Sarah, Dawn, Maddie and Charlotte stood in a line in front of the possible new recruit, their school uniforms covered in specks of mud and creases due to a previous break time tree climbing assignment that had gone wrong. Charlotte reached into her trouser pocket and pulled out a long strip of golden material no wider than a standard issue school ruler. She wrapped the material around her neck and stuck the two ends together using the sticky tape attached to it. Looking like a glammed up Vicar, Charlotte took a quick photo on her phone of the wannabe and nodded to the other girls standing in the line to signal the start of proceedings.
Julie, the possible new recruit, was nervous. She really wanted to be accepted into this group for a multitude of reasons but knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The next 20 minutes of her school life was make or break, which was ironic in itself because technically it was a lunch break already. As the line of girls remained transfixed on Julie, Charlotte took a step forward and began to read from a shiny purple notebook with the words graffitied on the front in pink fluorescent highlighter “Gay Bible”.
“Is your name Julie Price of class 7T?” asked Charlotte, making sure she found the right balance between authority and sass.
“Yes. Yes that’s me.” Julie’s voice was already shaky, she needed to keep it together. Charlotte continued reciting from her notebook.
“Do you swear to uphold all that is right and camp in the name of our Lord and Gay Jesus?”
Julie looked at the group of girls and responded accordingly.
“Pardon?” asked Charlotte who wanted to make sure Julie was really committed to this. Julie tried to remember her revision notes, cleared her throat and parried back.
“I mean… Yassss Queen!”
The whole group burst out a collective “Whoop!”, waving their arms in the air to click their fingers together, followed by a shared giggle which caused Julie to bust out a tiny smile and chuckle. Charlotte gave a small warm clap towards the possible new member of the clergy.
“That’s more like it! Now, as you probably know we don’t take any old scum into our group so we need to ask you some questions. They’re not easy questions but it means we only take on the best of the best. Understood?” Charlotte stared into Julie’s hazel eyes looking for any doubts.
“Yes, understood,” nodded Julie, as she stared at the golden dog collar around her quiz master’s neck. Charlotte nodded and referred to the notes in her Gay Bible.
“Okay here we go with section 1 of the Gay Jesus Survey! Please answer truthfully because my fellow members here will see if you’re lying and the punishment for that will be very painful, won’t it girls?” asked Charlotte looking down the line at her team members.
“Yeah… very,” grumbled Dawn as she lightly dusted one of her knuckles. Julie’s eyes widened, staring at Dawn’s fist waiting for this first nerve-wracking question.
“Question 1 - Do you know James Charles?” read Charlotte from her spangly notebook.
Julie’s eyes widened, she knew this one but should she answer just enough or add lots of detail? She went for just enough to test the waters.
“Oh! Yes! Yes I know him. I mean not personally but I know what he does.” The relief in Julie’s response was clear. If every question was like this she’d be in the gang in no time.
Charlotte didn’t want to give anything away so looked down at her notebook and dived into the next question.
“Okay good. We start with that as a warm up before the grilling really begins. Question 2 - What is your favourite cuss?”
Julie thought for a moment as she didn’t want to go too extreme but wanted to show she could be nasty if required.
“Erm… I guess… Twat face!”
One of the girls burst out laughing having not heard this cuss before. Julie took it as a positive response but still needed to check Charlotte’s reaction as she was the head of the church.
“Nice! I could see you thought about going stronger but I like a girl who puts some thought into their cussing.”
“Thank you.” Julie had a gone a light shade of beetroot. She wasn’t used to compliments, especially after saying cuss words.
The fierce line up of girls in front of Julie seemed to soften or maybe she was just relaxing into the environment. Charlotte turned the page of her shiny notebook and moved into the penultimate question of this first section.
“Question 3 - Who is Ru Paul?”
Charlotte’s head shot up to ensure she could observe how Julie reacted to this question. Julie thought carefully how to answer it in a single sentence. Her lips started moving before her brain had caught up but magically a second later a sound in the form of a sentence escaped her mouth.
“Oh well she is the fierce queen of TV, fashion and the world.”
All the girls raised their arms to the heavens and clicked their fingers again as a celebration of Mama Ru and Julie’s correct responses. Charlotte cleared her throat ready for the toughest and final question of this section. Julie could see everyone’s demeanour change.
“Last question of this section - what is a transition?”
Julie panicked, she wasn’t sure because she kept getting it mixed up with other similar terms. To allow her time to think she thought she should say something funny. It might not work but at least it would give her an extra 30 seconds.
“Aren’t they those robots who fight in those movies?”
The girls sputtered with tiny giggles at each other, having to turn round to correct their poker faces. Charlotte was not amused. She took this very seriously and was certainly not a joking matter.
“Is that your final answer? I really hope not.”
Julie realised she had read the room wrong and knew she needed to course correct swiftly or she’d never get into the gang. Her brain had found the answer so she blurted it out.
“Oh I know! That is where someone who knows in heart, body and mind they are really the opposite sex and decide to take the wonderful steps to transition over.”
Everyone looked at her gob smacked stunned by the eloquence of her words. Even Julie wasn’t sure if her mouth had said it but made a mental note to write it down for future use.
“That was beautiful… AND correct! Well done, you’ve successfully passed section 1 of the Gay Jesus Survey!!”
The girls gave the contestant a light smattering of applause to signal the end of the first section of the quiz. Dawn and Sarah checked the coast was still clear and gave Charlotte the thumbs up to continue.
“Okay this is where things really hot up. In section 2 of the survey, which we like to call ‘Dance for your life’”
Charlotte paused for dramatic effect and the others girls let out a loud “Oooooh!” to labour the point. Julie smirked but then quickly rearranged her face to remain focused on the prize.
“In a moment, Sister Maddie is going to play some music for you to dance to. At the same time I will be shouting out dance moves you will need to demonstrate. If we like what we see and you accurately dance in the way I’ve requested, you will get to go into the third and final section of the survey. Are you ready?”
Julie stretched her arms, got into position and nodded her head at Charlotte.
Maddie pressed play on her phone and a high tempo dance track kicked in. Julie immediately started dancing for her life and almost straight away her confidence in the task at hand was waning. She knew how to dance, or at least she thought she did, but the pressure was messing with her confidence levels. Charlotte and the girls were taken aback by the amount of flailing arms and legs in Julie’s performance. Raised eyebrows and quick glances at each other made Charlotte realise she needed to get this part of the survey moving before it got any worse for their eyes and especially for Julie.
“Do a slut drop!”
Bursting into what she thought was a slut drop Julie bent her legs as far down as they would go but she went too far. With her bum about to hit the ground, her legs gave up the ghost and gave way, sending her crashing to the floor. Embarrassed and sore Julie got back up and tried again whilst the girls muffled their guffaws. This time Julie made sure she had positioned herself properly and was able to drop into multiple slut drops looking like she was picking up a number of heavy boxes in a row, whilst also dancing along to a phat beat.
“Do a throw back!”
Not a clue. The only throw back Julie knew was what you did if you had a ball in your hands that your friend threw at you to catch. Thinking fast she started flinging her arms over her head and then backwards as if she was doing an upright back stroke. Dawn had tears of laughter streaming down her face, trying not to show how bad a dancer Julie was. Charlotte shot daggers at the girls making clear they needed to grow up. She had to admit though, Julie’s dancing was special. Rolling her eyes at the failed attempt at the throw back Charlotte fired another dance move at the contestant.
Julie couldn’t hide her relief, this would be a doddle. She instantly bent her legs slightly, stuck out her bum and wiggled. It wasn’t the most technically gifted or accurate version of the move the girls had ever seen but the enthusiasm was infectious. Spinning slowly around whilst jiggling her booty was so much fun, Maddie even whooped her appreciation that made Dawn and Sarah jump. However when you realise you need a wee whilst twerking that’s when things get awkward. To avoid an accident Julie slowed down her twerks to half speed to try and temper the bladder movement. She prayed this dance section would be over soon and was quickly rewarded with the answer to that prayer.
“Last one… do the Fortnite!”
The tingly feeling in Julie’s bladder stopped by standing still in one area of the pretend dance floor of her mind, she proceeded to do what she thought was the Fortnite. In reality she looked more like a constipated penguin whose feet were on fire. Happy feet? Not at the moment as she writhed around until she finally remembered it involved scooping of some sort. Julie started miming what looked like someone digging a large hole whilst doing the running man with their legs. It was like she was digging her own grave whilst dancing for her life which in many ways, based on her dancing ability, she was. Julie knew her dancing was awful but she was too scared to stop. Her curled hands like huge ladles scooping at the ground made her think of a new superhero. She made a new mental note to write the origin story of Ladle Lady when she got home. Before Charlotte and the girls - who were all curled over in pain from trying to stop themselves laughing - could stop this insanity they were rudely interrupted.
Dawn stopped the music instantly and Julie span around to be face to face with the wimple of the scariest nun in the school. Sister Frances was six foot six of pure grumpiness and the living embodiment of the school rules. She could smell a breach of the guidelines from ten miles away, at least it felt like that to the students. Her crumpled wrinkled lips curled slightly revealing her yellow stained teeth as she began berating the girls.
“What are yuzz doin’? With all dat stupid music and dancing? Why aren’t you revising like the other girls out here? You’re lucky I don’t give yuzz a code!”
Hiding the Gay Bible behind her back and hoping her gold collar wasn’t noticed, Charlotte responded for everyone else who were avoiding direct eye contact with the angry sister.
“Sorry, Sister Frances, we will stop now and go back to our maths revision.”
Sister Frances grunted her acceptance and gave a cursory judgmental look at the rest of the girls making sure their socks and blazers were correctly worn.
“Good, let that be the end of this nonsense!”
Stomping off to terrorise another set of students with her evil stare and awful stench of bad perfume and worst coffee, Sister Frances sizeable rump wobbled around the side of the science block and out of view. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, Charlotte took the spangly pink notebook from behind her back, and rearranged her gold dog collar relieved they had avoided discovery.
“That was close! Okay we’ll need to jump to the final killer make or break question. Get it right or you will be sacrificed to the Gay Jesus. At that point the only way you can save yourself is to recite the Gay Bible for Beginners.”
Julie could feel the beads of sweat that had arrived on her forehead to cheer her on. This was it… she nodded nervously to Charlotte. Looking down at the Gay Bible, Charlotte read the killer question which had been the end for so many potential members in the past.
“What does LGBTQA+ stand for?”
Inhaling more oxygen than her lungs could handle, Julie’s eyes grew wider as her brain kicked in ready to answer the question. Did she know it? It wasn’t clear but her sub conscious took over the controls allowing her to respond taking everyone by surprise.
“Okay… Lesbian… Gay…. Bi?…Trans… erm Queen NO it’s Queer and Asexual… Oh! Plus.”
After a moment of silence and no movement, all of the girls broke character and ran over to congratulate Julie giving her multiple hugs. Charlotte strolled over clapping slowly to the new member of the Church of the Gay Jesus.
“Well done Sister Julie! Welcome to the congregation.”
At that moment the ground began to shake behind them. All the girls turned around to watch their huge headteacher bounding over to them across the large sports field. She was built like a water balloon and by the time she’d finished running over towards them she was sputtering out of her mouth from exhaustion like one as well.
“Charlotte, you’re late for choir practice!”
Looking at her watch, Charlotte uttered a cuss word silently and acknowledged Mrs Platterdale was correct.
“Thanks Miss, I’ll head over now.”
Mrs Platterdale bounced off back to the school hall where the choir had already started their first song. Giving all of her disciples one last hug, Charlotte took off her golden collar and walked off to put her vocal chords through their paces. Julie and the other girls walked off to get some lunch together. Grinning to herself Julie strolled off with her new found friends feeling, for the first time in her school life, like she belonged.