Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Gay Mormon characters step out of the shadows

< Previous Page

Gay missionaries make frequent appearances. In 2009, Steven Fales’ "Missionary Position" told the story of a "squeaky-clean Mormon boy on his mission, trying to hide his homosexuality." That same year, Devan Mark Hite told the story of another gay Mormon missionary with "Since ‘Psychopathia Sexualis.’ "

In 2011, "The Book of Mormon" musical stormed Broadway — and so did its gay missionary character. The show has been wildly successful, which Argetsinger credits to the show’s satirical approach.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

A newer show, Matthew Greene’s "Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea," tells the story of a missionary and his gay best friend. It premiered this January at Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake City — a venue dedicated to highlighting the works of Utah playwrights.

Although some of its recent shows have dealt with homosexuality and Mormonism, Plan-B’s producing director Jerry Rapier said that’s not necessarily the focus. He thinks in terms of "a character who happens to be gay and Mormon, instead of a gay Mormon character."

In February, Plan-B brought the first transgender Mormon character to the stage in Matthew Ivan Bennett’s "ERIC(A)." The show is about a man grappling with a sex change operation after years spent living as an LDS housewife.

An insider perspective makes the shows work, said Rapier, who is gay. "They ring true," he said, "because they are written by active, faithful Mormons."

Many of the stories are based in reality — take Samuelsen’s "Duets." It’s part of three one-act plays slated to open next season, and it’s about a woman who tells her best friend that her husband is gay.

"It’s a fictional play, but I could plug in the names and faces of lots of kids I’ve known," said Samuelsen, who taught at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University for 20 years and watched several college-age women marry men they knew were gay.

Self-publishing has also propelled the increase in works about gays and Mormonism. That’s what worked for Seattle writer Johnny Townsend, who collaborated with Argetsinger on the upcoming anthology.

He’s written at least 70 short stories and sold at least 1,200 books. Many of his characters are LDS or Jewish — he’s a former Mormon, now a nonpracticing Jew. Some of them are gay.

story continues below
story continues below

Self-publishing allows for targeting a niche audience, but Townsend said that audience is "not nearly big enough."

Ironically, he said, sometimes the people most intimately connected with the stories aren’t interested. People who are gay and Mormon — or were Mormon — "are over it; they don’t want to read about Mormons anymore."

— Kellie Kotraba is the editor of Columbia Faith & Values.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.