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SAINT UNSHAMED: A Gay Mormon's Life: Healing From the Shame of Religion, Rape, Conversion Therapy & Cancer Kindle Edition
|Word Wise: Enabled|
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In the midst of his own story, Ashton also discusses friends who lost their lives, including gay men who killed themselves, who contracted HIV, or who buried themselves in heterosexual marriages. He gives life to rest stops and gay cruising grounds, relating both their necessity and the danger they represented for men who could not speak about their sexual needs. Ashton also tries to make sense of his religious and family life. Strict Mormon laws regarding sex, from masturbation to intercourse to anything in between, informed much of Ashton's suffering, but to deny Mormonism would have been to lose his family, his faith, and, in many ways, his identity as a young man. Ashton's electric scenes speak to that quandary and make real the many parts of life that are barred to men who come out.
Though the memoir progresses almost to the present, Ashton's young adulthood and childhood produce the best-wrought scenes with the most at stake. The pacing and the tension there is literary; scenes are full and include actions and reactions. The moves through time are frequent. Barbra Streisand movies are referenced to help keep years straight in the story, which also pays homage to Judy Garland; The Wizard of Oz becomes an extended metaphor with clear parallels in Ashton's story. Ashton's encounters with famous people are charming and interesting in and of themselves.
Devastating but ultimately hopeful, Saint Unshamed is insightful as it reveals a generation of Mormon men who were hurt and sometimes destroyed by the church's positions on their sexuality. It is A TRIUMPHANT MEMOIR about how one man managed to find a way out."
FOREWORD REVIEWS/CLARION BOOKS
Ashton's parents argued constantly. His mother, he writes, was "the only source of love I knew," while his father was frequently enraged at his youngest child's "sissy" behavior, such as when he performed the Cowardly Lion's song from The Wizard of Ozor cried during his parents' shouting matches.
At Brigham Young University, Ashton discovers sex in a restroom and deals with a crush on his friend Harlan, who slowly reveals his own troubled past. It's fascinating to watch this friendship--and the handsome former Marine's complex feelings towards Ashton--unfold.
Ashton is viciously raped during a hookup, and under threat of expulsion when university authorities learn of his cruising, undergoes electroshock therapy to "correct" his sexuality. (The Mormon church believes gay members can be changed and threatens excommunication for any who
refuse treatment.) The procedure leaves his hands 'constantly shaking.'
Eventually, the author, with the help of his therapist and loving partner, works through the past trauma and begins to reconcile with his family.
Ashton is a passionate, unfailingly candid narrator. Using vivid detail, he crafts absorbing scenes. Overall, this is a compelling look at the repercussions of being gay in a community that sees this as a source of shame--a detailed record of one man's hurt and healing, while many more with similar stories have yet to speak of their pain."
During college, he made forays into sex; once, he endured a brutal rape, which he willed himself to forget. However, at Brigham Young, he also met a strikingly good-looking young man named Harlan, who took young Ashton under his wing, and with whom Ashton fell deeply in love. He also experienced the devastating conclusion of his long relationship with Harlan.
In Ashton's post-college life, he tried to break onto Broadway and come to terms with the psychological damage he endured in the LDS Church.
Ashton has clearly led a long, fascinating life. The care and detail he brings to his childhood and first years in New York, feature wonderful run-ins with celebrities, such as Bette Davis and Stephen Sondheim. The memoir's structure is smart, as it allows Ashton to develop a single, riveting story about his growing love for Harlan and his battle with BYU's unrelenting moral standards. Along the way, he adds rich perspective as he alternates between the troubled child he was, and the proud, openly gay man that he eventually became. A moving coming-out story with an intriguing narrative structure!"
Ben Brantley, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Byron Belt, NEWHOUSE NEWSPAPERS
Martin Schaeffer, NEW YORK THEATER WEEK
John Mahoney, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Jack Bradford, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Sven Rye, THE HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS
Susan Forscey, LOS ANGELES HERALD EXAMINER
From the Author
My battle with cancer suspended my career both as a professional actor and writer for nearly two decades. Once I fully recovered from my illness, I had finally found a level of self-acceptance and enough spiritual healing that I was finally ready and brave enough to tell the whole truth about my experiences as a Mormon, including telling about the rape that occurred while I was a student at BYU in the sprint of 1972--something I had never told anyone, not even myself, in over 40 years.
Essentially, it took four decades of self-healing, therapy, and a lot of inner work before I was finally ready to fully own all of the experience that I endured while at BYU in the 70s, to share my story as I had always needed to share it, not as fiction but as true memoir. I was finally read to tell the whole truth of my experiences as a Gay Mormon, letting the chips fall where they may.
- File Size : 4930 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07K3LDC29
- Publication Date : March 16, 2019
- Text-to-Speech : Not enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Print Length : 348 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,732,679 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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