November 2000

One of the most amazing plays in existence was here at UMASS in October. The play was "Corpus Christi", written by Terrence McNally. I was lucky enough to go see it, and I dragged along my mother. Nudity, adult content, sexual situations, and heresy be damned!

"Corpus Christi" tells the story of Jesus, in the play referred to as Joshua, who is from Corpus Christi, Texas. His virgin birth creates resentment with his father. As he grows up, he plays chess with his teacher, is called a fairy by coach and peers alike, while on prom night he has his first sexual experience. With a man, Judas. Yes, that Judas.

A gay Jesus, with gay disciples, is not a concept taught in Sunday School. The first time I encountered the notion of the Savior of Mankind being a faggot was in a book by John Boswell, who suggested that Jesus and John, the "disciple that Christ loved", were more than really good friends. But when it is Judas in love with Joshua, the story and idiom of the "Judas kiss" takes on an entirely new meaning.

I am not Christian, not anymore. However, in my life, the after effects of being Christian for sixteen years have had a great deal to do with my own internal struggles. I have always had a hard time seeing Christ as a perfect person, a god on earth. And these things color my interpretations and views on this entire subject. Just a slight disclaimer, so as to not offend those I know who are devout Christians.

Joshua is ridiculed in high school. Joshua falls in love, or loves, in a way that good people aren't supposed to. Joshua does not turn the other cheek, rather he punches out a priest, and replies that he must have been in a really good mood that day' when asked about his turn the other cheek philosophy. Joshua makes love. He performs a wedding for two of his male disciples. Joshua parties and dances and drinks. He is a real human, not just that perfect idol that the priests, nuns, and Sunday School teachers held up for me to see all my life. Joshua is carnal. He gets angry and is afraid. He is in real pain on the cross. He dies for being a fag, for being a savior, for being different.

Did I mention that "Corpus Christi" was highly influenced by the death of Matthew Shepard?

They don't talk about the weaknesses of Jesus in church settings much. They never have a Sunday School class on the Fallacies of Christ. Joshua isn't a stereotypical Lord of Light. He is human in every sense of the word. And that is what makes the play special.

If you ever get the chance to see "Corpus Christi", go!

P.S. A special hello to the buddy of mine I sat next to at "Corpus Christi" because I know he reads Oasis!!!


Bethany Kimball is a freshman at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She can be reached at k41632@yahoo.com and very much enjoys email, hint, hint.

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