My name is Rachel Gleason and who I am today as a person and artist all goes back to my past.
My name is Rachel Gleason and who I am today as a person and artist all goes back to my past.
My name is Rachel Gleason and who I am today as a person and artist all goes back to my past.

I grew up on a small farm in Hudsonville, Michigan with my mom and dad and three older siblings. My brother bullied me a lot. There were times when I was afraid to be left alone with him, afraid of the look in his eyes, but overall we were the perfect picture of rural America. I was a tomboy and played outside a lot and helped my dad with his barn chores. I climbed trees and built forts and wrestled with my brothers. We went to church every Sunday and Wednesday- as I got older almost every night of the week.

-and who I am today as a person and artist all goes back to my past… I grew up on a small farm in Hudsonville, Michigan with my mom and dad and three older siblings. My brother bullied me a lot. There were times when I was afraid to be left alone with him, afraid of the look in his eyes, but overall we were the perfect picture of rural America. I was a tomboy and played outside a lot and helped my dad with his barn chores. I climbed trees and built forts and wrestled with my brothers. We went to church every Sunday and Wednesday- as I got older almost every night of the week.

Rachel, her two brothers, and her parents on the farm. It seems peaceful on the outside, but Rachel is frowning.

Our lives revolved around our weird little church. I was often frightened of my Sunday school teacher because of her intensity and spiritual demands. When I was ten she prayed over me saying “Not in English” over and over again until I spoke in tongues. She told us we all had to worship like adults and we all had to “Prophesy”.

Our lives revolved around our weird little church. I was often frightened of my Sunday school teacher because of her intensity and spiritual demands. When I was ten she prayed over me saying “Not in English” over and over again until I spoke in tongues. She told us we all had to worship like adults and we all had to “Prophesy”. When I was thirteen-

When I was thirteen I was called as a “Prophetess
When I was thirteen I was called as a “Prophetess

I was good at it once I figured out what they wanted me to say and how to say it, but I was really voiceless and always feeling like I was faking it, like I was far away from God. As a teenager, I watched several times as our Pastor and Deacons tried to exorcise my dad of the demon of homosexuality at altar calls while the rest of the church looked on. I quickly learned that if you were a Christian being gay was about the worst thing you could be. Realizing I was queer was one of the scariest moments of my life.

I ultimately had to choose between my faith and the possibility of finding love.
I ultimately had to choose between my faith and the possibility of finding love.

If I stayed I knew I would never get married like my dad had and God would see my sacrifice and I would be high and lifted up, a prayer warrior and Prophetess. If I left…. I would have nothing and no one. I would be shunned from the cult that raised me. I would be walking into something completely brand new. Terrifying freedom.

-between my faith and the possibility of finding love. If I stayed I knew I would never get married like my dad had and God would see my sacrifice and I would be high and lifted up, a prayer warrior and Prophetess. If I left…. I would have nothing and no one. I would be shunned from the cult that raised me. I would be walking into something completely brand new. Terrifying freedom.

Away from all of the control and abuse, but also from all of my friends and the comfort and strength my faith had given me. It was the scariest, hardest, best thing I ever did for myself.

I walked away from everything I ever knew. Away from all of the control and abuse, but also from all of my friends and the comfort and strength my faith had given me. It was the scariest, hardest, best thing I ever did for myself. Being a poet has given me my real voice and has empowered me when I once felt powerless and voiceless