I come here to your cross, Christ,
a raging quean.
I want to walk with my head high,
a child of God,
but I am feeling too much
like the scum people take me to be.
Sometimes I get downright campy
and want to shout at them,
“Why do you think God chose twelve of his own
kind to be nearest!?”
but then I don’t really believe you’re
some macho male riding a chariot
and wielding a whip, or that you are really
male or female at all,
though I suspect
that when you were enfleshed as Jesus
your juices were not lactation.
What did you feel when your beloved John
lay across your lap casually?
Now you seem trapped above this altar,
as if the Romans really were successful
and rid the world of any fresh response
you might have for it or for me.
I wonder if what I what is a break
from being quean?
Maybe you should
take away my regnum and give me back
a Pennypress suit and a lower middleclass
seat on the vestry.
But put me somewhere else,
where the people in the next pew
don’t think I’m different.
–Maybe he’s just never found Miss Right.
Besides, bachelors aren’t all queers.
Some of them are even good to their mamas
when they get old!”
But here all know, Jesus,
and they’ll never allow me
to teach Sunday School
or to be a lay reader again,
or even to have lunch with the rector
–or if I do, I’ll have to endure
the rector’s notion of who I am
with every sip of my coffee
–is my pinkie showing?
Maybe if I just go to a new town
and am very quiet about it all,
lie low, as it were,
play tennis and jog a lot,
they’ll spend some of this time
seeing me as the good salesman I am.
I mean, do they hate queers as much
in Chicago, New York, or San Francisco?
I wish my company had a branch
in one of those places.
Even their bishops claim to love us,
though clergy do throw love
around very glibly.
I wonder if they’d love a son or a daughter
who is one?
I wish you’d talk back, God.
I’m one weary quean
with all of these folks
kneeling around me.
Sometimes I think
they’re not praying about themselves,
but just about me,
telling you all of their fears
as if I had not already told you the truth.
But I probably occupy no more space
in their prayers than does a bug
which one mindlessly avoid
so as not to waste time squashing it.
Yes, Jesus, back at self-pity,
badly this time
–as much of a venereal disease
as any quean requires!
Maybe I should just stick with the Prayer Book,
which makes me come across
as much more noble
than I really am;
and at least it keeps me from looking
only at myself.
I can’t believe
you want this groveling, Jesus.
Help me to stand on my own two feet.
God save this quean!
A prolific author and lifelong campaigner for the acceptance and inclusion of LGBT people by Christians and in the mainline church, Louie Clay founded IntegrityUSA, a gay-acceptance group within the Episcopal Church, while teaching at Fort Valley State University in 1974. He married Ernest Clay in 1974 and then again in 2013, when marriage equality had become the law of the land. Known as Louie Crew for most of his life, he took his partner’s surname in his later years.