As I experience my fourth day of fasting – I haven’t eaten solid food since Sunday evening – my body is reminding me of other times in my life when I went without eating.

There were the occasional days in Prague as a homeless person, eating no more than a sandwich and a beer. I had a short stretch of extreme deprivation – no water even — before I learned how to survive on the streets. I went hungry for 5 days and vowed that would never happen again.

However, I’ve only ever voluntarily fasted once in my life. And that was because I was trying to rid my adolescent  body of its queerness.

I was involved in a fundamentalist church in Indianapolis of a Pentecostal denomination. Holy Rollers, you might call them, and sometimes we called ourselves that. Speakers in tongues. Rapture-anticipating, runners-in-the-aisle.

Despite the big list of don’ts our church promoted, there really wasn’t anything worse or more shameful than being a homosexual. Not even a drug dealer got the fire up in our preachers like fags did.

But my body kept rebelling, no matter how chaste my mind tried to be.

Muscle magazines in the drugstore. Soloflex ads in Newsweek. Gymnasts in the Olympics.

Barry Lawrence’s big rough hands when he shook mine on Sunday mornings and said, Praise the Lord! Not to mention the fact that whenever we were alone he always found an excuse to take his shirt off and show off his muscles.

My boner always betrayed my nature.

So I decided to try and fast the gay out.

I can’t remember how long I fasted or how much time I spent in my closet, literally,  rocking and praying and crying, but it was enough to cause me to faint during Tuesday youth service as I was singing in the choir. My family and friends convinced me to stop but they never knew why I was doing it.

I don’t have to tell you, I guess, that the fasting didn’t work. Barry still got me hard.

The notion of sacrifice still attracts me at times and like a tempting object, like a flexed biceps was to an adolescent me, it’s fascinating to ponder whether or not I deserve what’s happening to me now, and what that sacrifice will make out of me when it’s done.

Come see me read tonight at Second Story. If I don’t fall off the stage.

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