When Love Falls Short
Kimball Allen is a writer and performer. His current solo show, “Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon,” has been on tour since June of 2012.
Updated January 9, 2013, 8:29 AM
My Mormon childhood in the Rocky Mountain West was comfortable and, in many ways, ideal. My father was the breadwinner and my mother was the homemaker, not an easy task with a family of eight children. Grounded by our religion, life was structured, disciplined and loving. Weekly church services and activities were the norm; family game night was a weekly highlight in the Allen household, and early morning family scripture study was my wake-up call. We were the poster Mormon family.
I grew up gay in a loving, supportive Mormon family. When I came out, that love and support disappeared.
On the surface, our theology created a supportive and nurturing environment for my family and me. However, there was a bit of a hiccup: at a young age, I realized that biology had a different plan. God created me gay, or to use the sterilized Mormon terminology, I struggled with “same-sex attraction.” Latter-day Saint doctrine didn’t have room for alternative sexual orientations. I was alone; I had a scary secret and no one to tell it to. My play, “Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon,” reveals the negative effects religion can have, particularly when the individual doesn’t fit into the dogmatic mold. But in a nutshell: Over time a toxic mixture of unresolved resentment and anger led me down a dark turbulent path toward an adulthood lined with betrayal, alcohol, drugs, and sex, which ultimately landed me in jail.
To truly highlight the deep fear I had of being exposed as a homosexual, I’ll share a very personal and heartbreaking memory. I befriended an older man at the mall when I was a young teenager. He took me to a nearby park and raped me. This was my first sexual experience with another man. Even though I physically survived that day, I died emotionally and spiritually. Although it was rape, I believed I was a sinner by engaging in sexual intercourse with a man.
Years later, too afraid to confront my parents, I sheepishly wrote them a heartbreaking coming-out letter. My naivety gave me faith that the teachings of Jesus Christ would conquer all and touch the hearts of my parents. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34-35) A few weeks later I received letters from my parents. My mother called homosexuality “repulsive” and hoped I would “never blame the church” for my actions. And my father wrote that it would be possible for me to escape the “clutches of homosexuality” and return to a God-approved lifestyle.
I was mistaken; repercussions soon followed. Coming out was social suicide. I knew I would never see a sibling get married in the temple. I knew my future male partner would never fully be accepted as a family member. And I knew I could never be a part of a religion that I once tried so hard to believe in.
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