In God’s Image (Part 22)
LGBTQ subversion — Callie as Jesus, bloodied and dying
When it was time for homeroom, I made a beeline to the computer lab.
I needed to create. I didn’t know what. I just knew I had to launch AI and go. We were supposed to to make art that encapsulated a stage of Jesus’s life. It needed to have a relevant Bible quote and an explanation about a paragraph long. I put my pencil to paper and started sketching. Everything ended up looking like the covers of overly Christian greeting cards.
I read the directions some more and noticed our art needed to have some sort of personal touches. I thought about how I could make Jesus’s crucifixion personal.
Other people got Jesus’s birth and ministry while I had to make the most important event in the world relate to some random trans boy. I never witnessed anyone die firsthand, much less be crucified. Hearing again and again that our sins drove nails, thorns, and shards of metal and bone into Jesus’s flesh got dull quickly, but I felt something prick my conscience.
Jesus was a totally innocent man who died an unjust death. I wasn’t perfect by any means and I lived through my suicide attempt. But I knew someone who tried their best to be like Jesus in all aspects of life, big or small. This person also died an unjust death.
Callie would hang on the cross to atone for the sins of this school and for all the so-called “Christians” who had a hand in killing her. My project would be a statement about the way theology killed Callie.
As I got creating, I noticed that I somehow made a sunset look menacing. A few rays of sunlight shone on Callie as she looked up at God pleading for the slightest respite from the pain. Her body was partially covered with white strips of cloth: enough to not get me accused of drawing porn, but not so much that it took away from the starkness I was after.
I worked day by day, transfixed, sketching out red scratch marks, adding a deeper shade of red in the middle, then bringing it all out with realistic shading and texturing.
For good measure, I made sure the wounds varied in freshness. Blood traced the lines of her body as it fell. Each droplet glistened with golden highlights since white highlights wouldn’t make much sense in a dark drawing. Blood absorbed into the wood of the cross and fell on the soil below. I added myself as the thief on the cross: an ordinary man with black hair nearly bloodied beyond recognition.
I hoped Callie forgave me for what I had pushed her into. I drew people in the crowd shouting taunts at her. I wrote them so that it would take close observation to see what they hurled at the girl who was once among my closest friends.
The Bible clearly says…
Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Depraved and disordered.
Think of the children.
I sifted through the Bible passage suggestions and found some that would fit my image.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
They knew what they were doing.
He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.
That might have worked for a standard illustration of Jesus, but not for something like this.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
It wasn’t God who had forsaken Callie. It was the people who claimed to follow God.
Then I came to Matthew 25:40.
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
This school had claimed several times that it did not endorse conversion therapy, but how could Callie’s teachers just sit idle when they knew she was being psychologically tortured to death? They deliberately ignored her cries for help because actually helping her would mean questioning hundreds of years of tradition and ways of thinking. Would they do that and risk their Christian image?
No. After all, they always thought of the children.
As the due date for my project drew nearer, the day of the second custody hearing approached. I needed something called a character witness, someone who believed me.
I sat at a table by myself and bit into a dry turkey and processed cheese sandwich. I was truly alone. My parents were against me. Callie was dead. My so-called friends abandoned me as soon as I returned. At least I had Lana, but I couldn’t contact her.
As I got up to get some freshly baked cookies, a teacher pulled me over into a corner and handed me an envelope. It was black, there was no return address or postage, and it was addressed to Viktor. I bought some cookies and ate them while I read.
The letter was from the unknown neighbor who saw me while I was attempting suicide. This person seemed to know a lot about me… almost too much. They knew about my gender dysphoria before it even occurred to me that I was trans. They knew my mother wrote about me in secret and even knew that senbei and green tea was her blogging snack of choice.
They even knew that I kissed Callie during a sleepover when we were both in the 7th grade. I still remember the taste of her strawberry lip gloss like it was yesterday and the way her lips followed mine. That moment was more sacred to me than anything.
I actually had a massive crush on her for years. How could I have denied it? I even told her that I would have been her boyfriend if I were a boy. Callie, being Callie, told me that I was fine the way I was. I disagreed, but I didn’t know why. I knew that girls could like girls because I saw it on the Internet somewhere, but at the same time, I knew I wasn’t one of them.
I checked the handwriting on the letter. It was definitely not typed, but definitely not quite human either. The ink seemed to glow on the paper, which didn’t feel quite like paper. I put it in one of my folders and ate my other cookie. Since a ruling in the hearing held that any emotional abuse Lana brought up was simply my parents raising me the way they wanted, I might be basically screwed.
When I got time to work on my explanation, at first I didn’t know what to say. However, when I looked at Callie on the cross, I felt a sudden surge of boldness.