For the Patron Saint Janet Jackson

i have always believed in pop music.

i have always believed in the beat.

pop music, in its infinite power, was my only religion.

and it was the patron saint pop divas like saint janet

that i pray for sanctuary, for deliverance.

as a young queer person in the late 1980s, the adults in my life were sick with homophobia. aunts, uncles, neighbors, and teachers were all transformed into monsters to me, to themselves, because of the sickness of homophobia. I heard their wishes for me to talk differently, walk differently, and stop dancing to “girl” music. 

as a child, my need for the approval of these adults could have devoured me had it not been for pop music and Janet Jackson, a patron saint of pop music.

In 1989, my world was riddled with poverty, AIDS, addiction, and abuse, but people would still tease me for being me. but Janet, her music, performances, and existence, offered a vision of the world not as it was but as it could be—a world where adults were not the monsters beneath my bed but were like Janet, a source of power, a reflection of love and not shame. 

on this janet Jackson appreciation day, as i continue to navigate the complexities of my healing and acceptance in my ever-evolving world, the legacy of pop music and its divas like janet jackson endure. they are my constant reminder of the transformative power of art, the importance of visibility, and the enduring need for connection and understanding. pop music, in its glorious, unabashed celebration of everything in all its forms, continues to be a sanctuary for me and the child in me whom the pop divas saved every day.

this is my testimony.

this is why i have always believed in the religion of pop

music and the patron saint janet jackson.


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