Jackie Hill Perry, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been (B&H Publishing, 2018)
Gay Girl, Good God is a book written out of love. Jackie shows a clear love for people. She wants gay people to see the beauty of God. She wants conservative Christians to demonstrate the love of God, and she wants same-sex attracted Christians to experience the grace of God. Plus, Jackie herself shows a clear love for God. The majority of the book is autobiographical, and yet as she tells us her story, in reality, she is telling God’s story, and she uses every opportunity to sing his praises.
Gay Girl, Good God is a book grounded in rich truth. Jackie states in the introduction that ‘truth is where freedom begins’ (p.3), and then goes on to demonstrate this fact. We hear about her firsthand experience of the brokenness of this world. As she wrote, my heart broke. But, broken it did not stay for long. Her work caused me to weep, but it also caused me to sing. Page after page she drew me back to God, his love, and his faithfulness.
Page after page she drew me back to God, his love, and his faithfulness.
The book has three parts. The first two parts are Jackie’s autobiography. We are drawn into her troubled childhood. She grew up in a fatherless home and was abused as a child. In her teenage years she experienced gender confusion, and embraced masculinity and homosexuality. Then, at the age of 19, God miraculously broke into her life and suddenly everything changed. We hear about her struggles as a new Christian, and how Jesus slowly transformed her. This transformation affected every element of her identity and led her down an unexpected path. She ended up falling in love with a man! In the third part she deals with topics that her story raises – identity, enduring as a Christian, and the negative obsession with heterosexuality in many churches. This third section is a helpful resource and is more practically orientated than the first two.
Gay Girl, Good God was a joy to read because of its literary power and the spiritual nourishment it offers. It is beautifully written. Jackie is a poet, and you feel that in almost every paragraph. She is the definition of a ‘wordsmith’. I often found myself rereading sentences because they were too beautiful to read simply once. The only other author I find myself doing that with is C.S. Lewis. Yet, as stunning as her language is, it was never distracting. Her words and how she played with them helped me to grow more in love with God.
The only problem this book could encounter is one based on perception. A gay-affirming friend of mine read a brief overview of the book and assumed that, because Jackie herself enters a heterosexual relationship, she would argue all gay people who convert to Christianity should do the same. I understood why, based on her story, he would assume that, however, after reading the book I can confirm that it is simply not the case. She argues passionately and persuasively against what she calls ‘the heterosexual gospel,’ the belief that same-sex attracted people who become Christians should also experience a change in sexual orientation. As she says at the very start of a chapter based on this topic, ‘God is not calling gay people to be straight’ (p.177).
Her words and how she played with them helped me to grow more in love with God.
This book has a very broad appeal and lots of people would find it helpful. I myself, as a same-sex attracted man, feel closer to God because of it. However, if I was only allowed to encourage one type of person to read this, then I would encourage those who struggle to believe that God can do a miracle. Those who think that there is no way an out and proud gay girl could become a born-again Christian. You may be very conservative and think that someone who has embraced their same-sex attraction as their primary identity is in a place beyond God’s grace. Read this book. You may be a liberal who thinks that we are our sexualities. Read this book. Or you may be a same-sex attracted Christian who is struggling to keep going. Read this book. You will not regret it. I came to hear the story of Jackie Hill Perry, a gay girl who became a Christian, and I left loving Jesus that little bit more.