I spent the day with ex-polygamists. I hung out in Colorado City, AZ this morning. Home to many polygamists and lots of former polygamists now too as well. Colorado City, AZ is a city that is changing but at what rate is still yet to be seen. Holding Out HELP, an organization based out of Salt Lake City, had it's grand opening today in Colorado City - a community center, complete with internet cafe, showers, thrift store, counseling/legal resources, kitchen and a couple beds - to help the displaced members of a formerly tight knit polygamist community. People have been fleeing the community or in many cases have been asked to leave by their leader, but often times lack the resources to know where they need to go next. Where to find a job. Where, if needed to seek legal help, shelter, etc. Holding Out HELP is building this new community center to help such displaced folk. Located at the corner of Central and Johnson in Colorado City, AZ.(Below are some stills of from the footage we shot today.)
I spoke to Tonya of Holding Out HELP. I asked her if she thought there would be violence or backlash from the community for building such a center. She said she was sure there would have been but, "There hasn't been any yet, but we don't believe we are wanted here." She was sure they would have burnt the place down by now, but, they haven't. She's not 100% convinced though that there won't be some backlash of some sort.
On the flip side, however, the rest of the nation seems to be watching Holding out HELP and people showed up in droves from around the country to attend todays opening ceremonies.
Some of the things I heard today included one certain former polygamist who has been out of the community for 47 years, but yes, he still lives in Colorado City. He is a practicing monogamist who says that in theory he believes that polygamy should work. But when I asked him if he thought there was some gender inequality in polygamy he said, "No, the women should be in charge, and that the original scriptures would have it be so." He refers to the polygamy psychosis. You'll have to watch the film to hear what that is.
We spent mid-day driving to Salt Lake City, UT. Where we met up with our friend, a 19 year old soon-to-be ex-polygamist - we spent the afternoon with him and taught him some urban slang such as the meaning of "balling out of control," (he laughed) in between hearing about how he was raised, how incest, abuse, homophobia, etc run rampant in polygamy and the loop holes of the law: sure people may come forward but unless they are willing to testify in court, there is quite often no case, which is why these large communities of polygamy still exist.
People are catching on. I wouldn't say people are leaving polygamy in masses but there are definitely a lot more people open to speaking up about leaving polygamy than say two years ago, when I was here last.