Mormons’ “Softened Stance” On Homosexuality Still Feels Pretty Hard

Yesterday evening, Gawker published a story entitled “Rethink Everything You Thought You Knew: Mormon Church Softens Its Stance on Homosexuality,” which reported that, according to the new Mormon website porntastically named Mormonsandgays.com, “being gay is still a sin, but the church is now willing to admit that homosexuals are people too.” This morning, Religion and Dispatch noted the Mormon Church’s “call for greater openness and understanding on LGBT issues” as reflected by this website. Gather.com asks “Mormons: Okay With Gay?” This was big news! It’s a new dawn! It’s a new day!

I eagerly dove in to Mormons and Gays Dot Com in search of this softened stance, fantasizing about this Bold New Era for the Mormon Church in which gay and lesbian Mormons didn’t have to choose between being themselves and pleasing their families, between their private lives and their religion, between their home and someplace far away where they might better fit in. I entertained fantasies in which the Mormon Church may divest itself from anti-equality measures — it’s Mormon money, after all, that enabled the passage of Prop 8 and that has been employed against similar anti-equality measures in other states, regardless of the Mormon church’s actual presence in said states. So this could be a big deal!

Yeah, not so much.

In “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” the Mormon Church has set out to have “a collection of conversations” on same-sex attraction. The Church acknowledges that “same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people,” and goes on to conclude that “even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.”

The remainder of the website is devoted to variations on that theme, accompanied by videos in which gay and lesbian Mormons discuss the joy of abolishing their sinful behavior in favor of Jesus Christ’s warm embrace. Church elders and other apparent stakeholders are also featured in videos, such as the site’s first video starring Elder Dallin H. Oaks of The Twelve Apostles, who declares in high-definition so vivid that it honestly feels like he’s sitting on my lap:

“There is so much we don’t understand about this subject, that we’d do well to stay close to what we know from the revealed word of God. What we do know is that the doctrine of the church, that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married, has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same gender attraction.”

It’s complicated, however, to parse out genuine “change” in this message from re-packaged versions of the same old idea. It’s worth mentioning that I’m not Mormon (I’m Jewish), I don’t presently have any close Mormon friends, and I haven’t been to a Mormon Church in probably ten years, so I don’t know what this looks like on the ground. I can only comment from what it looks like as a journalist who has been covering Mormon LGBT Situations for three years, and it looks like more of the same.

The driving point of the website is, essentially: it’s okay to have same-sex attraction, but it’s sinful to act on it. Don’t reject your gay and lesbian brothers/sisters, embrace them (and their journey away from same-sex behavior and towards the Church). Although free of condemnation to eternal damnation, fire/brimstone situations, or harsh words like “immoral,” there’s nothing new about these ideas. For example, the aforementioned Elder Oaks, in the Church’s official Statement on Same-Gender Attraction, gave the following advice to the parent of a gay son in 2006:

[Tell your son] You are my son. You will always be my son, and I’ll always be there to help you… I encourage you, as you struggle with these challenges, not to think of yourself as a ‘something’ or ‘another,’ except that you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you’re my son, and that you’re struggling with challenges.

And, again:

It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.

Framing gays as “good people” isn’t new, either. In fact, in 1997, the then-president of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, said in an interview:

Now we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action against such people – provided they don’t become involved in transgression, sexual transgression. If they do, we do with them exactly what we’d do with heterosexuals who transgress.

In 1998, he expounded upon this position:

People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. 

In summary, the Church Of Jesus Christ and The Latter-Day Saints created an entire website to encourage their followers to act like decent people. Yay!

Which isn’t to say the site is completely void of incremental change. The overall tone is encouraging and there are some seemingly relatively progressive ideas, such as an unidentified Mormon named Greg encouraging followers to keep their gay family members and peers “in perspective” and say “look, I can love this person, I can relate with this person, I can be friends with this person, for an awful lot of what they are that we have in common.” That seems nice, although it’s interesting that although homosexuality should be treated as an easily discarded element of one’s identity, heterosexual marriage is repeatedly stressed as the most important and identity-defining human relationship ever.

The website also succeeds in “opening a dialogue” and perhaps providing families with language and resources they might otherwise lack (and compensate for this lack by just being as mean as possible).

There is also the affirmation and progress of a stance like “Unlike in times past, the Church does not necessarily advise those with same-sex attraction to marry those of the opposite sex,” which one hopes will save a solid chunk of heterosexual people from languishing in insecurity and self-doubt while married to partners who are not sexually attracted to them. That being said, the aforementioned 2006 interview addressed that same issue with essentially the same answer: that not all Mormons will marry and that anybody who cannot marry is expected to remain celibate, gay or straight, and that for some gay Mormons, marriages “eventually can become possible.”

But there’s nothing progressive or liberating or even acclaim-worthy about telling queers it’s okay to feel queer as long as you never do anything about it, ever. There’s nothing comforting about Kelly’s video, in which he testifies that he left behind same-sex attraction and returned to the church because he “couldn’t imagine living an eternity without my mom and dad.” He continunes: “And so I knew I needed to change and do something different. Because even though I felt happy and felt content at the time there was a huge hole that I was afraid of losing my family.”

Any joy wrought from this compassionate tone extinguishes when you realize that beneath every paragraph on loving somebody is an implication or direct order for gay people to stop being gay people. Furthermore, the Mormons deep financial stake in anti-gay politics makes it difficult for me to take any public message about gay people at face value. In fact, my first thought was,”Is the Mormon Church afraid of losing their next generation of Mormons now that homophobia isn’t as cool anymore? Is that why they’re doing this?”

In 2008, the Mormon Church succeeded in passing Prop 8 and making a bunch of money in the process, but in 2012, gay marriage measures passed in four states, thus threatening that incredible cashflow generated by the church by getting everybody riled up about same-sex marriage. Young people, even conservatives, are supporting LGBT rights in droves. If The Mormon Church expects to maintain the $7 billion it pulls in annually, its $35 billion worth of temples and meeting houses and the resources it has “plowed into a multi-billion-dollar global network of for-profit enterprises,” it needs a very large flock of congregants. Followers are asked to give at least 10% of their income as “tithings” to the church, despite the church’s complete lack of transparency on where that money goes. There’s also money to be made from helping gays and lesbians conquer same sex attraction, like the LDS-endorsed Evergreen Partners, billed as “The SSA Voice of Faithful Latter-Day Saints.”

A seeming “softening” could also just be an attempt to keep up with the times — like many Republicans and the anti-equality behemoth National Organization For Marriage, the Mormon’s company line seems to be moving towards a more digestible and seemingly moderate stance to avoid a continual public relations disaster.

In one of the site’s longest videos, Elder D. Todd Christofferson declares that, “one of the things I like about what you see on this website is that people have hope. Some have not always had hope, and they talk about how they keep hope in their lives, or bring it back if it’s been lost.” That’s right — there is hope! If you’re gay and Mormon, there’s hope that you can successfully live a life of denial and that your family and community will love you for who you aren’t but who you’re totally awesome at pretending to be. Sorry, Todd, but that’s not hope I can believe in.

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Riese is the CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1676 articles for us.

66 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    Please don’t be so hard on the LDS church. They are doing what they believe is right. And, frankly, they have never gone about doing that in a hateful manner. It seems to me that financially backing a cause does not make someone (or an entire denomination) a bigot. My parents love me and they love God. As a gay Mormon it’s a battle of love. I love my family and want to please them, I do love the gospel, and I LOVE ladies. Rather a conundrum. But the church and the people I know there have been more supportive and loving than any other people I’ve come out to. Honestly, it’s like they don’t care. I’m just Linnea and they love me for that. Mormons are, to coin a phrase, Good People. Please. Please. Please. Don’t be so hard on them or their church.

    • Thumb up 28

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      So, them donating 50 million dollars to defeat same-sex marriage in CA (most of the money came from out of state as well) isn’t a form of hate? If Mormons, or any other religious organization for that matter, merely denounced same-sex marriage but didn’t actively try to strip citizens of their rights I would maybe agree with you. However, when they (any church) are spending MILLIONS of dollars on anti-gay propaganda (most often lies) to limit civil rights they are nothing more than hate groups.

    • Thumb up 16

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      @Linnea, I hear your conundrum, and I hear your good experiences with the Mormon church and the people you know there. Most of the Mormons I know are quite pleasant people to be around. That doesn’t mean the institution they’re associated with doesn’t put their money in very reprehensible places. All in all, I think the article was pretty balanced. It acknowledges this step as perhaps better than some other steps, all things considered, but recognizes that it’s nowhere near enough- to really be considered progress it has to be a beginning rather than an end.
      You may hear some comments that are quite a bit harder, and they have the right to have their opinion heard, but so do you. Thanks for posting with your experience.

    • Thumb up 7

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      Back before the prop 8 ruling, a few of my friends used to stand on the corner with signs supporting gay marriage and opposing prop 8. A large number of Mormons from the giant church in our neighborhood came by to throw oranges at them and yell horrible things. This is how their church taught them to feel, how their church taught them to behave. I would call that pretty hateful. OF COURSE these people may not be representative of all Mormons, but did the Mormon church(or any of it’s members) try and stop them or say that that wasn’t an appropriate way to act? No. And financially backing a cause that takes other people’s rights away absolutely makes someone a bigot.

    • Thumb up 8

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      A part of my problem is that the church is hypocritical in its treatment of homosexuals.

      The quote from Gordon B. Hinckley in the above article states that anyone having sex outside of marriage is treated the same by the church, regardless of whether it was heterosexual or homosexual.

      This is false. A young man or woman who admits to having heterosexual activity before marriage is counselled and may have their mission calling delayed until their congregation leader thinks they have repented sufficiently and is unlikely to transgress again.

      Any person admitting homosexual activity is immediately at risk of disfellowship, and of excommunication if it happens again. Anyone admitting strong homosexual tendencies, whether acted upon on or, cannot hold a calling within the church that puts them around children or youth.

      Source: I recently left the Mormon church after being raised in it by my Mormon family.

      • Thumb up 0

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        But is it hate? Because it also seems to me that the reaction to their “hate” is what is hateful. I’m so tired of that word. Yes. The institution of the LDS church made a huge financial contribution to prop 8 that definitely influenced the outcome of that issue. And they haven’t stopped getting crap about it since. The things the LDS and Catholic organizations do politically get responded to in a manner that is much more vehement, aggressive, even “hateful”, than whatever it is they did in the first place. They support causes that they have supported since the founding of their doctrines. They have been open and honest about their stances. They haven’t changed. The manner in which society treats them has.

        • Thumb up 9

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          “They support causes that they have supported since the founding of their doctrines. They have been open and honest about their stances. They haven’t changed. ”

          If this is true, can you please explain their stance on African Americans pre and post 1978. They also have a book about how to “deal” with black Americans written in the early century, though they vehemently deny it’s existence, even though it is was an actually book they used to teach by.

        • Thumb up 4

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          The Mormons deserve the crap they’ve gotten about all the millions of dollars they put into Prop 8. They worked extra hard to ensure that the gay community couldn’t get married in the state of California but that’s not hateful? No, what’s hateful is how gay people responded to having their rights taken away? How dare they be upset about that? Are you really trying to sell me on Mormons being the victims here against the gays in that situation? Come on.

          If you don’t think Mormons really going out of their way to strip gay people of their rights isn’t a hateful thing to do then I would love to hear exactly what your definition of hate is.

        • Thumb up 8

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          “The things the LDS and Catholic organizations do politically get responded to in a manner that is much more vehement, aggressive, even “hateful”, than whatever it is they did in the first place. They support causes that they have supported since the founding of their doctrines. They have been open and honest about their stances. They haven’t changed. The manner in which society treats them has.”

          And thank fuck for it. Are you honestly arguing that the problem is that we are no longer willing to (forced to) put up with being oppressed in the name of religion? That we’re what’s wrong here??

          It isn’t homophobic to protest homophobia. It isn’t sexist to protest sexism. And it isn’t hateful to protest hate. Heaven forfend we ‘vehemently’ or ‘aggressively’ defend our equality.

          What did I even just read.

        • Thumb up 0

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          If same sex marriage was made legal, LDS temples would be obligated by law to perform same sex marriages in their temples, which would be a violation of THEIR rights to religious freedom. But no one thinks about that. I’m not trying to victimize the Mormons or say that what they did was ok. I just feel that people are to quick to apply the term “homophobia” and use that as an excuse to be hateful. So hateful behavior is ok so long as the other party did it first?
          They have a side that deserves to be heard, too. They have rights, feelings, and perspectives, same as the rest of us. Just because they differ from your own opinions does not negate their legitimacy.
          If you want people to treat you/us/each other with the respect and dignity all humans deserve than why not give it to them, too? That is all I’m trying to say.

        • Thumb up 9

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          “If same sex marriage was made legal, LDS temples would be obligated by law to perform same sex marriages in their temples, which would be a violation of THEIR rights to religious freedom. “

          That’s actually not true, that’s a myth spread by propaganda campaigns funded by institutions such as the LDS Church. Even if it was true, the fact is that weddings are supposed to be happy days, and being married by a temple who doesn’t want to marry you makes about as much sense as ordering a wedding cake made out of styrofoam. Even if it was true, it still stuns me that anybody would see being “forced” to treat gay people like equals as more oppressive than excluding gay people from full equality.

          The absurd claim that gays are the hateful ones by responding negatively to being hated is another concept spread by propaganda campaigns funded by institutions such as the LDS Church.

          These things just aren’t true!

        • Thumb up 4

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          Yeah, this “If same sex marriage was made legal, LDS temples would be obligated by law to perform same sex marriages in their temples” is just not true. Heterosexual marriage is legal, but are LDS temples obligated by law to marry any random heterosexual couple that shows up? No, because religions are entitled to set terms and restrictions on who they’re willing to perform religious marriages for. Legalising same-sex marriage does not change that. You’ve really fallen for the anti-equality propaganda, eh?

          As to your other point, refusing to allow Mormons to oppress me is not oppressing them. I am not trying to pass laws to strip any of their civil rights, to relegate them to second-class citizens, or to prevent them living their lives as they see fit. They are trying to do all of those things to us. If you can’t see the difference, you need to sit down and have a long hard think about it.

          I don’t have to sit quietly while someone takes my rights away and fosters an environment in which I am considered a lesser human. There is nothing ‘respectful’ or ‘dignified’ about that. They are actively pushing hate at us, and it is so important to actively resist it.

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          Hi Linnea- I agree that all people deserve respect and dignity. However, you’re misinformed on one count. LDS temples are not currently, and would not ever be obligated by law to perform any marriages they don’t want to perform. There are already many restrictions on what marriages various institutions will perform, all perfectly legal.
          Here’s a concise summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_KhnegJ6-s
          If one source isn’t enough, here’s another: http://www.aclu-mn.org/issues/glbtissues/marriagemattersinminnesota/debunkingmarriagemyths/
          and another (with a lot more legalese; see claim 4): http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201210100001#claim4

        • Thumb up 5

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          Actually you are trying to victimize the Mormons and say what they are doing is okay and not at all homophobic. If helping to get Prop 8 passed and promoting harmful things like conversion therapy isn’t homophobic than I don’t know what is. Your defense of them is very telling though. You are impying that it’s the gays who are the truly hateful ones in our responses to being opressed. That we should just be nice to them and respect them despite the fact that they have gone to great lengths to strip us of our rights. We should treat them with respect even though they don’t respect us? Okay.

          You are also wrong about LDS temples being forced to marry gays. That’s a flat out lie that’s being used as a scare tactic. LDS temples or any other religious institution would be under no obligation to perform same-sex marriages if they don’t want to. And why exactly would we want to get married by them anyway. I have no intention of banging on the Mormons’ door when they’ve made it quite clear that they don’t want us there.

    • Thumb up 6

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      My brother and sister-in-law are Mormons. They are indeed very good people. They do good in their community, they adopted a special-needs toddler, they’re just plain cool. But they’re among the few people in my life to whom I still haven’t come out. I’m not really closeted, in the sense that I don’t go out of my way to keep my bisexuality a secret. If either of them asked me, I’d tell. But every time I see them posting homophobic propaganda and rants on Facebook, it confirms my lack of interest in bringing it up. Do I think their animosity toward homosexuality cancels out all the many positive things about them as individuals? No. But it does tell me that they aren’t safe. They’ll find out I’m bisexual eventually, but it’s not something I’m looking forward to.

    • Thumb up 4

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      Right…they’re just doing what they believe is right. And they believe oppressing another group of people because they don’t agree with them is right. That’s what’s wrong. The way they go about oppressing people is completely beside the point. Whether or not they hate LGBT people is also beside the point.

      And saying it’s about the organization and not the individuals means that no one is accountable for the actions of the organization. If members of the LDS do not agree with the LDS, then they need to change the organization. How in the hell can no one be to blame for Prop 8 passing?

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      As a lesbian former Mormon I respectfully disagree with you Linnea. I understand your need to try and view your culture, history and family in a positive light but at some point, in my opinion, looking at the church in a more reality based light is critical to mental and physical health.

      The church has in fact gone about enforcing their beliefs in very hatefully manners. Many LGBT church members have been subjected to excommunication (which still occurs today). Many past church teachings advised parents to not allow LGBT children to stay in their houses. Many have been and continue to face being disowned. Gay people in the past were forced into violent forms of reparative therapies. In my opinion some of the worst teaching have been things like being gay is a handicap or a punishment in this life because of sins and unworthiness in the last life.

      This “new” hate the sin and love the sinner approach is the handicap approach.

      I am glad Linnea that you have landed in a congregation that has treated you well and that your family is so supportive BUT that is largely not the case with almost any other LGBT person in the church.

  2. Thumb up 6

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    The last sentence of the second picture is the best example of why this ‘new’ stance is still harmful.

    If gay people are still good people, why must they need forgiveness from their God for being gay, even if celibate?

  3. Thumb up 14

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    When straight people say things like this, I wonder if they’ve truly considered how dehumanizing it would feel to not be allowed to act on their feelings for someone of the opposite sex. It’s not just Mormons, I hear it a lot from Christian evangelicals too — and it scares me that they believe in a God who would want his children to cut themselves off from human partnership just because the other person has the “wrong” sex and/or gender.

    And Linnea, I believe the author is criticizing the stance the church takes, not the individual people within the LDS church. Every Mormon I’ve met has been incredibly kind — we just have an unspoken agreement not to talk about the fact that I have a girlfriend. It’s just like the fact that I love my conservative evangelical family dearly even though they don’t accept me as a queer person. I imagine that Mormons themselves have a variety of opinions on the topic, and even those with anti-gay stances don’t believe their opinions are coming from a place of hatred.

    • Thumb up 4

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      Yeah, as twisted and wrong as it is, at least the idea that same-sex relationships relationships are wrong but you CAN change isn’t totally mean, because (if it weren’t for the fact that it’s complete BS) it isn’t dooming the person to a life without real love or sexual enjoyment. The idea that you are born this way, but you still have to pretend to be straight because SIN, just seems to incredibly cruel and un-compassionate to me.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    “being gay is still a sin, but the church is now willing to admit that homosexuals are people too.”
    This quote that is in this article is not on the mormonandgays website. If you are going to represent quotes represent them correctly. this is a mis quote and deceiving.

    • Thumb up 8

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      right, that quote is from gawker… maybe it’s a grammatical misunderstanding but i can’t figure out how to rephrase that sentence in a way to make it more clear? to me, the sentence reads as being attributed to gawker, not to the website. the fact that the quote refers to “the church” i think makes it already clear that it’s not the church talking, because if it was, they’d be using first person, not third person. furthermore “actual human beings” is clearly gawker language, not church language.

  5. Thumb up 15

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    I live in the capitol of mo mo state and I’ve met many loving, super mormon, and accepting allies. I’ve dated a mormon girl who battled with the churches stance but had a personal relationship with her God. I’ve also met plenty of hateful people who tell me I live in sin and condem me from public spaces, advert their children’s gaze, question my identity, and hand me mini book or mormons and bibles. Now I’m not saying all mormons are bad cause I’m an ally to my mormon friends who are supportive, but when church leaders dehumanize a whole population, it has an effect. Effects like highest suicide rates and LGBTQ homelessness, especially LGBTQ youth. So this ‘change’ in the churches stance means nothing to me. Hate and discrimination poured out of wallets in 2008 and a majority of that came from Utah, from my neighbors and once friends. You can’t take back that kind of act. It will literally take a revelation to a church leader to change the church’s stance to any form of equality.

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      But do you think this will lower the rates of homelessness and suicide. Its a horrible message. But, a kid already taught to restrict sexual expression until marriage might not make the link to “omg I’ll never marry or have a family of my own” right away. The family might hold on to this and not completely reject their kid.

      However, as a any gay kid grows older, she might think as the quoted man does that family is important than the hope of love. Or choose to follow love as a adult.

      • Thumb up 6

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        So delaying rejection is better? These rates will not decrease. From birth to weekly sacrament meetings and family home evenings, the church reaffirms that the church is right and that anything else is condemned to outer darkness. The church thinks the act of homosexuality is a sin and, believe me, sin spreads like wildfire in a ward. Being raised your whole life to think an identity is wrong only come to the realization that you share in that identity is extremely harmful to a youth’s mentality and self-acceptance. Suddenly everyone thinks you have a disease and you are shunned in the community you’re comfortable in and having weekly chats with the bishop to make sure you aren’t acting on your feelings and making positive steps toward change like prayer and fasting. Parents don’t want to be in the position where their kid’s sin is spoken over sewing circles. This is an issue. Being forced to live and love with only half your being is wrong and this is exactly what the church promotes.

        • Thumb up 7

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          Just want to mention that having the “I’m gay” realization is no leas damaging as an adult :( Your world literally shatters. I have legit black out moments for weeks from when I finally made the realization and said it aloud.

          And for the record, Utah Mormon is a whole ‘nother breed of Mormon. They’re way more intense in general. It’s as if the super conservative old women from all the churches congregated in one place. I know a lot of dedicated Mormons who dislike/are afraid of Utah Mormons. So maybe things are worse because of location? :(

        • Thumb up 2

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          Exactly. There is a large majority of older members having cases of extreme hate and discrimination. Utah mormons are different, that is very true. Utah is completely immersed in the religion so you grow up knowing the D&C better than the saturday morning cartoon lineup.

        • Thumb up 5

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          Launa you are a strong woman and loved by your A-Camp family. You always have a place with me even though Utah is scary. You’re super brave and I’m happy to have you as a friend.

        • Thumb up 2

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          I’m not condoning what their saying. I understand that the damage of never being able to have a acceptable family is huge. Especially, since religion is such a huge part of a Mormon’s life. I get that being forced to choose between your family and your life is emotionally abusive tactic by the church. And Launa I know that coming out when your older won’t lessen the emotional damage from a life time of extremely hateful rhetoric. But an adult has more resources to cope, financial ones in particular.

          The homelessness teens don’t have the financial resources to care of themselves. And adult could still end up homeless wouldn’t be quite a vulnerable as teenager.

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          I definitely agree. I wasn’t really commenting on what you said, I was just making a statement about how damaging any lifestyle religion can be, no matter the age.

          Teen homelessness and the influence bigotry can have on teens is a huge issue I didn’t mean to make light of.

  6. Thumb up 16

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    As a girl from a Mormon family who was a very faithful Mormon for twenty years, I second a few statements here. Some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet are Mormons. They do a lot of good. A lot of the younger generations are becoming increasingly pro-gay and some of the nicest reactions I’ve ever had to coming out came from mormon people. I know my family loves me and I will be able to bring a partner and kids home at any time without anyone causing a scene.

    That said, the “softer” stance is exactly what it’s always been. The church is battling an image issue and trying to decrease its suicide rate by pushing back against bullying. The leaders of the church are using softer language, but that’s all. The only big change is hearing offical word that being gay is genetic, because growing up I regularly heard apostles say there was no evidence it’s genetic, and my family still believes it’s a choice. They won’t believe anything until the prophet says it (it’s not a rule or fact until said by the prophet. The apostles are respected, but unless backed up, their word isn’t law) especially if it’s on a website that isn’t mormon.org. This doesn’t mean they’ll never accept gay people. We could have another case where, like when they let black people start holding the priesthood, a social issue has caused a change in church law. But I doubt it will be any time soon.

    Being gay is considered a disability. It keeps you from getting properly married, which you need to be, in this life or the next, to get to “heaven” (the Mormon church has an intense, tiered afterlife system I don’t want to get into now. And yes, being an unmarried straight adult is as socially uncomfortable in the church as being gay.) My parents assure me that I can be “healed,” or, if I’m good, can become straight in the afterlife. My mom is still upset I may one day have children (though she’ll “love them anyway!”) and my dad has legit said to me “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good enough father that you wouldn’t want your children to have one.” Also they’re sure I’m not really gay since I’m fairly femme and never “acted gay.”

    It’s hard to battle because, despite all the problematic language, I know my parents are coming from a good place. They’re worried. My mom is honestly devastated because she believes we’ll never see each other again after we die (which makes me even angrier than the church’s stance on homosexuality.)

    TL:DR: Nothing has changed with the official church, though a lot of members are more gay-friendly. This is a campaign to stop bullying. Mormon people tend to be nice. Official doctrine and seemingly sincere church leaders are the problem. Because nothing can be more harmful than sincere, good-hearted bigotry.

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    “…which one hopes will save a solid chunk of heterosexual people from languishing in insecurity and self-doubt while married to partners who are not sexually attracted to them.” HAHA! SO true!

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      That’s kind of condescending. We’re always condemning slut-shaming here, but I can’t see why shaming someone for not having “enough” sexual partners is any better. People can still have a rich and varied sex life with only one partner.

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        I don’t think Amanda’s comment was about them not having enough partners, rather that their entire system for sexuality leads to a sort of relationship monoculture which gives them a very limited opinion on matters of relationships that fall outside of their norm. Why bother listening to people who have NO IDEA what they’re talking about? And the Mormon Church has NO IDEA what they’re talking about outside of the paradigm of (pure) man+woman=bliss for life.

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          I get that, but that’s not what Amanda said. Her comment was pretty much about their lack of partners, and nothing else.

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      Seconded, (or thirded, seeing Rose’s comment.)

      As someone with very complex (a)sexuality*, I’ve felt pressure to be more sexual or sexually inclined than I am.

      No kind of sexuality shaming is ok. I understand Amanda’s frustration at one group’s condemnation/restriction of sexuality, but that in and of itself is a valid argument. The group’s expressed sexuality doesn’t need to come into play; in fact, by grouping that ‘majority of’ them into a certain expressed sexuality, you are only perpetrating the idea of condemnation/restriction of sexuality!

      That’s a wordy sentence, lemme try to make my point a little more clearly:
      -Don’t hate on other people’s sexuality.
      -If someone hates on somebody else’s sexuality, call the hater on it.
      -The hater’s sexuality isn’t the reason you need to call them on their hate.
      -Bringing up the hater’s sexuality means you might end up hating on a sexuality, too, even if you never wanted to do that! (I’m sure you don’t want that, Amanda, I know you’re frustrated with this whole shebang. Me too.)

      Also, talking about the majority of Mormons having a set sexuality based on Mormon principles might seem to lend credence to the idea that sexuality is cut-and-dry. (Or even determined by religion!) Crazy talk, y’all. We are all the specialest of snowflakes.

      In short, the real question is “Why are we letting ANYONE tell us the ins and outs of ANY sexuality not their own?!”

      *Everyone’s sexuality is unique, and I don’t want to imply that some people are more complex, I just mean that mine in particular takes a very long time and several elaborate metaphors to convey to most people.

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        I don’t think the poster was meaning to denigrate alternative sexualities, just that the Mormon (and most Christian) religion tells its members that they have to be pure and chaste until marriage, and that even thinking about sex, let alone exploring their sexuality, is sinful.
        Mormons aren’t virgins or have limited partners because they are asexual or otherwise inclined, it is because their dogma says sex is shameful and should be repressed. Their only concept of sexuality is denial and repression, until they get married.

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          I agree that no denigration was intended.
          But I would direct you to Rose’s comments above. Voicing disagreement to Mormon doctrine (and not chastity/limited partners) wasn’t specific enough.

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          Regardless of the intention, I think the language Amanda used was problematic, and Sidney did a great job of explaining why. A lot of people have great intentions but they end up saying something that inadvertently oppresses or invalidates another group, and we at Autostraddle are (generally) pretty good at pointing that out without being assholes about it.

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    “My mom is honestly devastated because she believes we’ll never see each other again after we die (which makes me even angrier than the church’s stance on homosexuality.)”

    That is so F***ing sad. How can anyone argue the Church is not causing unnecessary harm to the lives of its worshipers? Churches have an incredible power to influence the lives of people who worship in that church, as evidenced by this heart-breaking statement.

    But WAIT- it’s not enough to inflict emotional trauma on LGBT worshipers and their families within the Church- the Mormon Church has gone out of it’s way ($50 million out of its way) to inflict suffering on non-Mormon-worshipers by stripping them of their marriage licenses in CA.

    That’s DELIBERATE infliction of suffering. I don’t care if you’re magic book told you it was okay- injustice is injustice no matter what line of scripture you point to that you think excuses it.

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    It does seem that the Mormon Church has changed little if anything about their stance, and it does sound remarkably similar to the Catholic Church’s official stance, which is “the desire is not sinful, but acting on it is.”

    I think the U.S. Catholic Church is somewhat more lenient on this, in several ways. For one, Catholics tend to be more laid back about following the rules of the Vatican than Mormons are about following the rules of LDS. On the individual level, more of them would probably be able to adapt their views to be properly supportive and understanding if someone they knew came out to them. And on the level of individual parishes, there are many priests and administrators and whole communities who quietly accept their queer friends and admit that Rome is full of malarkey.

    That said, the Catholic Church is doing a lot of damage as well. As a Catholic who a few years ago felt very connected to her church community, now that I think of myself as gay I feel very isolated when I go to mass. I am unsure which of these people (who’ve known me since I was a child) would still view me the same way if I was out to them. I am hurt when I think about the fact that I cannot get married in a Catholic church the way all of my family, cousins, etc., have been. I am frustrated that people remain complacent in following the Pope’s rules, when the best homilies I hear are always about faithfully discerning what is right and standing up for that, even when it’s hard. And when I hear about Christian institutions, whether Catholic or Mormon or whatever, funding anti-gay legislation, I wonder who the hell makes those decisions and if they’ve even understood a single thing about what Jesus was about.

    It mostly makes me sad because when I was growing up, my own parish was such a symbol of diversity and loving cooperation – a place where rich and poor, black and white, old and young all got together to grow closer to God. And now I don’t really feel comfortable there – I only go to mass when I’m home and my parents expect me to go. Queer people are already treated like second-class citizens in every other social realm; it is a shame that in a place supposedly based on love we face only another battle. And it’s hurting everyone – the church loses some of its vitality with every unique person who leaves it.

    tldr: I wish churches represented what they say they represent (love, tolerance).

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      I’m not Catholic, but I feel this exact sentiment towards my own Orthodox Church: “As a Catholic who a few years ago felt very connected to her church community, now that I think of myself as gay I feel very isolated when I go to mass. I am unsure which of these people (who’ve known me since I was a child) would still view me the same way if I was out to them. I am hurt when I think about the fact that I cannot get married in a Catholic church the way all of my family, cousins, etc., have been.”

      I mean, if I were heterosexual, I still may not be a part of my community or marry in the church for secular reasons, but at least I had that choice. Now, regardless of what I or my future spouse would want, that option is automatically denied to me, and it hurts. I think that was the hardest thing for my parents to take when I came out to them – that I wouldn’t be recognized the same way in our own community again. That, and there was so much expectation for me to “carry on the tradition” because my sibling chose to get married in a completely different cultural tradition (keyword: CHOSE).

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        exactly! I have a lot of other issues with the Catholic Church as well, and perhaps regardless of my sexuality I would have stopped attending by now anyway. But it is the fact that I can’t choose whether to be a part of this community – the fact that my identity is already excluded – that is so painful.

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    I am a recovering Momon (10 year since I left the church) and over Thanksgiving I had a conversation with my parents that went exactly like the contents of this article. Their stance is: You can feel gay, as long as you never act on it in any way. They refuse to deal with my queerness, wanting to just “ignore that part” of me and pretend like everything is fine, that they aren’t rejecting an integral part of my identity. I’m just not okay with that. And by saying that they love MOST of me, by saying that I can be gay as long as I never act gay, they are forcing me to make a choice: either I compromise part of my identity and sacrifice my self-respect in order to maintain a pleasant relationship with them, or be the one to reduce communication to holiday phone calls, aka be the bad guy. By taking this stance it puts me in a total no-win situation and instead of them taking responsibility for their actions they are forcing me to make the decision and then acting like I’m totally unreasonable. It’s just as shitty as any other tactic. Not softer. Not nicer. Just differently shitty.

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    Launa, you are so right when you say that Utah mormons are a whole nuther breed! I was raised mo mo in CA and like to think I grew up pretty normal as there were only a handful of other mormons in my high school (the exact reverse in a UT high school). It’s almost like genetic in-breeding. Each generation seems to get more extreme than the last.

    I left the church long before I realized I am gay. I am blessed to have parents who said “you’re our daughter and we will always love you and just want you to be happy.” There is a reason Utah has the highest suicide rate in the country for LGBT youth and it comes from the predominant religion and the religious zealots in it. Their parents kick them out of the house when they come out, or they get bullied at school by classmates who were taught by bigoted parents and church leaders.

    The church can put up a website and send out a press release that it’s “softening it’s stance” on gays, but as little as 2 months ago at their world general conference leaders were speaking to the world about how sinful homosexuality is. If the leaders don’t change, the rest of the church membership won’t either. And thems the facts.

    All us lezzie utahns should meet up sometime!

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    I grew up in Utah, in a very Mormon household. This site has caused an uproar in Utah’s queer community-and more than a few facebook battles on the Utah Pride Center’s page. When I saw this website I was so mad I couldn’t see. However, I am glad that the LDS church created this site, only because such a large percentage of Utah’s teen homeless population identifies as LGBTQ-and were kicked out because of their sexual identity.

    It makes me incredibly angry that this site was made. But, I feel we have to start engaging in conversation for changes to be made. I hate this site, but if it helps to convince some family in Nowheresville, Utah, that they shouldn’t kick their kid out-then I’ll sit with my rage for someone’s safety.

    That said, I’m working on a “response” project to this website, and filming/interviewing queer people who grew up LDS over Winter Break in Utah. We’re looking for people to interview who still believe in the LDS faith, found another faith after they came out, or identify as atheist/agnostic. If you’re interested, email brianne.huntsman (at) gmail

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