Location: Bountiful, Utah, United States
I grew up in Iran, a country that even to this day, still punishes the LGBTQ+ community with the death penalty. I have witnessed the tremendous struggles from friends and relatives surrounding me having to deal with severe discrimination and fear from not only the authorities but the (often insensible) community around them as well. After I moved to the USA, I was surprised to find that the LGBTQ+ community in certain regions in America goes through similar struggles and challenges of discrimination and suppression. I started the Queer in Utah project in 2019 after I witnessed people from my new community in Utah depressed and sometimes injured by self-infliction; friends struggle to choose between their faith and desires; all rooted in a system of self-doubt from a clash where faith and sexual orientation can’t seem to harmonize. I met a couple in Logan who both lost their jobs as daycare teachers because their sexual orientation was considered a bad influence on the children. Within the state of Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is omnipresent. Here, the new generation of LGBTQ+ Mormons is changing the course of its historic struggle between their sexual identity and the conflicts with their religious beliefs, by publicly acting on their sexuality while some of them still practice their faith. Despite the Church’s strict teachings, they are determined in their pursuit of love, each taking their own path by either enduring through the scrutiny of their surroundings or taking a step away from the Church. Generally, the social framework of the LDS Church has resulted in a path of dilemmas and self-doubt for many people looking to make the hard decision whether or not to act on their desires.This project aims to help normalize the LGBTQ+ community in the conservative setting of Utah by portraying these couples in affectionate poses, and a local outdoor setting, similar to the dominant imagery found framed in the households of heterosexual couples.