Virgin: Mormon Sexuality

A devout believer raised in Mormon culture struggles with moral questions of Mormon sexuality, pseudo-romantic relationships, and an isolated life outside Utah.


| May/June 2012



Cat

“Although I’m loath to admit it, those cats have become a sort of family for me. I discuss important subjects with them, ask them how they’re doing, all the typical cat lady stuff.”

KEN SWINSON/KENSWINSON.COM

I’m 25 years old and a virgin. I’ll remain one until I get married, and if I never marry, I’ll die one. It goes with the Mormon territory. We’re taught from the time we’re small that that’s the way it’s going to be, but we’re also encouraged to think it through and decide for ourselves. We just know how we’re supposed to decide.

I realize it’s not a popular approach to sexuality.

I’m in an emotionally intimate, pseudo-romantic relationship with Oscar, a man who’s not a member of the Mormon Church. We want different things. I’d like to scrub my babies in the kitchen sink and raise them to be good upstanding Mormons; he’d like a writing career in New York City and maybe to cohabit with a nice lady and have a few kids—his words. We’re PhD students in southern Mississippi, nothing interesting for miles around but each other, and we’re in love, but complicatedly so.

One night he tells me, “Look, Deja. I know what I’m sacrificing. I know if I were with you, I’d always have clean clothes and you’d always pack my lunch. Before I could even think something could be done around the house, you’d have done it. Because you’d want to.”

“Are you complimenting me?” My feet are tucked up under me on Oscar’s red couch, and I’m trying really hard (for the hundredth time) to wrap my brain around why he doesn’t want me. I mean, why he loves me, but why he doesn’t fight to keep me.

I can’t look at him. I’m staring at the treadmill, the blinds, the cat, anything but him. Some part of me is ashamed that I can’t understand it. I know he’s not going to beg me to run away to New York with him; I know that if he did, I couldn’t do it. And still I find myself fantasizing about being there with him, telling him about my day, going to museums on Saturdays, even having his stupid dinner on the table when he gets back. It’s pathetic.