Coming on the heels of Ellie Kemper’s very twee memoir, My Squirrel Days, Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé absolutely blew me away. I mean, it probably would have anyway, but WOW what a contrast.
“I couldn’t make someone love me. I couldn’t make myself desirable to someone who didn’t want me. I couldn’t compel someone to see me in the same way in which I wanted to be seen. All I could do was be myself, and if someone didn’t fool with me, find someone else.”
That is a wise, true statement that we could all learn a lesson from. And Arceneaux spends this whole book demonstrating how hard it is to get there as a human being. Raised in Houston, knowing from the start that he was somehow different from the “manly men” in his church and community and how he would NOT be accepted for that difference (“I learned a certain part of my identity very early, but it was met with near-instant confirmation of how unwelcome that part of my identity was to those surrounding me.”), Arceneaux struggled to find a way to fit in. In doing so, he pushed his true self down and allowed himself to be treated terribly by others. Until he realized he was worth more.
This book examines not only Arceneaux’s story, but also how minorities are treated across the country — particularly people of color and LGBT people. It’s an excellent mix of funny and sad, smart and silly. I loved Arceneaux’s and I can’t wait to see what else he produces.