Jonathan Odell
Brother Buddy’s Gift

Jonathan Odell - Brother Buddy’s Gift

Creative Nonfiction
Jonathan Odell is the author of three novels. The View from Delphi, (Macadam Cage, 2004) deals with the struggle for equality in pre-civil rights Mississippi, his home state. In 2012, Random House… Read more »
Rachael Lyon
For the Hole in My Heart

Rachael Lyon - For the Hole in My Heart

Creative Nonfiction
Rachael Lyon is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her chapbook, The Normal Heart and How It Works (2011), chronicles her experience with a congenital heart defect. She received a Fulbright grant to… Read more »

Brother Buddy’s Gift

Jonathan Odell

If you are a Bible-raised gay man and are forced, perhaps at gun point, to attend a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi, you know there are no guarantees. At any time, the preacher might go off on a homophobic rant or take up a love offering for the ongoing torture of homosexuals in Uganda.

First thing you do is check the bulletin to see what text the preacher is taking his sermon from. If it’s the Gospels, you’re probably safe. Jesus never said anything bad about gay people. If it’s from anything the Apostle Paul wrote, you might brace yourself for some discomfort. If it’s from Leviticus, you best run for the exits. Things often turn ugly for gay people in Leviticus.

But today I couldn’t just storm out without consequences. I was with my parents in their home church. It’s important that I go with them when I’m visiting from Minnesota, and about the only request that they make of me nowadays. They say it does them proud.

Their regular preacher, who knew I was gay, was a soft-spoken, compassionate fellow who went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. But this Sunday, the church had a… Read more »