“Families Are Forever” to Be Screened July 31 during Free Sunstone Lecture
by Hugo Salinas
The Montgomerys are a devout LDS family. Wendy and Tom married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1995. They had 5 children in 7 years. But then in January 2012, they found out that their oldest son Jordan, who was 13 at the time, is gay.
“My first thought was that ‘surely, the Church has the answers,’” Wendy recently told Joanna Brooks. “But the more I read from LDS Church materials, the more disheartened and sad I got. None of them acknowledged that there was such a thing as a gay teenager—they only talk in terms of homosexual acts and behaviors. My son is only 14; he hasn’t even held another boy’s hand, but he knows he is gay. And he’s doing nothing wrong. There were no helps in those materials for me.”
Wendy says that finding the materials prepared by the Family Acceptance Project, sponsored by San Francisco State University, was “like sunshine in the darkest abyss I had ever experienced.” And this year Wendy, along with her husband and her children, allowed a filming crew into their home for the making of “Families Are Forever,” a 20-minute documentary especially tailored for Mormons and other conservative families.
Dr. Cailtin Ryan, a social worker and the director of the Family Acceptance Project, has spent years studying the correlation between family rejection and tragic outcomes: Highly rejected LGBT young people are more than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide; nearly 6 times to report high levels of depression; and more than 3 times more likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk of HIV and STDs.
Last year, Dr. Ryan teamed up with Robert A. Rees to write a 26-page pamphlet, “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children.” The 20-minute video, which is now released, is another milestone in providing LDS parents with accurate information on how to raise healthy LGBT children.
The documentary was screened in Salt Lake City on July 31 as part of a free public lecture sponsored by Sunstone and the Smith-Petit Foundation. The lecture, scheduled for 8:00 pm at the Saltair Room of the University of Utah Student Union, will feature Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project, along with Mormon allies Robert Rees and Erika Munson, blogger Mitch Mayne, Ogden’s OUTReach Center director Marian Edmunds, and Tom and Wendy Montgomery.
“Without threatening my core religious beliefs, the materials prepared by the Family Acceptance project gave me a path forward,” says Wendy. “It seemed like there were only two paths: that my son chooses a lonely, celibate life, or that he chooses love and we lose him. Both are terrible. The crux of the message in Family Acceptance Project materials is that parents—whether Mormon or any other faith—can love and support a child while holding onto deeply held beliefs.”