On Holocaust Remembrance Day we recall the genocide of 6 million Jews in state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany during World War II. The Nazis also murdered millions of people in other groups, including thousands of gay men and lesbians. Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah, is April 11 this year.
One of those killed was an anonymous 60-year-old gay priest who died at the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, Germany in 1940. Heinz Heger gives an eyewitness account in his book, “The Men with the Pink Triangle.” The priest was brutally beaten and tortured, and yet there was a moment of grace when a narrow beam of sunlight shone on the priest’s face. For a detailed account, visit:
The gay priest is honored in the icon above, “Holy Priest Anonymous one of Sachsenhausen” by Father William Hart McNichols, a renowned iconographer and Roman Catholic priest based in New Mexico.
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 for the GLBT rights movement.
The pink triangle appears in a variety of monuments that have been built around the world to commemorate LBGT victims of the Nazi regime. Since 1984, more than 20 gay Holocaust memorials have been established cities ranging from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, from Germany to Uruguay. Some are in the actual concentration camp sites, such as the plaque for gay victims in Dachau pictured below.
To see powerful photos of all the memorials and read the stories behind them, visit:
The logo for the Jesus in Love Blog also shows the face of Jesus in a pink triangle. He joins queer people in transforming suffering into power.
Some lesbians claim the black triangle as their symbol. The Nazis imposed the black triangle on people who were sent to concentration camps for being “anti-social.”
We observe Holocaust Remembrance Day here with the prayer “We All Wear the Triangle” by Steve Carson. It appears in the book “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations.” Carson was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served congregations in New York, Boston and San Francisco.
One: We are in many ways a culture without memory. The Holocaust, a series of events that occurred just over a generation ago, changed the world forever. Yet by some the Holocaust is forgotten, or seen as irrelevant, or even viewed as something that never happened.
All: As people of faith, we refuse to forget. We refuse to participate in the erasing of history. As a community of faith, we decide to remember, as we hear the historical record from Europe a generation ago and reflect upon events in our own time. We dare to listen to the voices of the past, even as they echo today.
One: In this moment, we are all Jews wearing the yellow Star of David.
All: We are all homosexuals wearing the pink triangle.
One: We are all political activists wearing the red triangle.
All: We are all criminals wearing the green triangle.
One: We are all antisocials wearing the black triangle.
All: We are all Jehovah’s Witnesses wearing the purple triangle.
One: We are all emigrants wearing the blue triangle.
All: We are all gypsies wearing the brown triangle.
One: We are all undesirable, all extendable by the state.
…Leader: To God of both memory and hope, we pledge ourselves to be a people of resistance to the powers of death wherever they may appear, to honor the living and the dead, and to make with them our promise: Never again!