How My Religious Upbringing Prepared Me For Queerness by Richaundra Thursday

There will be no jokes
About gathering 12, being a
Fisher of men, though,
I imagine that would make this
Easier for you:
To write off like a
Check in the collection plate,
A required response
Not requiring thought.

But I am both sincere,
And serious.

You told me that the world would be against me,
That it would mock and dismiss.
You laid out blueprints:
The need for a ready defense.
Now I can hold forth
On the apologetics of nonbinary
Nonheteronormativity.
Weren’t you the one who demanded
‘Do not conform to this world’?
I know this isn’t what you meant,
But responding to ignorance
And pressure and hate with grace
Is exactly what you taught me.

You told me to look out for the least
Of these and I know
You think you meant cherubic faces,
Full of awe and gratitude;
But I know who is really abandoned
And you sure aren’t stepping in
To help:
The trans teen of color kicked
To the streets, lied to by love
So much they can’t see an
Offered hand without picturing
A blade in it, who would sooner
Die of drought from spitting in
Your face than offer a thank you.
Hey, you said to save the hardest
To love. You just didn’t say they’d
Need saving from YOU.

You told me that my adversary,
The devil, stalked outside,
Seeking to devour me,
Which is how I learned to
Recognize that it’s not about the
Bathrooms and certainly not about
Defending the women
(After all, you already gave us your rib,
Asking to be treated like people
Is beyond unreasonable;
You’re just looking out for your
Investment, the colonizing expedition
Beneath my chest).

I have no doubt you resent my
Breastplate of Righteousness,
But I have to wonder if it’s
Because of your own reflection,
Gleaming in its surface.

You encouraged me to follow
The example of Christ,
Then berated me for keeping
Company with ‘whores,’
Casting out demons of
Self-hate as if the real crime
Was the loss of pork over the cliff.
Failing to grasp that there was no
Sins of the father cursing these kids,
And the healing they need involves
No conversion of any kind.

You wove me stories of support,
A braid of friends doesn’t snap
The way a single twine does,
How could I not knot a net,
How could I not gather wood for an ark
On those days the rain feels
Like it will fall forever?

The peace you mistake for arrogance
Comes from the Prince,
The intensity of my advocacy
Springs from the way
You told me I was child
Of a King,
And that nothing could take me
From His hand.

You told me we were all made in God’s image,
Then railed at my daring to believe
He didn’t only look like you.

Because of you, I extend grace.
Because of you, I have hope that
Nothing new is under the sun,
And this too shall pass.
Because of you, I run with endurance
The race that is set before me.
Because of you, I fear no powers,
Principalities, dominions or darkness.
Because of you, I know how to respond
To persecution with calm assurance.
Because of you, I can’t just stand by.
Because of you, I believe I was made perfectly
And wonderfully for a reason,
And am worthy of love.
I know it doesn’t always make sense to you,
But
Because of you, I am not ashamed.

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