… by the letters
When I was a little kid, my babysitter was Lora. She lived around the corner from me in Orem and she was 13 years old when I first met her. I was 6 at the time and thought she was so mature and such an adult, not a little kid like me. She knew all the cool music and when she’d come over to babysit she would bring with her the hits of the late 80s. My favorite was Tiffany and the single “I think We’re Alone Now.” I borrowed it from Lora all the time so one Saturday afternoon my mom took me to the record store on State Street and bought me a copy, which I still have, and which is now autographed by Tiffany because a few years ago I met her at Phoenix Pride. Point is – Lora was the coolest person I knew.
When my family moved from Utah to California in 1991, Lora wrote me letters. But being the coolest babysitter and creative, attentive person she is, she didn’t just write a letter. She would create a new alphabet and create a key on a 3×5 index card so I could crack the code. For example the letter A would match a new symbol like +. The letter B was denoted with a !, C with a #, D by an = and so on. Without the index card the letter was impossible to read. A letter from her was an experience because each was a puzzle, written in our own secret language that took me about 20 minutes to decipher. I translated the symbols and then could read her words. I cherished those letters.
Mormon history includes a similar story.
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I journeyed north to my ancestral homeland (on my mom’s side) to Brigham City, Utah on Friday night to attend the open house of the new Brigham City temple.
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In April, a video from the documentary “Far Between” made national news. This video highlighted the struggle of LGBT students who currently attend Mormon owned and operated Brigham Young University (BYU). The purpose of this project and the documentary is to contribute to the dialogue of what it means to be gay and Mormon without “the common temptation to devolve into simplified polemics and instead convey the myriad nuances and complexities that make up the experience of leaning into both aspects of a life simultaneously.”
The BYU video achieved this goal and can be seen on the Far Between website here. Continue reading →
I’ve been a fan of Mormon Stories for a looooooooong time. A number of years ago it was just one podcast where complex issues regarding Mormon theology, culture, and history were discussed in depth by Mormon apologists, disaffected Mormons, active Mormons, Mormon historians, scholars, etc. In short, it was the meat that many of us had been looking for after lots and lots of milk.
Mormon Stories filled a need within Mormon culture as a neutral, safe place for deep questioning, discussion and for many people, serious healing. As the podcast has grown, so has the Mormon Stories community. There are Facebook groups all over the country, regional conferences, meet-up groups. I’ve met so many wonderful people in Phoenix at the Mormon Stories book clubs and other social events that have been organized. At the Mormon Stories conference in February I felt at home among “my people.”
Today I am happy to announce the forthcoming addition to the Open Stories Foundation (which Mormon Stories is a part of) – Gay Mormon Stories. Continue reading →
The first LDS Chapel in Phoenix was completed in 1918 near the corner of 7th and Monroe Streets in Downtown Phoenix. For 30 years it served as a meeting house, a community center, a place for luncheons for businessmen, and the venue for youth dances. As the LDS population in Phoenix grew, more chapels were built and by 1948 this first chapel was sold to another church then eventually demolished in 1969. I can’t think of any reason why the church would have sold it except maybe because the LDS population downtown had begun the flight to the suburbs where they have remained ever since.
All that’s left of the building is this plaque which can be seen at Heritage Square: Continue reading →