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Reconciling Identities in HBO’s Room 104: LGBTQ2S Mormons and Shifting Mainstream Perceptions

Chris Miller

A 2017 episode of the HBO series Room 104 revolves around two Mormon missionaries spending a night in the titular motel room. Throughout the evening, the pair progressively push the envelope of rebellion through booze and pornography, with the episode culminating in a suggested sexual encounter between the pair. Room 104 departs from traditional Mormon-centric depictions by complicating what audiences ‘know’ about Mormons and expanding the possibilities for Mormon sexual relationships beyond polygamy. Using Lynn Spigel’s concept of ‘popular memory’ and David Feltmate’s ‘ignorant familiarity,’ this paper examines how media shapes what audiences know about communities. The episode also importantly juxtaposes LGBTQ2S and Mormon identities. This paper places the episode in conversation with real-world organizations that offer competing visions for how these two seemingly conflicting identities can be reconciled.

Keywords: Mormons, LGBTQ2S, Popular Culture, identity, Room 104

Chris Miller is a PhD Candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Waterloo. He completed a MA at St. Mary’s University and a BA at the University of Toronto. His current research interests include popular culture, New Religious Movements, and the intersection of communities with their scholarly study.