CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY. Written and performed by Steven Fales. Directed by Jack Hofsiss. Photographs: Carol Rosegg. Alexander Bar.
KAREN RUTTER reviews
The concept of converting a queer into a straight isn’t as crazy as one might think. Well, for some people. Most notably Mormons. And, of course, many South African men, who think the corrective rape of lesbians is somehow going to convince them that a penis is a good thing.
So while Steven Fales’ story of how he was persuaded to fight against his natural gayness by his church is batshit, it’s also TRUE batshit. Which makes it an incredibly sad story – but fortunately, one with a happy ending (okay, not if you’re a devout Mormon, but then a congregation who’re not allowed to drink coffee are probably not a whole bunch of laughs anyway).
The lure of sodomy
Confessions of a Mormon Boy is exactly that – the disclosure of a (former) member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) about how he tried valiantly to resist the lure of sodomy, despite feeling from a youngish age that he was attracted to men. At the time Fales was in the LDS church, its line was that same-sex attraction was a curable condition, to be remedied asap. Nowadays it appears that the church recognises if one is born with a certain sexual orientation – but it’s a sin to act on it. They’re kind of okay with celibate queers, but active gays get kicked out. Excommunicated from the community.
Which is what happened to Fales, after desperately trying to be straight (with the help of courses, seminars and workshops. Yes, they exist). He left behind a wife and two kids, and headed to New York to work as an actor. Times being what they were, being a waiter was a more practical job. And later, being a hooker proved a more lucrative path.
Told with honesty, integrity, and a fabulous sense of humour, Confessions of a Mormon Boy takes the audience on Fales’ journey to the dark side and beyond. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, and it’s a cautionary tale about the clear and present danger that conservative Christians present to the LGBTI community – especially queer youth.
Educative and entertaining
What wasn’t quite so clear and present was the editing of the script. At over 100 minutes, there is definitely material that could be culled. Around 40 minutes of it, I would say. Perhaps if the best anecdotes were cherry-picked, and points of repetition were avoided, we’d have a more stream-lined, slicker version. There are pertinent, poignant and witty highlights in this narrative – the trick is to choose them. Just a thought.
But in all, an educative and entertaining turn.
What: Confessions of a Mormon Boy
Where and when: Alexander Bar from 10 to 20 July 2019