|• The Washington Post|
Edited by Jerry Argetsinger, Jeff Laver, and Johnny Townsend
From a story by the Rochester Institute of Technology
It’s a subject many think is taboo in the Mormon church, but an associate professor at Rochester Institute of Technology is creating a stir with a book of 21 short stories and four plays depicting a variety of perspectives on what it means to be gay and Mormon.
Gerald Argetsinger co-edited and wrote the introduction for Latter-Gay Saints: An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction which was published this week and available on Amazon.com and at selected bookstores. He is scheduling book signings in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, New York City and Rochester.
Argetsinger, who sits on the high council of the Mormon’s Rochester stake, works in the Cultural & Creative Studies department at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He was asked several years ago if he would contribute to a book about how the Mormon church has been depicted in pop culture. His assignment: how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints handled homosexuality.
“No one wanted to approached the angle of gay literature. I researched it and found several works, but they shelved the book,” Argetsinger says. Fascinated about what he found, he uncovered more literature and plays with gay Mormons in conflict and used that research to speak at conferences around the country.
“I decided to put a book together with some of the stories and plays with this theme,” he says. “I thought this would be a self-published thing for a very limited audience.”
Lethe Press, a publisher specializing in gay and lesbian books, contracted to publish it. Two authors with stories in the book, Jeff Laver of Salt Lake City and Johnny Townsend of Seattle, co-edited the book with Argetsinger.
“It’s a gem of a collection,” Argetsinger says. “None of the stories are erotic. Some of them are hilariously funny.”
Argetsinger says the book will appeal to those who like good stories as well as families and friends of gay Mormons who want to understand their loved one better.
The book is already making splashes in the Washington Post and Buffalo News, in part, due to the traveling company of The Book of Mormon musical, which spoofs the Mormon missionary experience. And it was listed as one of the top 10 “hot sheet” newsmakers on Advocate.com.