Where are all the Mormon lesbians?

There are a small but growing number of gay Mormon men who comment regularly on T&S and other bloggernacle blogs. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least four regular bloggernacle commenters — male — who have publicly discussed their homosexuality on-blog, on multiple occasions.

And yet, as my wife pointed out to me earlier today, it’s hard to think of a single regular lesbian commenter. (We do get links and the some comments fromone lesbian blogger, but I’m not sure if she’s LDS and I don’t recall coming away from her comments with the sense that she self-identifies as a Mormon lesbian, in the way that our gay male Mormon commenters vocally self-identify as gay Mormon men — though I could be misreading or misperceiving.)

So, where are all the Mormon lesbians?

A few possible potential explanations occur to me:

1. Maybe these statistics mean nothing. I can’t make very good generalizations from a sample size of four, can I? Frank and RT are going to have a field day explaining this to me.

2. In general, maybe women have better things to do than comment on blogs. (Discuss.)

2a. The bloggernacle in general is heavily male-skewed; perhaps the gay bloggernacle is the same.

2b. Maybe, as with many Mormon social phenonema, there’s the general-conference effect. If so, we may expect to see about 3 lesbians for every 20 gay men; I just need to be patient and they’ll show up eventually.

3. Maybe there are no Mormon lesbians. (Why not?)

3a. Maybe Mormon lesbians, being oppressed for both their gender and their orientation, just don’t stick around. Mormon gay men, on the other hand, are certainly oppressed for their orientation — but they do get to be the oppressor sometimes as well, by virtue of their gender. So some of them choose to stick around, come to the bloggernacle, and make comments. Hey, that works! (This argument has the disadvantage of relying on at least one non sequitur).

4. Maybe all of the Mormon lesbians inadvertently ended up in an alternate blog universe somewhere, and are all standing around asking each other “where are all the Mormon gay men?” (Frank: What’s the statistical likelihood of this happening?)

5. Or perhaps for some reason, the cultural norms of the bloggernacle make it easier for Mormon gay men to self-identify as such, on-blog. So maybe there are a number of lesbian readers and commenters, but they just don’t feel comfortable self-identifying as such, while the men feel comfortable doing so. (Why would that happen?)

Which of these, if any, might be true? Is there a good explanation for the lack of Mormon lesbians in our comments?

42 comments for “Where are all the Mormon lesbians?

  1. June 9, 2006 at 6:34 am

    this site might help you in finding where the Mormon lesbians might be: Affirmation

  2. June 9, 2006 at 7:54 am
  3. Dan
    June 9, 2006 at 9:15 am

    hey, I showed that link in a comment, and for some reason my comment was removed. why?

  4. June 9, 2006 at 9:37 am

    I’m not sure Kaimi . . . but I think this has the making for a good folk song!

  5. Last Lemming
    June 9, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Your sample size is not four, so you can relax on that one.

    2 and 5 are plausible explanations and I suspect that both play a role.

    A broader observation. What if there really were no lesbians (Mormon or otherwise)? Would our conversations in the bloggernacle about homosexuality and its corolaries (e.g. SSM) be any different? I suspect not. But what if there were only lesbians (i.e., no male homosexuals). Would our conversations be different then? I think substantially so.

    Which is strange when you consider that SSM is playing out in Massachusetts as a largely lesbian institution. Are we perhaps missing something important?

  6. Kaimi Wenger
    June 9, 2006 at 10:01 am

    Dan and Deborah,

    I know that Mormon lesbians exist — my “explanations” otherwise were meant tongue in cheek, and the post title is hyperbole. The real question — though it makes for a lot less punchy of a post title — is captured in my option #5 (and to a lesser extent, #2):

    What is it about the bloggernacle that makes it an environment in which gay Mormon men — but not Mormon lesbians — are comfortable self-identifying and discussing their thoughts?

    Either the bloggernacle qua bloggernacle draws gay male readers but not lesbian readers — which would be an interesting phenomenon and raise questions as to why.

    Or, the bloggernacle attracts both gay male readers and lesbian readers, but only the gay men feel comfortable self-identifying as such on the blog. And again, that would be an interesting phenomenon, and would raise questions as to why.

  7. June 9, 2006 at 10:12 am

    Well, speaking as a Mormon lesbian, I can tell you that I\’m in the blogosphere, though my \”public\” blog doesn\’t focus on being Mormon and lesbian. (I have a \”private\” blog where I write about life and my personal intraspections, which include being lesbian and occasionally Mormon. I share that with a select group that does NOT include my immediate or extended family.)

    I know, personally, when I disaffiliated from the church (i.e. became \”inactive\”) it wasn\’t as much for my sexual orientation as it was for my gender orientation. I have an impressive Mormon resume, if you will. Pioneer ancestors, mission service, temple ordinance worker, etc., but I left because I became tired of being treated like a third class citizen. Twelve year old deacons have more status in the church than I do and I was tired of being patronized and poo-poo\’ed for being an educated woman in a patriarchal institution. (I left the church while I was in grad school pursuing an M.A. in Religion and Society. My area of specialization: Sociology of Mormonism. I\’m full of all kinds of ironies, aren\’t I?)

    In the midst of my disaffiliation, I was also struggling with my sexuality and coming out. When I did come out and I started looking around for groups of gay and lesbian Mormons I could associate with, all I found was Affirmation. In looking at Affirmation, though, what I found was an organization that was dominantly male and looked horrifyingly similar to church. I even had a gay friend who participates very actively in Affirmation call me about a year after I came out and say to me, \”Sister Kincaid, we\’d like to call you to a position within Affirmation.\” Needless to say, I was totally turned off and graciously declined.

    While I can appreciate that Affirmation could/would like more lesbians to be involved, the mimicry of the church is a real turn off for me. And, I suspect, for many other Mormon lesbians. Once we leave the church, we seem to leave fully and are uninterested in anything that even remotely mirrors the church and its oppressiveness.

    In the last year or so, I\’ve flucuated about going back to church because I miss some of the fellowship, the hymns, and some of the service/charity aspects of it, but I stay away for two reasons. First, because I know I can\’t get past the patriarchy. And second, because I refuse to support or participate in an institution that opening advocates discrimination against GLBT through the Defense of Marriage Act/Amendment.

    But, I stray. The real subject here is, where are the Mormon lesbians in the bloggernacle? I\’ve wondered this, too.

    When I was coming out, I was heavily engaged with other Mormon lesbians through Yahoo Groups and list serves. There are two or three out there that have a lot of traffic and that provide Mo-Lezzies with a global community where they can talk about their struggles with coming out.

    Many Mo-Lezzies are often married and have children, so they\’re struggling not only with coming out, but also with spouses and children. While men are still the dominant breadwinners in society, many of these women have relied on men as supporters and are now faced with becoming sole providers. A number of them have limited skill sets since many of them have been engaged in being wives and mothers, as their religion taught them to be, hence their earning ability is sorely impoverished.

    As for why we\’re not in the bloggernacle of Mormon gaydom and commenting on or hosting blogs, I think it\’s because we\’re largely over the church and we\’ve moved on. Most of the gay Mormon blogs I read are about men struggling to come out and fighting the emotional upheavel that comes with coming out in an institution that tells you you\’re going to hell for being gay, that labels gayness in terms akin to a disease or disorder (Same Sex Attraction). While the women struggle with that, too, we seem to have largely stayed within our list serves to discuss it. Perhaps we\’re not as techno savvy as the guys… I don\’t know. Or perhaps list serves feel more intimate and safe, whereas a blog is in the public sphere…

    I\’m not sure I\’ve provided any helpful information. I know for myself, I\’m at a place in my life where I\’m often exasperated with the men in the gay Mormon bloggernacle. My exasperation is about how reticient many of them are to seek out therapy (outside of LDS Social Services), to get over feeling like they\’re going to hell, who want to stay in the church despite hell and high water, etc. And yet, I was in that place at one time, so I try to temper my exasperation.

    I\’m no longer in that place, so I guess I\’m looking for different people to empathize with my struggles. For example, if there was a bloggernacle out there of Mormon lesbians who have partners and are balancing keeping that fact secret from their immediate families because their families will disown them or how they build community outside of the church, etc. I\’d be very interested in that. And yet, I\’m not about to blog about that kind of thing in public forums.

    Despite coming out of the closet, I guess many Mo-Lezzies are still in the closet in other ways…

    Just my ten cents worth…

    Janet Kincaid

  8. Kevin Barney
    June 9, 2006 at 10:32 am

    Doesn’t Showtime have a series called “The Mo-Lezzies Word”? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist; I’ve just never encountered that neologism before.)

  9. Kaimi Wenger
    June 9, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Oh, and Dan, your first comment ended up in moderation, but your second comment didn’t.

    That most likely means that you’ve commented before with the combination of the name “Dan” and your e-mail, but you haven’t commented before with the name “Daniel” and that e-mail address. So WordPress saw the [“Daniel” + e-mail address] as a first-time commenter. And all first-time comments get briefly held in moderation as a spam control feature. (Does that make sense?)

    For background, there are two other ways that comments can be put into moderation. They can be affirmatively placed there by a blogger. I don’t think that’s the case with your comment. (No one’s mentioned anything to me, and those kinds of decisions usually are discussed among the group). Or, they can be flagged for having spam-like keywords (like poker). This also shouldn’t apply to your comment. So I think the explanation is the first-time comment one — WordPress thought “Daniel” was a first-time, not-yet-approved commenter.

  10. June 9, 2006 at 10:47 am

    That might be a bit more interesting than some of the story lines in The L Word.

    Actually, we watch the L because it’s one of the few shows out there that portray lesbian relationships. The part where it’s egregiously disingenuous is that it’s all beautiful people in L.A. If the series was set in San Francisco or New York with one or two beautiful people, it might be more realistic.

    The L Word has done a nice job of showing the diversity in the lesbian genre in terms of featuring cameos by bull dykes, butches and femmes, et. al. Still, a story line with a Mo-Lezzie might be interesting… It would certainly stir discussion within our little community about what was accurate and what wasn’t…

  11. June 9, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Janet: Thanks. That’s an interesting point about Affirmation and the extension of Mormon culture. I’ve noticed them asking a similar question on their website (e.g. how do we get women more involved?) and creating a subsite devoted to women and their stories, including links the the mailing lists you describe. I, too, would be interested in reading the type of blog/forum you describe in your final paragraph . . . I imagine it’s only a matter of time.

    Kaimi: I caught your hyperbole — I just wanted to point out that Mormon lesbians are telling their stories, but not in this forum. I wouldn’t either, were my sister and I to switch identities. For an issue as fraught with judgment, complexity, soul-searching, and misconception as this one, I doubt I’d embrace a debate-oriented, male-dominated forum as my cohort. It’s trecherous enough as a doting sister :).

  12. June 9, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Janet: Looks like we cross-posted. I was referring to the last paragraph of your first comment, though let us know if the producers ever pursue such a sub-plot. That’s be an interesting set of comments . . .

  13. Kaimi Wenger
    June 9, 2006 at 10:56 am


    Thank you for your comment. There’s a lot to address — and much of it is way outside my own area of expertise. Let’s see:

    First, I found it fascinating that your own disaffiliation came from gender concerns with the church, rather than sexual orientation concerns. I don’t know to what extent the two interrelated and possibly reinforced each other. But it says volumes that your argument is basically, “I didn’t leave because I was gay, I left because I was a woman.”

    Second, your experience with Affirmation is another thing I find interesting. I’ve heard positive things from some friends about that organization. Your comment, though, underscores the difficulties in building a group without creating a dynamic that feels exclusive for minority members within the minority. (And it reminds me of an interesting back-and-forth on BCC a few days ago, about whether the gay community really accepts bisexual people).

    Third, you’re wondering where everyone is, too. Well, at least I’m in good company. :)

    Fourth, I have the feeling that there is a lot to be said about the mom / family issues you mention. It’s hard enough for a straight Mormon woman to find time to blog — see, e.g., 50% of the posts at FMH on how it’s hard to do anything but be a mom in Mormon culture. Being not only a mommy blogger, but a lesbian mommy blogger, may well be too much.

    Finally, you suggest that both (2) and (5) of my original conjectures may have some truth to them. You suggest that more Mormon lesbians _are_ moving on, as compared to Mormon gay men. And the ones who aren’t moving on as fast, are finding other forums for their discussion.

    Very interesting and thought-provoking ideas — thank you for them.

  14. Kaimi Wenger
    June 9, 2006 at 11:04 am

    One other data point: I just spent a few minutes clicking through the sidebar links on L’s blog to see what the gender breakdown is. (I started there because it’s the most complete blogroll of the gay bloggernacle that I know of — if there’s a better list, please let me know). The gender disparity is really striking: 22 Mormon-gay-male blogs, and 2 Mormon-lesbian blogs.

    This suggests that it’s not just local factors at play (like the T&S comment dynamic, for example). Rather, on a global level, there are a lot more gay men blogging about their Mormonism than there are lesbians. (Unless L just missed most of the lesbians in assembling his blogroll).

  15. MikeInWeHo
    June 9, 2006 at 11:12 am


    Fantastic post. I loved what you had to say. One thing I would add (you know this, but our co-bloggers may not): The issue of “lesbian invisibility” is widely discussed outside of a Mormon context. It seems to be a broad phenomenon and many have commented on it elsewhere in gay/lesbian focused blogs and web sites.

    Yeah, the L-Word is a bit too glossy, and ridiculous but still fun. My partner and I always laugh when the ads for it say “See their glamorous West Hollywood lifestyle….” We’ll be sitting here smack-dab in the middle of West Hollywood trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and laugh “Yeah, such glamor!” So even the locals find it absurd in that regard. But what can you expect from Showtime? BTW, I suspect most of our co-bloggers steer clear of that show…..

  16. June 9, 2006 at 11:14 am

    I’ve also noticed that many more men use their full name on the bloggernacle than women (me included). There are a couple very active private web “groups” for LDS lesbians and their loved ones — maybe for similar reasons.

  17. Wendy
    June 9, 2006 at 11:32 am

    ***3a. Maybe Mormon lesbians, being oppressed for both their gender and their orientation, just don’t stick around.***

    I read as many ex-Mo boards as I do the Bloggernacle and there are many ex-Mo lesbians there, especially on LiveJournal. The oppression factor seems to be a big reason for completely leaving Mormonism behind.

  18. June 9, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    I heard they all moved to Sonia Johnson’s ward and took vows of eternal celibacy.

  19. Julie M. Smith
    June 9, 2006 at 1:39 pm


    Unless I missed something, this is your first comment at T & S. Welcome.

  20. June 9, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Anyone here read “Born that Way?”

  21. Scott
    June 9, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    I haven’t read all the other comments which may offer compelling arguments for other points, but here are my thoughts on point 3.

    Research suggests that females are much more sexually plasctic than males (meaning their sexuality is more variable and responsive to social factors) see Baumeister, 2000* if you’re interested. As such, female Mormons who experience same sex attractions are better able to thwart their inclinations and pursue a non-sexual or heterosexual lifestyle. That’s my theory as to why you don’t see as many Mormon lesbians.

    * LINK: http://scholar.google.com/url?sa=U&q=http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/baumeister2000.pdf

  22. Dan
    June 9, 2006 at 3:48 pm


    ah thank you for that explanation. I comment on several blogs, and sometimes I use Dan and sometimes Daniel. Sorry for the messup, but thank you for the explanation.

  23. chris/hurricane
    June 9, 2006 at 4:26 pm


    I have.

  24. gst
    June 9, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    I used to live in between a gay neighborhood and a lesbian neighborhood in Chicago (North Halsted in Lakeview and Andersonville, respectively). I kept waiting to see turf wars, but nothing ever developed.

  25. gst
    June 9, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    I second Guy Murray’s fine suggestion about the folk song.

    Also, if there are any other hidden Mormon minorities, kindly step forward and identify yourselves so I can express my tolerance and solidarity.

  26. Tatiana
    June 9, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    25. gst: How about 30s single female converts moving from the mainstream U.S. culture, where they are of marriageable age, to LDS culture, where they’re grandmother aged. =)

  27. Kimball L. Hunt
    June 9, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    Sometimes mo’ — is Les?

  28. gst
    June 9, 2006 at 7:23 pm


  29. D. Fletcher
    June 9, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    Perhaps the most famous Mormon gay person is Margaret Cammemeyer, the army nurse who was discharged for suggesting she was a lesbian.

    Without meaning any offense, one reason (perhaps) that there are less lesbian commenters here, is that there are fewer lesbians overall than gay men. No one seems to offer concrete reasons why this might be true, but it is.

  30. Davis Bell
    June 9, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    I know there isn’t much in the way of hard evidence when it comes to nailing down the size of the gay population in the US, but what is the best guess for the ration of gay men to lesbians?

  31. D. Fletcher
    June 9, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    Because people constantly change their minds! about their sexual preference, hard numbers are very hard to come by. My guesstimate is 6-10% of adult men are exclusively, identifiably gay, while lesbians make up 3-7% of the adult female population. So, if there are 100 million adult men and 100 million adult women in the US, there are 8 million gay men and 5 million gay women, a total of 13 million gay people in an adult population of 200 million, a 6.5% ratio which seems just about right.

  32. Eric Russell
    June 10, 2006 at 1:44 am

    D., where do you get the number 6-10%? According to surveys with the 2000 census, it was 1.5%.

  33. June 10, 2006 at 7:44 am

    For example, a brief history of early prejudicial paradigms on the subject showed that research results about gay populations were skewed because the only gays enrolled in the study were those in prison for violating anti-sodomy laws. (he is talking about Kinsey, who left a mixed legacy).


    That, btw, is where the 10% number came from as well. Which is why many question it, though the 1.5% number gets questioned because it looks like under reporting.

    http://ardentmormon.blogspot.com/2006/06/science.html is a good post, btw.

  34. Kimball L. Hunt
    June 10, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Geez, please explain this again — What exactly WAS Oscar Wilde accused of doing!! lol.

  35. D. Fletcher
    June 10, 2006 at 11:49 am

    Eric, I repeat, real numbers are nearly to impossible to find, and the numbers change every day, depending on who’s doing the interviewing, and every other variation. My number was an estimate. 1.5% is clearly too low, but 10% is probably too high, which is why 6.5% seems just right, to me.



  36. MikeInWeHo
    June 10, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    Hey D. Fletcher–

    You are one interesting guy. As a therapist, I am very, very tempted to start making interpretations….but that would be just so wrong. Fascinating that you link to those two sites in your above post (although I’m mystified as to why the Unofficial Lion King web site contains this material). You’re like someone who comfortably refers to lds.org and utlm.org in the same post…..

    I agree with you that it must be somewhere between 1.5 and 10%, although my gut sense is that it’s a little lower than 6.5 (well, not here in my ‘hood !). The reality is, there’s absolutely no way to determine for sure in our current cultural/political environment. Anybody who claims to know has an agenda, on one side or the other.

  37. D. Fletcher
    June 10, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Yes, all true. I am a cornucopia of contradictions. Fortunately, I mostly ignore these and just go about my business, la di da.

    One big problem with determining the actual number of homosexuals, is deciding exactly what you want: gays who are publicly out (meaning, they’ve mentioned it in the newspaper), or people who have a homosexual preference (even though they may be married to the opposite sex), or people who have tried homosexual sex, or what? There simply are no final numbers, and there may never be.

    10% does seem too high, and 1% too low, so 5-6% does seem right to me.

  38. June 10, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    I just want to echo D. Fletcher’s response in #37. I also feel like the percentage is probably around 5%. But there are lots of problems in defining “homosexual,” as D. pointed out. I had gone online last night looking for statistics for another post, and not only did the studies range from under 1% to over 15% of the general population, there was never a consensus on the answer to the question “What is a homosexual?” I have met men who have only had sex with men and never with women, but considered themselves heterosexual. And there is a difference between male sexuality and female sexuality. Virtually every lesbian I have ever known has talked about their sexuality not being constant but ever-changing, including periods of their lives when they are solely attracted to men, yet they still self-identify as lesbians. Then there were two related studies that I thought were among the most telling: When the study was conducted in an area of England in the 1970’s, when being gay or bisexual was highly fashionable, more than 15% percent of the men responding said that they were gay. When the same study, with the same questions, was conducted in the mid 1990’s in the same area, the percentage of men responding that they were gay had dropped to slightly more than 1%. The major difference was that it was highly unfashionable, and even dangerous, to say that you were gay in that neighborhood in the 1990’s. Final result: The school conducting the studies said that the results to the questions were obviously highly influenced by mores of the day, and so neither study yielded reliable results.

    The lesson from this, though, as I see it, is that every human being, no matter what percentage of the population, should be accorded the same rights and respect. Is any other segment of the population expected or required to reach a threshold at which equal rights and common dignities are granted?

  39. annegb
    June 11, 2006 at 11:01 am

    Women are softer and nicer and gentler and mostly not up to the rigorous battles of the blog. We don’t yell and argue. We’re sweet spirits.

    I know some lesbian Mormon women. They’re pretty much nice and don’t want to fight about it.

  40. Rosalynde Welch
    June 12, 2006 at 11:11 am

    Lesbianism is not only (or perhaps not even primarily) a social arrangement that arises from sexual orientation; it has a long history, in tandem with certain strands of feminism, as a political strategy for separatism from and protest against patriarchy and heterosexuality. So it would not be at all surprising if many Mormon lesbians’ orientation developed as a form of protest and a way of separating from LDS patriarchy and heteronormativity (sorry for the icky word—“heteronormativity” (!)).

  41. Roman
    June 22, 2006 at 12:01 am

    I know I am a little late for this blog, however I would like to say we are out there , we are in the church…sometimes sitting next to you in RS or Sacrament. Much of the time married. I am one of these women and tho you may say I do not count because I am technically bisexual..it is still SSA. I have also had a couple sister missionaries frankly admit that they also had SSA. Some you can tell some not. No one in my church would ever guess since I do not portray the usual masculine characteristics, but then again bisexuals tend to be more feminine. None the less I have had this all my life, as far back as I can remember…my husband deals with it fine. If anyone has any questions id be happy to answer them.

  42. Wendy Proffitt
    June 22, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    This is the first time reading this blog and I am with Janet on many things. I am the fourth born in a family with eleven children. Don’t worry the last two children were twins so my mom only gave birth 10 times! The thing is that when I was about 13 years old I knew that there was something fishy about the way that women were treated in the church. I was disgusted at the blatant discrimination from men to women. The fact that women were not allowed to play church sports because they might get hurt was just gross. Because of how many children I grew up with, I knew that I did not want to have children of my own. I knew that there was something up with my sexuality at about kindergarten age when I had a crush on my girlfriend from school. I denied it because it is so \”wrong\” in the Mormon realm. I grew up denying it which was hard as an athletic woman. I married a man outside of the temple as at the age of 18 I no longer had to be respectful to my parent’s choice of religion. I stepped out to the real world as an \”inactive\” Mormon. As I said I married a man, and joined the military. I was on serious birth control and yet somehow still got pregnant first with a girl and then 5 years later with my boy (yes you can get pregnant even with a .3% chance). I was very interested in women and expressed that to my husband who of course was just turned on by the idea. I was tired of living a lie and my married life was not great. I met a woman that believe it or not was married at one time to and we fell in love. When I told my husband that I wanted a divorce he went very public to my family about it. I had no choice but to confront my family on the issue. Fully ready to be disowned by them and my parents, I was pleasantly surprised. They don’t agree with being a lesbian but they love and respect me regardless. They treat me and my significant other (SO) as if we are a family as married. We go to Sunday dinner with the entire bunch and family reunions. She has taken my last name just recently and just because we are not legally able to be married… we are. We own a house and take care of my son full time while my daughter lives with her dad and we see her fairly often as she only lives a few miles away. I am like you where there is no reason to be all in the public about it even though we would not deny it…. we don’t flaunt it. We are just normal people that you would think are best friends mostly. We joke that the only thing that makes us lesbian is each other. I attend baby blessings and baptisms and many other Mormon events but choose not to be involved any further than that because of the same reasons you said in your comments. I think that women just are not all out there and don’t feel the need to be. So what that we are lesbians…. what is the big hoopla unless you make it a big hoopla. I think that there are many Mormon lesbians that just deny it for their salvation and the \”Mormon dream\”.

    Anyways that is all I have to say

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