This past Saturday, April 29th, at the Titular Head film festival, 10 or so students and I participated in a performance at the end of the show I understand is being referred to as “The Loucifixion.” In it, I was hoisted on a homemade wooden cross while the Jock Jams’ hit from the Space Jam soundtrack “Are You Ready For This” played. Five students danced at the front of the stage while five more or so lifted the cross and proceeded to carry me on a lap around the Harris Center audience. Tithead was not the right avenue to offer context of the performance, so I will do so now.
I went to Catholic School for 10 years, Pre-K to Eighth Grade. I realized I was a queer person around 3rd or 4th grade and spent the rest of elementary school convincing myself that I wasn’t. I don’t think I told anyone until I was in high school, and even then I didn’t tell many people because I was still ashamed. I spent those formative years in Catholic school feeling pressured into identities that didn’t fit me. I think I was in 6th grade (one of the hardest years of elementary school for just about everyone I’ve come to find) when I started to feel more than confusion about my sexuality. I began to recognize that the institution I was being brought up in existed to devalue what I viewed as one of the most important aspects of my identity. I’ve spent the better part of the last eight years outside of any formal religious education. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance my belief in and desire to participate in organized religion with the pressure, stress, guilt, and repression that comes with having gone to Catholic school.
This was my own personal way of interacting with my Catholic upbringing. My performance at Tithead was one that I’ve wanted to do since sixth grade when I decided I was finished wishing I were not queer. If that cup couldn’t pass from me, then my will be done. This past Saturday, I unloaded a lot of built up guilt, stress, tension, and confusion I’ve been living with for most of my life. I chose to unload it in a way that displayed and pushed back against what I view as the source of most of the anxiety of my adult life. This was a powerful, liberating experience for me. Getting closure has made me feel more comfortable and at home in my body and within my mind than the last four years at Grinnell College ever have.