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Saint Unshamed: A GAY MORMON'S LIFE: Healing From the Shame of Religion, Rape, Conversion Therapy & Cancer

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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.

The author also shares memories from his professional career as an actor and writer, both in L.A. and NYC, describing his personal encounters with stars like Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Julie Harris, while sharing his experiences with famed writers Tennessee Williams, James Leo Herlihy (author of MIDNIGHT COWBOY), and John Rechy (author of THE SEXUAL OUTLAW), as well as his brief but profound affair with Steven Sondheim. Lastly, the author talks about the 12 years he spent in therapy, about his 16-year battle with a rare and disabling cancer only recently won, and about his sexual journey that led him through S&M, kinky sex, and the leather scene, to the loving monogamous relationship he now enjoys.

All of the stories that Ashton shares from his life deal with shame, either in how the author internalized shame and turned it against himself, or how he later rid himself of most of it to become a SAINT UNSHAMED.

ISBN-13: 9780578414140

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Lynn Wolf Enterprises

Publication Date: 08-21-2019

Pages: 348

Product Dimensions: 9.00h x 6.00w x 0.78d

Ashton, Kerry: - Raised in Pocatello, Idaho as a staunch member of the Mormon faith, Kerry attended Brigham Young University in the early 70s, where some of the more dramatic events recounted in his memoir took place. Kerry wrote and published his first play, BUFFALO HEAD NICKELS with Pioneer Drama Service at the age of 17. Since that tender age, he has written and published several plays, most prominently THE WILDE SPIRIT, a one-man play with music, based upon the life and works of Oscar Wilde, for which Kerry wrote the book, music and lyrics. His other published works include the full-character play, MY LIFE AS OSCAR WILDE and RED HOT MAMA, THE NEW SOPHIE TUCKER MUSICAL, a two-character, two-act musical play. Of all of Ashton's written works thus far, it is THE WILDE SPIRIT that has enjoyed the most success. When THE WILDE SPIRIT had its World Premiere in June 1977 at New Playwrights Foundation in Los Angeles, Kerry achieved acclaim for both his play and performance. The show subsequently ran for nearly two years, moving to the larger Theatre Rapport and then to The Cast Theater. Later produced in New York, first Off-Off-Broadway in 1982, then Off-Broadway in 1996, Kerry also brought his play to Provincetown, MA in 1990-1992, running for 11 months, making it the longest-running play in Cape Cod's history. In one of the most remarkable histories of any solo theatrical performer, Kerry has given over 1,000 live performances of THE WILDE SPIRIT across the United States, before an estimated 40,000 people, performing in professional engagements at some of America's most prestigious universities and at several regional theaters. Acclaimed by critics nationwide for both his play and performance, Kerry has won many awards for THE WILDE SPIRIT, including three Los Angeles Civic Star Awards for Best Play, Best Actor, and Best Direction. He also received an Award of Merit from the ASCAP for the play's original music and lyrics. Kerry began his professional acting career in summer stock, first at Dirty Jack's Wild West Theater in Jackson, Wyoming, then at The Pioneer Playhouse near Park City, Utah. Then, after performing in THE WILDE SPIRIT in Los Angeles for two years, he appeared first on television in THREE'S COMPANY on ABC, and later with Cesar Romero and Eve Arden in NBC's WHODUNNIT? Leaving Hollywood for New York City in 1979, Kerry's New York acting credits include the starring role of Max in PAINT BY NUMBERS at the 78th St. Theatre and in workshop productions at Broadway's Circle-In-The-Square and at Ensemble Studio Theatre. He also created the leading role of Nick in the Off-Broadway production of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY! His few film appearances include appearing very briefly in a pivotal scene with Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro in the film, FALLING IN LOVE. Among his TV films, he appeared in RAGE OF ANGELS with Jaclyn Smith, and opposite Maureen Stapleton in SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY. Kerry now makes his home in South Florida with his life partner, Victor Ramirez. Among the activities they most enjoy together, travel is a real passion. For more information about Kerry Ashton and his published works, as well as information on his professional career as an author, playwright, actor, director, producer, and as a singer, songwriter, musical composer and lyricist, please visit his website at