Last night I performed at the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco - alongside Greta Christina, David Fitzgerald, Juba Kalamka, Simon Sheppard, and Dana Fredsti - for Godless Perverts Story Hour, a quarterly showcase of sexuality-focused writing on destabilizing religion of all kinds. My piece (which begins at around 15:00) was inspired by my childhood spent in a Pentecostal church in El Sobrante, CA, and the imagined private lives of various church members I grew up around. Here's a preview (just in case you need some convincing to watch the video...):
I spent nearly 20 years in a Pentecostal church in El Sobrante California – a town 20 miles from right here whose name literally translates to “the leftovers.” By 12 I had excused myself from all youth related activities and was the head Sunday School teacher and volunteered every Sunday to run the projector that magnified all the hymns onto a big screen so everyone could sing before the sermon. This put me in close proximity to the pastor, the head deacon and the choir director, Brother David. The members of the church thought I was precocious and I convinced myself that I did these things because I was a good girl and a good Christian - but really I preferred the inappropriate intimacies that my young fat brown body inspired in the fathers over the disgust it inspired in their sons. So I dressed up for them and I went on diets for them and I wore perfume for them and I did my hair for them and I burned for them the way a fat brown girl learns to burn for white men and their churches and their secrets and they get hard from the knowledge that you have nowhere else to go. They keep you there with bones and somehow you lose your appetite for meat.
Virgie Tovar, MA is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp (a 4 week online course focused on helping people break up with diet culture) and the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She writes about the intersections of size, identity, sexuality and politics. See more updates on Facebook.