here’s one by the painter Jacopo Bassano, done in 1542, showing a Much younger John, literally sitting on Jesus’ lap.   And this one, painted by Valentin de Boulogne in 1626, showing a Much younger John with his head practically in Jesus’ lap.  And check out this stained glass panel from New York City’s Church of the Incarnation. This one from a church in BelfastAnd this one from an Australian LDS (!) seller of bible paintings

Now, the sentiment in these works strikes me as a profoundly beautiful one.  If I’d been allowed to see more imagery like this in church as a young gay man myself, I might still be calling myself a Baptist today.  But again, it just strikes me as funny that the kook pews are whipping themselves into a sanctimonious lather about the sacredness to them of a genre of religious art, that itself has a rich history of homosexual overtones.  Have any of these jackasses looked, really looked, at some of these Last Supper paintings?


2 Responses to “Then Jesus Said, “Hey Everyone…Let’s All Sit On This Side Of The Table…””

  1. queertardo Says:

    VERY WELL STATED! Your position is by far one of the most relevant I have read on the "POSTER" matter. Thank you so much. I was rather appalled that exgaywatch sided with the "carnie" faction of Fundy Christians. Then again why should it surprise me? There have been times when some of my friends have been booted off and/or banned for presenting logical and reasonable debate that some of the writers could not intelligently address or rebut.
    I think you rock.

  2. Willie Hewes Says:

    Yeah, I was upset by the XGW article. I thought they were supposed to be respectful to all viewpoints. Except that of fisting enthusiasts, of course, cause that’s digusting. Er, I mean, medically dangerous. Yes. That doesn’t sound familiar at all.

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