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Miguel Santana is a name with which, if all goes well, you will soon become familiar. He is a gay writer whose books appeal more to readers of world literature than the gay market. However, with his new novel, The Marién Revelation Santana is hoping to be embraced and supported by the gay community. The reason? A subplot of the novel portrays Jesus of Nazareth as a man in love with a man.
Although the novel has received astonishing reviews as well as having been named by The Examiner as one of the Top 100 most anticipated novels of 2010, The Marién Revelation has not proven to be an easy sell to foreign markets. In contrast, Santana’s first novel initiated a bidding war among Spanish publishers with the rights going to a subsidiary of Random House.
Both, Santana and Ken Kimball, his partner in life and agent, knew the journey was not going to be easy. Kimball has taken it upon himself to bring his partner’s work to the American public, via his company, Alligator Press. It was a tough decision, one that was made after many discussions with associates, one of whom has spent over 30 years in the business. They met him for lunch to discuss various options, including presenting the book to different publishers in the United States. He offered to join the team as the national sales director. His contacts in the industry will ensure the book is available wherever and whenever people want it. That was all Ken and Miguel needed to hear. This would allow them full control over the project and would ensure that it was presented as written. Kimball decided to dedicate a full year to this project. He left his job as an insurance executive. “Sometimes you have to be willing to take risks”, Kimball states. “The Marién Revelation will challenge people and take them on a journey of discovery. I want to be part of the discussion. It is rewarding to see some of the reviews coming in. It confirms our decision.”
So why the lukewarm reception thus far in the foreign rights arena? Santana explores this topic in one of his blogs:
“I get it; some people are uncomfortable with the notion of Christ as a human being and all the implications that entails […] Let’s admit that our 21st century mind does take us to that place where love between men has an “unspoken, silenced, nefarious” sexual connotation. What then? What if that feeling in our gut prompts us, from the get go, and without any research into the subject, to declare that the author of The Marién Revelation has gone too far? Yes, you have a pretty liberal mind but to question the heterosexuality, if any, of Jesus, well, let’s just not go there. That aversion is nothing but homophobia. As agents or objects of it, we all experience homophobia at one time or another. We live in a society where a majority of people, along with their political institutions, still condemns homosexual love. Homophobia is a virus that exists in each one of us, a condition that may be dormant but with the right trigger will surface and infect our mind.”
This book should be important to the gay community. By highlighting the aspects of Jesus’ transgendered spirit, Santana gives solid arguments to fight against homophobia. He allows gay people dignity and pride knowing that the Son of God shares many similarities with them. However, The Marién Revelation is not a gay novel. Think of it as you would a Pedro Almodóvar movie: We know the director is gay, we know there will be a high degree of gay content. However, it is still a story that appeals to anyone.
In The Marién Revelation, the lives of two women separated by two thousand years come together in a story that is highly erotic and literary. Santana masterfully taps into his feminine side to gives us poignant and emotional introspections of these women’s experiences. The story of Marién, a 40-year old academic at a Mormon university, is mainly told in flashbacks. Mary’s story is more sequential. However, this is where Santana’s imagination and creativity shine brightly. Infused with Bible verses to reinforce the plot, Mary’s chapters are incredibly lyric, poetic in many instances. It is within these chapters that the subplot of Jesus and his male Beloved develops.
Santana is pleased with Elton John’s recent outing of Jesus. “I couldn’t be happier that someone of [his] caliber has the courage to out and confront the mainstream public with the idea of Jesus as a gay man. Granted […] this premise is not new. It has circulated for a while among Bible scholars who have studied Jesus’ lifestyle choices against the background of expectations for a man of his time,” the author blogs. “Yes, the image of Jesus that we have inherited in the Gospels does not make him the ideal of masculinity for a man in first century Judea. Bear in mind among other things, he was single at thirty-three and on the night before his arrest, the Gospel of Mark tells us he was spending the night in a garden with a naked boy.”
Just like Bible literalists highlight verses to justify their homophobia, Santana’ highlights Mark’s passage to offer us an anecdote that speaks to the same-sex love disposition of Jesus. “That’s why this novel is important,” interposes Kimball, “because it takes the same tools homophobes use to dispute their arguments.”
Santana explains, “The only reason we dare not think of Jesus in this way, the reason a premise like this offends us, is homophobia. In other words, if you are insulted by the premise, then you are a closeted heterosexual supremacist, one that deep inside believes that the only possible and “natural” way is the pairing of a man and a woman. Yes, heterosexual supremacists exist even among gay people who fail to recognize the incredible beauty and potential behind a gay Jesus concept. Is your mind secretly polluted with the old notion that gay love is wrong, that the idea of the greatest religious icon in our civilization as a homosexual is appalling?”
The Marién Revelation makes its way to stores nationwide on April 2. Whatever the outcome, Santana and Kimball are utterly happy with their journey. As they walk out of the coffee house where this conversation took place, I can only feel embraced by the love and passion they share. Suddenly, the idea of a gay Jesus doesn’t seem irreverent to me.
For more information on Miguel Santana and his work, visit the official site at www.miguelsantana.com