Seth Anderson will be speaking on the panel “LGBT+ Experiences with Remediation and Reconciliation” at this year’s OUTing the Past Conference. Seth is currently a PhD student at Boston University.
Mormonism made me queer. My family moved frequently chasing work for my father and in each new town I had to come out as Mormon. Sometimes other kids would mumble I wasn’t a “real Christian” and sometimes adults would scoff and ask questions about magic underwear or how many wives my dad had, questions that confused me and made meuncomfortable. As I got older I began to realize that underneath my Mormon identity lay another identity that my faith community taught me was evil. In college I delved into history books looking for clues to assure me I wasn’t alone. I discovered the existence of same-sex attracted Mormons who had gone before me. Digging deeper I discovered a larger gay and lesbian history. I learned about LGBT people and began to see their traces on electroshock therapy wires, in their support group newsletters, and in obituaries. I saw men struggling, even dying, to reconcile their religious beliefs with their intimate desires and began to see links between social stigma, religious influence, family expectations, and the legal mechanisms that circumscribed their lives. Graduate school exposed me to tools of analysis—specifically class, race, and gender—that taught me how they intersect in shaping the lived experiences of people over time.
My topics of study and interests blur lines and are not easily categorized. However, my dissertation looks at the history of conversion therapy in the United States and the ways scientific understandings of sexuality linked with ideas of citizenship.