I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah's Witness, Penguin Canada
“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.
Mouthquake (with an Afterword by Sarah Schulman), Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015
Basement of Wolves, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012
Krakow Melt, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010
Shuck, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008
"Life after shunning: what I faced after coming out as a queer Jehovah’s Witness," The Guardian, May 10, 2023
"Concrete Dreams" in Letters from Montreal, an anthology edited by Madi Haslam, Véhicule Press, Fall 2022
"You Can't Blame Movers for Everything Broken" in The Malahat Review, Summer 2022
"Death Trap" in The Florida Review, Fall 2021
"Occult Following" in Maisonneuve, Fall 2021, excerpted in Reader's Digest Canada, May 2022
"My Heart is a Bibliography" in Catapult, July 2021
"The Witness is Complicit," in TriQuarterly, Winter 2021, reprinted as "Conflagration and Catastrophe: On Jehovah's Witnesses and the Doom of COVID-19" in Literary Hub, January 2021
"After Leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses, I Am Writing My Way to the Truth," in Electric Literature, October 2020
"The Glow of Electrum," in The Malahat Review, Summer 2020, with interview on the essay. The essay is a finalist for a 2021 National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism, Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2020 (Best American Essays 2021)
"A Vocabulary for Apostates," in The Rumpus, May 2020
"Headstrong," in Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, Spring 2019