I've had it. .
So I’m just gonna lay it out here: I am a born again. Yep, that whole meeting-Jesus, saw the Light, burst into tears, experiencing God’s grace, the whole nine yards. It was the most amazing (and literally life-changing) experience I ever had. Like more BACs, my “walk,” to use the parlance of the faithful, was all sunshine and roses. For about five days. But on day six, it began to be less dopey-smiling gleeful God follower and more like an angsty wrestling-with-the-angel kinda faith, a standard sermon reference you’re either familiar with because the Bible said it or because Bono sang it. So for 33 years, I’ve been struggling, like most believers, to live my life in a way (as I see/interpret it) that honors Christ’s teachings and His example, a futile exercise because I “fall short of the glory of God” (parlance again) the second I open my eyes.
Give me five minutes with Facebook and I’ll fire off an angry missive about the latest Republican offense and, boom, there you have it, I’ve already grandly missed my goal of livin’ like Jesus. And THAT’S why I don’t bring up my faith a lot. Because I think I’m a HORRIBLE advertisement for Christianity—even though in my heart I believe I’m the best ad for it: if God can forgive and love a ______________ (insert label here) like me, He can definitely forgive and love YOU. Because to me, I’m the worst of the worst. I talk to God about it practically hourly. But then again I’m yakking at him all the time. I asked two admittedly non-Christian but VERY Christ-like friends of mine the other day, “What do you do with all your time? I talk to God CONSTANTLY. Who do you share all….THIS…with?” There’s a reason why I don’t hear the voice of God. It’d say, “Shut up already.”
As I told my mother once, “I’m more in the closet about being a Christian than I am a fag.” (Yeah, she didn’t appreciate it either.) But I’m serious. Christians are the WORST. SPEAKING of which, someone was complaining about religion the other day on Facebook and I commented with those exact four words. The next morning, I had a message from Zuckerberg telling me they had deleted my comment right away and I better watch my hate-spewing mouth. “Christians are the WORST” was flagged? I was so pissed. There is, of course, no recourse you can take, FB only communicates one way, but I wanted to shoot back to them, “DON’T tell ME I can’t say that. I’m ONE of them. I KNOW how awful we can be. They embarrass me every day.” Because the religious right has so successfully co-opted this beautiful faith and hate-molded it to justify their prejudices, further their evil agenda, and, just as they did it with slavery, endorse their positions.
Christian mandates such as feed the poor, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, house the homeless, forgive your offender, love your brother are routinely, even defiantly ignored in support of policies and positions that cut food stamps, slam the door in the faces of immigrants, strip away social safety nets, defund shelters, kitchens, and outreaches to those less fortunate, support mass incarceration, and instead of loving their brother, enact legislation that continues to take his rights (and right to vote) away, keep him down, demonize him, belittle him, and exclude him. But here I am keeping my Christian yap shut because I’m afraid I’ll make Him look bad because I have a hair-trigger against racism, facism, prejudice, sexism, homophobia, and hate. Worse, to this sexually repressed contingent of weirdo hypocrites, I commit the most grievous of sins: I’m a slut.
I have a book coming out—which I’m about to stop hinting about and start talking about and now seems like a good a time as any. The loose concept of the book is about confronting all your various “selves” that you have and posing the question: Which one is the real you? Is it the person you show your best friend? Is it the face you give your partner? Is it the professional you? Is it all these people combined? Or is it someone hiding behind all those various disguises? Maybe somebody you don’t even know? Through a collection of stories, I face up to all the selves, all the fragmented versions of me I’ve manufactured—consciously and subconsciously through the years and show to the world—all in an attempt to find out who the fuck I really am. Because something happened to me four years ago that made me lose who I was COMPLETELY, UTTERLY, TOTALLY. And if I was gonna do this, I was gonna have to be as honest as I could.
So the book is VERY open about my faith. It’s mentioned multiple times throughout the book and there are two whole chapters devoted to those parts of me—the “believer” and the “sinner.” Likewise, the book is VERY frank about my sexuality. Probably too frank. But if I was gonna be honest, let’s be REAL honest.
Around 20 years ago, I was recording one of my very first anime shows and I’d cast this guy in the lead role who was an incredible narcissist. (No, not ALL actors are incredible narcissists.) He drove a Hummer and never really seemed to care that he didn’t park it within the yellow lines of the parking lot. He must have spent a fortune on frosting his hair. He was a clothes hound. He was a plastic surgery junkie. And he was VERY religious. Or Christian. I used to make a distinction between the two, but the Gospel has been so marred by religious Republicans, both descriptors are tainted now as far as I’m concerned. But he was a big church goer. You knew this because he told you. (That’s ANOTHER reason I don’t like to talk about my faith. I’m afraid I’ll just be another Pharisee praying in public, trying to get everybody to look at how holy I can be.) He went First Baptist or one of the other mega-churches that treat their music like an early 80s MTV production and here we go, I’m judging him already. See? Doesn’t take long to fall.
He comes outside the studio with me during a break while I smoke a cigarette. (I can sense the faithful dooming me to hell already.) And he starts into me. He’s dropping every church line in the book, using all the catchphrases, walking the talk, whole nine yards. I told him I knew all this lingo. I told him I had, happily, grown past it. What was he getting at, which he finally bottom-lines it by informing me I’m not really saved or a Christian or whatever because I’m a homo. Here we go with that old chestnut again. And I’m not stupid. I’ve got this guy’s number. He’s an egomaniac and I could nail him on pride alone, but that wouldn’t be very Christ-like, so I keep my mouth shut and instead tell him:
“You think that I can’t possibly be on my knees praying because sometimes I’m on my knees sucking dick, is that right? That there’s no way I could do both?”
“But the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, Ste7en.”
“Are you fucking your girlfriend?” I shoot back. He clutches his pearls and I repeat my question. He still doesn’t answer me. Which is, in effect, his answer.
“Lemme ask you this: is it more Christian for me to use Scripture to condemn you, knowing I’m just as guilty in that area, according to the Old Testament, as you are?” I ask him TRYING not to sound like an asshole. “Or is it more loving for me to keep my religion out of your bedroom and leave that up for you and God to work out on your own instead?”
15 years later, this zealot is wrapped up in the biggest sexual harassment scandal in anime history, where his career goes up in flames because he’s real handsy with young girls, has forced his mouth onto unsuspecting convention-goers and actresses and, the only one I can say for sure he’s guilty of, raging homophobia.
Which brings me to Jerry Falwell Jr.
Now we find out that those long-ago rumored photographs he had one of Trump’s goons try to make disappear were pics he proudly showed his religious and Republican buddies, action shots of him and the practically teenaged pool boy taking turns fucking his saintly wife Becki. Shocker: this titanic figure of righteousness, this pillar of faith to the religious right, this sterling example of a Republican turns out to be a Christian Caligula, a yacht-sailing bisexual swinger of the highest order. And now that he’s caught, he’s trying to throw the poor pool boy under the bus, painting him as this scheming blackmailer who “happened” to have a “close relationship” with Mrs. Falwell and Jerry’s been so torn up about it for months, he’s…oh my God…LOST WEIGHT. Altogether, everybody: What’s the shortest verse in the Bible?
I know, Jesus. I would too if they kept dragging my name through the mud like this.
For months, I agonized over that decision whether or not to include a story in the book that talked about my sex life. A sexually explicit first-person narrative in the very first book I’ve ever written. Am I crazy? Just yesterday, I was still wondering if it was a big mistake and the book is coming out October 1.
Today? Without a doubt, today showed me it was the right thing to do.
Some people are going to have a huge problem with it. The religious right will point to my homosexuality to cast dispersions about my claimed faith. THEN they’ll point to the rated X sex story as further proof of my unholiness. A few gay people are gonna be bent that I still follow a religion where factions of the faithful try to cut them off at the nuts every chance they get. Everybody else is going to have a hard time putting the sexual with the spiritual. They’re going to want to separate them. Or, worse, they’re going to believe one negates the other. I spend a LOTTA time with God. And I’m just as lust-driven, just as horny, just as sexually and romantically screwed up as the next guy. Probably moreso. And even though I’m that way, God loves me. So He’s definitely gonna love…you know the rest of this sentence.
It took me years to accept my sexuality, to find a way for it to coexist with my spirituality. Society and religion drilled into me that those two don’t go together. I’ve found it’s impossible to separate them.
America’s been fucked up about sex and is still fucked up about it. We sexualize everything in order to sell things. We gladly take your money. Then we blame you for your desires that we used to manipulate you. WE want to think OUR sex is okay. But the way YOU do it? Oh my god. What are you, some kind of a pervert?
I worked at a hotel once. Do you know when porn channel rentals went through the roof? Every time a religious organization checked into the hotel. Every. Fucking. Time.
If you’ll excuse me now, I’m going to go spend some time in prayer. I’ll be asking forgiveness for my aha! attitude toward Mr. Falwell. And then I’ll spend a few moments praying for him. Because it’s a miserable existence believing your God hates you for being…you. That He condemns you for who and what you are. And I don’t wish that kind of fucked up psychology on Jerry or anybody else. I know that life real well. The difference between Falwell and I is that I can speak his language. And even though, deep down, our body talk is frighteningly similar, he’s rendered mute by that truth. I know that world of his. It did introduce me to the most amazing Thing I’ve ever encountered. I literally wouldn’t know what to do without Him. But I took from that world what I could and took my leave, believing that God was more powerful than the church, that he was bigger than religion, and that if I stayed close to Him, we’d work out this walk together just fine, thank you very much.
What am I saying exactly?
I’m saying I could have a bacchanal with a baseball team and God wouldn’t give a shit. (I don’t think He blushes when I cuss either.) But whether or not I spend a little time on my knees praying for Jerry Falwell? Maybe spending a few moments praying for my enemies?
Yeah, I think God’s real interested in me doing that. So excuse me while I do what I gotta do.
Maybe I’m not such a bad Christian after all.