This Folsom Street Fair ad has been making its rounds, and the Religious Right, of course, is all up in arms about this one. If you haven't seen it, here it is:
It's a re-enactment of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper with leather men and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Catholic League has called for Miller Brewing to pull their sponsorship of the event (they asked for their logo to be removed from the poster but haven't pulled funding) and the Concerned Women for America have called it a "disturbing homosexual twist on Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper.'"
I won't get into the undertones of idolatry in being offended not by a depiction of God, but instead by a depiction of a Renaissance painting by a gay man, mainly because I don't know enough about that sort of thing, but this affair is rather telling when it comes to homophobia, Christian sexophobia, and cultural appropriation.
It's no surprise that the groups that are offended by this poster are homophobic in general and would consider any queer interpretation of anything related to Christianity offensive. They seem to only be offended by this depiction of da Vinci's work, even though there are many others out there, which Culturally Popped aggregated here. Evidently presenting the Christ and his disciples as gay and sexual is significantly worse than presenting them as muppets, fast food advertising spokesthings, stoners, drunks, mobsters, cartoon characters, video game characters, manga characters, and Lego characters (Dan Savage has more, including knitters, dogs, cats, Phishheads, and supermodels; they're actually quite neat to look at).
Along with the religious right a couple of homocons have joined. Chris Crain complains that the Jesus is bare chested, I'm guessing because he believes that God didn't take the form of a man or something, and even posts a drunken Last Supper without complaint. Andrew Sullivan calls it "easy, cheap blasphemy" and taunts the makers to "do a similar parody on a sacred Muslim scene", if they have the "balls" (even though I doubt many Americans would recognize much Muslim art from the late 15th century, and the Muslims don't allow for portraits of Muhammad because that could result in idolatry).
But the dichotomy that gets set up is offensive - that "Christian" cannot be mixed with "gay" or "sexual" or "kinky". it's set up as a battle between two groups, even though I would venture to say that there were probably a few Christians on board in the making of that poster and a few more who are working on the fair in general. But when a Christian anti-sex narrative has been established, and sex is seen as anti-Christian, images like the poster are frowned upon as anti-Christian, whether they are or not. The power of this lens is easily seen on Michelle Malkin's blog, where she runs the caption "Miller: The beer of open borders and leather-bound Christian-bashers" under a picture of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, even though the Sisters have stated time and time again that they're not mocking nuns. But hey, whatever truth works for Michelle, I guess.
It's offensive to me that the very idea that Jesus was sexual in any way is offensive to these people. The Bible doesn't say that Jesus was celibate; it just never mentions any sexual relationships. Those are two completely different things. I mean, he was God in man, wasn't he?
But surrounding all of this, and unspoken by the Religious Right, is the fact that they are offended by a queering of a work of art painted by a man who can be described with the word "queer". I was thinking about a similar situation when I was in Rome last year, standing in the Vatican next to the Sistine Chapel, and I was thinking that the Catholic Church, one of the more institutionally homophobic groups in the world, allowed Michelangelo, a gay man, to paint naked men on the ceiling of a chapel in the Vatican. Really, imagine Pat Robertson today demonstrating on The 700 Club how to paint a male nude. On second thought, you probably don't want to.
While I doubt the artist who organized the photo was thinking about this, here we have several homophobic groups arguing against a gay interpretation of a painting by a gay man. According to their logic, the work of Leonardo does not belong to everyone, it belongs to them. Because of his sexuality, if that painting belongs to anyone nowadays when it comes to lines of sexual identity, it's us. In a way, the artist was taking back what's been ours for centuries, so of course homophobic groups are going to complain.