Today is February 13th, which means that the Parentalia begins–the Roman festival for honoring one’s Ancestors. Thus, it is a time when in the Ekklesía Antínoou we might also remember and honor our groups’s Ancestors, namely the Sancta/e/i.
And it is that specific subject that I wish to address here primarily, as there is another addition to their ranks recently.
At the age of 63, Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé just died on February 9th. I mentioned him in a post a few years ago, but I will say more about him now as well. There were several things which occurred in the matrix between 1998 and 2002 that lead me to get involved with Antinous, and Dr. Farajajé was part of several of them. When I was working on my M.A., via various different things, I was reading about, and then happened by chance to speak with, Joseph Kramer on the phone, and then via e-mail. He gave me two bits of advice: join the ANDROGYNE list, and join the Queer Theology_BEYOND list. The former is what put me in touch with one of the people with whom we would co-found the original Antinous group; the latter helped me to sharpen my queer theological skills, and (amongst other things) taught me that there must be much more than “coming out theology” if anything of a queer theological nature is to be effective, not only for queer people but for the wider world. It was on that list that I was virtually acquainted with Dr. Farajajé initially.
In August of 2001, I attended the North American Conference on Bisexuality, Gender, and Sexual Diversity up in Vancouver, B.C. There were several keynote speakers at the event, including Kate Bornstein. The final keynote speaker, who spoke at the last session on the final day, was Dr. Farajajé (who was going by the first name of Eliyahou at the time), and he said many memorable things in his address, including giving a Black queer midrash on Adam, Eve, and the serpent. It was funny, poignant, and a thoroughly enjoyable way to have the conference end, and I was only able to meet and speak with him afterwards for a brief few moments (and I have a photo of us together somewhere, too…not in digital form at present, but perhaps I can fix that before too long), but it was also very funny because he said something similar to what T. Thorn Coyle said to me in October at the World Parliament of Religions when I was attending Wande Abimbola’s session. Dr. Farajajé knew I would be there because all of us who were on the Queer Theology_BEYOND list who would be attending made note of such, and he said he knew who I was in the audience because of how I was nodding and smiling at what he was saying. (Thorn said that the tassel on my fez was shaking wildly throughout Wande’s presentation because of the same thing!) It was one of those interesting moments where we only really had that moment in which we were directly speaking with one another person-to-person (rather than online), but there was a deep recognition there, and one that I have never forgotten.
Now that his spirit has left our immediate presence, it seems fitting that he be brought into the ranks of the Sancta/e/i, where he would be most welcome and honored. I suspect that we’ll do this together, on April 1st, at the ritual we have in Seattle during which David Bowie and several others will all be sanctified ritually with a big group of us, as should be the case every time something of this nature occurs. He deserves no less.
In other news, a new book has been released by Oxford University Press that (if I am not mistaken) is an edited collection that resulted from a conference I heard about a few years back, and would have loved to attend, on the Roman contribution to and influence on modern ideas of homosexuality. The editor of the book, Jennifer Ingleheart, has written this short article on the subject, mentioning Oscar Wilde and Teleny (which I wrote about previously), and of course, Antinous and Hadrian. The book looks very interesting, and I hope to be able to obtain it within the next few months and read it to see what it might have to say about our two favorite people–they’re on the front cover, after all–and much else and many others (e.g. Orpheus, John Addington Symonds, etc.) of interest besides!