Steven Fales Opens Up About Spirituality, Sexuality, and Being the “Mormon Boy”
“When I was excommunicated I threw everything out,” Fales began. “I had a very intense spiritual experience during my excommunication. I started to realize that, if there were a God out there, I wasn’t too concerned about it anymore… But it was there. It was different from anything Mormonism has taught me. In many ways my excommunication was a very painful but necessary gift. It freed me from the mind-fuck.”
Steven Fales, author of the Mormon Boy Trilogy, is bringing his story to RVA and the Richmond Triangle Players this weekend. In preparation, Fales opened up about his story: a journey through sexuality, drug-abuse, prostitution, and spirituality.
Fales was born into a Mormon family in Utah. He says,” I went through all the major Mormon milestones: I served on a mission, I was married in the Salt Lake Temple, I have two children.” Suddenly, Fales found his marriage and spirituality unhinged due to his sexuality.
Although Fales had confessed to his ex-wife that he had “same-sex” attractions before their marriage, he believed that, if he had them again, there was therapy to make him straight. “I studied to be straight with some of the top psychologists in the ex-gay movement,” he says. “I wanted to be straight.” However, these methods failed to change Fales, and he soon came to accept his identity.
Fales grew to accept himself, but neither his wife nor his Church was able to do so. He knew his family was falling apart, but he was willing to work through the issues for the sake of his children. His wife, however, was through. Thus, he found himself filing for divorce, as well as preparing to stand before a church court for homosexuality. “I was excommunicated in the formal church court for homosexuality. It was so psychologically fragmenting, I was reeling,” Fales says.
After facing a near simultaneous divorce and excommunication from the Mormon Church, Fales moved to New York City where he hoped to employ his former studies of theatre arts. Instead, Fales fell into a world of prostitution and drug-abuse. “I moved back to New York,” he recalls, “and I fell into my gay adolescence. That included intensive full-time escorting in the penthouses of New York, and then I was introduced to crystal meth—off the clock.”
Stuck in a low point in his life, Fales soon came to realize that he was being self-destructive, and quickly made efforts to become sober and turn his life around. In this revelation, Fales began writing his first play, a one-man show named Confessions of a Mormon Boy, which was a reflection on the tribulations he endured. His play became an off-Broadway hit, and he soon toured internationally.
The success of the play, which led to the creation of its prequel and sequel, also helped Fales emotionally. “Currently, I am over two-years clean and sober… Things are getting much better. Sometimes things get worse before they get better.” Fales faced a number of issues following his recovery, all of which he covers in Prodigal Dad, the sequel to Confessions. “Prodigal Dad is serious and the themes are intense. It’s extremely honest… We’re dealing with child custody—it’s a family court room drama, basically. It’s about being a father in very homophobic Utah.”
Fales is currently living in New York City preparing for his off-Broadway run of the Mormon Boy Trilogy, but comments on the on-going struggle for same-sex marriage in his home state: “I think that it’s delicious that the timing for the Utah battles is quicker than anyone expected. We all expected Utah to be the last-stand and so for this to be blowing up earlier is just… Delicious.” On the same note, Fales warns the newlyweds of Utah, “My hope is that the quality of the lives of the new couples that are getting hitched will be up for the scrutiny of their Mormon neighbors when full equality comes—which will come. We can race to the altar, but now we need to make sure that our relationships are as good as or of more quality than their Mormon neighbors.”
In the end, the Mormon Boy has completely revoked the teaching of the Latter-day Saints. He admits, “I do believe that there is a complete dead-end to Spirituality in the Mormon experience, and to many of the super fundamentalist.” However, Fales has not completely forsaken the Christian teachings, but has instead discovered that “God is a fluid being” and that he “doesn’t have a problem with organized religion, it’s distorted religion that is the problem.”
To truly experience Fales’ life from his point of view, see the premier of his Mormon Boy Trilogy, which is premiering this weekend at the Richmond Triangle Players. Fales will be performing Missionary Position, Confessions of a Mormon Boy, and Prodigal Dad as well as his cabaret show Mormon American Princess. For more information and ticket pricing, go to RTP’s website www.rtriangle.org
Antony Shipman is a student at Bennington College, and is interning with GayRVA/RVA Mag for the months of January and February. Antony, who is relatively new to the world of journalism, is hoping to learn more about the business by working closely with the staff of GayRVA/RVA Mag. When not at work, Antony is likely to be found giving affection to a cat or sitting in his apartment with a book in his hands.
“The play is about being true to your authentic self but it’s also about being vigilant in maintaining your rights. It wasn’t very long ago that the world was a very different place.”September 27, 2016
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