Trans activist hailed as ‘mother of all whores’ at funeral

Cultural revolution in the West

Published 23 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Cecilia Gentilis' body casket in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.

Last week, a funeral service for the late transgender activist Cecilia Gentili was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. However, the event sparked controversy after attendees praised the deceased as “the mother of all whores”, prompting backlash from church leaders and others.

On Thursday last week, hundreds of people filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to honor Cecilia Gentili, a leading activist in the city’s trans community and a former sex worker.

The ceremony, held 10 days after Gentili’s death at the age of 52, was historic, marking the first burial of a trans person in the cathedral. Organizers said more than 1,400 people attended.

Liaam Winslet, herself involved in the trans movement, described Cecilia Gentili as “That whore. This great whore” and said in her eulogy, to applause and a standing ovation, that “St. Cecilia. Mother of all whores” is no more.

A number of left-liberal politicians in New York were quick to join the chorus of praise in various ways. One of them was the outspoken left-liberal Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D).

– Our community will continue to remember Cecilia as an unwavering leader in the fight for equality, she said in a speech at the US House of Representatives.

“Outrageous behavior”

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is known for its history and importance to New York’s Catholic diaspora. However, despite previous disputes and arguments over LGBT issues and homosexuality, the church agreed to hold Gentilis’ funeral in the cathedral.

After the ceremony, the archdiocese of New York condemned what it called the “scandalous behavior” of some participants. In a statement, diocese officials insisted that they were not made aware of Gentilis’ transgender identity when they agreed to hold the funeral.

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“The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way”, the archdiocese wrote in a statement.

“Radical joy”

In a follow-up statement, the church said it saw no problem with Gentilis’ background per se, but that it strongly opposed the “behavior of some” who made comments such as “mother of all whores” and changed texts during the ceremony. For example, the prayer “Ave Maria” was changed to “Ave Cecilia”.

Members of Gentile’s family responded to the church’s claims by saying that she “brought precious life and radical joy to the Cathedral in historic defiance of the Church’s hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred”. It further claimed that “her funeral service reflected the love she had for her community and a testament to the impact of her tireless advocacy”.

Cecilia Gentili

Born in Argentina in 1972, he is considered an icon of the LGBTQ movement and was an open atheist. He died on February 6 this year and is considered the first transgender person to be honored with a funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral. In the past, the cathedral has been the site of controversial events and protests on LGBT issues, particularly during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Gentili struggled with trauma in his early years, including childhood sexual abuse, and emigrated to the United States as an undocumented immigrant in the 2000s. Despite experiencing homelessness and abuse, he was later granted asylum. He has shared his LGBTQ activism through stage performances such as Red Ink and The Knife Cuts Both Ways, as well as appearing on the television series Pose.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Catholic cathedral in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City and seat of the Archbishop of New York and parish church.

The cathedral occupies a block bounded by Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, 50th Street, and 51st Street. It was designed by James Renwick Jr. and is the largest Gothic Revival Catholic cathedral in North America.