Guest Post author bio Jaq Green lives with their polycule and menagerie in the New England woods. They spend some of their time writing and the rest of it making weird art. Find their other works in Pinky Thinker Press, Hindsight Journal, or follow them on Instagram @eatpastaraw.
CW: homophobia, transphobia, religious trauma, f-slur, suicide, rape
The perfect Mormon queer is born stained. Most Mormons don’t become sinners until the age of accountability, but the perfect Mormon queer is queer from the beginning, must apologize from infancy for being what it is. At seven and a half, the perfect Mormon queer asks, What if I’m not ready to be baptized? and its mother says, you are.
The perfect Mormon queer is always repenting. It’s a sin to want love and a sin to shove the want away, to feel temptation lingering in the back of its mind. The perfect Mormon queer knows it will never marry and must be content listening to talk after talk on the importance of marriage, the divine infallibility of heterosexual coupling. The perfect Mormon queer would marry a man if any man would have it but it knows none will. It bears its testimony every Fast Sunday and tries not to think about the sacred covenants slipping through its fingers.
But even the perfect Mormon queer has bad moments, sinful moments. It holds a girl’s hand at a movie theater one summer weekend and spends the rest of the night on its knees, red-eyed and choking, begging, Heavenly Father, fix me. It slow dances with its best friend at Sophomore Homecoming and stops talking to her after, because life swings on small hinges and it’s better to have no friends than to have ones who might love you the wrong way. The perfect Mormon queer cries into the Young Women’s President’s shoulder, How do I heal from this? That summer, it’s uninvited from Girls’ Camp, because the Young Women’s President told her husband who told the Bishopric. Even the perfect Mormon queer isn’t perfect enough.
The perfect Mormon queer is silent about its queerness. It would like to tell its sister, who, later, will be queer herself, but its mother tells it not to. The perfect Mormon queer honors its father and its mother. The perfect Mormon queer wears knee-length skirts and cap-sleeve blouses and tries not to think about how it would feel to have someone else’s hands dye its hair pink. The perfect Mormon queer never cusses, until late-night images of its lab partner’s smirk flash behind its eyelids, and then it scratches gouges down its arms and whispers faggot, faggot, faggot.
The LDS church no longer practices conversion therapy but that doesn’t mean the perfect Mormon queer can’t change. It spends hours in prayer and fasts once a week, trying to feel starvation where there used to be want. It carries an open safety pin to chemistry and stabs its palm whenever its eyes stray too long on its lab partner. In its Patriarchal Blessing, the perfect Mormon queer is told that it will marry a man and bear many children. The perfect Mormon queer rereads the blessing, over and over, until the paper tears.
The first time a perfect Mormon queer hears about a different Mormon queer’s death, it thinks only, Suicide isn’t the worst sin. The second time, the suicide is a close friend, and the perfect Mormon queer sits in bed and stares at the wall until its mother yells that they’re running late for church. At church, a Sunday School teacher with a perfect queer child says, I love gay people. Even though they make me throw up. And the perfect Mormon queer, remembering how it feels to hold a girl’s hand, thinks, Maybe I should kill myself before I sin again.
The perfect Mormon queer would never ditch Sacrament Meeting, so when the perfect heterosexual Sunday School teacher is ordained as Bishop, the perfect Mormon queer stays in the pew, fingers clenched in its lap, wondering if it should take the Sacrament today. That bishop writes it a letter when it leaves for college, telling it to keep its testimony strong. Telling it of Christ’s perfect love.
The perfect Mormon queer is not kicked out of its childhood home but it leaves as soon as it can. It spends a year across the country, overdosing on antidepressants and wondering if God is dead or just doesn’t care. After the rape, it rereads The Book of Mormon twice, looking for something it missed. What does Heaven look like for a perfect Mormon queer? What’s the point of meeting God if you’ll only ever always be alone?
So maybe it’s an imperfect Mormon queer. Maybe it’s not a Mormon queer at all. It starts going to places that aren’t church or the hospital, like game night, a Black Lives Matter protest, its girlfriend’s house. It dyes its hair pink. One day it goes home and there’s a rainbow flag flying beside the front door. The perfect Mormon queer almost throws up.