Turn It Off!

11 August 2011
"Turn it off! Like a light switch! Just go click!"

"Imagine that your brain is made of tiny boxes and find the box that is gay and CRUSH IT!!!"

Both of these are lines that are sang by the gay missionary in the musical, The Book of Mormon. I can definitely say that what he sang rang true for my experience growing up in Utah. There were many times growing up that I thought I could turn off my attractions to men. I tried so hard. I would punish myself for checking out the lifeguard, fantasizing about my crushes, or watching pornography. It was never physical punishment, but rather reading more scriptures and taking my fun time away. I was serious and I wanted to show God that I wanted to turn off my sinful attractions. I'm even sure that I tried to crush the "box" that holds my homosexual desires. Needless to say, I couldn't turn them off or crush bedazzled, glittery, and boa-lined box.

When the gay missionary was on stage, it reminded me of myself. He was completely dedicated to the Church and he fully believed that things would work out according to God's plan for him. I think that he believed, like many gay missionaries, that if he served God diligently during his mission he would be "cured" from this awful "curse" of homosexuality. There was so much dedication to God and hope for change. Seeing this, made me sad. It made me think about how many other young men are out there struggling and hoping for change to straightness that never comes.

Overall, I think the writers had a great portrayal of the struggle of being a gay Mormon missionary. I only wish they could have developed his character more, but he was never a main character.

Getting up on my soap box now...

If there is anyone out there who has so much hope for change to heterosexuality, I hate to say stop hoping, but it's the truth, stop hoping. It will never occur. What you can do instead is stay true to yourself. I'm not saying to throw away the Church and embrace your gayness or throw away your gayness (pretend to be straight) and embrace the Church. What I'm saying is take time to discover what you truly believe and what want in your life. This may take many years, but when you know what's true and what you want, stick with your beliefs. Also, always remember that it's perfectly normal to be gay and Mormon. Stay true to yourself.


05 August 2011
*Ding dong*

Hello! My name is Elder Llewellyn, and I'd like to share with you the most amazing book! (From the opening song, but with my name place in it).

Back in May, I went to see The Book of Mormon. I'd like to say that I absolutely loved it! I know that a lot of people in the LDS community have said some awful things about it, but I'd like to say that they have inflated their opinions to extreme views. Also, I highly doubt many of the critics have seen the show.

There were some aspects that I didn't like of the show. They all were around the vulgarity of some of the characters and songs. I felt that some of the things said or sang could have had the poor language taken out. That being said, I can see why the language was in there. People do a lot of swearing and for some it is just a part of their vocabulary. So it seems to me that the writers were staying true to the "missionary" experience. I've never served a mission, but I'm sure that some people who missionaries try to visit have run into many people with colorful language.

Now, here is why I liked it and why I differ from most of the LDS critics. It's true that the writers poked fun at our quirkiness (they also poked fun of a lot of sensitive issues), but we do the same with movies like Singles Ward. The truth is that we make fun of ourselves in the same way as they were poking fun at us. I don't see anything wrong with this because I was taught growing up that we, Mormons, are queer folks that are different from the rest of the world. It's ok that we are different and it's ok to poke fun at our quirkiness. The writers were trying to portray Mormons as a unique group of people and they were able to accomplish this, but it wasn't in a demeaning fashion. I thought that they portrayed the LDS Church in an excellent light.

Many people have said that they do a bad portrayal of the Church, but I disagree. The writers showed that missionaries, while they may be innocent, are going out to places like Uganda to try to better the lives of and to give hope to many people. Throughout the musical, it shows the progression of how the missionaries are changing the lives of a town. The people are no longer dismal and angry; they transform into a people full of hope of a better life and they are striving to better their lives. Isn't that what missionary work is all about? I'd say that these missionaries did a wonderful job doing it.

Other critics have said that missionaries aren't as innocent as was portrayed in the musical. I'd like to say that they are. I'm sure when missionaries are going through the MTC that there is some education of the area, culture, and "trials" that people face, but learning about them is completely different than actually experiencing them, especially when you come from the homogeneous state known as Utah or Idaho and the surrounding states. When the missionaries arrived in Uganda, they were completely horrified at the situation--they couldn't believe what was going on. The missionaries that were already there had lost hope in spreading the Gospel and were waiting until their two years were over. Soon the newbies had experiences that caused them to question what they were doing there. Each situation caused one to lose more and more faith because he didn't realize that the world was unfair. He seemed to imagine the whole world to be like the US, specifically Orlando. It took him a long time to realize that the world is not all butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. Eventually, his mission companion helped him realize that the world is not always fair and that they can actually change the lives of a whole town for the better.

Finally, a lot of people have said that they don't show the correct doctrine. While this is partially true, most of what they say is true. The writers had to change a few doctrines so that people of other beliefs could relate and understand; however, these changes were not so far away from the actual doctrine. Imagine trying to teach someone who has no knowledge about the Church everything in a couple hours. Can you do that? Of course you can't. That is why they changed a few things to make it more "mainstream" Christianity.

Overall, I absolutely loved the play and I have bought the soundtrack. It always makes me smile. Also, I think that this musical and the current Mormon.org (I think) ads in NYC is giving the Church a lot of publicity, which could in turn cause more people to be interested in learning more about the Church.

PS There will be more to come on my thoughts about the gay missionary in the musical.