The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear

A tale of water buffalo

The road to sheet cake and frappe is fraught with danger and excitement.

With all the talk and drama over same-sex weddings in the news, I was overjoyed last week to watch the wedding of Will and Sonny on Days Of Our Lives. Yes, I am coming out of the closet as a soap opera queen. Deal with it! It was possibly the best TV wedding that I have ever seen. It made me dream that all weddings would be so beautiful and loving. It also caused me to remember a few weddings that I attended in my past with less than fond memories. Any of you who have experienced first-hand the sugar-coated agony of a Mormon wedding reception might be able to identify with the following story.

When I was 27 years old, still deeply in the closet and still a virgin, one of my younger siblings got married. Sadly, I had the misfortune of standing in the reception line. I’m sure that the BYU Law School graduate lawyer, who wrote the infamous memo justifying and sanctioning torture for U.S. prisoners of war, must have used his experience at wedding receptions as the major reference point. As you may know, an “eligible” returned missionary at a Mormon wedding reception is similar to being a wounded water buffalo at the lions watering hole. Or more descriptively, a clueless drag queen with a broken heel, standing in front of the Estee Lauder counter at the beginning of a 75 percent off sale. Darwin was right. Life really is survival of the fittest. Or in our case, survival of the biggest hair.

I could tell that it was going to be a very long, horrible, terrible, no good, very bad night for me when the first person in line started with “When is it going to be your turn?” Over the next three hours at least 80 percent of the people began with that very same line when they spoke to me. You would have thought the whole town got together and rehearsed their lines. Since I had not yet come out of the closet, and my queenly defenses had yet to be activated, and I had yet to learn that Lee Press-on Nails can be used effectively as a weapon. I pasted a smile on my face and deflected as best I could, mumbling something about taking time to find the right one.

One year later, another younger sibling got married. Determined not to have a repeat performance of the “When is it your turn” interrogation, I prepared a lapel tag to wear at the reception that read, “Don’t Even Ask!” The presence of this tag made a world of difference. When the unobservant person would pose “THE QUESTION” to me, I would gently direct their gaze to my sign and say: “And how old are you this year?” or “How much do you weigh?”. They quickly got the hint that is was none of their business and started talking about the weather or some other innocuous subject. On the whole, that reception was much more fun for me than the previous one had been.

Moving forward another year and the last of my younger siblings got married. Although I was still not publicly out of the closet, I had begun to circulate within the gay community and Petunia had donned her first tiara. I felt much more confidant in defending myself from the inevitable onslaught. I had begun to realize the defensive power of a sarcastic quip and that a deftly swung sequin purse can be deadlier than a pair of num-chucks. This time, I prepared another lapel tag that read, “WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER!”

It was very comical as I watched the same group of people make a bee-line for me, with the obvious intent of grilling me about my prolonged bachelorhood. When they got close enough to read my lapel tag, they were totally at a loss for words. Some of them actually sputtered. It was as if someone had handed them a whole new script for a play they had not rehearsed. This time I was actually having fun, and I was able to spend the majority of that reception, undisturbed, having my fill of sheet cake and frappe.

Many of you may know, that last December, after being a couple for 24 years, Mr. Pap Smear and I waited in line at the County Clerks Office for 7 hours before joining the other 1300 couples to be legally married during those glorious 17 days when same-sex marriage was legal in Utah. Since Governor Herbert doesn’t like or recognize my marriage, I have decided to have a same-sex wedding reception event every month at Third Friday Bingo.

I have decided to search the audience for the cutest hunk I can see and conscript him to be my new temporary surrogate husband of the month, and pose for a “Wedding Picture” with me. I plan on continuing this practice until the governor sees one of my “wedding photos” that he likes and can approve of.

As always, these events leave us with several burning eternal questions:
1. Is it even possible to have a fond memory of a wedding reception?
2. Just how closely do I resemble a water buffalo?
3. If we subjected Vladimir Putin to a Mormon wedding reception, would he quickly give back Crimea?
4. Does self assuredness come automatically with wearing a tiara?
5. Will my conscripting temporary surrogate husbands at Third Friday Bingo scare away audience members?
6. With Utah’s polygamous history, do you think that I could keep all the temporary surrogate husbands and make them part of a Pap Smear harem?

Petunia Pap Smear

Petunia Pap Smear was born a boy in a Mormon family in a small Idaho town in the year of the cock. No, really, look it up. As is LDS tradition, at a month old her father blessed the little Petunia in the ward house on the first Sunday in June. The very next day, they tore the church house down. Probably for good reason. Little did parents Jack and Orthea know that their little boy would grow up to be a full-fledged, rainbow flag-waving, high heel-wearing, sheep-tending “Ida-Homo.” The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear follows her life from the sheep-tending Boy Scout of her youth to the full-figured and brash queen she is today. Her adventures in the many Queer-Tanic trips, the Salt Lake Men's Choir, the Matrons of Mayhem, and Utah Prides and Lagoon Days have been canonized the past 15 years in a monthly column in QSaltLake Magazine, Utah's publication for the LGBTQ+ community. These tales and her words of wisdom were corralled into a 355-page book that will become the Quint to the Mormon Quad. See it at

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