One of the drawbacks of Mormon Culture—a term by which I mean the culture that Mormons and Mormon-adjacent folks who live in Utah and surrounding Mormon-concentrated areas like Idaho and Arizona engage in—drawbacks of this is the expectation for a life that isn’t really based on reality. It’s an idea that if you live life like a character in a ’50’s television show, that “Aww shucks, I’m meeting Penny and Skip at the Frosty’s for a malted!” lifestyle, everything is going to turn out perfectly.
Your fellow citizens provide your laugh track, which means you need to up the hijinks every week. At first you think this Leave it to Beaver episode is going to be fun, but when you look at it through the lens of reality, you start to wonder where Mrs. Cleaver hides the hard liquor to cope. It’s only through thinking back on those formative years where I developed my tastes and preferences in dating that I can see how it really set me up to fail in finding my Perfect Mormon Husband. (Spoiler alert: I never did.)
This week’s podcast is all about the dumb, unnecessarily huge gestures that I made to woo boys, how this sets up expectations for romance that’s almost impossible to achieve, and the ultimate way for a Mormon girl to ask a boy named Joseph Smith to a dance, based off a true and amazing story. This week is brought to you by a flood of shameful and hilarious memories that I had from listening to This American Life‘s podcast about grand gestures (and if you haven’t read Elna Baker’s book, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, you should! AND SEE? I wasn’t lying about all the dances!!)
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My third novel. I’m so proud of this one–it’s based off a short story of mine from almost ten years ago. I wrote it for a family member who is deeply closeted with no sign of coming out, and honestly, for myself and for other LGBT Mormons I knew. Over the next few months, I’ll have a lot to say about how the LDS church treats its LGBTQ members (short story: it’s not good) and how I tried to walk the line between being respectful of the members of a religion who are just doing their best and openly criticising rules and mindsets that are doing real damage to a significant number of people.
For the record, Utah is leading the nation in teen suicide, and the vast majority of those teens are LGBTQ. It’s a horrific statistic. I feel like now more than ever a book that depicts the reality of life as a devout Mormon and how challenging coming out can be (with both positive and negative outcomes), this book needs to be. And it is!
May 18th. You can currently pre-order AND IT CAME TO PASS at Target, as they’re using our publishing house, Interlude Press, to “test” the market for literature featuring LGBTQ protagonists. And even better, they’re offering it at a massive discount off the cover price as a pre-order (with no detriment to me or my publisher!).
Stay tuned, and in particular look for “Mormon Mondays” with upcoming podcasts, interviews, and more.
This is a thing that is real
For those of you who know me in real life, it will come as no surprise to know that in 1992 I bought Arrested Development’s first album the day it was released. And it will also not shock you to know that I listened to that on constant repeat, soaking up the positive hip hop vibe of elevated consciousness. If you’re not familiar (how?!) with this quintessential Afrocentric hip hop group from the ’90s, you should know that their music is about connecting spiritually and intellectually with the world around you.
When I was in the throes of religious passion myself, one song in particular stood out to me, and it was like it had reached into my aching heart yearning to understand why I was in Utah, sticking out like a sore thumb while trying to grow spiritually among ‘my people’. Naturally I tried to share this song with the students in my Gospel Doctrine class one Sunday.
Apparently this was shocking to my blond, white, square-jawed Mormon students. Hip-hop? In my church? Continue reading
(This is seriously the best musical in the past decade.)
Oh, it’s good to be back home after a long vacation filled with lots and lots of driving. While traveling, I was contacted by an old acquaintance, a family member of a good friend from my LDS youth. As you do, we reconnected on Facebook, mutually followed each other, cooed over one another’s children, laughed at funny memes, that sort of thing. I genuinely like this person.
My previous post on my Mormon upbringing and how I look back on that now, however, struck a chord with her, and not in a good way. Specifically, umbrage was taken with me referring to the LDS church as a cult and claiming that many members are “blissfully ignorant.” Offense was taken at that term. And…I get it. Continue reading
Official Mormon Story of a hot, barely dressed dude (Joseph Smith History 1: 31-32- naked, exquisite and glorious are used to describe this “angel” of a man) visiting him in the night and making him promise not to tell anyone. Not shady at all, why would you think that was shady??
There was an article in the Atlantic this weekend about an evangelical offshoot with a charismatic leader whose wife committed suicide, which then led into the seven identifiable elements that make a cult.
Naturally I flashed back to my Mormon upbringing. I think the most telling thing I could share is that until I seriously began looking into the church’s history on my own–using outside sources, something that is key that we’ll get into–a lot of what is actually common historical knowledge was an absolute shock to me and to my close LDS friends. Well, we knew some of it, but we “knew” it wasn’t true. Because our church did a preemptive strike to tell us we’d hear things, but that it was Satan at work at to harden our hearts to those lies.
That’s…not healthy. That is exactly how I was raised, however.
This time of year gives me the biggest case of Wanderlust. Growing up, this was the month of camping, mostly with the church’s young women group, but also with family and friends, and when I was in college, by myself sometimes. There’s nothing like wearing yourself on a hike to somewhere beautiful, sitting still, and just enjoying it.
But that wasn’t how we camped in church camp. That was all about preparing for End Times. Short story: you want me on your Zombie Apocalypse Team. Long story, click the read more. Continue reading
It’s funny to me that the exterior shots of Footloose were shot in Lehi, UT (the giant roller-mills of the LDS Church’s grain silos feature heavily), because Mormons love dancing. Love it! BYU has a terrific ballet-dance program, for example. But the real proof is the main activity for the youth on the weekends: church dances. When you live in a heavily Mormon-populated area, the different Stakes (think of a Catholic Diocese) will even schedule their dances so that there’s one Friday and Saturday night, every weekend of the month.
If the kids are inside listening to wholesome music, they can’t get into trouble, right? WRONG. Okay, it’s just me who got themselves into trouble at these wholesome events. I blame George Michaels. …Lemme ‘splain. Continue reading
I want to preface this with the following: a) this is an excerpt from a memoir I’ve been writing about growing up fundamentalist Mormon, b) I told this story in a story slam and came in second–the guy who won told the story of how he shot and killed his abusive father (wow, I didn’t know we were going dark, bro!), and c) it is 100% completely factual with actual names, because f*ck that guy.
And now: my humiliations galore… Continue reading