I Spoke to You with Silence

Essays from Queer Mormons of Marginalized Genders

Nobody knows what to do about queer Mormons. The institutional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prefers to pretend they don’t exist, that they can choose their way out of who they are, leave, or at least stay quiet in a community that has no place for them. Even queer Mormons don’t know what to do about queer Mormons. Their lived experience is shrouded by a doctrine in which heteronormative marriage is non-negotiable and gender is unchangeable. For women, trans Mormons, and Mormons of other marginalized genders, this invisibility is compounded by social norms which elevate (implicitly white) cisgender male voices above those of everyone else. 

This collection of essays gives voice to queer Mormons. The authors who share their stories—many speaking for the first time from the closet—do so here in simple narrative prose. They talk about their identities, their experiences, their relationships, their heartbreaks, their beliefs, and the challenges they face. Some stay in the church, some do not, some are in constant battles with themselves and the people around them as they make agonizing decisions about love and faith and community. Their stories bravely convey what it means to be queer, Mormon, and marginalized—what it means to have no voice and yet to speak anyway.
Kerry Spencer Pray teaches writing at Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Maryland. Mormon by birth, she taught at Brigham Young University for fourteen years and spent nearly twenty years in a mixed-orientation marriage. She lives with and coparents children with her wife and gay ex-husband. 

Jenn Lee Smith is founder of Bewilder Films, which focuses on stories of under-represented people. Raised an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she began her producing career with stories at the intersection of religion and sexual/gender orientation and has since collaborated on BIPOC and environmental films. She lives in California with her husband, children, and dog.
Table of Contents:

Foreword by Lisa Diamond 

Introduction by Kerry Spencer Pray and Jenn Lee Smith 

Part I: Essays on Identity
Introduction to Part I by Jenn Lee Smith 
1. The Thing about Secrets by Amanda Farr 
2. Memoir of a Wikta by Naji Haska Runs Through 
3. Frank Pellett’s Story by Frank Pellett
4. On Hair and Intersections by Sarah Pace
5. I Give You a Name (& This Is My Blessing) by Aisling “Ash” Rowan
6. Immersive Theater by Jenn Lee Smith
7. My Agender, Autistic Mormon Life by Mette Harrison
8. Married and Bisexual by Amber Lewis
9. The Silence That Echoes by Melissa Malcolm King

Part II: Essays on Relationships
Introduction to Part II by Kerry Spencer Pray
10. I Do Not Sing for My Husband by Jenny Smith
11. I Spoke to You with Silence by Anonymous
12. On the Side of Love by Bobbie Lee- Corry
13. Cute: A Polycule by Bea Goodman
14. Wedding Dress by Anonymous
15. Love and Change by Blaire Ostler
16. Noticed by Anonymous
17. Ordinary Magnificent by Kerry Spencer Pray
18. Melaleuca by Kel Purcill
19. On Cleaving by Kerry Spencer Pray

Part III: Essays on Shame, Suicide, and the Closet
Introduction to Part III by Kimberly Anderson
20. Closed Casket by V. H.
21. A Conversation I’ll Never Have by Jasper Brennan
22. Out/Into the Closet by Anonymous
23. The Ocean That Shaped Me by Abby Kidd
24. Hard Conversations by Jaclyn Foster
25. Lynette’s Story by Kerry Spencer Pray
26. By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them by Jodie Palmer
27. Way in the Closet, Serving the Lord by Judith Mehr

Part IV: Essays on the Church
Introduction to Part IV by Taylor Petrey
28. Unspeakable by Eliana Massey
29. I Owe a Debt by Rebecca Moore
30. If I Can Find Hope Anywhere, That’s the Best I Can Do by Kaja M. Kaniewska
31. With a Firm Hope by Miranda Ybarra
32. Minha Auto Aceita..o (My Self- Acceptance) by Cristina Moraes
33. E Se? (What If?) by Irving Diego Santos
34. Seeking Courage, Pride, and Limits by Chelsea Gibbs
35. The Binary by Ari Glass
36. Five Stories on Why I Don’t Belong by Chris Davis
37. Pioneer Pattern by Alma Linda Martinez
38. My Lord Has Come by Becca Barrus
39. God Sits in My Kitchen Sometimes by Jaclyn Foster


Praise and Reviews:“This poignant, at times heartbreaking book is a testament to the resilience of LGBTQ Mormons. Focusing particularly on the little-heard stories of gay, bi/pansexual, asexual women and trans, nonbinary people, and including and giving space for people of color to share their experiences at the intersection of racism and heterosexism, this book gives people space to tell their stories. Some chronicle a lifetime struggle. Others focus on a poignant moment. It is a beautiful and important work of personal narrative and storytelling.”  
—Dawne Moon, author of God, Sex, and Politics: Homosexuality and Everyday Theologies

"The story of modern Mormonism cannot be told without considering the queer experience, which in turn can only be understood through listening to the tradition’s previously marginalized voices. Collected here are some of the most poignant and powerful essays ever composed by LGBTQ+ Mormons as they plumb the depths of their faith and sexuality. Only after reading this volume can the broader picture of the 'American Religion' come into view."
—Benjamin E. Park, author of Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier