Photos of gay Mormon missionaries stir controversy
A series of sexually suggestive photographs of two male Mormon missionaries is causing a furor at Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City. Police were called to quell a shouting match that erupted Tuesday after an upset student began to take down the black-and-white photographs by Don Farmer, a graduate of Westminster College.
The photographs, part of an student-sponsored exhibition tied to Diversity Week by gay, lesbian and transgendered artists at the school's South City campus, depict two young men in white shirts and dark pants, one of them wearing a missionary name tag. In one shot, one of the youths unbuttons the other's shirt; in another, one undoes the other's belt as a book of Scripture lies open nearby.
The exhibition was later moved to a less public area after a compromise by students who opposed and supported the photographs, said Joy Tlou, the college's public relations director.
Farmer, who is gay, told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had difficulty while growing up reconciling the two worlds. Farmer said the men in the photographs are returned missionaries who became a couple. "It's real. It's life. It's something that maybe you haven't experienced, but someone else has," Farmer told the newspaper.
But some LDS members said their rights were being violated by the exhibition of Farmer's photographs.
"They're attacking the LDS Church with images of sexual activity," said SLCC student JoAnna Johannesen.