Cover Photo: Photograph by Kenny Luo/Unsplash
Photograph by Kenny Luo/Unsplash

My Father the Minister

I wasn’t looking for mere acceptance, I wanted love.

To hate is to demonstrate the capacity for love. This, I’ve found nowhere more evident, or breathtaking, than in the religious mind, which tends to find difficulty distinguishing between the two, or otherwise decamping from one to the other in the time it takes to fall by the roadside, blinded by the light of God. I witnessed two such conversions in my father’s life. The first happened when I was twelve. Out of nowhere, my father said he was called by God to leave his career in computer engineering, devote his life to ministry, go to the seminary, renew his faith. This happened over the course of a year or two, but in my mind, it was sudden.

My father was part of that effort. At my school, members of the Chinese American Parents Association (of which my father had previously been President) had organized with other Asian organizations on campus to sign petitions, and demand a parent-teacher meeting with the high school principal and the GSA’s staff advisor to try and veto the club from being passed.

Of my true sexuality, God was the only one who knew. 

. Christianity obliterated my ability to tell the difference between pain and pleasure, and I couldn’t tell, masturbating to the porn at Der Boiler of someone’s asshole on screen was being fisted into a red, pulped fruit. I’ve never seen anyone whipped on a St. Andrew’s Cross, because I had already had a lifetime’s education of an innocent god tortured at the crucifix. All I saw in these bars and saunas and sex clubs were gods who have fallen short of the glory, moaning, groping each other, pissing on my head as I knelt down in the bathroom, opened my mouth, ready to be born again.

I them

La Bohème

“The church has been wrong,” he said. “In the last century, there has never been a group more persecuted by the Evangelical church than LGBT people in America.”

He spoke his words slowly, searching my face to see if he had offended me, or spoken out of turn, to see if I was even still interested. His face looked intrigued, but withheld, unsure if I would reject him.

My father was someone who had seen the Vietnamese independence, the Red Guard in China, had friends who swam the South China Sea to Hong Kong to escape the Cultural Revolution; and in history, my father wanted nothing more than to disappear. After God, what was fear became exhilaration: that we never truly understood the person in front of us. That we might still be unknown to each other. Renewed. No one would judge or have pity on us for being none other than ourselves, meeting one day, at the end of our lives, the only forgiveness I know—forgetting—having slipped through the grip of our own histories into the only grace the godless ever know—oblivion.

Geoffrey Mak is a writer who divides his time between New York and Berlin. His writing has appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Mask, Guernica, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.