Today I am so pleased to welcome Laura Stone to Joyfully Jay. Laura has come to talk to us about her latest release, And It Came to Pass. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Imagine being told that you weren’t allowed to ever be in love. Oh, you can have “feelings” for another person, you’re just never, ever allowed to act on it. Not ever. You’re supposed to spend your life with nothing but friends and family, which, there’s joy to be found with those relationships, to be sure! But what you you were filled-to-bursting with a need to have a romantic relationship? Oh, maybe not today, possibly not tomorrow, but what if you’ve grown up imagining falling in love? You’ve pictured holding hands, your first kiss, that first breathless encounter where every part of your body lights up with desire and love and connection for that person for whom you care so deeply, and you can envision a wedding. All of your friends and family there by your side to celebrate this amazing relationship you’ve found, ready to spend your life with your love.
And you can’t have it. Not ever. Your told this with a sad sort of smile and a pat on your hand.
Then, picture if you can being told with reassurance that eventually you’ll be “corrected” so that those feelings, that desire for that love will go away for eternity. In fact, you’ll be made to love who these people in charge have deemed “appropriate” for you to love.
Does this sound like a dystopian novel? Some sci-fi story about experimentation into the human psyche? I’m sad to say that this is a reality for a large segment of the population, our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who belong to a particular faith, my former religion in fact.
Love. It’s such a fundamental part of who we are as a species. We love our families, our friends, we love our pets and maybe even our co-workers. We love our neighbors, our country, maybe a good song. But there is that special sort of love, the love of companionship, the love of a partner who stands by our side, whose very presence can both soothe and excite us. And imagine, just imagine being told that not only could you never act on that love, but that God—who Mormons call Heavenly Father—will fix you when you die so you love who you’re “supposed” to love.
The Mormon church has been very clear that they do not support Marriage Equality (and spent about $20 million on Prop 8) and as of November 2015, will not allow the children of LGBT Mormons to be baptized members of the church, not unless they denounce their LGBT family members.
It’s shocking to so many of us who proudly wear our rainbow pins (or are LGBTQ ourselves) that this is still happening in the world. There is a real crisis in Utah with LGBT suicide: They lead the nation in four times the number of suicides, and particularly vulnerable are the LGBTQ youth.
My novel, AND IT CAME TO PASS, means to serve both as a light on this terrifying situation as well as a light in the dark to any LGBTQ Mormons looking to see themselves in the literary landscape. I make it a point to always include a loving family in every book I write, and in this case, mention an entire community, the Mama Dragons. The Mama Dragons, of which I’m a member, are Mormon and Mormon-adjacent mothers who stand up for our children first. We’re an organization that serves to keep our children (and everyone’s children, young or old) safe and knowing they’re loved.
If God loves us, and we were made in His image, then it serves that we’re meant to love one another. I believe it’s a commandment and everything… Every one of us deserves the opportunity to love, in whatever form that may be. We all deserve to love and to be loved. Amen!
From then on, Adam no longer shied away from his companion, no longer avoided contact or allowed a moment’s guilt for wanting it so much. When they rode on the bus, Adam would find a cramped corner so they would be smashed in together. To get his comp’s attention, he would bump shoulders or squeeze Christensen’s biceps instead of saying his name. It was as if a floodgate had opened, and he wanted more: more interaction, more of Christensen’s attention. Christensen didn’t seem to mind, either. In fact, something relaxed even more in Christensen, as if he’d held himself back from being as affectionate as he’d wanted to be, as if he’d been waiting for a signal from Adam.
If he was honest with himself, Adam would be forced to admit that he was trying to encourage more physical contact. He craved it; it just… it felt good, being touched, having someone not shy away from wanting to touch him, having someone seek him out. It was okay to want to feel good, wasn’t it? Okay to want companionship and camaraderie with others? With his companion? It was the two of them against the world, after all. They were supposed to be close.
That was how the other guys treated each other. Adam no longer held himself back. It was thrilling, in a way, to be doing something he’d never allowed himself. Was this how other people lived every day? With joy and ease and camaraderie? He could have laughed at how stupid he’d been, how he’d interpreted every lesson, every raised eyebrow from his parents, as proof he, Adam, wasn’t worthy of any form of companionship.
He was. And Christensen seemed pleased that Adam had finally dropped the barrier between them, allowing them to grow even closer.
When they knelt for their evening prayers, it was usually at their small sofa in the main room. Adam didn’t know what came over him shortly after that P-Day, but, instead of kneeling at the sofa, he continued on into their bedroom and knelt at the foot of Christensen’s bed.
“You that tired, then?” Christensen asked. “Just gonna roll over to your bed? Lazy.”
Adam laughed softly. “Um, is this okay?”
“Oh, sure,” Christensen said genially, dropping to his knees. Adam shifted on the pretense of adjusting his weight and pressed against his companion thigh to thigh.
“Your turn,” he said softly, smiling when Christensen took a deep breath and nodded jerkily. His elbow brushed against Adam’s on the bedding as he folded his arms and began to pray.
“Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this day…”
After that night, they often prayed together in that manner. Sometimes they said their own prayers in their minds; other times they shared turns praying aloud. One such night, Adam had a flash to some unknown future where he and his eternal mate would do this very thing, share their intimate wishes and thoughts with each other and their God, and his heart ached.
He hadn’t envisioned a woman.
Adam Young is a devout, young Mormon following the pious path set forth for him by his church and family. But when his mission trajectory sends him to Barcelona, Spain, with a handsome mission companion named Brandon Christensen, Adam discovers there may be more to life and love than he ever expected.
Laura Stone, a descendant of pioneer polygamists from the early days of the Mormon Church and a former Gospel Doctrine teacher, now keeps busy as a media blogger, ghostwriter and novelist when she’s not raising her youngest child.
While the majority of her family still lives in Utah, she resides in Texas because it’s where the good tamales are. Her first novel, The Bones of You, was published by Interlude Press in 2014 and was named a finalist for a Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Bitter Springs, was published by Interlude Press in 2015.
Laura has brought five copies of And it Came to Pass to give away to readers on her tour, plus a $25 Interlude Press gift card to a grand prize winner. Just follow the Rafflecopter link below to enter.
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I’m so excited to be here! Thank you so much for having me and hosting my giveaway. Best of luck, you guys!
You are welcome, glad to have you!
I loved this book.
Oh how lovely to hear! Thank you, Sarah!
Hi Laura, congratulations on your novel! I was very touched by your post, and understand your frustrations with your faith community. I myself am a former evangelical Christian. A few years ago, I realized that the evangelical part had to go. I was looking at my son one day – my sensitive, artistic, baking- and birdwatching-loving son – and this thought came to me out of the blue. *He’s gay.* I might be wrong, because stereotypes can be woefully misleading, but I decided that if I was right, I would accept him and celebrate him no matter what. The Christianity I was raised with wouldn’t tolerate that, so I held tight onto Jesus and left my church. I’ve since found a welcoming and affirming church for my family, where my son hears the message that gay or straight, he is loved by God, and that he can *be* gay to the glory of God. Thank you for using your gift of words to spread this message!
Eliza you are absolutely the kind of person for whom this book was intended! What a wonderful mom you are. Thanks for sharing that with me!
Thanks for sharing your story Eliza. I am glad you and your son are both in a good place now that makes you feel welcomed and accepted.
I’ve gotta say, Jay, that reading m/m and blogs such as yours has been tremendously helpful to me in my journey. You never know who’s lurking, reading your posts, and thinking about these stories. It can truly change hearts and minds. It’s wonderful.
I’m so glad to hear that!
Welcome, Laura, and thanks for a thoughtful post. I’m not religious, but I do have some friends (one of whom is Mormon) who espouse the views you mention. So, yes, I am familiar with those beliefs. Best wishes for the success of And It Came to Pass and your future writing projects.
Thank you, Kareni! xoxo
This can be a tough subject for a lot of Christians. I enjoyed your post, and the blurb sounds very interesting.
(I agree about the tamales 😉 )
Oh, to be sure! I truly appreciate those who take the time to work through their own thoughts on LGBT rights and their place in spirituality.
(Don’t get me started on proper tamales or we’ll be here all day! <3 Hahaha, thank you for commenting, Barbara!)
Since living in Utah for several years I’m really looking forward to reading this book!
I hope you enjoy it, Diane!