“I just want to be in Miss Tina’s book club,” Michael Arceneaux says in a matter-of-fact way as he’s chatting about life, love and all things Beyoncé when he bopped his way to The Root’s office for an interview.
Writer, Houstonian, practicing homosexual, Beyoncé life partner and now, author, Michael Arceneaux just dropped his debut book, expertly named, I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons Why I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé and in his words, “you’ve never read a book like this before.”
I Can’t Date Jesus is a coming of age story and Arceneaux is not trying to re-invent the wheel nor is he trying to claim a monopoly over growing up black and gay in the South, but his story is unique, endearing and hilarious.
Before Arceneaux got swept up into his guaranteed fame, he stopped by The Root’s office to chat with me about the book, his mother, Christianity and being a hoe, but not being good at it.
“I’m not pretending to be the first person to write a coming of age story, but it is a very specific perspective and my intention was to write a book that I wish I had when I was younger and to write a book that I feel like did not exist,” he said.
Growing up Christian is just what you do when you’re black and from the South. With Michael’s (sort of) shocking book title, you’re thrust into believing that something about Jesus is going to show up in the book. And it does.
Arceneaux said, “So the thing about a lot of Christians, is that I find that, a lot of them understand that people are born gay, but they feel that it’s an affliction that you can’t help who you are but you shouldn’t act on it based on: if you do it, you might go to hell. And I think the idea of denying someone to be fully human, which is something I used to do, I used to suppress myself because I just thought it was so inherently wrong.”
That push and pull of denying who you are, all while trying to figure it out is a classic tale that many of us are used to. Arceneaux is giving us a glimpse into his formative years, in the hopes that someone feels represented in a way they never have before.
Writing is no challenge for Arceneaux, whose work you may have seen everywhere, from The Root to the New York Times, his pen, rather his fingertips, are constantly on fire. But there’s a new challenge in writing books that he faced head-on. Arceneaux told Samantha Irby, “I had to stop being Hot Take Teddy and focus on the book. Once I got to do that, I really enjoyed it—even the parts of the book that were most challenging to write. Time was an asset. It allowed me to perfect my shit. Quick turnarounds can yield good writing, but overall, it’s whew chile, the ghetto (Hi, NeNe Leakes fans).”
So now, we are blessed with Arceneaux’s brand spanking new book, penned with love and all the thottiness he could muster in between body rolls and buying Beyoncé tickets.
Check out the video above where Michael Arceneaux reveals he used to masturbate to old Omarion (yes, from B2K) videos.
I Can’t Date Jesus is out now and available wherever books are sold!