it is Lent and I am filling in a survey
about conversion therapy. Part one
asks me to confirm my orientation.
I leave it blank. How do I identify?
Part two asks me when I discovered
I was different. I tick “I have always
known blue as the warmest colour.”
Part three asks what I am giving up –
My identity. It is Lent and I am sin
in human form. I unclothe. Amen.
The unspeakable terror of seclusion
brings me scrambling back to prayer
& I’m sorry for what I have become.
In Christchurch there is a massacre.
In Christ’s church there is an ache.
We grieve. Bleed red. All the same.
This poem responds to the devastating shooting at a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand. When a tragedy like this strikes, we forget our differences and unite. When I heard the news, I was online filling in a survey from OutRight Action International, about gay conversion therapy. I closed the tab and wept. The news broke my heart. I wept for the Muslim community. And I began to think of conversion in different ways: the conversion from one religion to another, the theory that a person can be converted from one sexual orientation to another, the underlying humanness in all of us regardless of what we are, before or after conversion. And how all of our differences fade in comparison to the importance of human life. The title and first line refer to Lent and catechesis because of the idea of ‘giving something up’ for Lent or one’s religion and the heart-breaking fact that some lose their lives because of the hatred and intolerance of others.