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SAINT UNSHAMED: A GAY MORMON'S LIFE--Healing From the Shame of Religion, Rape, Conversion Therapy & Cancer To Find My True Self
Kerry Ashton, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

The first paragraph of Kerry Ashton's new memoir explains a lot: “I told this story once as fiction in the 1980s, but this time I tell the truth. I even tell the truth, in #MeToo fashion, about being violently raped by another man when I was 18, with a knife held to my throat—a secret I kept from everyone, including myself, for over 40 years. The rape, like other experiences I endured while a student at Brigham Young University, where I came out in the early 1970s, had a profound impact on my later life. But this story is not so much about my rape or my coming of age at BYU, as it is about the lifelong effects of shame itself, not only about how I internalized and inherited a wounding shame from my Mormon upbringing, but also how I eventually unshamed myself. It is about the journey of a lifetime, finding spiritual growth, self-discovery and healing along the way, while encountering many miraculous events that pushed me forward through darkness toward the light.” Telling about his experiences during his four years at BYU—the rape, falling in love for the first time, police surveillance, harassment and arrest, while enduring three years of conversion therapy, including two years of electroshock treatments—provide the structure of Kerry Ashton’s memoir. But intermittently he shares memories from growing up Mormon in Pocatello, Idaho, and from his adulthood. In one episode, the author talks about his mother’s passing, and how he unconsciously blamed himself for her death. In others, Kerry describes some of the battles with his religious father, and how he and his Dad eventually came to forgive each other. These stories, like many others shared in the book, are poignant. Some—like the description that Kerry provides of his rape—are sexually graphic. Some stories are hilarious. And some are dramatic, like those dealing with the domestic violence Kerry endured as a child.

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