We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate our 1000th episode by traveling to California to revisit world-renowned professional dancer, choreographer, and actor Benji Schwimmer. Benji first made waves on our podcast when we released his “coming out” story on May 30, 2012 as he publicly came out as gay, and as leaving the Mormon Church. This episode is jam-packed with good stuff, including:
- Benji’s professional life since winning Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance, which includes appearing on Dancing with the Stars, dancing with Paula Abdul and Christina Aguilera, choreographing Olympic figure skaters, and appearing in the upcoming Quentin Tarantino movie entitled “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino.
- Benji’s journey to find love, health, and happiness including very candid discussions about navigating sexuality, “masculinity,” and his struggles with heterosexism/body image issues as a gay ex-Mormon man.
- A deeply moving story about Benji’s return to the site of his LDS mission in Oaxaca, Mexico.
- Benji’s sharp criticism of how the Mormon church has handled LGBTQ issues since his previous Mormon Stories interview, as they continue to advocate for celibacy and mixed-orientation marriages for LGBTQ members. He also discusses the hypocrisy, deceit, and damage he has witnessed in the LDS NorthStar community, and with the spokespeople the Mormon church uses on the mormonandgay website.
- We conclude with Benji’s current philosophy for living a healthy, happy life, including his thoughts/feelings about facing the mortality of his beloved father.
Please join us for a funny, fascinating, and deeply moving interview.
WARNING: Adult language and sexually explicit language – viewer/listener discretion is advised.
Part 1 – Benji shares how his life changed since his Mormon Stories interview:
Part 2 – Benji reflects on his spiritual journey since leaving Mormonism:
Wow! He seems like he has definitely moved on to the post-mormon stage!
I think I related a little more to when he was in an earlier stage of leaving mormonism. I especially liked the point he made in his earlier interview about feeling like Lehi from BOM, who left everything behind and sailed to a new land.
Thank you so much for this podcast. I have a huge struggle with body image (in conjunction with an eating disorder). Thank you Benji Scwimmer for facing your fears. That gives me the courage to face mine.
What about the claims and policies the Church has made that have hurt lots of people? You cannot blame John’s podcasts for the decisions people make.
I watched a bunch of videos of Benji’s latest work, and … wow. A true artist. This was impressive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc5bfb_gtWc
I had to stop listening when Benji started going into detail about gay sexual acts. I would had felt the same if he described hetero sexual acts the same way. I just don’t think it’s necessary to be so explicit and graphic. Maybe it’s just my age, 58, and generation I was raised in. To me, this kind of stuff is very private and intimate. I believe people can generally talk about their sex lives without getting into the nitty- gritty, details. I’m an avid listener of Mormon Stories and an Ex-Mormon. Overall, I think John does a great job, but I think also he can have some tasteful censorship so you don’t turnoff some of your listeners. Just my humble opinion.
I don’t think the warning at the beginning goes nearly far enough to protect people from how crudely graphic and unnecessary the sexual the content is , nor how casually tolerant John is of having his listeners being blindsided like this, as if this were typical of his usual content. And I would think it to be very two faced if these objections were sensored from the comments when no such sensoring was happening in the interview. And I truly hope that this offence is not just summarily discounted as homophobia. That just isn’t fair or accurate. Respond to the issue without attacking the person who raises it.
John, I got 15 minutes into episode 1000 and you made the suggestion that if we hadn’t listened to episodes 350-352, to go back and listen. I did just that. Over the past few days I’ve been listening to those episodes and it’s now 2am in the morning and I’ve just finished #352. Benji, thank you so much for your testimony!!!***!!! I am now looking forward to episodes 1000-1001!!!***!!!
In his interview, Benji convey’s dozens of perceptive lessons learned.
Interesting to note that I resigned for several of the same reasons Benji mentioned. I absolutely didn’t want to the Church to include me in their statistical claims, and my resignation was indeed an act of protest. I think the Church is quite very grateful for members who have left emotionally, but don’t go through the steps of getting their name taken off the records so they can continue to count them as a statistic.
Thank you for this interview. I think Benji showed real courage and integrity when he tried to resign before he began to do things that are against church teachings, coffee, alcohol, sex etc…
I think it’s great that you are teaching gay men/boys how to make their first sexual experience not traumatic. On that subject, I do have a question. Is their a book or reference you would recommend? I have a friend, a 19 year old young man who doesn’t dare come out to his family. He does talk to me about pretty much everything. I’d love to be able to give him some advice on this subject. He hasn’t asked, but I offer unsolicited advice anyway. I’ve sort of unofficially adopted him and told him if things at home get bad, he has a place with me. He is my daughter’s best friend.
Great interview as always, John.
Benji, thank you. You are an extremely talented and lovely person. I wish you nothing but happiness and success
Again, it’s 2 am and just finished with episodes 1000 and 1001. All I want to say is thank you, Benji and thank you, John! I am so grateful and feel so blessed to be a contributing member of the Open Stories Community. Although my monthly contribution is small, it has been a spiritual practice for me to make my monthly contribution and clicking that little submit button. Thanks again.
Love your podcasts! I’ve recently left the church and it has been such a big transition.. what’s the song that is played at the beginning of the podcast? I’ve been trying to find it by searching the lyrics but haven’t had any success
The artist, Russell Ash, has enabled free downloads of his song at: