Growing up Mormon: a how-to (or a how-not-to)

When I tell people I first meet that I grew up Mormon, they’re always so surprised. It’s almost as if my blue hair, bushels for armpits, hairy legs and asymmetrical nose piercings distance me from the Church. I now identify as Agnostic, with fluctuations between “God is dead” and “if I don’t do this one menial act of kindness right now, I’ll have bad karma for the rest of my life and be doomed for all eternity.” 

When I broke the news that I didn’t believe in God to my parents, who are both still religious in their own ways, my mom became visibly upset, saddened by the fact that I had no place for her idea of a Christian God in my life. The night before freshman orientation at Vassar, she and I got into a fight about religion. I don’t remember exactly how it started, but the way it played out is forever ingrained in my memory. However it was that we got onto the subject of religion, I remember her explicitly pleading, “I know there is still a place in your heart for God. I know that you still have faith.” 

Being the gay little shit that I am and knowing that I, in fact, do not have room in my heart for the Mormon God, I countered her with, “I’m sorry, but I personally just cannot reasonably believe there is a tiny singular man in the sky watching over everything that everyone does, judging them accordingly.” 

My words lingered in the air of our Poughkeepsie hotel room for a moment as my mother pondered what I had just said. She was quiet. Then she looked up at me, and in the most endearing, sincere tone said to me: “He’s not tiny…”

Growing up Mormon greatly affected the way I view things. For example, I always thought people who drank alcohol were doing something wrong with their lives—tarnishing their bodies, sinning, what have you. When my dad started distancing himself from the Church when I was in middle school, he began drinking some alcohol—not abusing it or anything like that,just having some in the house. My viewpoints hadn’t changed, so I began to have a war of thoughts about my dad being a good dad while also sinning and drinking alcohol. This culminated in an episode involving everyone’s favorite virgin two-drink concoction. One day, after golfing with my dad, we went inside to the golf club’s bar. My dad asked me if I wanted an Arnold Palmer. Here I am, age 13, having no knowledge of drink names, and knowing that my dad now drank alcohol and was ordering from a bar, no less. I responded in disgust, “Of course not!” 

It’s been a longtime goal of mine to be officially excommunicated from the Mormon Church. It will then make me the second member of my family to be excommunicated, but at least my excommunication won’t be initiated by hiring sex workers after a divorce. You see, I’ve never been divorced! (I’ve never hired a sex worker either, but let’s be real: Divorce is the real thing to be ashamed about here.) This is the way I’ve always pictured my own excommunication:

I walk into the old church building where I spent my elementary school Sundays. I recognize old faces belonging to white blonde heads who never really liked me in our younger days (they probably sensed the gay in me before I could). I fake a smile to these familiar faces but their jaws drop once they catch sight of my garb. Yes, I decided to show up to church in none other than a skirt so short you can almost tell I’m wearing crotchless underwear, accompanied by an oversized sweater that spells out “Libtards Rule,” except the R is backwards for emphasis. I make my way to the Bishop’s office as mothers cover their children’s eyes when I walk by. Everybody here hates me, but at least this time I’m in control of it! Once I make it to the office, I barge in and dramatically flop into a chair, fanning myself with the Playboy magazine I brought with me.

“Mr. Bishop,” I say, “I’ve got somethin’ awful to confess!” He looks at me with a horrified expression. I confess to my sins. I say I’m a nonbinary bisexual. I say I’ve tasted pussy and I’ve never been more content with myself, both in my life and in that moment. I say I hate the Church and what it stands for. I watch over him as he excommunicates me, however it’s done. I thank him for his time and walk out of his office and the church, middle fingers in the air.  

Anyways, now I’m trying to start practicing Pagan witchcraft. It seems more in line with my values and interests. To all those that have crossed me, watch out. Just kidding! Maybe.

One Comment

  1. I like your writing style. I hope that you really don’t think that all “Mormons” are bad. Just like any group of people, you’ll get all kinds. I think that even though I’m a faithful church-going, (well, at least before this COVID stuff since we couldn’t go to church for several months), member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (we try not to use “Mormon” as much now), that we could still be friends.
    Of course I won’t join you and have a drink at the bar, unless it’s Diet Coke, then I will out-drink anyone. But I’ll happily discuss the insane affairs of our geopolitical climate, I’ll share a good pun or three, and I’ll tell you about all the good new wave music from the 80’s. (If you don’t listen to the Cure, then you should. I think you’d like them.)
    So, my blue-haired gay friend, from this middle-aged average Mormon-guy, married with 6 kids, peace. Peace among all people. Members of our church, those of other faiths, and those of no faith. I’ll worship my way. You worship your way… unless it was that pagan witchcraft thing that you mentioned. Then maybe not. haha. Just kidding. If that’s your thing, I guess go for it. Cheers!

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