A new memoir, Gay Girl, Good God, tells the very personal story of how Jackie Hill Perry came to be a Christian.
Based on the title, readers may expect a bold conversion but actually the moment when Perry finally recognizes God’s goodness is a rather ordinary moment. What follows afterward is the process of becoming who God was calling her to be. Most memorably, she describes the process of making her inner change more visible outwardly by changing the way she dresses is reminiscent of the letter to the Colossians which instructs us to “clothe” ourselves with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Even as the inner changes of sanctification are still in progress, as Christians we can begin to emulate our Savior.
The book follows Perry’s inner, emotional life during the years that followed. Especially when Perry describes her former way of life, she relies on indirect language and inventive imagery. Perry’s prose takes cues from her experience as a spoken word poet, often trusting her readers to follow the thread of the story through flashbacks and flash-forwards that can be jarring. Each chapter begins with a year, but generally focuses more on the emotional experiences and inner changes of sanctification. The outer changes are sometimes hard to follow.
Perry’s theology becomes more clear in part three, as she speaks directly to readers and explains the theological underpinnings of her conversion. While these short chapters open up some important discussions, they leave many complex theological questions unanswered. Readers looking for a clear understanding on the shortcomings of current ideas about sexual identity will probably benefit more by reading Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s Openness Unhindered.