Nobody knows what to do about queer Mormons. The institutional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prefers to pretend they don’t exist, that they can choose their way out of who they are, leave, or at least stay quiet in a community that has no place for them. Even queer Mormons don’t know what to do about queer Mormons. Their lived experience is shrouded by a doctrine in which heteronormative marriage is non-negotiable and gender is unchangeable. For women, trans Mormons, and Mormons of other marginalized genders, this invisibility is compounded by social norms which elevate (implicitly white) cisgender male voices above those of everyone else.
This collection of essays gives voice to queer Mormons. The authors who share their stories—many speaking for the first time from the closet—do so here in simple narrative prose. They talk about their identities, their experiences, their relationships, their heartbreaks, their beliefs, and the challenges they face. Some stay in the church, some do not, some are in constant battles with themselves and the people around them as they make agonizing decisions about love and faith and community. Their stories bravely convey what it means to be queer, Mormon, and marginalized—what it means to have no voice and yet to speak anyway.
“This is not a memoir. Rather, this is a fraternal meditation on the question: ‘Are we friends, my brother?’ The story is uncertain, the characters are in flux, the voices are plural, the photographs are as troubled as the prose. This is not a memoir.”
Thus Scott Abbott introduces the reader to his exploration of the life of his brother John, a man who died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of forty. Writing about his brother, he finds he is writing about himself and about the warm-hearted, educated, and homophobic LDS family that forged the core of his identity.
Images and quotations are interwoven with the reflections, as is a critical female voice that questions his assertions and ridicules his rhetoric. The book moves from the starkness of a morgue’s autopsy through familial disintegration and adult defiance to a culminating fraternal conversation. This exquisitely written work will challenge notions of resolution and wholeness.
Winner of the book manuscript prize in creative nonfiction in the Utah Arts Council’s Original Writing Competition.
Winner of the 15 Bytes Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.
Plural marriage in the Nauvoo era of LDS Church history has long been a fascinating subject. To understand it fully requires one to look at it from the perspective of the man who introduced it, but just as crucial is a dive into the lives of the women he married, all who have their stories to tell. In his 1997 award-winning study, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Todd Compton focused on the thirty-three women who he could demonstrate that Smith married, providing life stories of many who were well-known and others who have been largely forgotten. In his new work, In Sacred Loneliness: The Documents, Compton returns to his subject and provides the raw materials that helped him create his original study, writings composed by the women themselves.
This volume includes many autobiographical writings, diaries, and letters, with Compton providing annotations and introductory material that illuminates these crucial primary sources. This allows readers to take their understanding of this unique group of women to a new level and to drive home that fact that their lives go far beyond the Nauvoo experiment that forever links them to Mormonism’s founding prophet.
Over the past thirty years, an enormous amount of research has been conducted into Mormon origins—Joseph Smith’s early life, the Book of Mormon, the prophet’s visions, and the restoration of priesthood authority. Longtime LDS educator Grant H. Palmer suggests that most Latter-day Saints remain unaware of the significance of these discoveries, and he gives a brief survey for anyone who has ever wanted to know more about these issues.
He finds that much of what we take for granted as literal history has been tailored over the years—slightly modified, added to, one aspect emphasized over another—to the point that the original narratives have been nearly lost. What was experienced as a spiritual or metaphysical event, something from a different dimension, often has been refashioned as if it were a physical, objective occurrence. This is not how the first Saints interpreted these events. Historians who have looked closer at the foundational stories and source documents have restored elements, including a nineteenth-century world view, that have been misunderstood, if not forgotten.