In the style of New York Times bestsellers You Can’t Touch My Hair, Bad Feminist, and I’m Judging You, a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.
It hasn’t been easy being Michael Arceneaux.
Equality for LGBT people has come a long way and all, but voices of persons of color within the community are still often silenced, and being black in America is…well, have you watched the news?
With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at minority life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite.
He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; that time his father asked if he was “funny” while shaking his hand; his obstacles in embracing intimacy; and the persistent challenges of young people who feel marginalized and denied the chance to pursue their dreams.
Perfect for fans of David Sedaris and Phoebe Robinson, I Can’t Date Jesus tells us—without apologies—what it’s like to be outspoken and brave in a divisive world.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard University-educated writer currently living in Harlem. Covering issues related to culture, sexuality, religion, race, and Beyoncé, Michael has written for Complex, Essence, The Guardian, New York magazine, The New York Times, The Root, and many other publications. Additionally, he has lent his commentary to such outlets as MSNBC, NPR, SiriusXM, VH1, and Viceland.
“There are stories that simply demand to be told and Michael Arceneaux’s is one such story. In I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, Arceneaux writes from his life as a black gay man with an uncanny strength of conviction and such fine wit. The essays collected here reveal Arceneaux at his finest, as he grapples with the very things that shape our lives – faith, family, and finding a way into the world he wants to be a part of. Whether he is writing about coming to terms with his father’s rage or his complicated relationship to Christianity or his trepidations about dating and finding human connection, Arceneaux makes keen observations and sculpts beauty from the ugly things a lesser writer would shy away from…The critical thinking, from beginning to end, is outstanding. I Can’t Date Jesus is a must-read collection from a rising, unforgettable voice.”—Roxane Gay
"In this collection, Michael Arceneaux is as vulnerable as he is hilarious, sharp as he is shady, thoughtful as he is THOT-ty. With wit, heart, and keen self-awareness, he allows us to see him in totality and forces us to feel our way through his journey toward contentment, wholeness and reconciliation with faith and family as an unapologetically black, queer and Southern man. I know our patron saint Beyoncé would be proud!"—Janet Mock, New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty
“I Can’t Date Jesus is both a Genesis and a Revelation. As he turns his brilliant, cynical, and critical eye on his own selfhood with sustained attention, Michael Arceneaux uncovers each layer of humanity and hilarity with the same unflinching authenticity he has brought to politics and popular culture for a decade. Like his god, Beyoncé, Michael has a ‘Negro, Creole, and Texas Bama’ alchemy that will leave you weak with recognition, regret, and joy. I Can’t Date Jesus reveals who Michael is and reveals who we are; in doing this, it elevates itself from personal memoir to definitive text of why it matters to be black, to be gay, to be young, and to be human in this moment.” – Melissa Harris-Perry
“THIS BOOK IS MY BIBLE.”— Samantha Irby
“In I Can't Date Jesus, Michael Arceneaux uses humor not as a spectacle or shield, but as a razor-sharp tool to welcome us into his world, his home, and his memories. Every chapter in the book is packed with subtext and the brilliantly ruthless wit we’ve come to expect from Arceneaux. More than any book I've read recently, I heard this book as much as I read it, and most amazingly, at the same time, the book and its incredible author heard and saw the black communities that made many of us. It is brilliant.”— Kiese Laymon
“Michael's voice is so specific and so relatable—reading his book felt like reading letters from a friend I've known all my life. He isn't afraid to say the things the rest of us are too scared to say out loud. He's a rebel with hot sauce in his bag. It's hard not to smile and body roll while reading every chapter.”— Lena Waithe
"Lots of stories have been told on being a black man in American, but I Can't Date Jesus is one many haven't heard, both in print and their everyday lives. Michael Arceneaux's story about family, religion and sexuality is ultimately one about manhood, and one we must listen to more. It is funny, thoughtful, biting and most importantly, totally sincere."—Bomani Jones
"[A] witty and powerful collection of personal essays . . . . Arceneaux’s confident voice and unapologetic sense of humor will appeal to fans of Roxane Gay.”— Publishers Weekly
“Arceneaux is as joyful as he is shrewd; his writing is affecting, whether describing the pain of his mother’s disapproval or the power of Beyoncé’s music. His moments of levity are like little rest stops on the thorny path through the loss and redefinition of faith as a gay black man. How lucky we are to have Arceneaux as our guide.” —BuzzFeed, Best Nonfiction Books of 2018
“I Can’t Date Jesus will leave you cracking up with laughter and nodding your head like you’re in the front row at church….Arceneaux’s voice is insightful, witty and bold, giving us a much-needed personal narrative that challenges society to do better, as he reflects on the lessons he has learned.” —The Grio, “10 Books by Black Authors We Loved in 2018”
“Arceneaux's essays penetrate to the heart of intersectionality to reveal personal and religious trials of faith. Together, they make a powerful statement of self-acceptance in a world much in need of lessons about diversity, tolerance, and openness. A funny, fierce, and bold memoir in essays.”— Kirkus Reviews
“Arceneaux is a hysterically funny, vulnerable writer whose memoir is a triumph of self-exploration, tinged with but not overburdened by his reckoning with our current political moment….He navigates with crucial nuance his many worlds as they’ve hemmed him in, made him stronger, and brought him to new places. The result is a piece of personal and cultural storytelling that is as fun as it is illuminating.”— Bridget Read, Vogue
“Hilarious….Arceneaux goes beyond the obvious and delivers brave essays about the challenge of finally coming out to conservative parents and his ambitious pursuits of becoming a professional writer.”— Essence
"Hilarious . . . Arceneaux’s acerbic humor is reminiscent of the very best work of American humorist and author David Sedaris.”— The Advocate
“Thank Beyoncé that Michael Arceneaux finally found someone to believe in after growing up feeling like an outsider as a gay black kid in a religious community. Arceneaux’s powerful essays about the alienation he’s felt for so much of his life are mitigated with humor and the wit of a pop-culture fiend.”— Maris Kreizman, Vulture