“My name is Emily Pearson and I am an Ex Mormon.”
I was born in Provo, Utah to Gerald and Carol Lynn Pearson. At the age of eight years old I was baptized an official, 5th generation, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was twelve years old when I learned my dad, whom I adored, was gay; sixteen years old when he died of AIDS in our home; eighteen years old when my mother’s book “Goodbye, I Love You” was published by Random House; twenty five years old when I knowingly married a gay man myself in the Salt Lake City temple; thirty two years old when we divorced; thirty four when I walked away from the Mormon Church; and forty when I officially had my name removed from the church records.
I have spent the past 8 years writing my “Exit Story” in a memoir called Dancing With Crazy slated for publication later this year (2011.) Rather than try and re-cap it all here, suffice it to say that it has been a wild ride. Early on in my life I became obsessed with obedience to the God that I was introduced to at church – the very same God that hated and condemned my father for being a homosexual and who was, in turn (and for good reason) hated by my dad. Growing up I had so many questions about what I was taught and how things worked and the answers I was given just didn’t make any sense to me. What I thought and felt and experienced in my world and knew in my bones to be true was at complete odds with what I was told to think and feel and experience and believe. It was too much, too confusing, too painful and too frightening to think about. So I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was completely incapable of executing the intellectual and emotional gymnastics my life required so I mentally flatlined. Not thinking became the only way for me to survive.
I had to choose which father to obey, which father to love – a choice that broke me in two. I chose my dad and everything that his life brought into my world. After his death I frantically realigned myself with my Heavenly Father and became subject to His will and whims and myriad of “tests and trials” – never once thinking anything through for myself, never once taking responsibility for my choices or the direction of my own life. How could I? If I allowed that, even for a moment, everything I thought, believed and chose would be in direct opposition to what I was taught at church and that could never be allowed. Yes, personal revelation was taught and encouraged – but only if that personal revelation was in absolute alignment with the official doctrines and teachings of the church. Mine wasn’t and I was desperate to be obedient enough, good enough, perfect enough so that God would love me and forgive me for not choosing him and allow me to live with him again after this life.
Decades later, when my testimony of the Mormon Church finally, and miraculously, bit the dust, I began the thrilling and terrifying process of individuation and brutally honest self discovery. Like all ex-Mormons I had to re-learn and re-mature and re-configure pretty much everything in my life. I had to figure out for myself not only what to think but how to think – an experience that was both exhilarating and frustrating as hell. I felt stupid and pathetic and robbed of so much time and so much of my life and my self. Having gone through that, I now value the ability to think and choose and feel for myself higher than anything else in my life. Being in full ownership of my life and my brain and my self and my personal freedom is something I will never, ever, ever give up or take for granted again.
My book Dancing With Crazy is the true story of my personal derailment, both horrifically and humorously demonstrating what happens when mindless obedience to religious authority supersedes plain old common sense. As a young Mormon girl I gave up my own personal power, relinquished the ability to think for myself and allowed myself to blow with a wind that carried me from studying scriptures in the Sunday School classes of correctly clothed, righteous descendants of Mormon pioneers, to studying porn on San Francisco’s Castro Street with my gay father and half naked drag queens, to drowning in depression in a stinky apartment in Hollywood, to puking in the toilet of a courting polygamist. After nearly losing my mind several times over, I began to disentangle myself from toxic and narcissistic personalities, walked away from a crippling religion, and finally learned to think, act and live for myself. It is both heartbreaking and heart warming – an inspiring story filled with religious fundamentalists, transvestites, AIDS, love, abuse, obsession, visions, cock socks, sex, Satan and salvation.
As well as a professional writer [Fuzzy Red Bathrobe, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed] I am an actress with extensive experience on both stage and screen and a filmmaker [the documentary 8:The Mormon Proposition and the upcoming feature Facing East.]
My name is Emily Pearson and I am an Ex Mormon.
Emily blogs at http://www.dancingwithcrazy.blogspot.com