Aug 20, 2014

Fall 1999: The Gay Monk and the Homophobic Demon

This is my weirdest paranormal experience:

I spent the summer of 1999 in Paris, ostensibly researching French social thought, but really just...well, being in Paris.  I had a small but cozy apartment on the Rue de Plâtre, in the heart of Le Marais, the gay neighborhood, about a 10 minute walk from Notre Dame.  Every day I took the metro to the National Library to do research for a few hours.  In the afternoon I went to the Luxembourg Gardens or the Musée d'Orsay or the Louvre; and in the evenings, Gay Paris.

There was only one problem: My apartment looked down on a store called Edemonium, which sold Goth- and -demon themed clothing, jewelry, human skulls, and statues of Satan.  I'm interested in the paranormal, but this was too much.  It freaked me out.  I kept the blinds closed at night, but the lurid red light still filtered into my bedroom.

My friend Andre didn't like it, either (not the same Andre as in The Worst Date in Florida History).  He was a Long Island grad student in history,originally from Belgium, in his 30s, short, husky, sort of muscular.

He claimed to be straight but celibate: he lived in a "Traditional Catholic" spiritual community with some other "straight but celibate" guys who disapproved of Pope John Paul and thought that only Latin Masses were valid. But he supported female priests, birth control, and gay rights.


A few days after I got back from Paris, Andre and I had lunch on campus.  I told him about Edemonium, and he said "That figures.  I was wondering why you were being oppressed by a demon."

"Possessed?"

"Not possessed.  He's oppressing you, sort of piggy-backing.  It's no big deal -- happens to a lot of people.  Have you felt tired and depressed lately?"

"Well, yeah, but I just had to leave Paris.  Who wouldn't be depressed?"

"Spells of bad luck?"

"Well, now that you mention it."


"Demon oppression. Come out to the Cloisters tonight, and we'll take care of it for you."

I frowned.  "This isn't some sort of ex-gay thing, is it?"

"Oh, no, not at all.  Demons are equal-opportunity oppressors."

So that evening after class Andre drove me, plus Yuri and Jaan for gay support, to "The Cloisters," which turned out to be a three-bedroom house in Sayville.  Andre introduced us as his "gay friends" to his four "straight but celibate" housemates, plus a potential member named Barry, a short, blondish guy in his 20s with a round Eastern European face.

The ceremony wasn't what I expected from The Exorcist.  Andre read some Bible passages in Latin, then drew a cross on my forehead with sacred oil, and we all recited the Lord's Prayer.  I actually felt better, more energetic.  Time to break for soda and cookies.

But then Barry started laughing, a weird maniacal laugh like the Joker on Batman.  "West Hollywood!  West Hollywood!  West Hollywood!" he grunted.  "Corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente."

"Looks like the demon jumped into a weak host!" Andre exclaimed.

"Smells bad in here!" Barry  -- or the demon -- complained.  "Too many homos!  Lots and lots of homos! Eu, mulieres times?  Infantes, timere loqui ad mulieres!" Afraid of women?  Babies, afraid to talk to women? (Latin; we translated from the tape recording later.)

Andre yelled "Depart from him!"

Barry -- or the demon -- switched to Flemish: " Ik denk dat allemaal zijn homos! Ben je een man, of een meisje?" I think you're all homos.  Are you a boy or a girl?"

"The power of Christ compels you..."

"Put down that Bible, homo!" Barry began to sashay around the room like a drag queen.  "Ma tahan olla naine" he sang, to the tune of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." "Mul on väike vorst!"  I want to be a woman, I have a tiny sausage (Estonian).

"You have no power here!"


Barry dropped his pants and shoved his butt in the air.  "Ce n'est pas un vagin, idiot!" This is not a vagina! (French)

"In Christ there is neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew, gay nor straight."

What version of the Bible was Andre reading from?"

"Bog chochet , stoby ubit vas vesekh," Barry said, this time in a mournful plaint.  God wants to kill you (Russian).

"Do not call something unclean that God has made clean!"

Now in a slow, soft voice, almost a whisper. "Tes mère est pleurer!  Tes grand-mère est pleurer!" Your mother is crying...your grandmother is crying (French).

Barry's head slumped against his chest, as if he was asleep.  A moment later, he looked up.  "What happened?"

"Are you gay?"  Andre asked, coming right to the point.

Barry blanched.  "Um...well, yeah, I guess.  I should have told you before, but I thought you wouldn't let me  into the community"

Andre put his hand on his shoulder.  "That's why you were open to possession -- your fear.  But it's ok now. We don't care about trivial things like sexual orientation here."

I still don't know what happened that night.  Was there really a demon?  If not, how could Barry speak Latin, French, Flemish, Russian, Estonian, and German?  They were all languages that someone in the room could understand.

But it's kind of nice to know that demons -- emissaries of Satan -- are homophobic.

See also: The Gay Psychic Angel; Cruised by a Man in Black; and My Date with the Vampire