You aren’t likely to find Latter-Gay Saints, An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction at Deseret Book. The compiled stories are written about the church and a subset of its members, but the material dissents from traditional family relationships the church supports.
The anthology, a book of stories collected by Gerald R. Argetsinger, was published earlier this month by Lethe Press, a company specializing in gay and lesbian titles. The book's audience, however, is a bit more centralized. “It's the gay Mormon trying to figure his life out, for the closeted guy who sits in every church,” says Argetsinger, of the intended audience for the book.
Over time the compilation became an uncensored spectrum of stories, including exclusion from church activities and offices and thoughts of, or consequences of, leaving the church. Some are just situational documentations of circumstance, including a tale of other gay people meeting gay Mormons and the ensuing awkwardness.
Argetsinger says the compilation isn't just a book of stories, but is outstanding literature from some of the finest writers today. Highly respected authors Levi S. Petersen, Carol Lynn Pearson, Bernard Cooper, Ron Oliver and Julie Jensen are just a handful.
Argetsinger, who is a gay Mormon, sits on the high council in his Rochester Stake. In a news article written for the Rochester Institute of Technology where he is an associate professor, Argetsinger said his standing within the church has not been affected. “No one in New York cares. It’s a non-issue,” he says. “The further away you get from the center of the church, the further you are from the Zion curtain, the more accepted you are.”
According to a website created by the church to discuss their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, homosexuality is now recognized as an inborn trait, rather than a choice as thought previously, but participation in the lifestyle is still discouraged. “Members of the church who have same sex attractions but don’t act on them can continue to enjoy full fellowship in the church, which includes holding the priesthood, carrying out callings and attending the temple," the website states.
Argetsinger says the creation of the website is a step in the right direction, and that the church wants its parishioners to come to them is positive. He points to the church's willingness to have a discussion, rather than attempting to “cure” a gay person, as they have done in the past.
Argetsinger notes however, the church allows no concession for a gay lifestyle, but he hopes to see that change.
Click here to read an exerpt or order a copy.
Book cover art by Trevor Southey.