Gay Mohammad images on video and in photos were censored recently from a Dutch art exhibit. The artist was forced into hiding by death threats from Muslim extremists.
Iranian-born artist Sooreh Hera says that her images are an artistic expose of Islamic hypocrisy on homosexuality.
She photographed gay men in masks of Mohammad and his son-in-law Ali. Her video mixes photos of gay men and Muslim clerics, Islamic chants and the hard rock of “Gay Bar” by Electric Six.
The municipal museum in the Hague backed out of its plan to exhibit the photos from Hera’s “Adam and Ewald” series and a related video, according to recent news reports. Wim van Krimpen, director of the Gemeentemuseum, announced that the images were removed because “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive.”
Hera, 34, accused the museum of caving in to pressure from Islamists, who also sent her death threats. Hera withdrew the rest of her photos from the show in protest, and another Dutch museum in Gouda has agreed to exhibit them in the future.
Her video “Allah ho Gaybar” was on YouTube for a few hours before it was removed for its provocative content. It is now available at www.dumpert.nl.
A gallery of gay Mohammad photos can be viewed on Hera’s website. “Religion always wants to control human sexuality, most prominently with a compelling taboo on homosexuality,” she says in a statement on her site. “I have tried to show a recognisable beauty of homosexuals, but also an alienating beauty that to many may be unimagined, or dishonorable.”
In media interviews, Hera repeatedly criticizes countries such as Iran for imposing the death penalty for homosexual conduct.
The gay Mohammad controversy is especially interesting to me as a lesbian Christian art historian. I get many negative comments from Christian conservatives who are offended by the gay Jesus images in my websites and book Art That Dares. They often say that nobody would dare make a picture of a gay Mohammad because Islamic fundamentalists fight blasphemy with violence. Sometimes the Christian right sounds almost envious, as if they wished they could use violence instead of Christ’s command to “love your enemy.”
Well, the Christian right was wrong. Artists ARE making gay Mohammad images. As long as there is religious hypocrisy over homosexuality, artists will be making queer religious images that expose the truth. Society is enriched by the brave, powerful artistry of truth tellers like Sooreh Hera.
News reports about Hera and other artists addressing religion and homosexuality are included in the monthly Jesus in Love Newsletter on queer spirituality and the arts. I edit the newsletter and blog here at the Jesus in Love Blog. Visit JesusInLove.org for more progressive spiritual resources.
P.S. This is cross-posted at the Gay Spirituality Blog, where it continues to get many hateful, obscene comments. There were 44 comments and counting as of Jan. 7, 2010.