A genderless prophet drew hundreds of followers long before the age of nonbinary pronouns

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tags: gender, nonbinary pronouns, they

The non-binary prophet arrived on this earth on a fall day in 1776, when a young woman named Jemima Wilkinson lay in her bed with a terrible fever, on the cusp of death.

The body of the woman, a 23-year-old former Quaker from Rhode Island, suddenly rose from the bed. But the person who spoke would no longer be known as Jemima Wilkinson. Her body had been reincarnated by God, she said, resurrected as a prophet sent to tell all of humanity that the apocalypse was near.

Unlike most self-proclaimed prophets, this divine messenger was neither a woman nor a man. The figure would be known simply as the “Public Universal Friend.”

In the decades that followed, the Friend would draw hundreds of disciples, traversing New England by horseback while wearing male minister’s clothing, according to letters from the time. For generations, historians have studied the Public Universal Friend as an odd yet effective spiritual leader during the American Revolution, a tumultuous time of religious experimentation.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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