Saturday, 23 July 2016

A Queer Achievement : A Controversial Bishop

[Achievement – the name given in heraldry to the full pictorial representation of a coat of arms.]

Yesterday marked the centenary of the consecration of Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934) as a bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church. Despite its name there is no link to the Roman Catholic Church, and Liberal refers to its independence from it.

Bishop Leadbeater is one of those characters from our lgbt heritage whose activities have been both praised and denounced. An occultist and ex-Church of England priest, a leading father of theosophy and a paedophile, he has a reputation which causes debate within the Liberal Catholic Church to this very day.

The Liberal Catholic Church was founded on 13th July 1916 when James Ingall Wedgwood of the pottery dynasty was consecrated its first bishop. Charles Leadbeater was the second.

The heraldic practices adopted by the Liberal Catholic Church resemble that of the Roman Catholic church so closely that they could easily be confused.

I’ve been unable to determine whether Charles Leadbeater has any ancestral coat of arms. His paternal ancestry doesn’t go back very far and doesn’t connect to any other family of the same or similar name. However, as an international independent church there is no ban on the Liberal Catholic Church granting arms to their own clergy as long as their use is regulated.

Like many people before and since Charles Leadbeater chose to adopt the coat of arms of another family with a similar name, the Leadbitters of Warden House in Northumberland. Charles’s own ancestry came from the same county and he may have been assuming a family relationship. There could indeed have been a connection but there is no proof. It’s like buying one of those mugs or coasters with a coat of arms of a family that just happens to have your surname. Only the proper heraldic authority can tell you if you have a coat of arms, not the ownership of a coffee mug.

Having said that, within the confines of the Liberal Catholic Church any of its clergy can assume the arms of a similar family because the church is its own heraldic authority. The duplication of a coat of arms is not unknown across international heraldry. There are instances of identical coats of arms in neighbouring countries, particularly in Europe.

That’s a very long way of me saying that I regard Charles Leadbeater’s arms as being legal under international conventions. So too are the various accoutrements which surround his episcopal shield. Let’s have a look at them.

Following the example of the Roman Catholic Church and its use of a galero or ecclesiastical hat the Liberal Catholic Church seems to have derived the particular configuration to denote a Presiding Bishop, a sort of archbishop – a red hat with 9 green tassels. Charles Webster Leadbeater became Presiding Bishop in 1923. Behind the shield is a pastoral staff indicating the bishop’s ecclesiastical place in the hierarchy of the church. To the right behind the shield is the familiar bishop’s crozier. Sitting on top corner of the shield is a bishop’s mitre.

One element that is generally missing from an ecclesiastical achievement like this is a motto. The one for Charles Leadbeater says “Semper Paratus” which means “Always ready”. Once again I’ve coloured the back of the motto scroll in the Rainbow Pride colours.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Olympic Alphabet : T is for ...

TORCH RELAY

Today is a very important Olympic anniversary. On this day 80 years the very first Olympic torch relay began. While the 1936 Berlin Olympics has gone down in history as one of the most political, there can be no doubt that subsequent torch relays have produced some of the most popular and inclusive of all Olympic celebrations. As the old joke says - if Hitler was alive today he’d be turning in his grave!!!

Let’s have a look at the lgbt heritage of the Olympic torch relay.

The ancient Olympics never had a torch relay. They did have an Olympic flame which burned continuously at the site of the games in Olympia (see my “City Pride” article on Olympia). Other Greek states held games as well, and some of them had torch relays. The most famous of these was at the Greater Panathenaean Games in Athens. It was this that inspired Carl Deim, the German academic and Olympic enthusiast, to recreate the relay for the 1936 Berlin games.

There had been Olympic flames of some sort at previous modern Olympics, perhaps as early as the closing ceremony of the Stockholm games in 1912. The 1928 Amsterdam Olympics had a special-designed stadium with a tower on which a fire could burn like a beacon. The most familiar of these early flame towers was at the next summer games in Los Angeles in 1932. Older readers may remember it was used again at the 1984 Olympics (more of that particular ceremony later).

The idea of the torch relay came to Carl Deim during a visit with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the site of Olympia. It was also then that the act of lighting the torch by the rays of the sun was decided. That decision is even marked by a plaque referring to the “Appolonean light”, a reference to Apollo, the Greek god of the Sun.

Once all the preparations were made, relay runners selected, torches constructed, and ceremonies rehearsed, the very first Olympic torch lighting ceremony took place at Olympia on this day, 20th July, in 1936. The ceremony was not organised by the German Olympic committee but the Greek, and has remained virtually unchanged ever since.

As today, the torch made its way to Athens to the stadium which hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896, the Panathenaika Stadium which was enlarged by Herodes Atticus in 140. The ceremonial handover from the Greek Olympic committee to the host nation committee is now held there.

The most recent handover ceremony on 17th April this year included an lgbt landmark. One of the Greek athletes chosen to run around the track before the handover was the gay gymnast Ioannis Melissanidis. He won a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – the first Greek gymnast to win a medal since the first modern games in 1896. Because of this, and the fact that he’s Greek of course, he has run in more Olympic torch relays than any other lgbt person – Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, London 2012, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. All of these have been as part of the Greek leg before the handover. In the Athens games he was the penultimate torch bearer, leaping around the track with undisguised enthusiasm, at the opening ceremony. It’s the nearest a member of the lgbt community has got to lighting the Olympic cauldron.

Which brings me back to Los Angeles 1984. The cauldron on that day was lit by Rafer Johnson, but the organising committee had a reserve on hand, Caitlyn Jenner. She had been one of the sporting heroes who carried the Olympic flag into the stadium a little earlier, and underneath her uniform she wore her running gear just in case she was needed at the last minute.

Caitlyn Jenner has run in two torch relays – Los Angeles 1984 and Atlanta 1996. When Caitlyn was hitting the headlines during her transition in 2015 her 1984 torch also made the news. It was sold at auction by its then owner for the sum of $24,000, twice the amount torches usually sell by. The Director of Sports Auctions said “Perhaps no athlete in history has travelled a more winding road through the various states of celebrity than Jenner … This torch serves as a wonderful symbol that masculinity and femininity are not mutually exclusive.”

Despite its symbolic power as an emblem of peace the Olympic torch relay has not been without controversy, most famously during the Beijing 2008 relay. Many protests against China’s treatment of Tibet and human rights in general appeared in many places the torch passed. It was the problem of security that made IOC decide that no more round-the-world torch relays would be held.

In April 2008 lgbt performer k d lang spoke at a pro-Tibet rally in Canberra. The leader of Australia’s Green Party and openly gay MP Bob Brown also made a speech. On that day three lgbt runners took part in the relay through Canberra – Olympic swimming great and multi-medallist Ian Thorpe, Jonothan Welch (2008 Australian of the Year and conductor of several lgbt orchestras and choirs), and Andrew Heslop (founder of Neighbour Day, a popular Australian holiday).

A previous protest during the torch relay was held in 1996, which I describe here. The most recent high profile protest was during the 2014 Sochi relay. With Russia’s anti-gay legislation still on people’s minds many called for a boycott of the games. Russian lgbt activist Pavel Lebechev, however, chose to protest by proudly unveiling a Rainbow Pride flag and running behind the torch as it passed through his home town. He was arrested.

Let’s end with a message of inclusion in the torch relay. Even though Caitlyn Jenner was the first transgender relay runner she had not transitioned. On 10th May this year the first post-transition transgender runner took part in the Rio torch relay. She was Bianka Lins, and was selected specifically to represent the transgender community of Brazil.
Bianka Lins (right) passes on the Olympic flame after her leg of the
Rio de Janeiro torch relay on 10 May 2016.
As the torch relay gets ever closer to the opening ceremony it remains to be seen if the Olympic flame can spread the message of inclusion and equality in sport.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Out of Her Ecclesiastical Tree : From Pilgrim to Bishop

There was a time when most people followed the same profession as their parents. Today the choice of employment is much more varied. There are, however, still quite a few people whose career is still influenced by their ancestors. Today’s subject is an example.

Mary Douglas Glasspool (b.1954) was consecrated as a suffragan bishop in the diocese of Los Angeles on 15 May 2010. This not only made her the first openly lesbian bishop in the American Episcopal Church but it made her the first openly lesbian bishop in the worldwide Anglian church (Bishop Eva Brunne, consecrated in 2009, is of the Swedish Lutheran Church). This wasn’t the first “first” achieved in the Episcopal Church by a member of her family. In 1841 Mary Glasspool’s great-great-grandfather Alfred Lee (1807-1887) was the first Bishop of Delaware when that diocese was created.

Even though Mary Glasspool was consecrated in a diocese on the west coast of the USA her ancestry is based mainly on the east coast where she was born and raised. She returned “home” this year when she became an Assistant Bishop in the diocese of New York, her home state.

Mary’s father, Rev. Douglas Murray Glasspool (1927-1989), was the Episcopal Rector of St. James’s Church in Goshen, New York. Douglas is the maiden name of his Scottish-born mother. The Glasspools, though, were English, originally from the village of Cocking in Sussex (this village will be mentioned again in my “Out of Their Tree” article in August).
New York plays a large part in Bishop Glasspool’s ancestry. Her mother’s grandfather, William Henry Adams (1841-1903), was a Justice of the Supreme Court in New York, and her great-grandfather, Elbridge Gerry Lapham (1814-1890), was a New York Senator. Having mentioned the name Adams you might wonder if there’s any link to the two US Presidents of that name. The answer to that is yes. There’s a direct male-line ancestry from Bishop Glasspool’s mother, Anne Adams, to the immigrant Lt. Thomas Adams (1612-1688) whose brother was the ancestor of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

More recent presidential links emerge through the above-mentioned Bishop Alfred Lee of Delaware. His sister Emily was the grandmother of Mrs. Edith Roosevelt (1861-1948), the second wife of President Theodore Roosevelt.

To return to Bishop Mary Glasspool’s ecclesiastical heritage further we look at her ancestors who sailed on the Mayflower. Those Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution in England and they laid the foundations of the American nation. Among the Mayflower Pilgrims who are the bishop’s ancestors are William Bradford and John Howland. Through them Mary Glasspool is related to actors Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve and the Fonda dynasty, and Olympic gymnastic twins Paul and Morgan Hamm. Among the members of the lgbt community Mary is related to actors Anthony Perkins and David Hyde Pierce, writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, artist Ellen Day Hale, and Olympic figure skater Toller Cranston.

Mary’s Mayflower ancestor William Bradford was the first Governor of Plymouth Colony. There are other colonial governors in her ancestry. George Wyllys (d.1645) was Governor of Connecticut in 1645, and John Haynes (1597-1654) was the previous governor and before that was Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Through several of her ancestors Bishop Mary Glasspool has royal blood. Through the above-mentioned Governor Wyllys she is descended from King Edward III, son of the gay King Edward II, and through the Adams family she is descended from their ancestor King Henry II. The bishop is also descended from several Magna Carta surety barons and, in this year celebrating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, is descended from the only known gay Norman baron who is believed to have fought there (more of this in October). The bloodline of William the Conqueror also flows through Mary Glasspool’s veins.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Olympic Alphabet : S is for ...

SOCCER
[revised 13 July 2016]
 
In the past few months my list of lgbt Olympians has increased to 243, including those expected to make their debut in Rio next month. One statistic has also increased – the sport with the most known lgbt athletes. That sport is football, or soccer. There are 33 lgbt footballers on the current list.
 
Here’s a table of the footballers to date, with the years and medals, including those expected to compete in Rio de Janeiro (selection of some teams have not yet been officially announced).
 
NAME
NATION
OLYMPICS
G
S
B
Angerer, Nadine
Germany
2000 Sydney
 
 
 
2004 Athens
 
 
 
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Bresonik, Linda
Germany
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Dahlkvist, Lisa
Sweden
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Duncan, Katie (Hoyle)
New Zealand
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Fischer, Nilla
Sweden
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Grings, Inka
Germany
2000 Sydney
 
 
 
Haugen, Tone
Norway
1996 Atlanta
 
 
 
Herlovsen, Isabell
Norway
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Heyman, Michelle
Australia
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Holl, Ursula
Germany
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Hucles, Angela
USA
2004 Athens
 
 
 
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Jones, Steffi
Germany
2000 Sydney
 
 
 
2004 Athens
 
 
 
Kai, Natasha
USA
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Labbé, Stephanie
Canada
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Landström, Jessica
Sweden
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Levenstad, Malin
Sweden
2012 London
 
 
 
Lindahl, Hedvig
Sweden
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
McLeod, Erin
Canada
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
Medalen, Linda
Norway
1996 Atlanta
 
 
 
Modise, Portia
South Africa
2012 London
 
 
 
Nordby, Bente
Norway
1996 Atlanta
 
 
 
2000 Sydney
 
 
 
Rapinoe, Megan
USA
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Rogers, Robbie
USA
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Rønning, Trine
Norway
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Rouyer, Olivier
France
1976 Montréal
 
 
 
Seger, Caroline
Sweden
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Stoney, Casey
GB
2012 London
 
 
 
Sundhage, Pia
Sweden
1996 Atlanta
 
 
 
Svensson, Victoria
Sweden
2000 Sydney
 
 
 
2004 Athens
 
 
 
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
Tancredi, Melissa
Canada
2008 Beijing
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
2016 Rio de Janeiro
 
 
 
Videkull, Lena
Sweden
1996 Atlanta
 
 
 
Walsh, Sarah
Australia
2004 Athens
 
 
 
Wambach, Abby
USA
2004 Athens
 
 
 
2012 London
 
 
 
One thing may strike you when you look down the list of years, which is the gap between the first identified footballer (1976) and the next (1996). This is because the first footballer was a man, Olivier Rouyer. Men’s football has always, and still does, have a very homophobic attitude among the management and fans. The abuse received by the first openly gay male professional footballer in the 1990s, Justin Fashanu, has left a dark shadow over men’s football.
 
The next identified footballer at the 1996 Olympics was in the women’s competition. This was the first women’s football tournament at the Olympics and women have been more forthcoming about their sexuality in the sport.
 
Olivier Rouyer is one of only 2 male Olympic footballers to come out, the other being Robbie Rogers. Both came out after their only Olympic appearances. Rogers has become a leading advocate for openly lgbt male footballers.
 
The out female footballers (not necessarily out at the time they competed) come from a wide range of nations. The first two tournaments in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 had an all-European contingent with Norway achieving the best results. Even though they won a bronze in 1996 (with 3 lgbt team members) they won gold in Sydney. Only Bente Nordby played both times.
 
Germany won the bronze in 2000 with 3 lgbt team members, although Nadine Angerer was substitute goalkeeper and didn’t play or receive a medal. Germany won bronze at 3 successive games – 2000, 2004 and 2008.
 
The USA’s women’s team have been Olympic champions since Athens 2004. Their only identified footballer they had before that was alternate player Saskia Webber in Atlanta 1996. The Americans have fielded 5 lgbt footballers in total so far. Sweden, however, has fielded 7 throughout the 5 women’s soccer tournaments to date, the only country to do so. They have yet to win a medal, however. One of the Swedish players, Pia Sundhage, went on to coach the USA’s 2008 and 2012 gold medal-winning teams.
 
With the USA’s gold and Germany’s bronze in Beijing there were 5 lgbt soccer players on the medal podium, the most in the tournament so far.
 
The Beijing and London games each had 6 nations with lgbt footballers. On both occasions the teams won either gold or bronze. The London 2012 bronze medallists were Canada.
 
There has been at least 2 medal winners in any one of the women’s soccer tournament since it was first held. With the current form of Team USA there’s nothing to suppose there won’t be any lgbt medallists at the Rio 2016 tournament also. We shall know soon.