After moving to Utah, I made my living as a photographer. During that time, I was given a glimpse into the lives of many different types of people. Many of which, were Mormons. I’m going to post a story every now and then about my experiences.
Living in Zion is what pushed me over the edge and eventually led me to resign my membership.
Love One Another…
It was nearing Halloween and on this particular morning, I had two photo shoots scheduled; one right after the other. When I arrived at the studio both parties were there, both very early. I excused myself, ran into my studio and began to set up my equipment.
When I came back into the lobby, I called the first family back for their sitting. It was a family of around 12 members; not uncommon in Utah.
When the group stood up, I could see they were all blond, blue eyed, wearing jeans and denim shirts. Each of the children were perfect clones of their Mormon parents. I pointed them towards my studio. As they walked in, I greeted each of them as they passed me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him.
He had long black hair, black fingernails and was sporting a long, back robe and jeans. The silver cross around his neck glittered. I smiled at him and asked, “Can I help you with something?” I assumed he was with the other party; they were waiting to have Halloween portraits taken. The Mormon mother’s face flushed and she quietly said, “He’s with us.”
Someone, presumably his brother, made a snide remark about him not looking like the rest of the family; they understood why I thought he “doesn’t belong”. They all laughed, but not him. He hung his head and his long black hair fell across his blue eyes. He said nothing, but followed them into the studio.
My heart went out to this young man. I was an inactive member at this time and I knew how cruel families, especially Mormon families, could be. It was apparent that his differences were not tolerated or accepted by anyone in his family.
As I arranged the family for their portraits he stood off to the side. The other members of the family joked and talked amongst themselves, but it was clear that this young man was an outcast. Whether this was by choice or not, was unclear; what was very clear to me was the pain this man was in. When I placed him beside his mother for the portrait, she sort of turned her nose up and whispered, “You smell like cigarette smoke, it’s a disgusting habit.” He didn’t say anything, he just scooted a little farther away from her. A few of his siblings nodded in agreement and snorted with laughter at Mormon mother’s comment. The room was quiet and I felt the tension growing. In order to lighten the mood, I assured the uptight Mormon mother that it was fine that he smoked, as they would not be able to smell anyone in the final portrait. They laughed and the young man gave me a small appreciative smile.
As a joke and just being that I’m a cheesy photographer, I had everyone smile and yell, “We love each other!”
That’s when I snapped the picture.
cross-posted from my blog, The Sacred Sister