God does not care that I take it up the ass. I know this because I am an excellent judge of character. I’m a faggot who loves getting fucked in the ass; and this, by Levitical definition, makes me an abomination, a sodomite, and an effeminate. But I am also a big burly Black man with a bushy bear beard and rounded muscles from Bay St. Louis Mississippi, whose grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher!
So consequently, (in case you couldn’t tell by the reference to Mississippi and sodomites) I am also a devout conservative Christian (which in translation means I read the bible regularly, go to church every Sunday, and believe in an invisible omnipotent old man in the sky who watches me masturbate to porn). I am a recondite multifaceted creature of the modern age: I am a Gay Christian. (Trigger Warning: I also use really bad words.)
I am a nigger, a proselytizer, and a faggot: And I once walked into a church that told me that that was beautiful.
God, like myself, defines himself in dualities, oppositions, and contradictions: He is “The Alpha and Omega”, “The Way, The Truth, and The Light”, “The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost”, “The Blood and The Bread”, “The Water and The Wine”, and both our loving salvation and our wailing damnation. He is many things to many people, and like him, I am more than the labels that define me. I was made in his image after all: So I am both lost and found; spirit and flesh; utterly flawed and profoundly perfect.
Trust me, God and I are cool! Every hair on my head was known to him since before the creation of the universe. I could quote scripture like a pink-haired church wife with bad Botox and liquid black cakes of running mascara, or I could get out my bullhorn and stand on the corner of Sunset and Vine in the scalding hot California heat – sweating through my favorite powder blue cashmere pullover – screeching out my best theological theories until I have a small crowd of homeless and mentally-ill converts eating out of my hand; but I promise you, critical philosophical thought on ancient Greek, Aramaic, and butter-colored decayed Jewish texts are not as exciting as you might think. Plus, no one gives a shit anyway! No mind has ever been changed by arguing doctrine…
But regardless of orientation, religious tradition, and intellectual aptitude, EVERYONE knows that God loves little old ladies, retarded children, and the sick.
And I just so happen to be sick.
I have an issue of blood. In 2003 I was dying of AIDS. This sometimes happens when you take more cock than you are willing to admit in polite company. Fuck it! I’m just going to be honest; because the truth will set you free – and the bible says the only sin God doesn’t forgive is a lie, so here goes: I was a slut! You know those stories you hear of gay men having seedy sex in book stores, and back alleys, and bath houses, and abandoned parking lots, and those anonymous websites where sex-crazed-men will fuck anything within their 2 mile radius?! Well I did all of that!! (Don’t judge me!) I was a beast in the field devouring all that came in my wake. I was frothing at the mouth, and dripping milky white sacrament from my cunt – hungry for anyone and everyone to fill my empty places. I was lost and blindly groping for something that I thought I could find in another man’s cum, piss, and spit. I was 25 years young, bleach bottle blond, and a hundred pounds lighter than anyone with my frame should be – I was homeless, addicted to crystal meth, and I hadn’t spoken to my mother in two years. I felt like the only thing I had going for me was my pretty face and my perfect round ass…I was broken, ashamed, and lonely.
The singular plight of the human condition is that we are all vulnerable, alone, and in need of love. And every man that I met in these dark dank graceless places, I was secretly hoping would see me, love me, and save me.
None of them did.
The universe is composed 99.9 percent empty space. And in all of that darkness they say that a hundred billion years ago a light was ignited and Adams (pronounced atoms) were created; and all that we see is made up of molecules and carbons and colliding particles of light. And through all of that constantly expanding universe of black vacuous emptiness there is an equally powerful counterforce that scientists call “gravity” that bends and folds the light back into itself, and calls all things to coalesce, interconnect, and bind same with same with same. It is this same ineffable omnipresent force that makes old things into something new.
Sometimes science and religion are the same.
“If a man lies with mankind, they surely will be put to death, and their blood will be upon them.” As a devout believer, this is the passage of the book that makes it hard to ignore “the danger of being gay.” And this is the passage of the bible that leads most gays to lose their faith. And this is the scripture that leads most Christians to damn us faggots to death… It always comes down tothis.
“Their blood will be upon them.”
And I must admit I pretty much got fucked by all of mankind (at least in Los Angeles) and eventually someone’s blood was put upon mine, and I was surely put to death. I was infected…
So I’m dying in a hospital with less than a hundred T-cells and there are Legion (pronounced lesions) all over my face and fungus growing in my throat and I haven’t had my hair done in weeks! And the room is all blue and white and blue, the way hospital rooms are. And my mother comes to visit me, and she is dressed in all soft greens and pastel pinks, and her hair is all gathered up at the top of her head like Phylicia Rashad, and she asks me if she can pray for me. True Story: when you are dying in a hospital bed from a horrible disease that carries more shame and stigma than any other on the planet, and you are trying your best not to shit yourself, and you are being filled with a bag-full of someone else’s blood because you are so weak you need an immediate blood transfusion, and your mother asks you to pray with her, you really don’t have the energy to argue about it.
So I said yes.
And we prayed.
She touches her hands to my face, kisses me gently on the cheek, and tells me that God will heal me. “Because that’s what God does.” She said, “He heals and destroys. And since you have already been destroyed, there is now nothing but the space for you to be healed.”
And I’m crying, and turning my face from hers, because I’m ashamed, and pretty sure she is judging me, and telling me I am going to Hell – Because we don’t always hear things clearly; especially when God is involved.
But then she says…
“This is the story of Jesus, sweetheart. This is how it is always done.” And she is also crying. And there is so much love in the room; it is buoyant and pressing against the walls. “We must be destroyed so that we can be saved, healed, and made new.”
That prayer changed something. Well, that prayer and the HIV meds. But like I said, sometimes science and religion are the same thing. And a window opened up in my soul that was not there before. And that empty space that I had been trying to fill with men and mankind and the biggest dicks I could find, I now wanted to be filled by God. I was saved. “Praise God Hallelujah I was saved!” And nothing was the same again. I was released from the hospital; the lesions fell away from my face like ash…the virus could no longer be detected in my blood, and suddenly I was healthy again. The flesh and the spirit had finally made peace with each other, and I was no longer screaming into the abyss.
But I needed a plan to keep me from going back: A place to edify me, validate me, and keep me on course. Some think that church is about God – but God can be found everywhere. Church is about people. About camaraderie, and community, and finding others who believe, define, and see the world the way that you do – so that when we find ourselves careening through space without a tether again, there is another face – another soul – another hand to hold onto, that will help draw you back into the light. Church is about finding your tribe and gripping elbows with others who are just as odd and strange as you are, and finding rituals and songs that gently ease you down the yellow brick road that leads you back to God.
This is when I found Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles. Imagine a church full of faggots and dykes and trannies and queers in bright paisley buttons-downs praising God with all of their hearts, all of their souls, and all of their minds. It was like the moment in the Wizard of Oz when everything turned to Technicolor and all the munchkins began singing in unison: “We represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild. And in the name of the lollipop guild, we welcome you to munchkin land!” And I wanted to laugh out loud, and dance for joy, and twirl in circles for days because everyone here was just as strange, just as odd, and just as queer as me! I was home. 1st Peter 2:9 calls God’s people a “peculiar people.” And there is nothing more peculiar than a bunch of fags in their Sunday best singing “Hosanna in the highest!” There are all races, sizes, creeds, and kinds here bonded with a fierce religious mission of inclusivity and grace.
In 1968 MCCLA was founded by Troy Perry, a Southern preacher who was yearning for a place where Gay Christians could be amongst other believers of faith. The devout homosexual is a rare and wild creature – usually a subject of criticism and ridicule, but we are here. And we are utterly loved by the God that created us. The current preacher: A handsome British man from London reminds us of this every Sunday. In his soft English accent he says that God is Love; and that Love is vast and unlimited; and that “Unlimited” means that it does not stop at us. He then smiles, tells a little joke, and invites anyone who will come to take communion at the table of the Lord.
“Because all are welcomed at the table of the Lord.”
And this is my favorite part of church service, here. It is the time when my heart swells, my skin glows warm and prickly, and tears fall freely from eyes like rain onto the church floor. Everyone lines up one by one, and two by two, and three by three… And I feel connected, and whole, and not alone. And there are hugs and greetings and hand holding and smiles and people saying little prayers to themselves and to other people; and we are singing songs and raising our hands in “hallelujah”. And there is so much love in the room; it is buoyant and pressing against the walls.
The Universe is 99.9 percent empty space, but we are all just looking for someone to hold hands with in the darkness until God (pronounced Gravity) brings us back to the light.
The intersectionality of sex and spirit are complex and layered, and until there are more Christian spaces brave enough to hold those dualities, as conflicting and confusing as God himself, we will continue to self-combust. The clean white walls of Metropolitan Community Church created that space for me. It offered a holy temple with a brass bell and a loving altar where I could mend my brokenness, lick my wounds, and heal both my body and spirit from the years of yearning and self-abuse. The church is supposed to be a refuge. It is a place where the rainbow-colored stain glass windows, and the gold brushed organ pipes, and the timeless oak wood pews binds a space with a million prayers, and billion tears, and the unquestioned power of blessed mortar and stone, to offer a peaceful home for the weary, the weak, and the beautiful meek.
I know that God loves me. I know this because I am an excellent judge of character! I know this because the bible tells me so. I know this because even Jesus needed to be saved.
Sucking dick is not my greatest sin. I know this because Mary Magdalene was probably a whore, because Jonathan and David loved each other more than any woman, and because 10 years ago, after a prayer from my dear mother in a hospital bed, I was led to a church in the middle of Hollywood with open doors and a loving heart, that promised that the eternal all knowing God loved me, just as I am…
Faggot and all…