I am “that filth”: A Queer Lenten Reflection

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old nonbinary student, died the day after being beaten by classmates in a high school bathroom in Oklahoma. And an OK State Senator referred to them (and all LGBTQ+ people) as “filth.”  Richard Bowles offers this Lenten reflection …


I am “that filth.”

It’s interesting to me that this was spoken during Lent. Remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.

Those of us in the queer community who inhabit queer spaces already know that to the fascists in power we are indeed filth. These words are no surprise to us. They still hurt. But they are not a surprise.

Lent is a period of time that begins with Ash Wednesday. It is a day set aside to commemorate the reality that we mourn and that in the grieving we are united in the humility that we are all part of the dirt of our world. We are dirt, and to dirt we shall return.

We are filth. And to filth we shall return.

Us queers are used to gallows humor. We know that we are hated. That because of AIDS we were seen as plague rats. That we are filth to heteronormative culture. But we turn that hatred directed at us into celebration of who we are – that which defies powerful men from imposing their normative will onto a queer world.

We are all united, queer and straight alike, under the banner of filth. We are the soil that makes up our planet. And to that soil we shall return. Energy to be scattered back into the cosmos that made us. The people who hate us do not realize that they are united with us in our dirtiness, our filthyness. They are blind to their own reality, the truth of themselves. They are blinded by heteronormative ego, which is insecurity hiding behind a phallus. May they realize that they are the filth they demonize. And our collective filthyness is beloved and beautiful.

God the Son spent their last night before their execution dining with fellow filth. Because Christ is the comrade of filth. God became one with the filth. Us dirt beings are beloved and treasured. I am “that filth.”