Missionary Impossible: Gay Kamasutra for Mormons in Neil Dacosta’s Project
Portland-based photographer. Specializes in commercial shoots. Published his works in Monocle, Forbes, Musee, Raise, and The Picture.
I made Mormon Missionary Positions together with my wife Sara and our friend Shelby Menzel. We had always wanted to do a project about Mormons, and at the time, Mitt Romney was running for president. Mitt is Mormon, but he and the Mormon Church tried separating from each other during the campaign.
To me it was a terrifying notion that he could be President of the USA. Unfortunately, we now have even scarier candidates. In a global sense, it was our answer to the Latter Day Saints Church’s (LDS is the biggest group of Mormons — Ed.) role in funding Prop 8 (state constitutional amendment passed in 2008 that banned same-sex marriage — Ed.) in California. The church shouldn’t have any influence in politics, but they managed (with the help of the Catholic Church) to slyly help pass the proposition.
The first ‘Mormon’ guy was a friend of a friend. He was actually a local drag performer in town, and also had the perfect missionary look. He found the taller guy.
I received a few angry emails from Mormons, but for the most part people really liked the project. I think the younger generation that is looking at photo projects online don’t have the same beliefs as the old church doctrines have.
We hope that taking a different look (either dark or satirical) at polarizing issues opens them up for discussion.
The name tags in the photos were the actual name tags our gay friend had from his mission. He didn’t come out until after his mission obviously. I cannot even begin to fathom the mental anguish the Church put him through back then.
Equal rights still has a long way to go, but things seem to be changing for the better.