The Archangel Gabriel
I bet when you read that I would be listing my 12 Gays of Christmas you didn’t think that an angel would be one of them.
Gabriel is the angel most associated with Christmas and always makes an appearance in nativity plays, even though he doesn’t have any part in the nativity itself. He appears at the prelude to the story which is celebrated on the Feast of the Annunciation on 25th March when he reveals to Mary that she is pregnant.
What makes Gabriel appropriate for inclusion on my list is his sexuality – or rather, his absence of gender.
All through history angels have been given human characteristics. The Bible calls them beings of pure spirit who appear in human form as God’s messengers or agents. Being creatures of spirit angles have no need to reproduce as the spirit is eternal. With no need to reproduce there’s no need for male or female, only a single gender. So you could call angels asexual or agender. About a year ago I was sitting in a pub with my friend Nick and somehow the conversation turned to the sexuality of angels. Even though Nick is a practising Catholic it was very difficult putting across the notion that angels are not interested in sex.
Angels have an important role in the history of Biblical homosexuality. Angels were sent to the city of
where their physical appearance as men aroused the evil “interests” of its inhabitants. Hence the use of the word “sodomite” in olden days for an active homosexual, even though the Bible doesn’t actually mention what the inhabitants were going to do to the angels. As Sodom was a hot-bed of other Biblical sins it could have been anything, which included eating shell fish. The angles were protected by a man called Lot, said to be the only righteous man in the city, and because of it he and his family were the only ones spared from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The whole story is told in Genesis, chapter 19. Sodom
The Bible also says that some of angels thought they were more superior than God, and God threw them out of Heaven and down to earth. These became known as the Fallen Angels, with the former Archangel Lucifer as their leader. When they hit the earth they created a deep pit which went to the earth’s core, thus creating the medieval concept of a firey Hell. All through medieval times people believed that these Fallen Angels were mutated by their evil and were transformed into demons, and one of the main punishments they exacted on the souls of the dead in Hell was sodomy. Generally speaking, though, the angels appear in the Bible as messengers with good news and were a good sign.
So to help lift the mood a bit for Christmas, I’ll leave with this piece of folklore. Just as Christian tradition says that humanity was created from clay, Muslim tradition says that genies were created from fire, and angels were created from precious jewels.