Only four of 25 gay-and-Mormon plays in the past 20 years have been written by women: Julie Jensen’s “Wait” (2005), Carol Lynn Pearson’s “Facing East” (2006), Laekin Rogers’s “Hands of Sodom” (2008), and Melissa Leilani Larson’s “Little Happy Secrets” (2009).
Gay missionaries are making frequent appearances. In 2009, Steven Fales’s “Missionary Position” told the story of a “squeaky-clean Mormon boy on his mission, trying to hide his homosexuality.” That same year, Devan Mark Hite told the story of a gay Mormon missionary in “Since ‘Psychopathia Sexualis.’ ”
In 2011, “The Book of Mormon” stormed Broadway, and so did the musical’s gay missionary character. The show has been wildly successful, which Argetsinger credits to the show’s satirical approach.
A newer show, Matthew Greene’s “Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea,” tells the story of a missionary and his gay best friend. It premiered in January at Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake City, a venue dedicated to showcasing the works of Utah playwrights.
Although some of its recent shows have dealt with homosexuality and Mormonism, Plan-B’s producing director, Jerry Rapier, said that’s not necessarily a focus. He said he thinks in terms of “a character who happens to be gay and Mormon, instead of a gay Mormon character.”
In February, Plan-B brought the first transgender Mormon character to the stage in Matthew Ivan Bennett’s “ERIC(A).” The show is about a transgender man grappling with a sex-change operation after years spent living as a Mormon housewife.
An insider perspective makes the shows work, said Rapier, who is gay. “They ring true because they are written by active, faithful Mormons,” he said.
— Religion News Service
Kellie Kotraba is the editor of Columbia Faith & Values.