I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah's Witness

Category: Book
By (author): Cox, Daniel Allen
  QUEER & TRANS / Non-Fiction
  RELIGION / Cults
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Published: May 2023
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 240
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in x 0.59in
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$ 32.95
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*"I spent eighteen years in a group that taught me to hate myself. You cannot be queer and a Jehovah's Witness-it's one or the other."

Daniel Allen Cox grew up with firm lines around what his religion considered unacceptable: celebrating birthdays and holidays; voting in elections, pursuing higher education, and other forays into independent thought. Their opposition to blood transfusions would have consequences for his mother, just as their stance on homosexuality would for him.

But even years after whispers of his sexual orientation reached his congregation's presiding elder, catalyzing his disassociation, the distinction between "in" and "out" isn't always clear. Still in the midst of a lifelong disentanglement, Cox grapples with the group's cultish tactics-from gaslighting to shunning-and their resulting harms-from simmering anger to substance abuse-all while redefining its concepts through a queer lens. Can Paradise be a bathhouse, a concert hall, or a room full of books?

With great candour and disarming self-awareness, Cox takes readers on a journey from his early days as a solicitous door-to-door preacher in Montreal to a stint in New York City, where he's swept up in a scene of photographers and hustlers blurring the line between art and pornography. The culmination of years spent both processing and avoiding a complicated past, I Felt the End Before It Came reckons with memory and language just as it provides a blueprint to surviving a litany of Armageddons.
Review Quote*"Daniel knew he was being lied to and lied about. He wanted to listen to his true self, but in order to do so he had to build a self. He did it by loving, by reading, traveling, listening, making art, making love, and learning what a friend is. He decided to live with contradiction, ambiguity, and change. He has been shunned by those posing as perfection and so he discarded the facade of perfection. And because he is a true writer who can convey this complexity with grace, his story inspires us to want to know our own contradictions, to see them as riches instead of shame. In this way our lives become enhanced by both his vulnerability and his gifts."
-Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show

"I Felt the End Before It Came is about a lot of things, but I know of no better exploration of the psychic costs of gaslighting and shunning, especially on the lives of LGBTQ people. This is a book about defying injustice when it presents itself in the form of good, and as in all great books, it offers more questions than answers, not to mention its big courageous heart, part tender, part outrageous, part buoyant."
-Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
"A hugely entertaining, open-hearted, and insightful memoir. Daniel Allen Cox sheds light on what it means to grow up as a Jehovah's Witness coming to terms with queerness, and how families survive and love one another after being fragmented by a divergence of faith, all while offering a delightful romp through the late 90s gay scene in Montreal and New York. Filled with great humour and moments of tender grace, I Felt the End Before It Came is a joy to read from start to finish."
-Heather O'Neill, author of When We Lost Our Heads

"I Felt the End Before It Came is a candid and beautiful exploration of learning to save yourself from a fundamentalist childhood and the complications that come from the dizzying freedom after you leave its confines. A vital and unique addition to the queer coming-of-age genre."
-Zoe Whittall, author of The Fake

"In this breathtaking spiritual, sexual, and artistic coming-of-age, Daniel Allen Cox troubles and subverts what it means to seek salvation. Deconstructing the paradigms that govern his sense of self, he takes us on a probing and candid journey to find a new language to think with, and into a new definition of paradise."
-Sarah Gerard, author of Sunshine State
Biographical NoteDANIEL ALLEN COX is the author of four novels published by Arsenal Pulp Press, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in Catapult, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and Maisonneuve. His essay "The Glow of Electrum," which appears in this book, was a finalist for a 2021 National Magazine Award and named a Notable essay in The Best American Essays 2021.