So many long and lonely nites I spent shaking like the last leaf on a tree, certain that something was wrong with me and that I was guilty of a crime against humankind. I was going to be made to pay for my strange desires and dreams—I knew this the way I knew that the threat of punishment—even of being thrown into everlasting hell for the rest of eternity--wasn’t going to be enough to stop them, that the monstrous, overwhelming need inside of me that manifested itself in furtive glances and soaked sheets and school yard recriminations and whispers in the hallway was never going to be exorcised.

At first I had to look up some of the words they called me.

I accepted myself as damned.

I was broken.

I was gay and God hated me, so I might as well hate God, or so I was taught, by both queers and non-queers, who in their religious opinions, it turned out, were two sides of the same coin.

But what if they’ve got it wrong, and God isn’t prohibitive but the opposite—the kind of freedom that can only occur where there is no jealousy and no hidden agenda? What if it turned out that God IS love in the sense that God is that which feeds the energy to the urges within us to love and be loved?

What if God is the gasoline attendant who pumps oil into our overheated, empty fuel cells, or the farmer who patiently waters the soil so that the thick green stalks of our emotions might someday enclose bright, golden corn instead of dried-up husks?

What if God is love in the sense of a fantasy fulfilled—an ache rubbed away…not love in the sense of marriage or ownership—nothing formal like that. But love in the sense of seeing someone with both eyes open, and wanting nothing more than to take pleasure in the way they pleasure...?

Love in the sense of giving yourself over fully to another.

Love as a wanting to want…

Love as the discovery of bridges to burn, glowing in the distance like old memories.

They look like they are made of steel but they are made of wood.

God is what gives you the strength to make new habits

and to express your deepest desires in a language you create together

Formed with letters that trace the loin’s dark twists

and filled with meaning mined from the spot where dreams and responsibilities are found pressed together in chunky, supernatural conglomerates.

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