“So, I feel Jesus coming through. I think he wants to reach out to you…is that weird?” asks Jacqui, my (excellent) tarot reader and guide.
Um, excuse me? YES THAT’S WEIRD.
I’m freshly 32, navigating the gut-punch grief of my dad’s sudden terminal diagnosis, barely keeping my business afloat, and desperate for direction and guidance from say, Venus, or some empowered goddess, or a gay rockstar ancestor…Jesus was the last deity I had in mind for the support—the transformation—I was seeking.
As a “recovering catholic”—or a “catholic slut” as I endearingly gleaned from our girl Britney and subscribed to—to me, Jesus was the cheap mascot of a fading religious sect I felt mainly pity toward, with a healthy dollop of residual rage. I blamed him—and his congregation—for my sexual timidness. My lack of domme energy. My ever-present guilt about—and shyness toward—all things risqué. But most of all, for my chronic vaginismus pain. A bodily token from years of internalizing misogynistic, slut-shamey messaging brought to me by the Catholic Church.
So yeah, there was no way this dude was showing up to connect with me—he had to detect my mockery, my disgust, my rejection.
…but alas, my agnostic curiosity and thirst for comfort got the best of me.
That same week, I went to Walmart and bought a votive picturing a pretty-boy white Jesus on the front and I lit that sucker.
“What do you got for me, Savior?”
Turns out, he had a whole world.
20 years earlier, you’d probably find me on my knees, leaning against my bed, asking Jesus “what is wrong with me?”
It had been two years since I first literally passed out during “Family Life” class. I had to be carried out of the classroom, my head lolling. This happened again…and then again. Three occurrences—two of them middle school occurrences—of passing out in a class full of my peers in reaction to pictures of penises and vaginas.
I couldn’t handle the anatomical diagrams—let alone the mere existence–of sexuality. It all made me feel queasy, confused, alarmed. I even passed out when my period arrived. Blood? From some unknown part of me? Forget about it.
Those days, Jesus was who I was instructed to ask for comfort or guidance in my day-to-day life, so I figured he could help me with the “what’s this whole vagina and penis thing about?” question. A bonafide “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” situation.
Yet he didn’t weigh in. Instead, he sent the voices of his cronies to crawl and take root in my head—a fucked-up “Santa’s Helpers” scenario. Mainly I heard recurring hauntings of my current “youth group” leader’s teachings: “Kissing is sinful.” “You’re just asking for attention with spaghetti straps, so cover up.” “Hormones are trouble–ignore them.”
This is not a unique situation. Many of you reading have crawled the cold trenches of puritanical shame. And we try to navigate, unlearn, and deconstruct as best we can.
And that’s where Jesus Round 2 comes in for me—the sexuality “saving”:
Fast forward 20 years later, Jesus votive candle lit, steeped in my eucalyptus-salted bath…I soak, sipping cab, waiting to hear from our lord and savior. Are you there, Jesus? It’s me, Mary. Do you have The Answer?
And what do ya know…nothing. Just like when I was 12. I quickly felt silly and I internally scolded myself for seeking The Answer from someone who had never showed up before, why would he now?
Soon my frustration faded into boredom. I tapped my Kindle alive, opened the Netflix app, and opted for an episode of Queer Eye.
And as my bath water cooled and Antoni blended together a Green Goddess salad dressing (was the Green Goddess my savior?) I found myself wondering what Jesus would wear if he was a person living in the now.
And then I imagined him as an extroverted gay guy.
And then I imagined him in drag.
And then I imagined him not as “him”…but as “them.”
And then I imagined Mary Magdalene painting their nails pink.
And then I imagined them making out with Judas on a park bench.
This is fun, I thought.
I paused the episode, drained my bath, and went to sleep.
The next morning…I woke up hungry for Jesus.
I cracked open one of those empty notebooks–one of the good ones you save for a rainy day.
And I began to write Jesus stories.
The ideas and scenarios and settings and nail colors and friendships and outfits and makeout sessions poured out of me. I was hooked.
I inserted Jesus into my sexual fantasies and played them out on the page.
I gave voice to my desires via conversations between Jesus and their crushes.
I made Jesus a domme, a top, a switch.
Eventually, like Jesus the switch, things flipped.
I practiced the bodily touch I wanted to blend into the scenes.
I initiated sexy sex with my partner, inspired by a Jesus story I’d written earlier that day.
I glowed with orgasm, post solo sex, as I typed my discoveries and pleasure into an erotic poem, in the voice of Jesus to their paramour.
Jesus was my sexuality mascot. I was reclaiming my sexuality through iconoclastic, subversive smut. Through creativity, reimagination, and queering. Truly embodying the Catholic Slut. It was all so…alive.
And then, my dad died. (I know—sorry reader—there goes the mood.)
The wet reach of grief slurred its way between my fingers, loosening the grip I had around my pen. Shutting closed the storied chambers of my heart.
Months went by. My notebook swollen with blank pages. Jesus got quiet again. So did my desire.
Was that my peak? Could it be so swift?
It’s the night of a solar eclipse. I’m back in the bathtub, my Jesus votive flickering shadows against the bathroom wall.
Although I feel a tinge of hope, a brightness in my body, like the sun’s edges around the moon, I also feel that heavy grief conundrum…the one that pits you against the person you were pre-death.
She’s gone. Too innocent. That kind of creative flow, that sexual glee is stopped up forever.
I stare into the votive, watching the flame reach Jesus’s eyes. It brings to mind flowing tears. Was Jesus crying for me?
Honey, no. I hear in my head. But that could be a cute story…maybe they’re crying and then a new character shows up to dry their tears? Like, Eve? Oh. I bet Eve is cute. I could make her SO cute.
I lift the drain.
I crack open the notebook.
I write sexy—sometimes sad—stories about Jesus (and company).
And Jesus writes sexy—sometimes sad—stories about me.
I hope you enjoyed this break from my usual fiction content. Poetry and personal reflection have been pouring out of me these last few weeks. If you’re missing the stories, don’t worry…Jesus always comes back. Lol. But also! Who knows! Like me, like you, this substack/newsletter/blog will evolve.
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So powerful Mary!! Thank you for your vulnerability and always gorgeous writing
Thank you for sharing and for the vulnerability in your posts. ❤️