My nazi-TBM parents never gave me the birds and the bees talk. I was raised in an information vacuum that only included the church and nothing else. I knew nothing about sex and if the subject ever came up in any respect, it was quickly quashed in our household. The “masturbation” word had come up in General Conference and Spencer W. Kimball, Boyd K. Packer or some other GA would drone on and on about it. It was obviously BAD, but I had no fucking idea what it meant. I wondered if maybe it meant touching myself “down there” or rearranging “it” when it needed rearranging? Did it mean scrubbing “it” in the bath? How was I supposed to get clean if I didn’t wash? Why was it so important that the GAs constantly brought it up? I was so confused.
It came time for my pre-Deacon worthiness interview and when the Branch President (dad) asked me if I was masturbating, I hesitated because of my confusion. He probed with more questions and became very agitated and I blurted out “Yes. I do it.” He delayed my ordination for six months and forbade me from taking the sacrament for the same period. Back at home, he whipped my bare back and butt with a green willow that he made me cut myself down at the river. It had to be a good willow, sturdy, flexible and substantial. If it wasn’t good, the beating would be twice as bad. Those were the rules. I made sure it was a good one.
It destroyed me. I was consumed with guilt and shame over something I didn’t even understand. I was such a good obedient son. I tried so hard to be good but it was never enough for the church or my father. I hated myself because apparently I was a lousy son and a terrible Mormon boy. I found a tree in a private place about a mile from the house and rigged it up with a rope. When things got really desperate I would go there and stand with the noose around my neck.
I didn’t step off. (I’m so glad I didn’t step off!) But fuck, I hate the church and I hate my dad for doing that to me. I’m 58 years old now and I will carry this forever. I can’t shed it no matter how hard I try.
It isn’t always safer to have parents in the room. But still, I get really emotional when I read about the work that you are doing, Sam. Thank you.