Kevan Gardner – Spirituality and Religion

“I’ve always been this kind of strange Mormon child.”

When I went to BYU the official stance from the Mormon Church on homosexuality was that there was no such thing. That is typical Mormonism. I think I was already graduated before they finally said, “Well, we don’t know what causes homosexuality but . . .” You know, finally admitting that there is some such thing. Before they would say there is homosexual behavior, but nobody is actually [homosexual]. Their orientation is not that way. Of course it makes no sense. Why would you [say], “I’m really attracted to women, but I just think, ‘What the hell! I’m going to have sex with men. Why not?’” It makes no sense, but that was the official church stance when I went there.

I basically kind of left [the Mormon church] while I was [at BYU]. Truthfully, it was impossible to totally do, because Mormonism permeates everything there. But I wasn’t going [to church] much—though to get to go to the next year you have to get an ecclesiastical endorsement at the end of every year. You have to have 80 percent attendance at church. Luckily, I had a really great bishop my last couple of years there, who was also a counselor on campus. I went to BYU counseling early on when I came out. This guy was a really good guy. He didn’t have a lot of experience in counseling gay men, or women, but he was not trying to change anything. My last couple of years I wasn’t going to church anywhere near 80 percent of the time. I really just did not want to go. My last year, I didn’t need to worry about. I knew it was my last year so I never went. Well, maybe every once in a while. That second-to-last year, I maybe went half the time. And they take roll. When I went in for my endorsement that bishop was checking down my little list of things. He never looked at the roll, “Eighty percent. That sounds about right.” He just checked it off. And he knew. I talked to him like a counselor. I think that actually some of the leadership thought that rule was stupid. They thought it was really a dumb thing to force people to go to church. Once I got back [to Spokane] I severed all ties. I mean I never went again.

[My sexual orientation] certainly played an important part [in that], but I’ve always been this kind of strange Mormon child. I always had a real issue with the role of women in the church. Even in Sunday school I would question that. The whole hierarchal system didn’t work for me. I really tend to not believe in One True Path. You know? I went from kind of one extreme to another. I am a Witch. That’s been a real central part of my spirituality for the last thirteen years. It’s kind of hard. It’s actually like, “What does that mean?”

I was a very active member of the Unitarian Church [in Spokane] for almost ten years. I’ve been kind of taking a break. I helped found that CUUPS [Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans] chapter there. I’m really happy that it seems to be thriving without me. I never wanted to be in charge of it. I just said [that] I would help start it up. I helped for the first two years. Then I said, “Okay, I really need [to take a break.]” I travel so much in my job. I have consciously, this year, taken a break. I haven’t gone to church at all this year. I’m going to go the lovely ritualistic Thanksgiving service that will be on Sunday. I’m going to go to that. Then, there is a service that I helped start—I was one of the people that started it anyway—called a Requiem Service that we do the first Sunday of the year, which is honoring people that have died the year previous. I love the ritualistic part of it. I used to be Chair of the Worship Committee for several years. Then there’s my CUUPS stuff. I love crafting ritual. I’ve had my hand in some of the services that are more ritualized.


Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson on 20 November 2006.