In memory of Archbishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Mpile Tutu, who entered into life eternal on December 26, 2021:
Most Rev. Tutu is most identified, of course, with the struggle in South Africa against apartheid, but he also has had plenty to say, as far back as the 1970's, in support of homosexual rights. This passage from God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations continues:
It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God's family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are. ....
To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was.
The Archbishop spoke out against persecution of gays and lesbians by political and religious leaders, including those in other nations of Africa:
“[A] wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal…In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic…because the clerics wanted gay men excluded. Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi. These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.” (in Washington Post, March 12, 2010)
It is largely to Most Rev. Tutu's credit that the 1996 South African constitution is the first in the world to guarantee the rights of that nation's LGBTQ+ citizens. There certainly was no popular clamor to have LGBTQ+ rights enshrined in the constitution; South Africa was not Castro on the Cape, on either side of the color line. But Tutu actively lobbied for it, and had the moral force to get it done.
The issue was no doubt personal for him as well as political. He gave his blessing to the wedding of his daughter, Rev. Mpho Andrea Tutu to Marceline van Furth, a marriage that got her defrocked by the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay. Tutu van Furth has said of her family, "I had the extreme good fortune of growing up in a household with parents who were very clear about their faith and very clear about full inclusion of all people... regardless of gender and gender identity and regardless of sexual orientation."
Why, yes, that name on the shingle outside shop in my cartoon is that of the actual patron saint of tailors, seamstresses, clothworkers and cobblers. I hadn't known that when I decided to look up their patron saint to be the proprietor of the heavenly haberdashery.
That his name happened to be homo-friendly was, shall we say, bonus.