What? No gay monks or nuns at St. Marlene’s?

Everyone knows that nuns are secret sexy lesbians, right? (It frightens me to see how many hits on this blog are from people Googling “hot sexy nuns.”) I was raised a good Southern Baptist, taught from an early age that Catholics become priests or monks or nuns because they are secretly gay and are hiding their sexuality.

So why don’t my stories set at St. Marlene’s, the monastery and convent in my fictional hometown of Quacker Holler, Tennessee, have gay priests? And why no gay monks or nuns? Who am I kidding?

Because that’s what everyone expects me to do

It’s a cliché, and behind any cliché, one rarely finds the truth.

Sure, I have known some gay priests. Like the one who always went outside to smoke during the breaks at RCIA class. “I’ve given up sex,” he used to say. “Surely God will allow me one vice.” More than likely, I have known some gay monks and nuns, although I am not aware of who they might be. It’s just that the odds are against me not having known any gay monks and nuns.

So what?

I have also known many straight priests, monks, and nuns who have chosen to devote their lives to their mission, serving people and serving the Lord. Why should we assume that they are gay, just because they have chosen service before sex? For that matter, why should we assume they are straight? Why would it matter?

Please don’t feed the stereotype

That myth that everyone who takes a vow of celibacy does so because they’re gay and can’t admit it? It belittles their true commitment to their mission. It minimizes them as people by reducing them to nothing more than a pop psychology truism. Even most of the gay clergy took their vows for the right reasons, and not just to hide from their sexuality.

That being said, who says there aren’t gay clergy at St. Marlene’s? Just because I don’t have any stories where the nuns climb into each other’s beds when the lights are out, that doesn’t mean they’re all straight. All it means is that they are true to their vows.

The truth is, some of the monks and some of the nuns likely are gay. But since they’re celibate, nothing in their actions tells us which monks and nuns are gay, and it doesn’t matter anyway.

Some clergy are gay, and some are straight. Fair enough. Let’s judge them by what they do, not by who they love.

The most important takeaway from Fringe

And so the Minnesota Fringe Festival has completed its run. We have tucked it under the covers and turned out the lights. Goodnight, Fringies, it’s time for bed.

Thank you to everyone who came to “The Magnificent Story of St. Marlene’s Marvelous Moonshine (Made by Monks),” the show with the longest title in all of Fringe. I had set goals for my first year at the Fringe based on what other seasoned performers told me to expect, and we exceeded every one of those goals. Thank you for making it happen!

We had excellent reviews, all four- or five-kitty reviews, nothing less: “This lady is one of the best storytellers I have seen at Fringe,” “funny, smart, conversational, unaffected,” “a must-see show,” and “her homespun charm and dry wit is thought-provoking, hilarious, and emotionally resonant all at once, creating a show that both honors and pokes fun at the South, religion, and family.” The most wonderful compliment of all was a comparison to the great Nancy Donoval.

If you enjoyed the show, there are two options: Patrick and I would love to perform this at other places that appreciate our approach to “unconventional reverence.” (Unitarian-Universalist churches, maybe?) Or you can wait for the novel which I will be working on this fall with the characters of Father Robertson, Brother John, Sister Candace, Beverly, and Candy Cornbread.

But one particular takeaway from the show is more valuable than all the ticket sales or all the reviews in all the world: I made new friends. Thank you for connecting with me, for approaching me after the show, for bonding with me over a few stories about unconventional reverence.

Candy Cornbread’s Big News

Thanks to all of your great responses to my latest story about Candy Cornbread, the pen name and literary heroine of the 75-year-old alcoholic nun who secretly publishes redneck vampire nun erotica. People seem to like her, and I love her positive message for women. For those of you who haven’t heard or read the story, I will tell it in my Minnesota Fringe Festival storytelling show August 4-14, and it will be in my upcoming ebook, Pecan Pie, Cigars, and the One and Only Secret to Happiness.

Because of these responses, Candy Cornbread is going to get her own full-length novel. You will be able to read about how Sister Emily, Sister Caroline, and blend their own unique backgrounds to continue the Candy Cornbread stories, to save St. Marlene’s Abbey from being closed by the bishop, and to inspire women (and men) to seek continuous improvement in their lives.

The bad news? I can’t begin this until after the Fringe show.

Twin Cities Storytelling: Redneck Vampire Nun Stories? Oh, My! July 7

Anodyne Coffee HouseHey, y’all need to go to this! The first Thursday in July, at Anodyne Coffee House in the Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis. Come listen to my story, “How Candy Cornbread Survived the Rapture,” and help me decide whether to include this story in my upcoming Minnesota Fringe Festival show, “The Magnificent Story of St. Marlene’s Marvelous Moonshine (Made by Monks).”

Email me at christy@christymariekent.com for more information, or look at my upcoming performance schedule.

The Rapture of Sister Candace

On Wednesday morning, Beverly reported to the library at 8:00 and waited in the lobby until the grandfather finished tolling the hour, and then a little longer, to allow Sister Candace time to hide her bottle. When the clock showed 8:02, she entered the library to greet Sister Candace, who by that time had stashed her shine and was buzzed and ready to start the day. She was typing on the computer in her office.

“Are you working on one of your Candy Cornbread stories?” asked Beverly.

“Sure am. Candy’s talkin’ about the rapture, one of my favorite subjects.”

“The rapture?”

“Yes, the rapture, girl. Ain’tchu been payin’ attention? All them bodies of the dead are gonna rise from their graves, up into the air, and the bodies of the saints will be taken to heaven and the bodies of the damned will be cast upon the ground in shame. That’s what the rapture does to the dead: it lifts and separates.”

“Lifts and separates?”

“Like a bra. The apoca-lift.”

From “Candy Cornbread and the Rapture of Sister Candace

Red or White?

At the Baptist church in my hometown of Quacker Holler, Tennessee, as in little country churches all across the south, women wear red corsages if their mothers are alive, white corsages if their mothers have passed. That had worked well for as long as any of us could remember, so no one understood why one year Deacon McFadden thought it would be nice to have the church provide the roses.

It would have worked well if he had kept it simple and bought red roses for all the women, the way some of the big city churches do. Instead, he bought some red and some white and asked a couple of the boys to pin the proper rose on each woman’s lapel as she entered the church.

It still might have turned out all right if he had given them proper etiquette instruction. Sadly, it wasn’t until a guest sat down with a mortified look on her face that anyone thought to go see what the boys were doing. They stood at the door of the church, asking each woman as she arrived, with no explanation or introduction, “Dead, or alive?”

I suppose it could have been worse. As it turned out, we learned three important lessons that day:

  1. Sometimes changing old traditions is more trouble than it is worth;
  2. Sometimes giving everyone white roses, without explaining that you have run out of red roses, causes unexpected outpouring of sympathy; and
  3. Sometimes it is just the prompt we need to think about what life would be like if our mother had already passed, and to pick up the phone and call her while we still have the opportunity. Or better yet, go spend the afternoon with her.

Twin Cities Storytelling: “Stories of Growth,” May 3, SlamMN!

Hey, y’all need to go to this! The first Tuesday in May, at Kieran’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis, is the next installment in the SlamMN! story slam series. Come listen to my story, “The Unorthodox Habits of Brother John,” and help me decide whether to include this story in my upcoming Minnesota Fringe Festival show, “The Magnificent Story of St. Marlene’s Marvelous Moonshine (Made by Monks).”

Email me at christy@christymariekent.com for more information, or look at my upcoming performance schedule.