Welcome to our Pride and Joy Queer-ative Writing Series where we provide a space to post our OUTWrite Authors and Keynote Queers grads creative writing. This aligns with our theme of YOUR Voice, YOUR Power and we are excited to share creative writing with the community. All writing submitted is original work by the author and belongs to the author. The Pride and Joy Foundation does not own any publishing rights to creative work submitted. All work posted is edited for grammar and spelling only. The views and opinions contained within our guest blog belong solely to the contributing writer.
This week's post is by one of our OUTWrite Author 2022 grads, Lauren McMullan, who wrote a fragmented series in 4 parts. Here is "The Making of a Burial pt. 2".
Compelled sense-making of the senseless were the first caves I discovered as starting points for my undermind. Taking emotions and understandings standard to simply being alive and trying to stuff them into a storyline that allowed me to paint myself as a child of God striving to return to Him by doing what he commanded and never deviating.
I realized if I could live in a small and controlled space and bounce the emotions and experiences off the walls until they fractured into so many echoes of themselves I could gather the pieces and tidily arrange them how I wanted. This was called righteousness.
As might be obvious to the onlooker, this method of affirmation was unsustainable. There were only so many times I could use this method before I became self aware of it. I needed a bigger space to run the mind games. I needed more time to forget the original message before it came back garbled enough to cobble into what I needed it to be to continue living and breathing my faith.
I knew caves to be entrances to deeper caverns if one had the will to search and find. So I began to dig, I began to pick up my mental pickaxe and labor. What was the grace of God without works anyway? I was committed to digging these teachings into myself, fracturing and reassembling the meaning of my own life was no longer good enough.
The weight of divine, familial, social expectation, and an intrinsic lean toward an ambitious existence were behind my efforts. Exhaustion, questioning the purpose, pain from the labor, loneliness in the effort were all easy to justify with the teachings I would get at church, the approval of my family and teachers, and my own sense of independently gained self-satisfaction. The latter was reinforced on all sides by life circumstances that repeatedly let me know no one but God would be available to catch me if I failed in life, and even God was a maybe if I wasn’t able to find a contrite spirit and repentant heart at the bottom of things.
To complicate it further, I was taught I was simply a ‘man’ - not the penis wielding, tonal, emotionally uncomplicated, doer stereotype kind of a man - but rather, the King James Bible all-encompassing history term type man (duh). Shaped with a head, four limbs, a chest, and guts type man - just like God (who still had a penis, don’t get any crazy ideas) - but mortal and stupider. The expectation that I understood the distinction and felt it deep inside me and functioned from a place where the words did not matter was so undeniably ubiquitous that a penis-lacking, child type like myself hardly gave it another thought unless it was brought directly to my attention.
At the time the pigeon-holing of this gender queering expectation was so complete it was hard to think around it. The religion, accidentally, was radical in its assumption that I would find it perfectly and emotionally easy and practical to expect myself and others to blur the definition of man in this way. It revealed itself to be bigoted and small-minded though when the limitation of this was that I was to never never NEVER skew or think around the definitions of any other gender words similarly. This wildly audacious and nonsensical double standard registered in the work I had to do to accommodate it. The mind tunnels that I hacked and scraped into my undermind so that I no longer felt the danger of letting the illogical sit side by side with the self-evident. If man can be an expansively applied term, then it proves gender words can flex around people just as easily as people can flex around gender if they so desire, and are unimpeded by people and systems that are scared by the expansiveness of the human condition.
About the Author:
Lauren (she/they) is a late in life fence jumper and an early in career writer. When she's not processing her world through words she makes her living helping instructors manage their online classes and has the heart and degree of a librarian.