Sunday, June 20, 2010


The following letter was sent out to 60 or so stakes in southeast Idaho:

We live in a time of increasing difficulty and temptation. The world is relentless in its efforts to ensnare Latter-Day Saints. One particularly devastating and challenging trial faced by many members of the Church is same-gender attraction. This unwanted difficulty is increasingly common. While the percentage of individuals who embrace alternate lifestyles is small, nearly 10% of people experience feelings of sexual attraction to members of the same sex. The nature of this trial leads far too many of our members to become discouraged and abandon hope. Far too many fall away from the sweet peace that the Gospel can bring.

Recently, the First Presidency and other Leaders of the Church have made an effort to approach same-gender attraction with a new level of compassion and understanding. Elder Jeffery R. Holland wrote an article for the Ensign which was published shortly after the release of the new pamphlet God Loveth His Children. Reading these documents, it is clear that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve recognize the need for us to reach out in love and understanding to those who experience same-gender attraction.

To that end, we have organized a fireside designed for all members of the Church: individuals who experience same-gender attraction and Priesthood Leaders, as well as every parent and friend in the church. We invite your stake or ward to participate in this unique opportunity. Please make an effort to let every member know about this invaluable learning experience. This special fireside will include specific instruction for you as Priesthood Leaders, for those who experience same-gender attraction, and for friends and family. Presenters will include Priesthood Leaders and Mental Health Professionals. We are also honored to announce that Ty Mansfield, world-renowned author of In Quiet Desperation, will be our feature speaker.

We've included a flier that could be posted in your buildings. We've also included an announcement to add to your bulletin for the next couple of weeks. Additionally, we encourage you to consider announcing this event from the pulpit. Perhaps you are aware of individuals who would benefit from this fireside; they would most-likely benefit from a special personal invitation for them to attend.

Thank you sincerely for your efforts in reaching out to those who struggle daily with this incredibly difficult and often misunderstood challenge. As we all strive to increase our understanding and compassion, we will be better able to offer the Christ-like love and support so desperately needed.

You know, when I was struggling so hard with fighting against my homosexual feelings and trying to be a good member of the LDS Church and feeling alone because I didn't feel like the Church was doing much to help people like me, this letter probably would have been a welcome one. Now I have some problems with it.

Although I admire the fact that church leaders are doing more to deal with this issue in a more compassionate way, in some ways it feels too little, too late. But I do at least support the fact that those who are struggling with this issue have an outlet of sorts, although in the long run I wonder if it does more harm than good.

I know there are a fraction of people that have been able to live with their homosexual attractions and still live as fully worthy members of the LDS Church. Many of these people are married and making those marriages work the best they can. Many feel this is their cross to carry and are doing it as best they can. I admire their tenacity and devotion to what they believe they must do.

Ultimately, I was one of those people who couldn't do it and no longer want to do it. To each his own, but I think things like this may give people like I once was false hope that they can change or overcome something which, in my mind, is truly difficult, if not impossible, to overcome and which maybe is something that isn't really meant to be overcome. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but when the Church teaches that if a person has enough faith and lives worthily enough and prays hard enough, God will provide a way for that person to overcome or at least live with the challenge; and that doesn't end up happening, it can make a person feel very hopeless, depressed, guilty, sorrowful, frustrated, and make them wonder what is wrong with them. As someone who has been on both sides, that was a miserable way to live, and I'm happy that is no longer my life.

The letter says "too many of our members to become discouraged and abandon hope. Far too many fall away from the sweet peace that the Gospel can bring." Why does that happen, and why so often? Maybe it's because many of these people (to sort of paraphrase Spencer W. Kimball) knock on the door until their hands are mashed to a bloody pulp and their bodies are so ravaged with the aches and pain of trying to get the blasted door open and they are filled with doubt that God even wants them to even open the door at all. Maybe it's because they discover another door to open; one that makes life far more joyful and fulfilling. Maybe it's because they feel lied to and betrayed, whether intentionally or not.

But I do appreciate the sentiment of the letter. I appreciate the fact that they acknowledge that it is "incredibly difficult and often misunderstood challenge." I appreciate that they are asking members of the church to "reach out in love and understanding" to their gay brothers and sisters. I appreciate that this issue isn't being swept under the rug as much as it once was. I appreciate that church leaders are becoming more educated and compassionate about it. I appreciate that the LDS Church has evolved somewhat as far as this subject is concerned (although I still feel they have a ways to go). Progress is slow, but when I think of where the Church was on this issue 20 or 40 years ago, and where they are today, it gives me hope that 20 years from now or 40 years from now, the LDS Church's attitude toward gay people will have evolved into even a better place.


JonJon said...

It definitely is progress. I just don't like how they frame the issue in the first paragraph. The way they are talking about it makes it sounds like a porn addiction or sex addiction, which is definitely not the same thing as merely being attracted to your same gender. But yeah, I guess the fact that they are willing to talk about it at all is a step in the right direction.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Yeah, I agree with you about the first paragraph. I feel like it still marginalizes gay people as though we have some terrible disease.

Mister Curie said...

Nice commentary. I agree that it is nice to see an outreach of sorts, unfortunately I think the church's stance on homosexuality is completely wrong, so an outreach to get gay Mormons to stay faithful, when faithful means lifelong celibacy or marrying a woman, doesn't seem like much of an outreach.

Kate Edmondson said...

My two cents: Adults should be permitted to love and commit to whoever they are naturally inclined to love. If your natural inclination is towards someone of the same sex, marry someone of the same sex. If your natural inclination is towards someone of the opposite sex, marry someone of the opposite sex. Religions just screw up what is really an extremely straight-forward concept.

If you are a gay man married to a straight woman or vice versa - Godspeed and good luck. But don't, don't, don't try to use it as a cloak of honor and convince others that it is "God's way."

Don't people in straight-straight marriages already have enough insecurities and self-esteem issues to begin with? Who wants to take on the baggage of knowing they are marrying someone to prove a religious principle? Encouraging straight women to marry gay men, with the known increased risk of divorce and heartache for women, is unconscionable. Yeah, it sucks for the gay man as well, I realize, but I admit that I am more worried about the wife and children involved.

Sean said...

Again I'm going to say that the church is trying to couch the issue. I agree with what everyone is saying about the first paragraph. But read further... The very fact that Ty Mansfield, who as most of us know is gay but is proceeding with a temple marriage is the featured speaker. That's a big red flag folks! The church is trying with all the sugary speech they can muster to attempt to make the gay go away. Why? Because they don't have the answers thru their "modern day revelation."

This is but one of many things that can bring down the Mormon house of cards. Unless the church's existence is threatened enough by not letting gay people in to the theology and the "plan of salvation" in some clever fasion, gays will never be accepted.

I just love how they attempt to make the leaders of the church appear to be more knowledgeable about this now that the came out with "God loveth his children." That was certainly not an encouraging piece of literature either.

Mark my words, they are making some very deliberate carefully executed moves here.

Bravone said...

Blame me and my friend if the wording is poor. The fireside was actually totally the idea of my friend and I have helped to organize and get approval to have it sponsored by my stake president. It may not be perfect, but it is a start to hopefully better understanding by church leaders and members, and families of gay Mormons.

We are doing our best to help make the path easier for others in the future.

Beck said...

Any open discussion in a church meeting with members trying to come to a better understanding is a good thing in my book!

Gay LDS Actor said...


I think what you and your friend are doing is admirable, and if it creates enlightenment, dialogue, knowledge, and compassion, it can be a positive thing. I was only saying that because of the church's stance on homosexuality and because so many gay people seem unable to do what is required, there is often a lot of collateral damage that is caused with some who try unsuccessfully to follow the church's counsel.

Like I said, there are some who seem able to do it, and if this helps them, wonderful. Also, if this helps others understand the issue better, I'm all for it. This is a very complex issue.

Kudos to you and your friend for putting it together, and kudos to your stake president for sponsoring it. I hope it does some good.

I just wish I felt that church leadership were as attuned this issue in a way that I felt they understood what gay people really go through. As it stands know, I just feel like they really don't get it.

Gay LDS Actor said...

"attuned to this issue" is what I meant to write in my previous post.

Kevin said...

I agree with Sean's comment... it's the pessimist in me.

The Mormons have no new solution for "dealing with gays", so the idea of creating a forum for people struggling with the issue seems more like a TRAP to me. I have to wonder if anyone risked exposure by even showing up???