Baring Their Chests and Testimonies


I got this link from my friend Troy, who sent it to me with the note "as if missionaries weren't gay enough...."

It's for Mormons Exposed: Men on a Mission, a retailing enterprise promoting a calendar featuring a buff, bare-chested RM (returned missionary) every month. The faq page (an acronym I always read "fag" unless it's capitalized) states that "the calendar celebrates these missionaries' great looks and beautiful bodies, as well as the amazing stories of service of these deeply spiritual men," adding that

Behind the eye-candy, this calendar has a deeper story - one that can reshape perceptions, heighten awareness, and perhaps encourage and inspire a broadened acceptance of human and religious diversity. The fact that twelve young returned missionaries are posing shirtless will certainly raise eyebrows, but may also help to sort out some common misconceptions about Mormons. The shock value of what these traditionally conservative young men have helped to create has the power to build a dialogue that encourages people across every belief system and walk of life to defy stereotypes, step out of judgment and embrace tolerance.

It also notes that the "This product may be the must-have stocking stuffer of the year, or even be the gag gift of 2008"--or do they mean the "gay gift" of 2008?

You'll see what I mean if you go to the "meet the missionaries" page, click on the little photo of each missionary, then run your cursor over the larger photo that appears on the plaque on the right of the screen: each missionary appears in his shirtless pose! What cracks me up is that they simply removed their shirts and posed in their dress slacks, with their belts still on. But you must check out Matt, who holds is scriptures in his fully-dressed pose, but has his thumb tugging down the waistband of his pants (just a bit of his garments peek out) and his hair coyly disheveled in his shirtless pic.

I shouldn't be so snarky, I know: it's not like most Mormon men know much of anything at all about how to be sexy, since all they're taught for most of their lives is how to repress.

But they do know how to be pompous and white. I must point out that while the twelve young men who posed for the calendar served all over the world--Ukraine, Japan, Mozambique, Argentina, Las Vegas--they're fairly homogeneous in their origins: four are from Utah, two are named Brandon, one is a Matt and one is a Matthew, and they're all white, white, white! Not a Hispanic, Asian, Native American (or, in Mormon-speak, "Lamanite") or African-American (or, in Mormon-speak, "seed of Cain") in the mix. Not one.

If you ask me, that's a pretty serious lapse for an enterprise that claims it wants to "build a dialogue that encourages people across every belief system and walk of life to defy stereotypes, step out of judgment and embrace tolerance."

They're so entrenched in their own view of who they are that they can't even realize the extent to which WHITENESS is part of the stereotypical ideas about Mormons, and that seems to be one stereotype they have no wish to defy.

(And oh yeah. There's also the "deeply closeted" stereotype. They're not doing much to defy that one, either. Which is why you need to read Troy's essay on embracing queerness.)


Perceptive comments!

I saw the marketing video for this calendar a while ago (you can imagine it made a splash with the gay Mormom blogger crowd). The thing I found interesting was how coy they were about sexual orientation. They must know that their customer base will include *many* Mormon men with memories of their own missions.

The funniest part is the outraged response from TBMs, as if their 22-year-old adult men were experiencing predation.

Very, very amusing.

Two Brandons, lol!

I'm seriously tempted to get this as a 'gag' gift for my single TBM younger sis, but she probably already has it...

I always read faq as Fa-Q! I saw this a post about the calendar on another site. I'm refraining from saying anything about the missionary position.

Fa-Q! That's a good one, Dale. It took me a while to get it, but I will always use that pronunciation from now on.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on September 11, 2007 9:11 AM.

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