May 19, 2007

Reconciling Homosexuality and the Mormon Church

From New York's Gay City News:

Mormon writer Carol Lynn Pearson's new play, "Facing East," beginning performances in New York following a sold out run in Salt Lake City, takes as its subject a married couple's graveside encounter with their dead son's partner. The searing family confrontation concerning the gay son's suicide would make compelling drama on its own merits, but has a particular resonance given Pearson's personal background.

In 1978, Pearson and her husband Gerald divorced, after a decade of trying as a devout Mormons to manage and come to terms with his homosexuality. Six years later, she would nurse him on her couch as he lay dying of AIDS. Her writing career was initially championed by Gerald - on their honeymoon he suggested publishing her first book of poems and their $2,000 investment would lead to sales of more than 150,000 copies - and later it became her way of processing his death.

From an interview with Ms. Pearson:

In the 20 years now since I published "Goodbye, I Love You," about our relationship, I've been privileged to be the repository of hundred of stories, especially those of Mormon gay people and their families.

We know that the intersection of religion and especially conservative religions and homosexuality is one of the huge painful arenas that has to be addressed. As Gerald was going through his enormous struggle, the anguish was between his love of the Church and what he felt was the Church's condemnation of him. For his own sanity, he withdrew from the Church, which is the case with most gay Mormon men I know of.

I'd like to all of us to say, wait, we seem not to be doing this right. What are we missing here? Let us look again at scripture, at our own personal history. Let us invite in gay people and their families to tell us their stories. Let's open up new avenues of thinking on this, because there is still so much pain and we aren't where we need to be.

We're still not in the Promised Land.

What a wonderful way to work through the grief of losing a spouse. Ms. Pearson has doubtlessly had a positive impact on others who share common experiences with her and is hopefully causing some in the Mormon church to reconsider their views of homosexuality.

Thanks to gay & lesbian news blog for the tip.