The arts publication David Atlanta profiles thirtysomething Steven Fales, an excommunicated Latter Day father of two who, after a successful run in New York, opened his autobiographical one-man play “Confessions of a Mormon Boy” in Atlanta last week.
“Reparative therapy” failed to change Fales’ sexual orientation. After his divorce, excommunication and a separation from his children, Fales struggled for a time with prostitution, depression, and crystal meth abuse.
“When I was getting excommunicated, I found it so bizarre and fantastical, I could not believe what was happening,” Fales says after a recent rehearsal of “Mormon Boy” alongside his Tony-winning director Jack Hofsiss.
“Part of me as a man of the theater was like, ‘This is a good story,’“ he says. “And the budding activist in me, who was starting to get it, was like, ‘You know what? This is happening to all kinds of people—someone needs to write about this.’“
The theater also proved to be therapeutic, offering him a “soft place to land” after being excommunicated, which he calls “a medieval, barbaric practice.”
“What do you replace the church of your birth with? That’s how fragmenting it is to be no longer Mormon,” Fales says. “It’s a cult tactic used to control and suppress, and if you buy into that mind-fuck, then it can really do a number on you.”
Thankfully, theater offered Fales a new sense of communion.
According to Fales’ web site, his play refrains from disparaging commentary about his former religion.
Fales says he wrote his “valentine to Mormonism and hedonism” for his children so that they would some day be able to understand their gay father. “I kept thinking that if I were to die, there wasn’t anyone I could fully trust to tell my kids who their ‘wicked’ gay dad really was and how much I loved them.”
Fales’ former mother-in-law is celebrated Mormon poet Carol Lynn Pearson whose autobiography, Good-bye, I Love You (Random House, 1986), poignantly recounts her relationship with her gay ex-husband who died of AIDS in her home. Steven married their talented, oldest daughter Emily. “I guess you could say I’m the Peter Allen of Mormondom.” (Emily and Carol Lynn have both given their blessing to tell the story.)
The play has received critical and popular acclaim and is considered a cross-over sensation. Fales is uncharacteristically generous to Mormonism in his play, which also contains no swearing or nudity. Fales plays many colorful characters in his “comic/dramatic monologue mingled with scripture and song.”
Check out Steven Fales’ blog at www.mormonboy.com/blog.htm.