Local Poet L. Flores’ ‘Reflections While Living in Utah’ is A Queer Spiritual Homecoming


“Reflections While Living in Utah” cover art (Photo Courtesy L. Flores via Amazon.com)

By Whit Fuller, Arts Writer


Local poet and educator L. Flores’ debut poetry chapbook “Reflections While Living in Utah” explores the reconciliation of religious and queer identities. Their collection comes at a poignant moment in light of the recent federal investigation conducted in regards to Brigham Young University’s treatment of LGBTQ+ students.

Flores teaches at Herriman High School as a history teacher and slam poetry coach and also volunteers their time at LGBTQ+ resource center Encircle.

Reflections While Living in Utah

Their debut collection of poetry, “Reflections While Living in Utah” was published on July 15, 2020. Their website describes it as “a poetic narrative in queer self-acceptance. The collection is thematically organized by setting in order to emphasize how environment can shape thoughts.”

Flores’ poetry is concerned with religion and queerness, stemming largely from their own experiences with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-​d​ay Saints culture in Utah and its attitudes toward queer communities and individuals. Their poetry also incorporates their experiences as the child of an immigrant father and as a person of color. 

“Inner Space Cavern, Georgetown TX” reflects on God and religion juxtaposed with nature and queerness. It is expressive and glowing. 

“After” is an intimate representation of queer firsts and loves that is self-conscious and celebratory all at once. Flores’ passionate voice comes through the poem with incredible grace. 

These and other poems in the collection weigh heavily when one considers BYU’s pending investigation by The U.S. Department of Education. The investigation comes after the private institution received complaints in March 2020 regarding their policies on what they call “same-sex romantic behavior.”

Flores advocates for the intersection and acceptance of queer and religious identities. Their website advertises “Child of God Pride” shirts and other designs that celebrate the existence of religious and queer identities in harmony.

A Queer Spiritual Homecoming

“Reflections While Living in Utah” is a healing and cathartic experience. Flores gives voice to the desires and conflicts of queer individuals in Utah and religious circles more broadly. They create a space for the existence of queerness and faith without compromising one’s sense of self. Their poetry is a necessity for queer youth in Utah and beyond — for religious people and queer people alike. 

Flores writes honestly and with such emotive language that it becomes difficult for the reader not to find something to latch onto within each of the poems. Interspersed between longer free form poems and short reflections — there is something to speak to even the most cautious poetic enjoyers. 

The collection may provide a strong sense of connection for queer students at BYU. Whether students consider themselves Latter-day Saints or not, the quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, a prominent church leader, included in the book evokes an emotional response: “Remember it is by divine design that not all the voices in God’s choir are the same,” Holland said in an April 2017 talk,  “Songs Sung and Unsung.”


This collection is the queer spiritual homecoming that Utah’s LGBTQ+ community deserves and needs. Flores’ ability to tap into the divine and queer simultaneously is a revelation for queer people in Utah and beyond.


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