Essays of Connell O'Donovan



My essays on homosexuality and spirituality/religion are here arranged chronologically. Click on the essay title to link to it.

in and out

I wrote this essay for a Women's Studies course at the University of Utah in 1992. My professor loved it and helped get it published in the Women's Studies journal, Stone Startled. A Utah state Republican congressman just happened to read this essay in the journal and was so offended by it, he contacted the University and threatened to pull all funding from the Women's Studies program if another piece of "anti-Christian pornographic trash" like that was published again on campus. Instead of reminding him that the constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of (and from!) religion, I was called into the Women's Studies Director's office where she chided me for 30 minutes, telling me how irresponsible I had been to endanger the program. To make a long story a bit shorter, I ended up feeling very unwelcome to remain in the Women's Studies program and thus ended my formal education.


abominable crimes - Gay Mormon History

A much smaller version of this research paper was published in 1994 by Signature Books, in Salt Lake City in an anthology called Multply and Replenish: Essays on Mormon Sex and Family, edited by Brent Corcoran. I am now revising this history in honor of its 10th Anniversary!

Reclaiming Sodom

In 1994, without my knowledge, Routledge Press (out of London and New York) published a version of this essay in an anthology on sodomy, edited by Jonathan Greenberg, and even named the book after my essay! I didn't find out they had done this until I saw the book in a bookstore and recognized the title!

Ecce Homo

This is a theological piece I wrote in May 1996. It was initially commissioned by a large Quaker magazine, but once the editor-in-chief read it, she thought it was too radical (and sexual!) for her readers, so she rejected it (even after I toned it down a bit). Oh well, such is life.

Hen ek Duo

Here is my own translation of my favorite speech from Plato's Symposium. In ancient Athens, the symposium (literally "a drinking together") was a formal drinking ritual in which men sat around a circular table and gave praises to one particular subject while drinking watered down wine. At this particular symposium (which may or may not have been historical), the group decided to praise Eros, the god of Love and Desire. Aristophanes gave a very peculiar speech which just does NOT fit in well with what we know about the ways Athenian men constructed their erotic lives. But his speech does resonate more with modern readers than any other in this particular symposium, because he addressed the etiology of what we now call "sexual orientation" (as well as adultery, desire, and navels!). You might also want to check out a different translation by Queer anthropologist Will Roscoe in his recent book, Queer Spirits. Also, the recent film Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a lovely musical rendition of this origin myth, along with a really fun animated sequence illustrating it.


Go West

I wrote this paper for a UC Santa Cruz course I took in the Summer of 1999, called "Anti-Utopian Visions of California" (Community Studies 113), taught by a lovely Queer instructor named Aureliano "Lalo" DeSoto. He suggested I get this published, although I haven't tried yet.


This essay (along with reprints of "Ecce Homo" and "Reclaiming Sodom") was printed in ReCreations: Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Queer People (Toronto, 1999). It arose out of an experience I had at the 1996 Summer Solstice "Homo Hex" ritual in the Castro.

Stumbling toward Zion

August 2003 - Having spent my life looking for sanctuary, I decided to write about my "quest for Zion", beginning with my years in Mormonism, and bringing that quest into my current life.  I submitted this to the Affirmation (Gay & Lesbian Mormons) writing contest for 2003 and won 2nd place ($500).

Losing My Religion

I submitted this for the 2004 Affirmation writing contest, and while I think it's about the best thing I've ever written, I didn't even win an honorable I polished it a bit and submitted it for the 2005 contest and won 1st place and $1000.

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