Seminar: Paper Workshop with Mae Speight

Mae Speight will present for peer review her paper “Same-Sex Attraction, Sedgwick, and the Saints: The Emerging Mormon Discourse on Sexual Identity.” The event is hosted by the Virginia Colloquium on American Religious History.

Title:   “Same-Sex Attraction, Sedgwick, and the Saints: The Emerging Mormon Discourse on Sexual Identity.”

Abstract: In both the Church’s policy and in the manner in which it is being articulated at the lay level, the disruption—the intervening discourse, in Sedgwick’s terms— is not to destabilize all sexual binaries, but to destabilize gay identity as such. . . .  gayness as a status remains the foil against which the modern LDS policy is articulated. Gayness is written out of narratives, replaced by indefinite articles, and conspicuously absent. . . The LDS Church, it would appear, is developing powerful rhetorical leverage. . . . [In this new discourse]  the greater threat is no longer homosexual acts, but rather homosexual status. It is a discourse that manages to overcome the politically fraught debate between nature and nurture. Yet, for all of the destabilizing of sexual identity it does, “gayness” is what must be eradicated. In the end, homosexuality is only a burden, while heterosexuality is the eternal promise.