The release of the updated “Mormon and Gay” web site garnered attention in a wide range of media outlets, including in the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, Religion News Service, Washington Post, CNN, and the Huffington Post.
Reactions from members of the LGBT Mormon community in social media varied, from seeing it as a qualified step forward that may help straight Church members understand LGBT experience a bit better, to bitter disappointment at the narrow range of voices represented. The “tips for parents” were widely seen as the best part of the new web site.
Some representative views expressed in social media are reprinted here.
Mormons & Gays 2.0 gives me that same feeling that I get when I’ve happened to overhear someone talking about me who doesn’t actually know me very well.
What’s worse is they choose to discuss one of the aspects of my life that’s caused a lot of personal anguish. That left me suicidal for years. That left me feeling like a failure (at least, until I had my own experiences of what I perceive to be God).
I know what they say affects my family and friends, and their opinions of me, my wife and our lives together.
Some of the information that the site conveys may be absolutely correct, even helpful, but overall I’m left with that acute feeling of being talked *about* instead of heard by those I once counted as my community. I’m left feeling “administered” to, rather than ministered to.
Bryan K. Henderson
The LDS Church’s new website takes a few positive steps forward in encouraging listening, loving, and not defining our relationships by judgement. However, my story or the experience of most gay Mormons still remains absent, while subtle suggestions are made in the front-page stories that people become gay by being molested or looking at pornography.
I loved the LDS Church, I gave everything for a good chunk of my life. And still, where is any effort to listen and learn from those of us who have actually walked this path?
Your website says Mormon and Gay, but you left us out. A year ago you defined us as apostates. This past year we were told We don’t even exist.
I hope there is more efforts to listen, understand, and replace judgement with love, but I’m still waiting.
I’m Mormon and gay. I’ve lived it. Why don’t you ask me about it sometime?
After having read through the new site and having watched the videos, it really drove home to me (again) that the path for a gay Mormon in order to stay “faithful” to church teachings is either lifetime celibacy, or a marriage to somebody of the opposite sex. At least they don’t seem to sugarcoat that. I’m glad to see them fully acknowledging this reality. It is going to be a hard life, but we will strive to reach out and be helpful and loving to you in your journey. We will make a place for you at church. At least that is the feeling I get from it. They also seem to be upfront in acknowledging that the future path for some may involve stepping away from the Church and finding a same-sex partner. No matter what path a gay person chooses, our job is to love them. So overall, I think there are some really good steps forward in this new version, but there were some things I really miss about the original version, too (mainly, Judy Finch’s segment). If nothing else, I hope this can help foster a healthy dialogue in our congregations.
Eggshells- to my LDS friends: do not message me, inform me, or refer me to the new website the church put out. There are nothing but regurgitated nuances that have been explored and perpetuated in the many shades of gray these latter-days seem to have heaped upon temple square. Please, we know precisely where we are, and the brethren know precisely what this is. I love you and I love that you love me so much enough to reach out. However, let’s let sleeping dogs lay. I love you. I truly do love you. But that website is a boxed fart with glitter on top.
Christian Jacob Frandsen
It’s amazing to me how visceral of a reaction I’m having to the new website. I’ve been reading and watching portions of it and I can easily recognize positive elements of it that represent a change in the discussion, and yet I just find myself unable to read or watch more because of how utterly disconnected I feel from it. From what I’ve read so far it just has no use for me. I don’t connect with it and I don’t relate to it, even though I know, connect with, and relate to a couple of the people whose stories are featured.
Ugh. It just leaves me feeling icky. I might write more of my thoughts tomorrow if anyone cares to read, but I probably won’t do an in depth analysis because I just don’t have it in me.
After reading through the new site and having watched the videos, there has been no change in how to stay faithful to the church which is a lifetime of celibacy. While I appreciate the church finally admitting we exist, the fact that I know after next week I will be excommunicated is still difficult for me, especially for just loving someone unconditionally.
I have been with my partner for 16 years and do not want anyone else. I want to be able to go to church and have my relationship with her accepted. I don’t want to be judged and while the new site addresses some of this, it doesn’t come straight (lol) out and help explain how the church will handle those of us who are married.
For me, being married is not just because I love my partner, it is also because I want to fiscally take care of her as we grow older. I love the Lord and through my partner, I have learned to love myself, forgive myself, and return to the Lord. Without her, I am not sure where I would be today.
I am looking forward to the churches continued understanding that we are people who even the Lord loves. Why would we be here if He didn’t?
Having traveled the spectrum of full faith, the shock of coming out, and then seeing things as an unprivileged minority group in the church I love, I can say this has been a most epic personal journey. Many if not most of my true blue straight family and friends have not made this journey nor do they even know there is a journey to be made. This web site starts the conversation. It uses words my community identifies with: like gay. And it is a platform that allows me and my community to communicate with those we love who need permission from the church to discuss and tackle this subject. I feel this is the church finally saying: We see you! We don’t know what to do with you yet, but we need to love you. For the first time I feel that I am being seen. Maybe not listened to or heard, but at least I am seen!
Here are a few quotes I like from the introduction on LDS.org (with my comments):
“Materials on Mormonandgay.lds.org make it clear that it is possible to be both gay and Mormon and that God loves those who are.” (Wow, I made the same point in a recent post)
“Church leaders hope members will use the content—which provides vocabulary and a foundation for healthy dialogue between members, families, and leaders—as a platform for personal revelation.” (Yay for personal revelation!)
“A change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders” (Can we all finally accept this now?)
“If your child makes choices you disagree with, kindly let them know how you feel. Never try to control or manipulate them. Give them your time and assure them of your love.” – From “Ten Tips for Parents” on the website. (Parents, just love your kids, control doesn’t work!)
All that being said, the website is not designed for gay people or their allies who are fully affirming. It’s designed to help straight members of the church (and perhaps newbie gays) by sending them the much-needed message that it’s okay to be gay and it’s okay to love gay people. The church has never given that simple Christian message so explicitly and so publicly before; and for that, I’m grateful. This message and the rest of the website content will provide little solace to affirming gay people and their allies. But we have to remember that the church is not going to change its doctrinal position overnight. However, I think that by getting straight members to at least humanize gay people and see that they are like the rest of us, leaders and membership will begin to question the source and morality of the current doctrinal position, which will hopefully lead to sincere questioning and additional revelation. According to people from Church public affairs who were in charge of developing this website, there will be continual updates and new versions over time. So I think the church membership will evolve on this topic along with the website itself – which again provides hope for continuing revelation.
For those who are LGBT Mormons: DO NOT GET FALSE HOPES UP. Be strong, grounded, and centered in your personal revelations. The website will not share with you acceptance of your LGBT relationships nor your LGBT family – there is no reverse of the policy from last year. Remember that your unique and intimate relationship with the Divine and how you have been directed about your personal life is what matters most. Fear not the approval of man, but the approval of God and what God has in store for your unique life on this earth that will fill the measure of your unique creation. For some this means a life of celibacy and for others it means sharing their life with another soul of the same gender – learning and growing together.
The best of the new LDS/Mormon LGBT information page mormonandgay.lds.org :
– It’s okay to identify as being LGBT and Mormon. Church members shouldn’t criticize how you identify. “People can make their own choices about how to identify.”
– “Change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.”
– “It is unethical to focus professional treatment on an assumption that a change in sexual orientation will or must occur.” WOW! If this had been the case 16 years ago I would have saved 1000s of dollars and decades of emotional distress.
– “When one seeks therapy, the Church recommends approaches that respect “client self-determination.”
– Explains the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity (thank goodness!)
– “Don’t blame yourself for your child’s same-sex attraction. This is no one’s fault. Blame is neither necessary nor helpful.”
– “It is unproductive to ask God “why?” or to ask Him to “take it away.”
– “If your child makes choices you disagree with, kindly let them know how you feel. Never try to control or manipulate them. Give them your time and assure them of your love.”
In viewing the videos, I suggest the kind of empathy that a heterosexual member of my ward shared with me once, “Randall, if I was told I could not share my life with my husband whom I love and adore so much, it would be hell on earth.”
If you are a gay (or lesbian or bi) Mormon, then you already know more than a website about what that means and what it feels like. And you already know how to pray and talk to God about what you should do to move forward in a healthy way for yourself…. or at least you are working on that part.
You don’t really need a website for that. In fact, there is a good chance that a website might have a mistake or two because it is going to be created and approved by people who are NOT gay and Mormon…. so they already know a little bit less about it than you do.
If you are the average, straight, believing Mormon that doesn’t really know anything about being gay and Mormon…. then this website is a step better than the last one. They acknowledge that there ARE indeed LGB people in the church. They acknowledge the complexity involved and the unique feelings of the individuals. They acknowledge that we should not expect people to change.
And, it should not be shocking or surprising to anyone that the entire website takes a very strict line in support of all doctrines and policies of the church. It is a website that belongs to the church, of course.
Perhaps, one day, even if they remain with their current doctrines, however, they will acknowledge that the examples they use are possible…. but they really do represent a rare minority of people.