Michael Kelly


Michael Bernard Kelly is known internationally for his work in integrating Christian spirituality and gay experience. Born in Australia in 1954 into a devout Catholic family, he joined the Franciscans after finishing high school, and his spirituality has continued to be nourished by the spirit, vision and example of Francis of Assisi, though outside formal religious structures. Michael is an educator, writer, activist, and retreat leader who has worked in the U.S. the U.K. and Australia. He holds professional qualifications in theology, spirituality, creative media and education, and  is currently working on a doctorate in the field of Christian mysticism and gay experience.

For 17 years Michael was a religious education specialist and campus minister in Catholic schools and universities, in both Australia and the U.S. In 1993, he came out publicly and let go of his career in the church. Since then he has committed himself to developing new forms of creative ministry with gay and lesbian people. In 1995, Joseph Kramer of Erospirit  Institute published Michael's eight-hour video lecture series, "The Erotic Contemplative: the spiritual journey of the gay Christian," which John J. McNeill hailed as "The most powerful and insightful study of gay spirituality that I know of." Michael has created communities of ritual and challenge on the fringes of the church and has offered spiritual direction to gay men from many Christian communities. In 1998, he co-founded the Rainbow Sash Movement in Australia, which publicly challenges the Catholic Church's treatment of gay and lesbian people. In this role, he became a prominent media spokesperson for gay Catholics in Australia, and he is frequently sought after for commentary on current religious issues.

Michael has been a guest speaker at Union Theological Seminary in New York, the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, Quest in London, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, the national Daring Conference of the Uniting Church in Australia, the national conference of Australian Reforming Catholics, Dignity-New York, Dignity-San Francisco, MCC Los Angeles, the  LBGT Center in Manhattan, among many other institutes and groups. In 2005 and 2006 he was scholar-in-residence at Easton Mountain Retreat Center in New York state, and he has led many retreats and workshops there (www.eastonmountain.com). His writing has appeared in the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Irish Times, Yale Divinity School's journal Reflections, St. Mark's Review, the Sydney Star Observer, Campaign Magazine, as well as in anthologies published in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia.

Michael's new book, Seduced by Grace: contemporary spirituality, gay experience and Christian faith is being published in November 2007 by Clouds of Magellan publishing (the book is available online from www.hares-hyenas.com.au).

Michael is personally committed to a contemplative way of living and to working with gay and lesbian people to reclaim and transform our spiritual lives.

(This biographical statement provided by Michael Kelly.)

Michael died on November 14, 2020.

Biography Date: November, 2007

Additional Resources

A lengthy tribute to Michael Kelly can be found on the QSpirit website: https://qspirit.net/michael-b-kelly-queer-theologian/


Catholic (Roman) | Rainbow Sash Movement | Activist (religious institutions) | Author/editor | Australia


“Michael Kelly | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed April 24, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/michael-kelly.


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