Nuevo Culture

Funeral for Legendary Trans Activist Cecilia Gentili Receives Backlash — Here’s Why

More than 1,000 people came together on February 15th to celebrate legendary trans activist Cecilia Gentili, who died on February 6th at 52. Gentili, a well-known pillar of New York City’s trans community, was honored at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in a service characterized by friends and family as “iconic” and “historic.”

Now, the Catholic Church is taking offense to the fact that Gentili, an advocate for sex workers, people with HIV/AIDS, and immigrants, who appeared in the FX television series Pose, was celebrated with a service at the Cathedral. Funeral organizers believed Gentili was the first trans person to have a funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

In a written statement, the Reverend Enrique Salvo, pastor of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, called the behavior seen at the funeral “scandalous” and thanked those who “share our outrage.” They held a Mass of Reparation on the Saturday following Gentili’s funeral.

“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 statement also read.

Mourners showed up in red dresses covered in feathers, fishnet stockings, and lace veils and prayed to God for trans people to be blessed with healthcare and a place to live. One particular eulogy, which went viral, remembered Gentili as “Saint Cecilia, Mother of all whores.”

Gentili’s family said in a statement that the service “brought precious life and radical joy to the Cathedral in historic defiance of the Church’s hypocrisy and anti-trans hatred.” “The only deception present at St. Patrick’s Cathedral is that it claims to be a welcoming place for all,” the family also said.

Pope Francis himself has recently pushed for a more inclusive Catholic Church, with his latest guidance on transgender people indicating they can be baptized and become godparents.