*content and language warning*
This is a piece I submitted to my university student magazine. Peeling off the layers from my previous patriarchal life has me in the happiest place I have ever been.
They said He would be coming soon. They said I needed to do lots of things or it would be a terrible day for me. They pulled out a scroll of rules that never seemed to end.
They told me lots of things, and I believed them.
You are meant to be a mother. You cannot be a selfish one, oh no, you must be a martyr of a mother. While you’re drowning in a sea of anxiety, bigotry and depression, you must not complain or get angry. Women are to be starched and pressed and well dressed, but mostly quiet.
They told me homosexuality was a sin. They told me the world was a bad place. We have the truth they said, and you do not need any more truth. Curiosity crumbled, because intellectuals were an enemy I could and should not learn from. Then they said, do not swear, do not defile your temple with tattoos, and do not have sex.
Next, it was do not show your shoulders. If you show your shoulders, they said, the young men won’t be able to keep themselves pure. I was left wondering if eleven year old me had somehow asked for the wandering fingers and erectness of my best friend’s father, and the boy at the caravan park pool. Was I irreversibly dirty now? With objects lessons of chewed gum, it seemed so. Virtue had left me. After I started kissing boys, the bishop asked me if I wanted to end up like my pregnant sister.
He is coming soon, they reminded me. Be a good little girl. Yet, they said His love was unconditional and all encompassing. Which was it? The rules kept coming.
Things started to change. My heart and mind awoke and the cracks were no longer left unseen. It’s a script that has always existed, I said.
I enrolled my children in day-care and began spending time with the dreaded intellectuals in university halls. Why did I feel God there, more? I laced my lips with colour, took selfies, and said fuck when I wanted. I gained more spirituality through intersectional feminism, and tore down bigotry. “Why are you so angry?” they would ask. I learnt I could derive pleasure from my own body and realised I didn’t just like boys, I liked girls, too.
Then I woke even further, because it was not just about me. I realised they stole languages and cultures and obliterated them with their “proper” ways to talk and be. If you were a person of colour, queer, disabled, mentally ill, low-income, the wrong religion, or a woman, you were not in their club, and they would try to divide you, lest you got too much power.
So I voted yes for marriage equality, I took off my religious garments, and I yelled as loudly as I could that things were not right. While we quibbled in church about the acceptable length of a skirt, there were people in our very own congregations being abused, and dying by suicide. There were people all over the world being raised as soldiers, while others were kept in camps if they tried to escape. Women were being raped, and sex trafficked. We, with privilege, refused to even discuss it, because being uncomfortable was bad. I started forcing them to be uncomfortable.
They yelled back, “you’re an enemy of the church!” They told me I was disrespecting God and didn’t belong in their heaven.
I cry with relief as I type.
Good, I said. I don’t want to be there. Your heaven is hell to me. Where do the queers go? I‘ll go there. Our parties will be better.