I grew up with a dangerous love of werewolves. I wanted to meet them. I wanted to run with them in the woods behind the house. I wanted them to break into my room at night and kneel at my bed and whisper all the courageous, adventurous things I could become.
I drew pictures of werewolves. I couldn’t help myself. Especially when I was 14 and living outside of Caruthersville, MO, on the levy by the Mississippi River, where my father was the pastor of a small country church–those pictures came every day into my head and just bled out of my pencils and pens. Most of these werewolves were kind, masculine, big brotherly, mentor-like werewolves. I was not clued-in to my head at the time.
These werewolves came, most likely, from my deeply embedded and hidden sexuality, a love for hairy men that I could not understand–a feeling like there was a wild side of me that I must hide away. But the werewolves at my window were always free. Free to run.
These werewolves I drew–the first one made me weep as a teenager–there was something important in that picture, something I couldn’t fully understand growing up in my deeply religious environment. I don’t regret the beautiful years of being deep in that family and faith (and I’m still a big part of my family and faith) but I regret not knowing what that was. I’d have been a much different person if I had known I was gay at 15 instead of at 34.
I appreciate the magic and wonder my ignorance left me–and that’s a strange blessing to be thankful for, but it’s a blessing nonetheless. Because I could not believe in my sexuality, I believed werewolves were real. I musta lived under some really awesome bubble of cognitive dissonance for an A+ student to believe werewolves were possible and still understand and love my science classes. But there I was–a high school student who kept a space open in my brain for the possibility of werewolves. It’s not so hard to believe. For me, son of a Southern Baptist minister, I had a world with angel-demon fights, Jesus talking to you out of the air, fiery chariots racing to the sky, resurrecting dead people, talking donkeys–that’s a world where werewolves can happen, too, isn’t it? That space I kept open–it’s a similar space open for the possibility of miracles, of faith. So why not a …sorta faith in werewolves?