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Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation Paperback – June 15, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Homosexual Mormons are trying to determine whether they can stay with integrity in a church that declares homosexual behavior to be sinful. Church policy requires that a disciplinary council be called to consider excommunication for a practicing homosexual. However, church spokesman Don LeFevre said that "compassion and understanding toward those with homosexual challenges is encouraged." The problems they face are described in a new book, Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation, published by Signature Books LLC., a publishing house that issues books challenging official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Homosexuality touches the lives of far more Latter-day Saints than is generally recognized," editors Ron Schow, Wayne Schow and Marybeth Raynes write in an introduction. Using statistical projections based on percentages of homosexuals in the general population, they theorize that there may be 800,000 homosexual Mormons in the 8 million-member church. "Most of the writers are trying to stay in the LDS Church," said Ron Priddis of Signature Books. Whether they will be able to is open to doubt. Last month the three top officials who make up the church's First Presidency issued a letter to congregations that specifically said that homosexual and lesbian behavior is sinful. According to the letter to congregations, "The Lord's standard of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage." The letter was issued by Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon Hinckley and Thomas Monson. According to LeFevre, the church believes that it is possible for homosexuals to change their sexual orientation. "Many individuals have discontinued homosexual behavior," he said. "To deny the possibility of change is to deny one's ability to choose for oneself." In contrast, homosexual-rights groups like Evangelicals Concerned in New York maintain that in virtually all cases in which homosexuals claim to have changed their orientation they have either become celibate or returned to homosexual behavior after a period of time. --Salt Lake Tribune, Peggy Fletcher Stack

Mormon's have used the phrase "Peculiar People" to describe themselves, much as the ancient Hebrews did to denote their special relationship with God. This description aptly fits my experience of the Latter Day Saints. As a religious person and a gay activist for the past two decades I have viewed Mormons from a distance. Mormon history and doctrine has been so resolutely heterosexual and family-oriented that gay and lesbian Mormons have been less than visible in the church. Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation breaks the long silence of gay Mormons and sheds light upon their experiences. Through this series of first-person accounts, gay and lesbian Mormons speak of the deepest spiritual struggle, the pain of accommodation to church law, and the denial of the self. They speak to the struggle of all gay people and yet in doing so reveal the truth of an oppressive patriarchy which has for decades gripped the Mormons in fear and ignorance regarding human sexuality and Biblical truth. These voices, along with the voices of family and friends, serve to disclose the truth. At last, there is a clear witness to the struggle within the Mormon Church. However, the editors seem overly ambitious in their desire to provide both a volume of witnesses and resources. One book cannot contain everything about being gay. In an attempt to cover every issue, the editors end up skimming through serious material in the briefest of fashions. One article titled "A Therapist's Counsel for Married Homosexuals" offers slightly more than one page of advice. Such treatment is woefully inadequate. On the other hand, articles by noted scholars like James Nelson and Bishop John Spong provide the reader with valuable insight and current theological opinion. Regardless of editorial shortcomings, Peculiar People provides substantial witness to the existence of gay and lesbian Mormons along with a challenge to the church to acknowledge its history of abuse. This is an historically important book giving voice to the wider struggle of spiritual people seeking to find acceptance, fulfillment, and a place of ministry within their faith community. There can be no tougher battle than that being waged within the Mormon church. Peculiar People is testimony to the voice of freedom which will not be silent. --Lambda Book Report, Rev. Larry Uhrig

About the Author

Ron Schow is a professor of audiology in the College of Health-Related Professions at Idaho State University. He is a co-author of Communication Disorders of the Aged: A Guide for Health Professionals and co-editor of Introduction to Audiologic Rehabilitation, as well as of Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation, which had its genesis in his nephew's death from AIDS. He and his family live in Pocatello. H. Wayne Schow is chair of the Department of English and Philosophy at Idaho State University and is the author of Against the Wind: Stories by Martin A. Hansen and Remembering Brad: On the Loss of a Son to AIDS, about his own son. He is a co-editor of Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation and has been published on this topic in Sunstone magazine and elsewhere. He lives in Pocatello, Idaho, with his wife. Marybeth Raynes is an adjunct assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Utah, a marriage and family therapist, co-editor of Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation, and a contributor to Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family. She lives in Salt Lake City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Signature Books (June 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560850469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560850465
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,952,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dustrino on July 12, 1999
A comprehensive and wonderful book detailing the pain, suffering, joys, and blessings of being a gay mormon. Through personal stories, sceintific studies, and offical policies, the myths and mystery surrounding this issue is brought out of the closet. A must read for anyone who knows a gay mormon or is dealing with the issues of homosexuality. I have personally found great peace and comfort in my own life from this book. As a gay mormon myself I know and understand the pain of not having the answers. Some of the answers are to be found in this book.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 1998
This is the book that every person who is struggling with being both gay and mormon. It gives a history of the church's policies on homosexuals, and accounts of some of the members of the church who are same sex oriented. A wonderful read. I recommend it to all those having problems balancing spirituality and homosexuality.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Wendy C. Scholl on September 13, 1998
This book is must read for anyone struggling with sexual identity while still trying to maintain a love of God and church. Whether you are Mormon or belong to another faith this book is equally as powerful. Through the essays of gay people, their families, spouses, and clergy members, Peculiar People portrays the painful choices sometimes chosen by, and sometimes forced upon, those whose only sin is loving the "wrong" people.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By jrbarnes@UCLA.edu on August 6, 1998
Peculiar People is very empowering to those who struggle with sexual orientation, self-acceptance and self-esteem issues in the Church. It shares, through powerful, personal accounts, the struggles, strength and hope of those who have lived through the challenges brought forth in such conflict. This book shares wisdom and insight for the families of those struggling with self-acceptance. I have recommended it to many individuals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Cook on February 18, 2013
Verified Purchase
This book was groundbreaking for when it was published in the early '90s. It's interesting to see how a lot of what it calls for the Church has adopted, but since the culture lags so far behind, this is a good introduction for members who may not have considered the situation of gay and lesbian Church members or the realities of homosexuality in general.
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