FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2016
After nearly two years of anticipation regarding a forthcoming update to the LDS Church’s “Mormons & Gays” website, the LDS Church has finally launched a retooled and retitled “Mormon & Gay” site, which will bring hope to many who seek rapprochement between the LDS Church and its LGBTQ+/SSA membership.
In the wake of divisive policy changes launched by the LDS Church in November 2015, many within the LGBTQIA+ Mormon community have wondered what, if anything, the Church might do or say to heal the wounds. While the new web site could be more robust and comprehensive of the full spectrum of LGBTQIA+ Mormon experiences, the abundance of authentic, poignant stories of LGB Mormons—and the emphasis on openness and listening—is a positive contribution to the ongoing dialog about issues that continue to be deeply painful to many in and out of the Church.
The new site is filled with personal stories from lesbian, gay and bisexual members of the Church and their families, which many members of the LGB Mormon community will find relatable. Their presence on a site sanctioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, transform them from mere anecdotes into tools that might be used by family, friends, and Church leaders, to promote greater understanding of and empathy with their LGB brothers and sisters.
“Stories are the key to empathy”, says Affirmation president John Gustav-Wrathall “and empathy will enable a deeper love… and will transform us individually and as a community”.
The Board of Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends released the following statement:
The LDS Church’s new website is an improvement to a previously existing official Church resource, which seeks to engage complex issues regarding lesbian, gay and bisexual Mormons through stories from real people. It also provides resources for Church leaders that emphasize unconditional love, active listening, and a pastoral approach to counseling focusing on the unique needs of each individual.
We look forward to translations of the site into 37 languages, including Spanish and Portuguese. This will expand awareness and resources beyond the original website that appeared only in English. Affirmation members and leaders in Latin America have identified native-language resources available to Church leaders as a pressing need.
While, as the website states, “[s]exual desire can be fluid and changeable,” existing data suggest that attempts to change one’s orientation through types of reparative therapy damage the well-being of many people who participate in it and we wish to reaffirm that people who are LGBT are not in need of repair.
The Affirmation family is diverse. This website may lend encouragement to those of our community remaining close to the Church or wishing to rekindle activity. Many have been deeply traumatized by Church and family rejection. Many have found profoundly spiritual and fulfilling lives outside of the Church. Many who are in same-sex relationships experience harmony in a strong connection with God and receiving guidance in their lives from the Holy Spirit. Most LGBTQ+ Mormons yearn for a Church where all our relationships and families are celebrated, and where they can participate as full spiritual equals.
While the absence of stories from those who have left the Church—who comprise the vast majority of LGBTQ+ Mormons—is conspicuous and unfortunate, we welcome the positive development of an improved website, expansion of resources, and emphasis on exercising love through family acceptance, outreach, and listening. We hope this resource will more deeply foster awareness and meaningful conversation.
We hope for similar work to be done to deepen the LDS community’s understanding of transgender people and experience.
“If we were to point to any single part of the site as praiseworthy, it would be its tone. It models the sorts of conversations that we hope to hear about between LGBTQ+ Mormons and their families and fellow Latter-day Saints. The release of the new web site comes just before the holiday season, when families around the world gather to celebrate”, Gustav-Wrathall said. “Perhaps this holiday season can be a time of healing.”
Affirmation will be holding an on-line community forum at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time on November 5, 2016. We invite all who would like to discuss their feelings about the new web site, or who are interested in hearing about the results of Affirmation’s survey on the impact of the November 2015 LDS policy changes to join us. For more information go to Affirmation.org.
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About Affirmation International
Founded in 1977, Affirmation Int’l is a global community that supports LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families, friends and Church leaders in seeking to live healthy and productive lives consistent with their faith or heritage. We provide a loving, inclusive community for all LGBTQ/SSA people, and those who love them, regardless of how they identify in their sexual orientation, gender identity, or faith. We encourage spirituality and empower LGBTQ/SSA Mormons to make valuable contributions within and outside of the Church. We organize local gatherings and international conferences, provide informational resources, and work for dialogue within the Church.