Continuing our series on “Losing the Lamanites,” we interview Gabriel Misla from Puerto Rico.  In this interview we cover:

  • Gabriel’s experience joining the Church as a young man in the island territory and his eventual move to Utah.
  • His mission service to the Dominican Republic, and the cultural nuances between the two islands that heightened his sensitivity to how race is viewed in the LDS Church.
  • How he came to terms with his sexuality and his experience as a gay Latter-day Saint, including spending time in Evergreen.
  • His reminiscence of elation of being from the tribe of Ephraim in his patriarchal blessing because  it meant he was more like his white Utah missionary companions—and now his regret over how his thinking was influenced by the Church’s views on race.
  • His thoughts and feelings over the Book of Mormon’s still accepted views on Lamanites and race, and what he feels the Church should do.
  • His vision and plans for the future as a post-Mormon still living in Utah.

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Part 2:

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  1. Jose Galdamez July 27, 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    This was one of the more beautiful, educational, and thought-provoking episodes I’ve heard in a while. All those tidbits about Puerto Rico’s history, political status, and culture were just icing on the cake. Well done, Gabriel!

    I happen to be a white Central American raised in the D.C. area. When I was told in seminary that I was a Lamanite I actually felt pride. Without knowing my true heritage, I could say I had a direct bloodline to Jerusalem. The barbaric nature of my alleged ancestors didn’t bother me so much. At times, the Lamanites were more righteous, humble, and industrious than the Nephites. To me, the Book of Mormon was much harsher towards the white-skinned Nephites who just couldn’t get their act together. My patriarchal blessing listed me as a member of the tribe of Ephraim. I can’t say if my complexion had anything to do with that.

    One of my closest friends served a mission in Puerto Rico at around the time Gabriel would’ve been a convert (98-99). I also served with a Puerto Rican companion who would be a little younger than Gabriel (32 years old today). Seeing how small the LDS community is in Puerto Rico, I wouldn’t be surprised if six degrees of Kevin Bacon yielded just 2 levels.

  2. Bliss Doubt July 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Loving the “Lamanite” interviews. Just wonderful. Thank you.

  3. beth July 31, 2017 at 2:51 am - Reply

    really great interview, with such wonderful insight in to things, keep them coming, such truth and humility, thank you.

  4. Mormon X July 31, 2017 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Great interview, Gabriel. You brought up some good points about being a Latino Mormon. My mother is a Mexican-American and my dad is white so my brother and I were usually the only ones with Latino heritage in our wards. I guess the worst thing we both heard from a member about Mexicans was actually from a missionary serving in our ward from Boston. He told us, “when I got my mission call, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to be around a lot of spics, but its hasn’t been too bad so far.” My brother and I could only look at each other in amazement. Of course there were the jokes about Mormon Mexicans having a year supply of beans or hubcaps. Apparently, Mexicans were known to steal hubcaps back in the 70’s and early 80’s! We went along with it and even lavished in the fact that we were Lamanite warriors and we were not to be messed with, etc.

    I was the only one to even being close to being a Latino in my mission to England and it was a real eye-opener for me as it was “cool” to make fun of other churches, especially the “Mother of all Harlots,” the Catholic church. Of course I was too cowardly to stick up for my mom’s, and her side of the family’s heritage as I heard fellow missionaries trash Catholics. We were even proud of the pamphlet that we called “The Red Ripper” (I don’t recall the real title at this time) because it allegedly proved the falseness of the Catholic Church. When I told a bishop about my heritage, he basically “joked” around with me by repeating almost every stereotypical line about Mexicans. My favorite was when he asked me if my mom still uses the stones to grind up corn and that he pictures her with braided hair. What could I say? I was a greenie. There was also this arrogance of us Americans being sent to the British Isles to save the people. We knew what was good for them and if they didn’t want to listen to us, then they were lost and ignorant. On a lighter note, there were a couple of times when I talked to some cute Spanish girls touring in Britain. Some of my fellow missionaries were impressed with my Spanish-speaking skills!

    It sounds like getting Puerto Ricans to stop drinking coffee is similar in trying to get Brits from drinking tea (or people in Arizona to stop drinking iced tea). Never understood this part of the so-called Word of Wisdom.

    One last comment about the treatment of Latinos in the Church. Their treatment, along with Native Americans, compared to the other “Lamanite” group, the Polynesians, is very unequal. For some reason the Church embraces the Maoris and Samoans and seems to let them keep their culture while they expect the Latino culture to conform to the LDS-Anglo lifestyle. There is the Polynesian Cultural Center. Is there a Native American or a Hispanic Cultural Center? Just pointing another inconsistency in the Church.

    • Lizbet August 15, 2017 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Polynesian culture is embraced because it brings the church over $75million a year in revenue through the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii, a blatant exploitation of a culture if ever there was one. Dress the girls in tube tops and grass skirts and charge $100+ a head, then send them back to their BYU-Hawaii ward on Sunday where they are told shoulders are immodest.

  5. RobG August 3, 2017 at 1:55 am - Reply

    Gabriel’s is a perfect and articulate example of the reality that debunks the ridiculous Mormon trope about ex-Mormons leaving but not leaving it alone. It turns out that he’s just following wise Mormon counsel — “He who has been warned it behooves to warn their neighbor.”

    Beautiful and power statements about “humanity” and belief in the power of people and humanity, Gabriel. If there’s any goodness or greatness in Mormonism and Mormons — and there is a lot — it has nothing to do with any “God” or revelation or divnely inspired leaders, prophets or prophecy.

    Likewise, none of the bad in Mormonism — including the considerable bad that flows from The Top Mormon Leaders — needs “Satan” for explanation. There’s simply a lot of tradition, willfull ignorance, delusion, dishonesty, foolishness, stupidity, bias, racism, bigotry, self-righteous religious arrogance & triumphalism, leadership worship & veneration, and unrighteous domination, that has mistaken itself for the mind and will of some god. Prominently but not exclusively concerning genitalia and skin color and race.

    Bravo, Gabriel! And John — very nice interview.

  6. Sandra August 8, 2017 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    I so appreciate this interview and your honesty, Gabriel! I left the Church two years ago, and I have gone through tons of anger and sadness about losing 37 of my 53 years to the shame and restrictions put upon me by the Church. I have begun to experience wholehearted, true joy in flying free, and for the first time since I was 14 years old, I am getting to know my own mind and trust my own instincts, not looking to the Church to tell me who to be and how to live my life. I hope you feel like I do, Gabriel, that after being restrained and having to hide the true you for so long, simply getting to be the REAL YOU is the best feeling in the world! :) I am so happy for you, and I wish you the very BEST in your life!

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