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'Stations Of The Cross: The Struggle For LGBT Equality' By Mary Button Emphasizes Shared Sufferings

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Every year, artist Mary Button makes a series of paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross that relate the story of Jesus' sufferings to people currently being marginalized in society.

This year, she has created Stations Of The Cross: The Struggle For LGBT Equality, which takes viewers "on a journey through the 20th and 21st centuries struggle for LGBT equality. In every decade of the last two centuries, there are deeply troubling and painful examples of the marginalization of LGBT peoples," according to Believe Out Loud.

Believe Out Loud, an online network for Christianity and LGBT justice, commissioned the paintings last year. They were displayed in Washington, D.C. in March 2013 during the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA / Prop 8. Button commented, “In every decade of the last two centuries, there are deeply troubling and painful examples of the marginalization of LGBT peoples. In the sacrifices of martyrs of the LGBT movement, we can come to a new understanding of the cross.”

This Lent, the important series will be in New York, at St. John's Lutheran Church in the West Village, displayed throughout Holy Week from April 13-20. Pastor Mark Erson said in a press release that the exhibition "furthers St. John’s mission to communicate that God is present with all people in our joys and in our struggles."

See the paintings here:

  • Station 1: Jesus is condemned to death
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1913: The word "faggot" is first used in print in reference to gays in a vocabulary of criminal slang published in Portland, Oregon. The drawings in this station come from the cover of one such dictionary of slang.
  • Station 2: Jesus carries his cross
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1924: The first homosexual rights organization in America is founded by Henry Garber in Chicago – the Society for Human Rights. The group exists for a few months before disbanding under police pressure. The charter of the organization makes up the background of this station.
  • Station 3: Jesus falls the first time
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1933: The National Socialist German Workers Party bans homosexual groups under Paragraph 175. Homosexuals are sent to concentration camps.
  • Station 4: Jesus meets his mother
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1945: Upon liberation of Nazi concentration camps by Allied forces, some interned for homosexuality are not freed, but required to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175.
  • Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1950: 190 individuals in the U.S. are dismissed from government employment for their sexual orientation, commencing the Lavender Scare. The fear and persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s paralleled the anti-communist scare campaigns of McCarthyism.
  • Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1954: Mathematician Alan Turing commits suicide by cyanide poisoning, 18 months after being given a choice between two years in prison or libido-reducing hormone treatment as a punishment for homosexuality. Turing was instrumental in the British intelligence services during World War II and he is widely considered the father of computer science.
  • Station 7: Jesus falls the second time
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1967: The Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles is raided on New Year’s Day by 12 plainclothes police officers who beat and arrested employees and patrons. The resulting campaigns and protests pre-date the Stonewall riots by two years.
  • Station 8: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1969: After a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a series of spontaneous violent demonstrations took place. The first Gay Pride march in U.S. history took place on the first anniversary of the riots.
  • Station 9: Jesus falls the third time
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1978: Former Supervisor Dan White assassinates openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, along with Mayor George Moscone. Milk was the first openly gay politician to be elected to public office in California.
  • Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1981: The first official documentation of GRID (Gay Related Immunodeficiency, later renamed AIDS) was published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The images in this station are ones that illustrate the HIV virus.
  • Station 11: Crucifixion
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1992: The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is founded. The organization opposes the mainstream medical view of homosexuality and aims to "make effective psychological therapy available to all homosexual men and women who seek change." Radical forms of reparative therapy involve electroshock treatment.
  • Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    1998: On November 28, 1998 a transgender African American woman named Rita Hester was murdered in Allston, MA. The outpouring of grief and anger over her death inspired the founding of the International Transgender Day of Rememberance. The background image in this piece is from one of these vigils.
  • Station 13: Jesus is taken down from the cross
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    2004: In sweeping homophobic legislative measures same-sex marriage is banned in Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin
  • Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    2010: A string of high profile suicides of gay teenagers makes national news, sparking debate on the high rates of suicide among LGBT youth and the culture of bullying that exists in many American schools. Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller found the It Gets Better Project.
  • Station 15: Resurrection of Christ
    Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr
    Mary Magdalene meets the plaintiffs of DOMA and Proposition 8. Click here to read more
  • Mary Button / Believe Out Loud / Flickr

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred incorrectly to GRID as "gay related infectious disease."

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