The Bible Went Down With The Birdie Jean

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an elegy:

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined, and heard my cry.”


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a serial:

9/6: the book of Mother
9/18: the book of Oral
10/2: the book of The Compound
10/16: the book of Munna
11/13: the book of My Baby Brother
11/27: the book of Uncle Ronnie
12/11: the book of Her Habeus Corpus
12/18: the book of My Sweet Lord
1/1/2017: the book of This Sinner Self

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Happy New Year 2016- ladies, gents, and otherwise disposed.

Here’s how this is going to shake down: every other Sunday — starting in September of 2016 — I’ll be posting a “book” of 33 Instagrams.

At twelve, my grandfather climbed into his Prayer Tower and said he’d die if he didn’t get $8 million; I was a gay kid living on a Pentecostal compound with an autographed photo of Ronald Reagan on my desk. At eighteen I left most of that behind, rarely looking back.

This is a serial project enlisting my own reporting, photography, and memory to take one last look at that not-quite-yet-buried life: between September & January, I’ll be posting a 300-post Instagram account of this story — 9 books of 33 Instagrams each — and that’ll be all she wrote.

Recently, Harvard’s Nieman Storyboard profiled this project in their “Why Is This So Good?” series; @thebirdiejean has also been excerpted in three publications: The Revealer published an excerpt from Book IV; The Virginia Quarterly Review, from Book V; The Guardian, from Book VI.

You can follow @thebirdiejean on Instagram now; more about me, here.

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Detail: USC, where my Uncle Ronnie was a T.A. and was active in the LGBT club in the 1970s

special thanks to:
David Duncan — for masterminding how to make this series visibly lisible
Tanja Hollander — for being the kind of photog mentor I could text at 3 a.m.
Sarah Szabo — for agreeing to run around ORU in a tuxedo
Nick Weaver — for agreeing to run around ORU in a dress
Jeff Sharlet + Neil Shea for teaching me the glory of the Instaessay
Jim Burroway and Matthew Sitman for helping me with the trickier parts

this project is dedicated to my children
and to my Uncle Ronnie, may he rest in peace—

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all photos above by Ange on our wedding day

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