Save Me: The Plight of Gay Mormons in Utah

Teaching a creative nonfiction class, a non-believer reflects on the lives of gay Mormons, gay teen suicide, and the ubiquitous Mormon missionaries.


| May/June 2012



Mormon Protestor

I understand the origins of hatred because of how brightly my own anger glowed in the first few years I lived here. I understand how fear suffocates any possibility of conversation.

DAVID SHANKBONE/FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/SHANKBONE

“I try to focus on the positive,” Adam tells me. He leans forward in the chair as if his thin frame will add heft to a statement that his eyes don’t support. “I’m fine.”

Outside my office windows, the campus sits brown and empty. Late fall is the only time of year when northern Utah loses its beauty. Snow has not yet covered the mountains that rise all around us. Bereft of leaves and birds, they huddle closer to the ground.

“I know of someone you can talk to,” I say. “Any message you left would be safe.”

“Thanks,” he says, “but I’m fine.”

I return to his essay and read my comments asking him to “flesh things out” or “set the scene.” What I want to do is shake him, beg him to leave the valley, head for the coast. I want to hold him in my arms and tell him everything will be OK. But I don’t.

“I’m worried about you.”

Valerie Koehn
4/27/2012 10:06:43 PM

While this article did carry much truth about the struggles of Mormans who don't fit with in the "box' of this religion I think that it had just as much bias and poor fact checking as fox and I'm for the first time in my 20 years of reading UTNE just disgusted that you could print a piece that tries to minimize and slander as much as any other major piece of trash media tool. How can I say this? I've been a progressive environmentalist my whole life, active in politics including working for domestic partnerships in Colorado as a regional field director for a statewide campaign. I believe in fair and reasonable reporting in the media and have worked in a nonprofit educating people about media reform and media literacy. I am also a non practicing Morman who spent 15 years in the faith. I found the article to be bias and incorrect in at least three instances and found myself looking at UTNE like I look at Entertainment Weekly. Just another rag that wants to sell a product. Shame on you UTNE. I think I'll not renew my subscription. AND yes there are progressive mormons!!! Another lie you actually believe America is that they are all conservative!! Pissed in Colorado!!!


ColleenFriesen
4/20/2012 6:08:19 PM

"When you write about something true, something real, the reader can’t look away." That is the line that gave me hope. But otherwise, I just wanted to yell at every single one of those students she described. I wanted to scream the same way I would scream at a child trapped in a burning house, "Run! Get out while you can!" Powerfully written and so, so sad.


GLORIA NIELSEN
4/13/2012 2:57:04 PM

sorry for non-caps and errors. "i too share MANY . . ." this was an incredible piece of writing.


GLORIA NIELSEN
4/13/2012 2:55:32 PM

i too share of your sentiments about living in the valley of zion. as a non-mormon growing up in utah (in the 50s and 60s), i experienced much angst; as an adult moving BACK to utah after living on the east coast for a decade, my children experienced much of the same. i could never go back.