“Jesus is My BFF” by James Driggers, from Saints & Sinners 2010: New Fiction from the Festival (Queer Mojo).
This was a hard story for me because I found the main character repulsive and didn’t enjoy looking at the world through her eyes.
Vicky is newly born again and a devoted follower of another convert, Paula. At the start of the story she’s just arrived at her childhood home – now the home of her brother Joe and his romantic partner Marvin – to attend her daughter Crystal’s baby shower.
Vicky disapproves of everything that goes on in the house and makes no bones about saying so. Though she and Paula have themselves made some bad life decisions and fallen far – they met in a drug rehabilitation program from which Vicky has only recently been released – she has no compunction about judging her brother, Martin, their adopted daughter (a toddler), and even Crystal, whose baby was born out of wedlock. It’s an over-the-top story and it ends on a fantastical note.
A little research reveals that one of the author’s interests is in understanding the ways in which camp and melodrama have been used to introduce social justice issues into the wider culture. I’m all for that goal, but I rarely like very in-your-face forms of humor. It’s why I’ve only once bought a subscription to the local GLBT theatre company, Pandora Productions. I love their dramas and historical plays but have no interest in their more humorous offerings and musical reviews. (The closest I’ve ever come to liking that sort of thing was a brief Benny Hill phase, but it was squashed by my discovery of Dave Allen at Large.)
That being said, the second time through I could better appreciate what the author was going for. References to the current culture’s self-proclaimed righteous men (Chick-Fil-A, anyone?) elicited a chuckle. It should be noted, too, that this story was a runner-up in the new fiction contest the anthology showcases. Obviously, it’s a case of this brand of humor not really being my cup of tea, and I look forward to reading some of the author’s other work.