THE RELEVANT QUEER: South American and Queer Theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, Died February 20, 2009

Marcella Althaus-Reid. Ph. cred: unknown

“Our task and our joy is to find or simply recognise God sitting amongst us, at any time, in any gay bar or in the home of a camp friend who decorates her living room as a chapel and doesn’t leave her rosary at home when going to a salsa bar.”

TRQ: Marcella Althaus-Reid, Died February 20, 2009

Queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, who spent her career challenging sexual oppression in Christianity, was born in Argentina. Raised in Buenos Aires, and baptised as Roman Catholic, she earned her degree in theology from the renowned liberation theology centre ISEDET (Instituto Superior Evangelico de Estudios Teologicos).

In her first book, Indecent Theology (2000), Althaus-Reid proclaims herself an “indecent, Latina, bisexual theologian.” Embracing indecency, she argues that traditional understandings of decency are rooted in Patriarchal worldviews. Patriarchy targets, labels, and suppresses anything considered subversive or disorderly. Thus, the liberating role of indecency. “Indecenting” the virginity of the Virgin Mary would help remove shame from the lives of women as sexual beings.

Althaus-Reid rejects sex-negative, heteronormative traditions of Christian thought, to expose “the matrix of hierarchical thinking, discrimination, persecution and oppression.” According to Althaus-Reid, the suppressive patriarchal God must be challenged by the God of oppressed and marginalised people. In The Queer God (2003), she discusses the role of God in LGBTQ lives. The book presents a God of inclusive sexuality.

Unsurprisingly, Althaus-Reid is a controversial figure in theology studies and among queer people of faith. Her work in liberation, feminist and queer theology, however, earned her many distinctions throughout her career.

Althaus-Reid was the first woman appointed to a chair in the School of Divinity of Edinburgh, Scotland in 2006. At the time, she was the only woman professor of theology at a Scottish university. Next, when she accepted the position of Professor of Contextual Theology, Althaus-Reid was the first woman professor of theology at New College, University of Edinburgh in its 160 year history. Althaus-Reid went on to become Director of the International Association of Queer Theology, and Director of the Queer Theology Project at the University of Edinburgh.

On February 20, 2009, Althaus-Reid died in Edinburgh, after a long illness. She was a member of the Metropolitan Community Church and she is survived by her husband Gordon Reid.




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