A stunning memoir of coming of age and coming out bisexual from award-winning writer and teacher Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew.

Product Code: 5481
ISBN: 9781558968783
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Skinner House Books
Pages: 240
Size: 8.5 x 5.5
Published Date: 03/15/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $18.00

The June 2022 Justice and Spirit: Unitarian Universalist Book Club selection.

Every story begins with a word. As a young woman, Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew carried a word within her so potent that it spread through her every artery and vein. She carried it in secret until she was shown a different way and the word inside her turned restless and eager.

A stunning memoir of coming of age and coming out, Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Memoir of Bisexuality and Spirit describes a period of time in award-winning writer and teacher Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s life when she came to know bisexuality as an embodied manifestation of divinity. Andrew not only reconciles her United Methodist faith with her sexuality but realizes that her body is holy, her sexuality is holy, and the word she carried within her has always been holy.

The spark of spirit Andrew identifies in her body she also finds throughout the solid matter of life—in childhood, nature, creativity, loss, death, and especially the coming out process. Andrew brings a distinctly queer feminist lens to Christian teachings and answers the question innumerable young people have posed to her over the years: “Is it possible to be both queer and spiritual?” The act of bringing hidden, personal truths to light is transformative, and for Andrew, a universal calling.

This second edition includes a new note from Andrew as she looks back on its twenty-year history.

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Preface to New Edition
Preface to 1st Edition

Skirting the Garden
A Childhood
Unlocking the Garden
Woman in a Wilderness
Into the Garden
Digging with a Pointed Stick
A Queer, Pretty Place
The Fear of Growing Things
Simon Emanuel
Thinking Only of the Magic
On Fire
Swinging on the Garden Gate

“Coming out in any form cracks the world open. When we come out, we take a buried truth, an inward reality residing near the soul, and pull it to the surface where it wreaks havoc on every perpetuated falsehood. We yank a piece of our essence out into the air, transforming in the process the self we thought we were as well as the community around us. I came out bisexual, claiming with pride God’s presence in the unique desires of my body. But as soon as I could recognize incarnation within my own skin, it was everywhere else as well—in my past, in the landscape, in each object, in the story itself . . . . The middle school where I taught ­seventh-grade English couldn’t accept my word, but (thank heavens!) my church did, and now the religious contingent marching in the Pride Parade is one person larger. Where the word is spoken, the huge creaking wheels of creation begin to turn.

What stuns me is how the word of God resides in each of us, carved into our very cells. I was taught to look for the word in the Bible, whose onionskin pages seem holier than those of a paperback novel and whose well-worn language we like to associate with the voice of God. After I came out, scripture stumbled down from the pulpit. It never belonged there in the first place: The word became flesh (not with Jesus, who simply reminds us of this fact, but in the very beginning) and it dwells among us, full of grace. When I sink into the sensual and relentless truths of my sexuality, and find there, hidden in the sticky recesses of my sex where I least expect it, holiness, it seems to me that all of creation’s bones and blood, vapor, soil, feathers, and solidity are infused with a sacred word. God is thoroughly, unabashedly incarnate. The spiritual journey is so physical that it makes me shiver. It sends me running barefoot on deer-paths through the woods, and it shakes me awake during the blackest part of the night.”

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