Jun 7, 2013

A Queer Atheist in the Heart of Mormon Country

Earlier this year I visited Utah to speak at a conference cosponsored by Brigham Young University (98.5% Mormon) and Utah Valley University (86% Mormon, the highest single-religion percentage at any public university campus in the U.S.A.). In advance of my speech this weekend at Boston Pride, and in light of a strong Mormon presence at this year's Utah Pride, my new piece for Religion Dispatches explores what I experienced as a queer atheist in the heart of Mormon country. Check out an excerpt below and click here to read it in full.

Last weekend a group of around 400 Mormons marched in the Utah Pride Parade. Calling themselves “Mormons Building Bridges,” they were met with enthusiastic applause. Carrying signs with messages like “Love 1 Another” and “LDS heart LGBT,” they were there to show their support for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community and celebrate recent advancements in issues relating to LGBTQ people and Mormons, such as Bishops no longer excommunicating members who come out and the Boy Scouts of America voting to allow openly gay scouts to participate. (LGBTQ adults and atheists still cannot do so openly.)

As I read about Utah Pride in preparation for my remarks this upcoming weekend as the 2013 Boston Pride interfaith speaker, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I learned during a recent visit to Utah.

It was late in the evening when I arrived, and I knew I would be there for only 24 hours. I was met by Alasdair Ekpenyong, a college sophomore who stands at the crossroads of intersecting identities and convictions: black, LGBTQ-affirming, feminist, progressive, a lover of bowties—and deeply Mormon.

Click here to continue reading.