Saturday, May 01, 2010

Black lesbian prayers and art offered

“Pray Together, Stay Together” by Joy A’Che

Black lesbian spiritual art is almost impossible to find, so it’s thrilling to discover “Pray Together, Stay Together” by Joy A’Che. The bodacious painting is on the cover of her equally wonderful book, “Prayers for My Lesbian Soul.”

[UPDATE: Joy’s work used to be available through Sexy Black Rainbows Entertainment, a lesbian-owned company that offered inspirational and erotic art and e-books for black lesbians and their friends. The company's motto was “bringing black hues to the rainbow color scheme,” but it was closed down when sales slowed.]

Joy A’Che (also known as Joy Shannon.) is a Los Angeles artist, writer and filmmaker. She says that the prayers in her book “are inspired by, and are for, the souls of my lesbian friends” -- and it shows. Her prayers have an authentic, down-to-earth voice, like what lesbians really say to each other and to God.

Simply reading the table of contents is uplifting. The titles of the book’s 40 prayers form a litany of lesbian aspirations: To accept and love my lesbian soul, to help with my anger issues, to want to keep living, to stop worrying about what straight people think of me, to read and learn more today than I did yesterday, to spend my money wisely, to bond with my gay brothers, to help stop homophobia… and so on.

Some lesbians embrace goddess worship, but Joy takes a balanced approach. Each prayer is addressed to “Mother/Father God” and ends with a cutely inclusive affirmation: “Awoman and Amen.”

The prayers address the full scope of lesbian life, including family, health, finances and aging. Parts of the book focus specifically on black lesbian experience in a way that is inviting to all. For example, there is a prayer “to help stop racism in the white LGBT communities.” As a white lesbian, I say: Awoman and Amen to that!

The cover art is my favorite, but the cartoon-style illustrations for each section inside the book also made me smile. The book includes one other full-color image: “Praying with My Woman.” It puts a sexy black lesbian spin on the classic “praying hands” theme.

Joy’s other books include “How One Black Woman Retrained Her Thoughts to Attract Abundance in 30 Days” and “Things to do Before Your Mother Dies.” She is also known for her stage play “Private Thoughts on Cumming Out,” which weaves together three African-American lesbian love stories during some of the most poignant periods in U.S. history.

Her website was serious about integrating sexuality and spirituality, requiring visitors to scroll past titles such as “The Adventures of a Strap-On Diva!” in order to find the prayer book.

Joy generously gave permission to reprint a few prayers below. Let’s join in prayer with the black lesbians whose souls gave birth to these prayers.


For My Lesbian Soul
By Joy A’Che

“Dear Mother/Father God,

I come to you the only way that I know, as a lesbian.
I come to you the only way that I am, as a lesbian.
Even if no one else on the planet knows.
Even if no one in my family knows.
Even if no one at my job knows.
You know. And, You knowing is all that truly matters.

You have known before I was born that I would grow up and love women.
You have known before there was a ‘me.’
You have known before I could say ‘I.’

Even if everyone in my family knows.
Even if everyone at my job knows.
Even if everyone in my neighborhood knows.
None of that matters as much as You knowing.

Thank you for making me a lesbian!
Thank you for designing me with the sweetness and gentleness to be of comfort to women.

I do not believe that you made me a lesbian only to cast me into hell.
I believe that you will judge me on my merits, on my earthly ways. On my thoughts, deeds and actions.

I feel good about myself. My femme, butch, bi, trans, dark black, light black, brown-black, yellowish-black, lesbian self. Whether, I’m in heels and a dress, or in a man’s suit, I feel good about myself knowing that you are judging me on my heart and on those I helped and gave to.

My clothes came from a store, but my heart came from you and that’s all you want back.

--Awoman and Amen”

For My Self Esteem from a Butch
By Joy A’Che

“Dear Mother/Father God,

Most straight people don’t understand it, but I feel good about myself being a butch lesbian. I’m not trying to be a man. I believe that my version of maleness is better! With no disrespect to you God, since you made men, but I am the best of both genders and I want to give you thanks and praise your name.

I have the insight of a woman, but the analytical thinking of a man.
I have the compassion of a woman, but the discipline of a man.
And I love like a woman, but I can support my family like a man. A good man that is.

So thank you God! Thank you for giving me the smooth body of a woman and as I step into my men’s shoes and pull up my men’s socks, and step into my men’s slacks and button my men’s shirt and adjust my men’s tie and tilt my men’s hat, I just want you to know that my male and female self esteem is doing quite well and I feel great about me!

--Awoman and Amen.”

To Find and Keep a Good Mate
By Joy A’Che

“Dear Mother/Father God,

Where will I find my next mate? In a loud and smoky night club? At a grimy bar? At a conference or women’s retreat? Will we meet online or through friends? Where ever I meet her, I want you there. Please help me to not only find her, but to keep a good mate. I can often find women, I just can’t keep them.

Help me to not only find a woman who makes my heart sing, but a woman who stays and sings with me during the hard times. Help me to find a woman who will share what she has and work with me to get what we don’t have, but need. God, I ask for a loving woman. One who is affectionate, kind, generous, sexual and fun to be with. Please let her have healthy thoughts and the ability to curb her temper. Let her have dreams and goals and want something out of life. I ask that she doesn’t abuse drugs, alcohol or me. Let us work well as a team and God if she doesn’t have those qualities, let us be able to work together to become that couple.

--Awoman and Amen.”


learnercurious1 said...

Would I offend Peoples if I copied and read these poems on a radio or internet tv show.Or,would you be willing to read them yourself on one of those shows as a guest?
I am a straight white male.

Audrey said...

This was beautiful work Joy! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!! What I liked about the prayers the most, is that they seemed so real and true to lesbian life. Most prayers out there just don't connect to me. I don't relate at all, but I could really feel that this is true, and you help us to get prayer by, for and about lesbians.

The artwork is stunning; the beauty of the colors, your powerful idea that black is an aspect of a rainbow-- that we change the very nature of reality within a black lesbian context.

But the paintings of two women reading!! Well that is THE BEST!

Kittredge Cherry said...

Audrey and Irncu1, thanks for your enthusiasm about Joy's art and prayers.

Irncu1, you will have to get permission from Joy in order to copy and read her prayers. I don't see any contact info on your profile, or any info about your shows. Please email Joy or me directly to discuss this.

Unknown said...

Website appears to be down and/or domain no good. Do you have current contact info or link to amazon or other site where book can be purchased? Thanks, Rhonda

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thanks for alerting me to this broken link, R Sunday. I will try to contact the artist and find out her current web address.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Artist/author Joy A'Che asked me to thank you, R. Sunday, for your interest in buying her book. Unfortunately she informed me that it is no longer available. Customers slowed down and she cancelled the website.