More Than Chocolate: On Easter, Agape, coming out and the joys of renewal

more than chocolate

more than chocolate

At every moment you choose yourself.But do you choose your self? Body and soul contain a thousand possibilities out  of which you can build many I’s. But in only one of them is there a congruence of the elector and elected.Only one – which you will never find until you have excluded all those superficial and fleeting possibilities of being and doing with which you toy, out of curiousity or wonder or greed, and which hinder you from casting anchor in the experience of the mystery of life, and the consciousness of the talent entrusted to you which is your I.

– Dag Hammarskjold

Easter always feels very special to me. Partly because it changes every year – a movable feast. Partly because of the Spiritual meaning and mysteries drilled into a young Catholic boy. And partly because it’s the anniversary of my Coming Out.

As it happens, I’m Coming Out was the song chosen to represent the Opening Of The Tomb and Resurrection of Jesus in a rather dubious rendering of the gospel to the music of Diana Ross, performed under the title Agape at my school by a renegade ‘brother’ who turned out to (allegedly) be on the run from tax authorities in another country, and who had forged himself a reference in order to seek refuge in a Boys’ Catholic Boarding School (ahem). His version of the gospel even included the Crucifixion performed to Upside Down. Even when ‘Luis’ cast himself as Jesus, and performed in nothing more than a gold lame  ‘g’ string, the audience and school didn’t seem to twig that there might be something amiss about this peculiar  ‘re-interpretation’ of the gospels and its author. It was the 80’s and everything was a little ‘glam’. I was offered the part of the Roman Soldier Longinus who pierced Christ’s flesh with the Spear Of Destiny. I turned it down – not on aesthetic or religious grounds, I’m afraid. I thought the part was too small.

Eventually, it all Came Out, and Luis was escorted to an airport where he was given a one way ticket out of the country. Brushed under the carpet and Someone Else’s problem.

I celebrate my own Coming Out at Easter every year because … well, I first ‘came out’ at Easter. If there was indeed any ‘coming out’ to do. I was never butch, and didn’t particularly hide crushes on classmates, teachers, Captain Kirk, The Six Million Dollar Man, even the cartoon Spiderman, particularly well. The New Romantics kept my sexuality camouflaged in gender bending fashion, and a theatrical ben offered me many opportunities to be a little luvvie.

And I developed my first serious crush at Uni. Falling for an American exchange student – well, as it turns out, at least my gaydar was in good working order. And I invited him to stay with my family one Easter. At some point, I blurted out that I was like one of the characters in Caryl Churchill’s dramatic exploration of sexual politics, Cloud 9, which had just been produced at our university. It was a way in. He kindly recognised my inadequate stumblings, and calmly accepted what had been said. All of a sudden, it was ‘Out There’. I’d come out of a dark tomb and entered a bright, scary new world.

Probably, the only person I’d come out to was myself. I said the same things several times to different people, in slightly different ways, and it always seemed like there was no surprise, just a witnessing to my own re-creation each time. Even my parents, in a tear filled and awkward last minute family meeting I called.

So I like the spiritual mystery of Easter, and the childlike magic of bunnies and Easter hunts, because the theme of personal and spiritual renewal is a universal and important one. Even if it takes place whilst wearing  a gold lame ‘g’ string, and to the soundtrack of Diana Ross.

So, dear lover, through this world of mine that I weave for you here, methinks sometimes I see you moving.

And I wait of you that in time you also spread worlds equally beautiful, more beautiful, for me.

[Not in written words only, but in spoken words, or the mere sound of the voice or look of the face, and in beauties of body and limb and brain and heart, and in beauty of deed and action, and in a thousand ways.]

– Edward Carpenter ‘Lo! what a world I create’

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