Monday, January 05, 2009
That's A Beautiful Necklace
During Christmas break my rapist took me to a Unitarian church with his father and stepmother. My family didn’t go to church except for a brief flirtation with the Baptist whose main message seemed to be that hell wasn’t a metaphor, but a lake of fire and that it was crucial to win souls for Jesus and that steeples were phallic symbols so one Sunday we were instructed to cut the one off of the church in some bizarre Shirley Jackson-like ritual where everyone took the ax and pretended to kill the phallus. As strange and traumatic as it was for the women, I hate to speculate about the effects on the young boys.
The Unitarian preacher told us that God is love and love is God and we didn’t need to think about Hell because nobody was going there as it didn’t exist. He handed us stickers for our shirts -- rainbows splashed with God Is Love in puff paint. I couldn’t bring myself to wear it, remembering the last time I wore a rainbow on a necklace chain. That’s a beautiful necklace, a boy in my sixth grade math class said. When I smiled, he said, Did you steal it off a dead nigger?
In Sunday school the rainbow was a symbol of God’s covenant, but in real life it seemed to be a little more complicated. Some people in my hometown didn’t condone rainbow anything because the symbol was associated with gay rights. My dad had already told me that some boys liked other boys and there was nothing wrong with it as many of my childhood friends already showed signs of being homosexual. But I had seen what had happened to boys who were a touch too effeminate at the wrong place, wrong time. I’d seen a boy get beaten while being called a faggot over and over. But mostly people in my hometown ignored what they didn’t want to see with pat explanations like, Oh, he’s all right. He had a date to prom, conveniently rendering thirty years of living with another man insignificant in detecting sexual preference.
When we left the church, my rapist asked me what I thought. I’d always been drawn to Catholicism because of the crucifixes, the incense, the priests. I’d convert in my early thirties, drawn in by ritual and suffering, the saints. As a child, I often heard people say that the Catholics worshipped Mary and practiced voodoo. That was enough for me to be sold. “There aren’t a lot of rules,” I said, trying to sound diplomatic.
“That’s what I like about it,” he said. “Anything goes.”
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is." Vladimir Nabokov
Drinking dvd suggestion: Vicki Christina Barcelona
Benedictions and Maledictions