Writer Michael Arceneaux Has Been Left With No Choice But To Put The Remainder Of His Faith In Beyoncé
The renowned young essayist is sharing his unabashed truths in his debut book, "I Can't Date Jesus."
July 20, 2018 at 11:22 pm
Before you even crack the spine of Michael Arceneaux’s memoir I Can’t Date Jesus, it’s evident he’s light years ahead of us from the subtitle alone. The Houston native knows there’s only one dependable entity in this world: Beyoncé. But if you follow the self-proclaimed "young sinick [cynic]" on Twitter, the jaded wit evident from the book's cover won't come a surprise.
Arceneaux, who's been published in The New York Times, Elle, Esquire and Ebony, can be seen coming to the defense of Rihanna's sexual liberation, calling out the under-the-radar problematic nature of Justin Timberlake, praying his student loans will go kick rocks, addressing the universality of homophobia or, obviously, finding some way to stan for Bey.
So when it comes to being a voice-box for black millennials living with early-onset cynicism, the Howard alum is certainly not new to this. In his debut book, the writer comically recounts his explorations of his sexuality, the daunting experience of coming out to his family, reacquainting himself with the black church and most importantly, his relationship with Beyoncé, Arceneaux offers a narrative rarely told — much less, printed.
Check out Blavity's Q&A with him below:
What motivated you to write the book?
Everyone thinks it must be so awful to be you if you're a double ‘other.’ [But] that's not the book I wanted to write, that's not my spirit…I wanted to make something saying ‘yes, life can be hard, especially for people like me’ but you can laugh at it and you can laugh at yourself. If I didn't have humor, I would probably be dead already.
When you say you would be dead are you saying you contemplated suicide before?
Yes, I have had suicidal ideations before. Never to the point where I would actually commit suicide. But there have been moments where I didn't want to get up, I didn't want to be alive, I was exhausted. I think when you start off your childhood witnessing some of the stuff I've witnessed and life doesn't get easier, you understand depression.
Talk about your conscious effort not to be the ‘sad black gay’ archetype?
Once I read this New York Times story a few years ago of how all the black women that have been nominated for an Oscar, played drug addicts or homeless or some type of economic disadvantage. When you think about how if you're any type of other and you are acknowledged by someone like the academy or any mainstream legacy institution, if you are other and you are allowed to be in that space, more often than not, you are being acknowledged or rewarded for displaying the worst in yourself.
And don't get me wrong. Life can be hard for you in this country when you're not born white, male and straight. But more often than not, white people get to be everything all the time — they get to have levity even in the struggle. [When you’re] black and queer, you are consumed solely by pathology. Everyone kind of looks at you like it must be awful to be you, at least institutions like that.
Why can’t you date Jesus?
The title is based on a conversation with my mom. I love my mom to death. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without her. But the reality is, she was raised to think a certain way about how sexuality works. People are born gay and she knows this she knows that it’s innate yet I’m not supposed to act on my natural urges based on the fear that I might go to hell. And I just find that to be so ridiculous and I used to suppress my urges partly because I thought it was undoubtedly wrong. But there’s just some point where you have to be human.
Like imagine me not living my life and denying myself pleasure. I’m like, 'are you listening to yourself?' You’re really telling me not to be whole.
What do you have to say to Beyonce haters?
I Can't Date Jesus goes on sale July 24.