The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a gay problem. Specifically, the church has a plan for how to build eternal families — with non-negotiably gender-specific roles — and gay people are the fly in the eternal ointment. If only they could be convinced that they’re not gay — that there’s no such thing as being gay! — and that they can make a straight family work if only they’re faithful enough. Or, failing that, they should just stay single until they’re cured in the afterlife. Then the Plan of Salvation will go back to fitting everyone!
The trouble is that these are real people with real lives that the CoJCoL-dS is performing this experiment on.
One way to combat invisibility is to tell your stories. That’s what 25 authors have come together to do in the anthology Latter-Gay Saints, edited by Gerald S. Argetsinger (with Jeff Laver and Johnny Townsend). The stories are all fiction, but they paint a vibrant and true-to-life portrait of the gay Mormon experience. Naturally, the stories cover topics like missions and mixed-orientation marriage, AIDS and suicide. Some of the most disturbing scenes involve private worthiness interviews in which a priesthood leader probably sincerely believes he’s being helpful through intimate and emotionally invasive counseling sessions where the gay person — by definition — cannot be “worthy.” Read more
Although I enjoyed the more lighthearted humorous stories, my favorite stories were those that capture the contradictions inherent in the Mormon/gay experience, such as Michael Fillerup's brilliant "The Seduction of H. Lyman Winger" (the dilemma of the sincere Church leader) and Johnny Townsend's "Partying with St. Roch" (the dilemma of the gay Mormon). The plays were also stood out to me as particularly excellent.
If you're browsing gay Mormon literature already, there's probably nothing here that will shock you, but this probably isn't what you want to get your devout Mormon aunt for Christmas. Some of the stories are definitely worth sharing, though. So, enjoy the whole book and, if you want, point out the "inoffensive" (but often really good and thought-provoking) stories to your Mormon friends and family who may find use/enjoyment from them so that this literature that Gerald Argetsinger has so painstakingly brought together can be seen! Read more