Growing up Mormon was kind of like growing up with an unsettling physical disease, the only difference is that in Utah you weren’t ostracized for it, rather brought into the fold because of it. The kid without the abnormal growth coming out of his head was the one that never got invited to birthday parties. Those who weren’t raised in the church begged their parents to let them be a part of it. Please, please, please let me be part of this religion based on someone’s crazed mushroom-trip gone wrong.

When I first relocated to New York, it was fascinating how fascinated people were with Mormons. Back in Utah, everyone knew what a ward or a stake was, even if they were part of the 38% minority that wasn’t LDS. Local stores carried caffeine-free Mountain Dew and there was no question about it, the church ran the state. In New York, you could spend forty-five minutes explaining what the planet Kolob had to do with anything, to a beautiful bearded boy you’d much rather have inside of you.

The 24th of July marks a momentous event in Utah. It’s the day that in 1847, Brigham Young—after brainwashing 70,000 individuals (now member count is up to 13.8 million worldwide, and is the fastest growing religion) into walking 1,300 miles across the country— looked upon the valley of Salt Lake City, and declared “THIS IS THE PLACE.”

Pioneer Day, as it’s called, is now a bigger event than the 4th of July; being celebrated with the third largest parade in the country (trumped only by Macy’s and the Rose Parade), an all-day festival at the park, and subliminal messaging through a massive fireworks display.

It’s also an excuse for many to get shitfaced while wielding fire sticks, and sleep on the street. For some unknown reason, it’s also the day that, at the same park the parade ends in, Native Americans celebrate the plunder and rape of their villages with song and dance.

From now on, if anyone asks why I did what I did, I’ll just explain to them that I was raised Mormon, and all will be forgiven. Celestial Kingdom, here I come!