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I Can't Date Jesus
Cover of I Can't Date Jesus
I Can't Date Jesus
Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé
In the style of New York Times bestsellers You Can't Touch My Hair, Bad Feminist, and I'm Judging You, a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.
It hasn't been easy being Michael Arceneaux.

Equality for LGBT people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being black in America is...well, have you watched the news?

With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today's boldest writers on social issues, I Can't Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux's impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today's America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.

He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; that time his father asked if he was "funny" while shaking his hand; his obstacles in embracing intimacy; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.

Perfect for fans of David Sedaris and Phoebe Robinson, I Can't Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it's like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world.
In the style of New York Times bestsellers You Can't Touch My Hair, Bad Feminist, and I'm Judging You, a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.
It hasn't been easy being Michael Arceneaux.

Equality for LGBT people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being black in America is...well, have you watched the news?

With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today's boldest writers on social issues, I Can't Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux's impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today's America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.

He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; that time his father asked if he was "funny" while shaking his hand; his obstacles in embracing intimacy; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.

Perfect for fans of David Sedaris and Phoebe Robinson, I Can't Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it's like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world.
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About the Author-
  • Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard University-educated writer currently living in Harlem. Covering issues related to culture, sexuality, religion, race, and Beyoncé, Michael has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, New York Magazine, Complex, The Root, Essence, and many other publications. Additionally, he's lent his commentary to MSNBC, VH1, NPR, Viceland, SiriusXM, among others.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 16, 2018
    “The world is still a harsh place for those who don’t fit in with the status quo,” writes journalist Arceneaux in this witty and powerful collection of personal essays. Over the course of 17 pieces, Arceneaux explores his experiences as a black, gay man and Catholic Southerner—identities frequently at odds with each other. Arceneaux recalls praying to Jesus to “cure” him of his homosexuality as a teenager in Houston, and later being “recruited” for priesthood as a college student at Howard University, noting at that period in his life he saw his future self as “something more along the lines of ‘Katie Couric with a dick.’ ” He later writes about his postcollege stints living in Los Angeles and New York while trying to make it as a writer (“here are the topics mainstream outlets love for me to write about from the perspective of a gay Black man: Black homophobia, AIDS, sexual racism”). His dating escapades, meanwhile, are frequently hilarious and sometimes disastrous: one man was judged unacceptable not because he had beaten up an ex-boyfriend, but because he worked for Fox News, while another brought a flea infestation into Arceneaux’s apartment. Arceneaux has a biting sense of humor, referring to the persistence of Catholic guilt, for example, as “the herpes of your conscience,” and a nasty roommate as “land’s answer to Ursula the Sea Witch.” Arceneaux’s confident voice and unapologetic sense of humor will appeal to fans of Roxane Gay.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2018
    A gay black journalist gets personal about race, religion, and sexuality in America.Houston native Arceneaux gathers his most provocative essays to discuss how he went about "unlearning every damaging thing I've seen and heard about my identity." He begins with a reflection of his childhood and his devoutly Catholic--and homophobic--home environment. Although his mother taught him about sexuality early on, his father ferociously condemned a gay uncle who died of AIDS. Fearful of being revealed as homosexual, the author spent much of his adolescence masturbating to mental images of gorgeous men while praying that "God wouldn't grab Moses's staff and knock the shit out of me with it." When a priest approached him about joining the priesthood, Arceneaux realized he had to come to terms with who he was. The author experimented with same-sex relationships at Howard University, but he remained mostly closeted. After taking part in a New York City gay pride parade during college, he tentatively began coming out, first to other students and then to his sister. The music of Beyoncé--his "lord and gyrator" and a woman notable for how she always "[stood] firm" in who she was as an artist and black woman--also helped him find the courage to be himself. As Arceneaux grew into his gay identity, he contemplated the nature of gay marriage, cross-racial gay attractions, and his own relationships with other black men. He attempted to write about his revelations for the media, but when he did, his (mostly white) editors saw what "[they] wanted to see" rather than the truths he attempted to communicate. Arceneaux's essays penetrate to the heart of intersectionality to reveal personal and religious trials of faith. Together, they make a powerful statement of self-acceptance in a world much in need of lessons about diversity, tolerance, and openness.A funny, fierce, and bold memoir in essays.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2018

    Arceneaux's debut is both funny and serious; containing humorous essays about being gay, being black, and growing up in Houston. His storytelling has a degree of panache that puts him in league with some of the best personal essayists writing today. He also grew up Roman Catholic, which plays a large role in many of his essays. His formal education took him to Howard University while his romantic schooling took him through the trials and tribulations of contemporary gaydom, with its ups and downs. Arceneaux knows how to take serious matters, such as when asked to join the priesthood and making the irony deeply human. He talks about one of the classic locations of black male solidarity, the barber shop, and reveals how it can be a minefield for a gay man. These few examples don't do justice to the wit and verve with which the author writes; there are shifting emotions, reflecting someone revealing his deepest self. VERDICT Arceneaux is forthcoming in such a way that readers will feel like they're having a conversation with a good friend; a personal story for all readers.--David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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I Can't Date Jesus
I Can't Date Jesus
Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé
Michael Arceneaux
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