My First Meeting With the Queer God:

I Am Given the Kiss of Death & Transformation

Donald L. Engstrom

© February 1986

    In the Spring of 1985, I was very sick with hepatitis. I thought that I was going to die. My skin and my eyes were bright yellow. I could hardly bring myself to eat. It was a major effort to move from one room to another. Each morning I would slowly made my way to the living room sofa. I would lie there most of the day floating in and out of fever dreams. I really was one sick puppy.

    After about ten days of this, the quality of my dreams began to change. These dreams were sharper and more real than anything in my waking life. They became a mixture of dreaming, trancing and visioning.

    One very windy afternoon I began to hear a voice while wide awake. I realized that it was a tree speaking. It was the Black Walnut that lives outside of my living room's northern window. It’s branches were dancing madly as it told me to expect company. A special visitor was coming to see me very soon.

    I remember thinking, ‘How in the hell am I going to get to the door to let a visitor in?’

    I remember thinking next, ‘Donald, you have finally gone over the edge!’

    I had done some trance work over the last few years. I had been part of Witches’ Circles, Radical Fairie Circles and Pagan Circles. I had gone on guided visualizations. I regularly meditated and practiced daily devotions to The Great Mother. But, whatever was happening to me now was different, really different. Honestly, I was scared to the point of shaking.  Nevertheless, I began to believe what the Black Walnut was telling me. I began to expect someone to soon be coming to visit.

    One minute I was watching the dancing branches and listening to the tree. The next minute I was standing in a strange subway station somewhere in New York City. The walls were covered with bright sloppy graffiti. I am sure that the floors had been clean sometime in it’s history, but not today. The smell of ozone, piss and stale food perfumed the air. Suddenly a train pulled up to the platform and began to disgorge it’s occupants. It appeared to be just another workday rush hour morning. Everyone had a destination and was determined to reach it as soon as they possibly could.

    I stood against a cold wall and watched the crowds pass by. I was relieved that I had no need to join this river of humanity. I was there to just observe, or so I thought.

    I became aware of the explosive sounds of trucks backfiring ... no, it was the sound of fire crackers ... no, it was assault rifles echoing down the stairs and ricocheting off of the train station walls. The crowd as one stopped, went silent and sent searching looks up towards the noise.

    Shrill terrified screaming started somewhere up the stairs.

    Bloody bodies tumbled down the stairs and gathered in a twisted heap at the foot of the stairs. Their blood began to pool and then stream towards the floor drains.

    Everything was happening too fast for me to fully understand what was going on. I was confused and afraid.

    Then somehow, I knew what was happening. I suddenly noticed that each person on the platform had a mark on their foreheads. Folks with pink triangles on their foreheads were being killed. They were being shot dead where they stood. It was a massacre of Queer People!

    A man in full leather grabbed my shoulder, motioned for me to follow as he jumped down to the tracks and began to run for all he was worth into the tunnels. What could I do? I followed.

    As I ran to catch up, I saw military police come down the stairs, trying to separate people into groups. They soon began to eliminate the queers. But, these were humans, not sheep. Queer people were making a break for it, scattering down every tunnel. The butchers followed.

    The leather man lead me and those who followed us on a terrifying wild and exhausting chase down the tracks and into the maze of an old dry sewer. We ran losing the others until just the leather man and I found ourselves at a dead end. There was no where to run, no where to hide. We could hear the soldiers coming. I was terrified.

    The man in leather turned to face me. He calmly looked deep into my eyes. Such love poured into me that I could hardly breath. He leaned forward and gave me a gentle kiss on the lips. We both fell down dead as the military police came into view. The leather man had given me the Kiss of Death and Transformation.

    I knew that we had died and lay lifeless on the old dirty concrete floor. But yet, he still held me in his arms. I noticed that we were now walking through a deep dark tunnel. He was taking me to a place of complete restoration. I joyfully realized that a Queer God had claimed me for His own. He was holding me in His love.

    I blinked. I was back in my living room. The black walnut branches were still dancing and singing in the wind. The afternoon sun still shone in the sky.

    ‘What just happened?’ I remember asking myself.

    My mind was clearer than it had been for weeks. The room shimmered with a numinous afterglow. One of the Gods had surely paid me a visit. A Queer God had called on me. Imagine that!

    I soon fell into a deep dreamless sleep.

    I was completely recovered from the hepatitis within a week and back to work. My life had been changed, transformed. But, I still had to pay the bills. Though, even while I drove a city bus through rush hour traffic, I was now aware of Someone New riding beside me. The Purple God had come to stay.

¨    Less than two weeks later I received the bitter news that I was HIV+. I knew now, beyond a doubt, that yes, my life was totally changed. Was this why He had come to me? Had He only come to warn and comfort me? Frankly, I felt that the Queer God's visit had to be about more than just a comfort for a deadly disease. There had to be more to it than just that.

    As the months went by we got to know each other very well indeed. The joys, pleasures and challenges of any new love affair brought us closer as we learned to trust and truly embrace each other. I wept. I laughed. An old homophobic part of myself withered away and died. A new way of being queer in the world was given to me. A new door had been opened to me that I fully intended to use. I was being called to step consciously and joyfully into the role of a Queer Witch Priestess.

    I shared my vision with my lovers, friends and family. Many of us were excited by my tale. Others began to be deeply inspired by Queer Spirit and began to meet other Queer Ones. A new way of being queer in the world had begun to be a part of our lives.

    More and more Queer Ones came to us. It appeared that there was a whole tribe of Beings, Spirits, Gods and Goddesses that held queer folks within Their powerful loving arms. We knew in a new deep way our queer selves as sacred and blessed.

    And the tale goes on and on.