I CAN'T DATE JESUS by Michael Arceneaux


Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé
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A gay black journalist gets personal about race, religion, and sexuality in America.

Houston native Arceneaux gathers his most provocative essays to discuss how he went about “unlearning every damaging thing I’ve seen and heard about my identity.” He begins with a reflection of his childhood and his devoutly Catholic—and homophobic—home environment. Although his mother taught him about sexuality early on, his father ferociously condemned a gay uncle who died of AIDS. Fearful of being revealed as homosexual, the author spent much of his adolescence masturbating to mental images of gorgeous men while praying that “God wouldn't grab Moses’s staff and knock the shit out of me with it.” When a priest approached him about joining the priesthood, Arceneaux realized he had to come to terms with who he was. The author experimented with same-sex relationships at Howard University, but he remained mostly closeted. After taking part in a New York City gay pride parade during college, he tentatively began coming out, first to other students and then to his sister. The music of Beyoncé—his “lord and gyrator” and a woman notable for how she always “[stood] firm” in who she was as an artist and black woman—also helped him find the courage to be himself. As Arceneaux grew into his gay identity, he contemplated the nature of gay marriage, cross-racial gay attractions, and his own relationships with other black men. He attempted to write about his revelations for the media, but when he did, his (mostly white) editors saw what “[they] wanted to see” rather than the truths he attempted to communicate. Arceneaux’s essays penetrate to the heart of intersectionality to reveal personal and religious trials of faith. Together, they make a powerful statement of self-acceptance in a world much in need of lessons about diversity, tolerance, and openness.

A funny, fierce, and bold memoir in essays.

Pub Date: July 24th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5011-7885-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2018


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