“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.