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Chris Davis shares her story of growing up in the Mormon church in Bangor, Maine. She tells nostalgic tales of growing up in the 1970s and '80s, including life lessons gained during fun and meaningful memories with friends and family. She applies these lessons to her time in the church.
Chris Davis' essay titled Five Stories on Why I Don't Belong (page 179) was her first time sharing her experience of being a woman and a closeted queer person in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her memoir Worthy followed the outline of this essay.
Chris' contribution to this anthology called Follow the River Home (page 18) tells a colorful story of a long summertime walk along the Penobscot River in Bangor, Maine, in 1978 when she was 7 years old. This work includes many references to local landmarks, and conjures the magical mystique of her childhood in the '70s.
At age thirty-two, Chris Davis had everything she was told that she wanted: a husband, two children, and a townhouse in the suburbs. The plan had been laid out for her and compliance was expected. A devout Mormon with a stellar reputation in her community, Davis spent a lifetime listening to rhetoric from church leaders that queer people were sinners and needed to repent of their wickedness. She had sworn faithfulness and obedience to God and the church but was faced with an impossible equation. How could she earn blessings from God and eternal life in heaven when she knew she was gay? She decided the only way out was a 17-year plan to raise her children and then take her own life.
In “Worthy: The Memoir of an Ex-Mormon Lesbian,” Davis tells her story of growing up in a Mormon household in Maine. Her nostalgic and sometimes humorous childhood memories of family and friends provide life lessons that influence her during the traumatic experiences she has as a woman and as a closeted queer person in the church. It isn’t until one of her children comes out that Davis is forced to choose between religion and family. She chooses love.
Davis shares her brave journey from the depths of despair to hope and possibility. She shines a light on the tragedy of exclusion in our churches, in families, and in society, which takes such a toll on youth who struggle with their identities. Her inspiring account shows that it takes courage and fortitude to change one’s beliefs and live an authentic life, but the rewards are immense.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, texting "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741, or going to 988lifeline.org.
"I care about your health and safety. Your thoughts and feelings are valid, but temporary. Be gentle with yourself. Love is the answer, especially love for ourselves. You are worthy of love and acceptance. Reach out for support, and keep reaching out until you find the help you need. The healing will come. It gets better!"