“THE LOST TRIBE”
Lesbian and Mormon in Australia
“The Lost Tribe”, a film from “Women Making Movies” is a wonderful documentary on how religion can affect the life of gay men and women. Sue Ann Post, an ex Mormon lesbian stand-up comic, gives us her first hand account of what it was like to grow up Mormon in Australia (yes, Australia—something new I learned here. I always thought the only Mormons were Americans)—and her discovery of “the lost tribe” in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sue Ann is an atheist comedian who built her career from the tales of her past life as a Mormon. When she left the Church of Latter Day Saints, she was shunned by her family and has been an outsider ever since. She demanded excommunication on a national TV show and her comedy caused the erection of a wall that buried her past which she had never confronted. This also brought about a trauma that was to haunt her and she misses her church and her family. After appearing in her one woman show, “G Strings and Jock Straps”, she was invited to attend the national conference of Affirmation, an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Mormons to be held at the world capitol of Mormonism, Salt Lake City. As the trip nears she begins to go through night sweats as she realizes that this will cause her to face all the things she has turned her back on.
When she arrives in Utah she finds an interesting paradox—a city teeming with devout Mormons whose influence permeates every aspect of urban life and conference filled with excommunicated, seemingly pious Mormon gay and lesbian people. This mix leads to a series of extraordinary and unexpected events. The conference section of the film really held surprises for me. I had never thought of there being Mormons who are gay and lesbian. I did not know that you could be a “sexual deviant” (not a term I am particularly fond of) and remain in the church. I was very surprised that you could practice your religion if you remained celibate—in other words, you can be a gay Mormon as long as you do not have sex with anyone or even practice masturbation. Does that not take the fun out of being gay? You can love another same sex partner; you just can’t touch him or her.
“The Lost Tribe” is not just a documentary—it s an observational documentary and an intimate look at the least understood of religions. The wonderful film “Latter Days” dealt with being gay and Mormon but did not really explore the tenets of the religion. “The Lost Tribe” fills the gap that it left open and doe3s so beautifully. I, for one, was also amazed that Mormons are really good looking people (what a shallow statement!). I guess that shows how little I knew about gay Mormons.
Hilarious at times and emotionally charged as well “The Lost Tribe” is the chronicle of one Mormon woman she faces her “demons”.
Rachel Landers, the director, has done a beautiful job of catching the nuances of the religion as well as the bravura of Sue-Ann Post as she comes to terms with her place in the world.
Interwoven into the film are fascination tidbits on Mormonism. There are about 11 million Mormons in the world today-more Mormons than Presbyterians and Episcopalians and is regarded as one of the fastest growing religions in the West. Reasons for excommunication from the faith include homosexuality and masturbation as well as adultery (I love that word). The leaders as well as the members of Latter Day Saints firmly believe that homosexuality can be cured by reparative/conversion therapy which is conducted by the church itself. This shows that the Latter Day Saints are well aware of its gay members—it just refuses to accept them.