That time when my family performed a Pentecostal exorcism on my Xena pictures by Suicide Blonde
July 22, 2013 § 7 Comments
About 6 months after I came out to my family, they had the Pentecostal version of an exorcism in my room when I was out of town. Now, I didn’t know that any kind of repelling of demons was going to be taking place while I was gone. I came home after a week thinking nothing was a miss, and went up to my room to unpack. Then I noticed grease spots on the large figure drawings I had done that year in school. This made me look around a little closer. My collage of pictures of Xena all had grease stains on Lucy Lawless’ face. The clay sculptures I had done in my first year of college art classes had huge splashes of discoloration on them. There were oil hand prints all over the walls like it was the Blair Witch’s house.
I went downstairs to where my father, who had greeted me warmly (too warmly in comparison to his usual behavior towards me over the recent past) when I had gotten in the door and had been silently sitting watching TV and, apparently, waiting for my reaction.
“Why is there grease all over my stuff?” I wasn’t shrill, more incredulous.
“Now, don’t get mad.” Whenever someone starts an explanation with these words, you know you’re about to gobble down some serious bullshit.
“We were praying for you in your room while you were gone, and things got out of hand.”
“Just your mom and me and some other people, that doesn’t matter.”
I didn’t need anymore explanation than that. I had been in the Christian Church for the first 16 years of my life so I knew exactly what had happened and would later have it confirmed to me by my brother, who told me with the same confused shame as my father had faced me with. I had seen this level of Pentecostal zealotry before. I had seen a room full of completely rational, emotionally repressed middle-class white people turn into a writhing mass of sobs, yelling in gibberish, having convulsions on the floor. Take a group of people who never drink, never do any kind of mood alter-er and allow them an opportunity to finally be uninhibited and they go fucking nuts. What’s worse is that they feed off each other’s crazy, trying to outdo the other person’s fervent worship by being even more unhinged, competing with each other like they’re at the Holy Ghost Olympics.
I knew that my parents had called in a bunch of people into my room, the only place in the world that I had the vague notion as being my own. I knew that a group of people had assembled in my room with the daybed I’d slept on since I was 12 and the dresser that my parents had bought when they first got married in 1975 and with horror, contrasted these items of childhood innocence with the blatant evil in 3 foot sketches of the nude human form and pictures of notorious lesbian icon Xena Warrior Princess. This group of people would include strangers whose knowledge of me consisted solely of my parents’ horrified descriptions of my recent homosexual-filled heresy.
These people called out at all the demons that they believed had taken over my soul. Now whether they thought I had left the demons there while I was out of town, or that they existed there as well as in me, apparently with the power to bi-locate, or whether they believed the demons to be inside the picture of Lucy Lawless I had torn out of the People magazine, I don’t know.
Calling this conversations with demons ‘praying’ is a bit of a stretch. One person would have started by actually talking to an invisible demon that was living in my room. They would have had a one sided conversation with this invisible (person? creature? gremlin?) thing, argued with it, gone with the classic ‘you have no power here!’ This would have gotten my family all fired up, and they would have joined along pretty quickly, because if there was one thing my mother loved it was yelling at the Devil while other people listened.
I also knew where the oil had come into play. My brother had been attended a new church over the last year or so, one of those Holy Roller churches where every service ends with an altar call that last hours and includes people barking like dogs and clucking like chickens because Jesus’s holy ghost friend told them to. Anyways, he’d been handing out tiny vials of ‘holy oil’ to people like a dealer on the corner handing out yellow caps to crackheads. Going from talking to invisible gremlins to throwing oil at charcoal drawings of nudes isn’t that much of a leap, all things considered.
If my life with my family had been a TV series, this would have been the moment it jumped the shark. In the spirit of this jump the shark moment, it would be the thing that would end up canceling the show. Those oil hand prints never washed off the wall, instead I would feel them pressing at me every night, telling me to get out. So in the end, the exorcism worked. I moved out within 6 months, taking my Lucy Lawless demons with me.