A review by liralen
Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming of Age Story, by Stacey Chomiak


Lovely artwork. It's worth noting that this is (as the cover says!) an illustrated memoir, not a graphic memoir, though I'd be interested to see what Chomiak could do with a full graphic novel/memoir—I suspect it would play to her strengths.

Still Stace chronicles Chomiak's long route to reconciling her religion with her sexuality. The church she grew up in was not necessarily one to cast people out for their non-heterosexuality, but it (and her family) was one to approve of the ex-gay movement, to tell Chomiak that god thought homosexuality was disgusting, etc. And since that was the church Chomiak knew and loved, for a long time she thought they must be right—that she was the one who needed to change.

There is a distinction that's missing for me here: the difference between faith and religion. By the former, I mean belief in god (or, more specifically, in this case belief in god as portrayed in the Bible); by the latter, I mean the institution of the church with which Chomiak grew up. To me this distinction is crucial, especially as Chomiak never indicates a questioning of faith throughout the book—but when she says Christian, I understand her to mean not the 2.38 billion people who practice some form of Christianity, but the much, much smaller number of people who practice her church's/family's particular form of conservative Protestantism. I'm left to wonder, then, whether at any point she questioned the religion telling her how to interpret her faith—whether she saw areas of misfit beyond what her religion said about queer relationships, or whether she explored other churches that had the same foundations but different conclusions. (To be fair: I see this a lot in memoirs about conservative religion—and leaving conservative religion—this sense that that particular interpretation is the only form of their faith.) I'd also have loved to know a bit more about Tams's path in religion, because at one point Chomiak says that the reason Tams's family was accepting was 'largely because they weren't Christians' (241); that makes me wonder how Tams herself ended up in this particular religious community herself.

As an aside—and this is not Chomiak's fault, or even the publisher's fault—do not read this on your phone. I should have waited until next week when I could read a hard copy; my eyes still ache from the tiny, cannot-be-sized-up text on my phone.