My essay “Complication” appeared in the June issue of Stirrings.It was the prose winner for the 2014 Outspoken contest.
Read the full review in the Seattle Lesbian magazine, December 2012.
My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus serves as a clarion call for the spiritually homeless and curious alike. With heart-breaking self-deprecating humor, Kelly Barth lays bare the ugly truth of the ex-gay “ministry” that has for decades shredded the souls of lesbians and gay men the world over, and with incredible bravery recounts one woman’s path back toward the divine within.
– Abby Soto
Read the full review in the Missoula Independent, October 18, 2012.
Fundamentalist religion and homosexuality have never been on especially good terms. In Kelly Barth’s debut memoir, My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus, the tension between being Christian and being gay results in a personal implosion. In the book, Barth, who studied writing at the University of Montana, immerses herself in the ritual self-hatreds of right-wing religion while attempting to find distinctiveness as a lesbian and a writer. The result is a fascinating chronicle of guilt, doubt and transformation.
– Michael Peck
MY ALMOST CERTAINLY REAL IMAGINARY JESUS is … an eye-opening read for anyone interested in reconciling faith and homosexuality, which is poised to be a prominent election issue. One hopes that it might also help others who have struggled with sexual identity and faith find their way to a place of spiritual acceptance and love. — Elyssa East, for the Kansas City Star
Booklist, Starred review, September 1, 2012
Well into her thirties, Kelly Barth hangs on to her imaginary childhood friend, Jesus, for a variety of good reasons. He promises comfort, solace, and humanity when many strident Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, and well-intentioned Jesus converts insist that gay people are really heterosexuals exhibiting amoral behavior. Barth’s tale of growing up gay in the heart of Missouri’s Bible Belt is one of the funniest and most endearing accounts of spiritual growth in the genre. This well-written book also manages to offer a fascinating anthropological account of spiritual life in the rural Midwest. Barth laments her Presbyterian parents, who she insists practice religion with far too much predictability. Desiring to explore more passionate worship styles, she ventures from church to church, accepting several tenets of the Christian faith as literal but remaining torn by the notion that fully accepting herself as gay would be heresy. The merciful imaginary Jesus of Barth’s imagination supports her through this journey of self- acceptance. A memoir that is affecting and hilarious by turns.
— Susan DeGrane
This charming memoir, Barth’s first book, is an exemplary coming-out story as well as a wholesale indictment of the hypocrisy and false promises of many archconservative Christian congregations about sexuality—that love, when it happens between two members of the same sex, is a manifestation of broken “machinery in need of parts and service.” Barth’s recovery from self-loathing and anxiety is a very near thing, but this witty volume leaves her happily partnered and churched. VERDICT A lovely volume for readers who can’t get enough Anne Lamott or Mary Karr, Barth’s book is both revelatory and amusing.
Liberty Press review, August 2012
“…wonderfully written. Nearly every paragraph contains a startlingly original image, or an idea that is at once challenging and humane….Whatever your own struggle, this book can serve as a model of honesty in pursuing true spiritual adulthood.” – Sheryl Lesage, August 2012
“…Barth recalls her youth and young adulthood with vivid detail and imagery. Though much of the book centers on her faith or life amid various faith traditions, she also weaves detailed stories about her relationships with others, including the woman she would go on to marry…the author provides an intriguing life story.”
Meter Maids – interview with Arktoi publisher, Eloise Klein-Healy
Lawrence Magazine, Fall 2012
University of Montana – Creative Writing Program, Fall 2012.
Interview with Mark Manning of the MidDay Medley Show on KKFI, Kansas City’s community radio station, September, 5, 2012.
Interview with Penny Orwick on In Other Words, the feminist radio show on Montana Public Radio.
Listen to the following radio interview with Mark Manning of The MidDay Medley Show on KKFI, public radio in Kansas City, Missouri.