This podcast episode is timed to coincide with recent activism among many faithful straight, gay, and allied Latter-day Saints who marched and will march in recent and upcoming PRIDE parades and who are becoming increasingly visible in raising awareness of the hurts and suffering among the LGBT population and the importance for Mormons–leaders as well as all of us in our own wards and stakes–to engage in even more earnest efforts to educate about LGBT issues and to support families and communities in ways that will allow every person to know of God’s (and our) love for them and to feel supported in coming closer to Christ. It is also timed just a few weeks after the release of an important new resource for LDS families with LGBT children, a booklet titled Supportive Families, Healthy Children by Drs. Caitlyn Ryan and Robert A. Rees.
In this episode, Mitch Mayne, an openly gay Latter-day Saint man who is serving as executive secretary in his San Francisco area ward, and Dr. Caitlin Ryan, co-director of the Family Acceptance Project (affiliated with San Francisco State University) and co-author of the above-mentioned booklet, share key insights from their work with the Latter-day Saint community and the Family Acceptance Project’s research into the ways that family support or rejection affects the health and flourishing of LGBT persons. They discuss Mormonism’s good foundations for family support and talk about ways LDS families can always show their love for their LGBT family members even as they may still be hesitant to embrace the idea that homosexuality is part of that person’s true identity. As Dr. Ryan discusses several times in the podcast, even just eliminating “rejecting” behaviors (as opposed to also exhibiting “accepting” ones) can go a long way toward helping avoid the devastating consequences that befall so many homosexual persons (suicide and suicide attempts, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, increased risk of HIV infection, etc.).
This is an important discussion that not only educates (there is SO much more to sexual orientation than who it is someone is sexually attracted to) but also inspires. It is deliberately framed to be a resource to be shared with others as even an early introduction to these issues as they play out in LDS contexts, as well as to direct people to good resources for Mormon families and friends and allies of LGBT persons, as well as alerting all to the broad work and stunning findings made available through the Family Acceptance Project.
Please listen and share your comments below!
Family Acceptance Project, San Francisco State University.
Besides all the wonderful research you can access and learn from, from this site in the publications section you can also download or order copies of the booklet, Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children. And when there, please support the project with a donation!
Family Fellowship–An association of Latter-day Saints striving to help strengthen families with homosexual members.
Talk by Bill Bradshaw, a BYU science professor, on key biological studies on the nature of homosexuality
Just wondering if this was a site run by Mormons. Or voices that are anti- mormon?
The people who operate Mormon Matters and the Open Stories Foundation are certainly not “anti-mormon”.
Dehlin is not really Mormon except in name only. He has simply not yet asked to have his name removed from the rolls but he does not believe the Church is true.
Joanna Brooks is Mormon but she does not agree with the General Authorities — a lot.
I don’t think it’s that black and white. All I know is that he is very humble and has gone through the depths of understanding this church more than most and continues to try to be a part of it, which is inspiring.
Annie, this site is run by Mormons.
Hi Annie- I’m the executive secretary in the Bishopric…I kinda have to be Mormon (and love it, btw!).
Why do you ask Annie? Is there anything in particular about this site that suggests people here are seeking anything but truth?
It seems an obvious question, since a Mormon would certainly be aware that the Lord wants people to repent of sin, not embrace it. The article above would never, I repeat never, be written by Mormon or Moroni. They would call a spade a spade. They would certainly urge those cutting themselves off from the Lord to repent, not support them in their disobedience. P.S. A Mormon really isn’t a Mormon unless he actually agrees with the Lord exactly in all things. The “modern” take on sin being supportable is nothing new, and you ought really to see it for what it is. It’s an old trick, and one that swiftly draws people down to hell.
Another wonderful episode. Mitch and Caitlin, I admire both of you very much for the important work you are doing. The suggestion to bring the pamphlet into the bishop’s office and encourage him to integrate it into the curriculum was great. What other suggestions would you give to LDS members like me who feel a strong desire to show love and acceptance to those LGBT members in my ward and in the church?
You could march for them, Ingrid. I was incredibly moved by the many LDS people who marched for me in many of the Pride parades which took place across the country this summer. I was able to march with the Mormons for Marriage Equality this year in Portland, Oregon. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting experiences of my whole life. One parade official made the statement that no other group received more loud cheers and applause than the Mormons, and I witnessed it. People were moved, both the marchers, and the many bystanders. I walked seeing many in tears. And then speaking about your experience with ward members can be an extremely powerful and effective tool. No doubt it will happen again next year. Also, you could tell your friends what you’ve learned from this podcast, and stick up for the LGBT community when hurtful misinformation comes up in Church meetings. My experience was that toward the end of my activity, it became relentless.
I guess you wouldn’t be interested in hearing from the Lord, who calls you to repentance and salvation. No. I can see you’re not interested in what the Lord has to say.
Hi Ingrid- I’m glad it resonated with you, and thanks for your Christlike understanding on this issue. Mark is right–participating in Pride is a great way to physically demonstrate your understanding of the inclusivity of our Savior’s message. Another action would be to speak up when you hear comments in our meetings that don’t mesh with our Savior’s gospel–to love everyone. Or, you could meet with your bishop and ask him what’s being done on a local level to be inclusive of LGBT saints and their families (we just did a direct mail campaign to inactives in our area–we have about 5 responses and have only begun!). Most of all, though, be a safe space for those who grapple with this–and let people know you are such a place. This is something that affects every ward in every stake on the planet. Knowing there are allies like you inside our faith makes church feel like it’s supposed to feel–a haven and a little piece of our Father’s kingdom here on earth.
Gotta say here that there’s nothing Christlike about endorsing and supporting sin, sin which the Lord himself has called abomination. Has the word repent just gone out of your vocabulary? I assure it, it hasn’t gone out of the Lord’s.
I can tell you what needs to be in your curriculum: the word of God and an understanding of it. You show your love for people who are disobeying the Lord not by accepting their sin, but by urging them to repent. Have you checked with the Lord lately? He’s never changed his mind on that. You either repent, or you are cut off. It doesn’t show love to people to help them continue on their way to eternal damnation. Wake up!
I love, love, love this podcast. It is so important and such a great project to support. I would love to see the Church donate some money towards this project.
You’d love to see the church donate money toward telling people to ignore the Lord and keep on sinning? It’s never going to happen. That’s because President Monson knows the Lord and listens to him; he doesn’t tell the Lord what to do.
I’d like to say this will never happen, but that would be unfair — that’s a hard pill to take. It took Ronald Reagan 4 years before he said the word “AIDS” in public. There’s always hope. The LDS GLTB community is in need of much support, but often too many times the cries for help fall on the ears of the graves of people who are just as dead inside as their works.
Dan Wotherspoon, Mitch Mayne, & Dr. Caitlyn Ryan = Spectacular!
I was feelin’ the need for some Mo Matters in my life today, and found this podcast to be fantastic, and so very important! I am always interested to find so many friends, family, and Ward members who are quietly (and often painfully) dealing with a family member or loved one who is gay and trying to figure out how to deal with that within the structure of the Church. We do need to reach out when comments are made at Church or in social circles that are judgmental and not loving and help others begin to understand. We can help, we need to do better, & love more and a big part of that is educating ourselves on this topic. I love the message of putting the family relationship first with compassion and kindness! Yes, Please!
P.S. Mitch, you didn’t mention this interview when we sat on Pacific Ave. sipping water and diet coke and holding our own Sunday School class last Sunday…(:
Such a great episode! I had the privilege of marching with MBB in Salt Lake. I got a lot of push back when some of my ward members and friends discovered this. The brick wall I typically run into with these discussions is that as long as our doctrine posits that SSA is an affliction (yuck) to be endured only for this mortal life, homosexuality won’t have parity, and all that that encompasses, with heterosexuality. When, in an effort to elicit empathy in these discussions, I ask people to substitute “hetero” for “homo” in their statements and see how that feels, they respond that they don’t have to do that because homosexuality won’t exist in the next life. I feel genuine empathy is IMPOSSIBLE given this context. So Mitch, may I ask you how, or if you answer the question of what your orientation will be in the next life? As a naive, straight ally, I really want to be part of the solution not part of the problem, so any advice is appreciated.
Hi Paula–Yeah, I’ve said before I think there is almost as much stigma attached to coming out as a straight ally within our faith as there is coming out as LGBT–and that makes me kind of sad. But keep going, we need you–and more like you!
First, it’s kind of hard to understand something (LGBT identity in this case) or even respond to it, when you’re not even calling it by the right name. So I get that people don’t understand it, because like my Mom (and even me, for awhile) they’re wedded to this outdated notion that it’s an affliction (or that it’s just about sex), and not a multidimensional part of who we are. And as long as they’re locked into that mindset, you can’t really expect them to go any further.
Fortunately, science has moved beyond that and has shown us that it’s far more complex than just a feeling, it appears as normative part of nature (over 450 animal species exhibit homosexuality in part of their population), and that it cannot successfully be ‘overcome’ through aversion therapy.
As for what my identity will be in the next life: Well, if it’s an identity that appears naturally, as science has proven, then I think it’s anyone’s guess. I would venture to say, though, that if you told your straight friends that in the next life heterosexuality would disappear and they would be gay, that probably wouldn’t feel right to most of them. And that’s kind of how I feel.
More importantly, though, I’m not really sure it matters. What does matter is how people respond to LGBT people *in this life.* Last March, I presented at a Mormon Stories conference and talked about what the real “test” might be wrapped up in the LGBT issue–that really gay people weren’t being given the test, but were the vehicle through which the test was being delivered–and the test, really, is for straight people. So whether or not it exists in the next life is kind of a moot point. What counts is whether or not straight humans will lend equality and inclusion to a segment of society that, for whatever reason, appears to be ‘the least of these’ in THIS life. And if they hold to the assumption that we’ll ‘be made right’ in the next life, it’s kind of hard to get to the notions of inclusion and unconditional love, isn’t it?
Here’s a link to my speech: http://www.mitchmayne.blogspot.com/2012/04/circling-wagons-my-remarks.html
Maybe I’m wrong–but maybe your friends are. Either way, I’d much rather be the gay guy who made a few mistakes trying to make sure everyone feels our Saviors love, than the straight guy who did the opposite.
Thanks for your response and the link to your stellar talk. I will definitely be using the quote from Pres. Uchtdorf in subsequent discussions with my friends…automatic cred when you quote the brethren! Cred I will need when I hand my Bishop a stack of the Ryan/Rees pamphlets =)
Sorry for the late response. I don’t know why I never realized that there would be LDS blogs and have been reading away for the last couple days. I asked if the site was run my mormons because I am one. I am a grad student and mom of two little ones. I have been inactive for many years but not for lack of testimony and am working my way back. I mainly asked because I came across a few blogs that were anti and down right a little nutty. When I asked the question I was overwhelmed but the number of blogs I came across. But I have read some of the content here and have really enjoyed what I have read so far and will be sticking around. Thanks for the response to my question and also for answering.
Btw loved the article, I have a minor in Women & Gender Studies. Found very interesting
Hi Annie! Yeah, there’s some loose wickets out there, to be sure. Such is the nature of the web, methinks. Anyone can have a bully pulpit. This might be a little non-traditional Mormonism in the fact that critical thinking and critical questioning aren’t just encouraged, but welcome. And there’s room for more than one opinion–which is pretty awesome–since I personally believe there is more diversity in our Father’s kingdom than we even have the slightest capacity to imagine in our limited state. Welcome, and if any of us can help at all, don’t hesitate to reach out here or one-on-one!
As a psych and bio majoy I would agree with youi completely that is completely normative aspect of nature. Actually there is much debate about the blurred lines of sexuality and gender (not as clear cut as we would all believe from a scientistic perspective) I have a question for you (I apologize in advance for my ignorance). If I am reading what was written correctly you had stated that you identify as being a homosexual man and you are part of the bishopric in you ward????? *This is when the ignorant part comes in) I don’t know how to preceed in the conversation from this point. I would have assumed that (at least in the past) this would be kept “secret” and if not you would not have been supported to serve in the bishopric.
I have a hard time with this topic because I hold a high reverance to the teachings of Christ as the ONLY judge. I don’t want to speak out against the church but I think they have struggled with that concept and knowing where the line is. I also hate to think there has been any message that has been sent that would indicate or make anyone feel they are anyless important, special, loved, unique or valued less than any other in the eyes of Heavenaly Father. That just kills me. Unconditional love is just that
Hi Annie- Yeah, that’s me–openly gay, priesthood leader in my ward. You can read a bit about me on http://www.mitchmayne.com. The “press coverage” tab is a bit out of date (there have been so many stories in the news) but it will give you an idea of what we’re trying to accomplish here. Basically, I was given this calling because I *am* gay, and have been asked to be a conduit into the LGBT community to help build a bridge between two communities who were damaged during Prop 8 (Mormons and our LGBT brothers and sisters). And I’ve done just that, and will continue to do so.
We’re not rewriting doctrine or policy. In fact, nowhere in our policy manual say that we’re required to excommunicate LGBT members (or even straight members for that matter) even if they are in a relationship. That has, however, become something we culturally do as a faith–but it is a choice local leaders make. (My blog, also linked to from the site, contains many stories of MoHos (Mormons homosexuals) being excommunicated). Here in the bay area, and in the Bay Ward specifically, the doors are open. There is no Bishop’s interview to sit in the pews each week. There is no test to take to be a part of our loving ward family. We now have probably 16-18 LGBT members–some in committed monogamous relationships–who attend regularly.
The way we look at is is this. Our job, as priesthood leaders, is to bring people closer to our Savior. We don’t feel we’re really doing that well if we’re routinely excommunicating people from the church. Even if we think a person has sinned, holding a council on them and stripping them of their ability to pray in church, have visiting and home teachers, partake of the sacrament–would only drive them further from the Savior. All these things–and including being part of a ward family–are things that are designed to help us be better humans. So logically it doesn’t make sense to strip those things from our members. When our actions drive people from the church and make them feel shamed, we do a disservice to them, to our own Mormon family, and to the Savior. So you’re right–we try to practice love as unconditionally as we as fallible humans can.
Happy to chat more if you’d like–you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for the questions–and I seldom take offense. As a gay Mormon, I don’t really get offended very easily…if that were the case, I’d have left long ago. 🙂
Absolutely disagree with marching in gay pride parades. What about touch not the unclean thing? Have you seen what goes on at parades? Find another way to show that you love your family members but this is not a good way.
Wow. Good thing our Savior didn’t have that perspective. There would have been a lot of disappointed lepers.
Glad you’re here to add to the discussion. I have a gay son. How do you suggest I show my love for him. What advice might Jesus give to me and to my son?
I don’t believe marching in a parade shows love. It might show something else, but it is not love.
If a member wanted to open up a house of prostitution, would it be appropriate to go patronize this place as a show of support? Same thing. Repetance should be encouraged.
Totally unfair to batch those things together. These people are not choosing sin, they are choosing love in a meaningful relationship (in most cases). That is unfair to expect these people to be so alone. It isnt about the sex! (I’m an active LDS hetero. and my views on this have expanded without compromising my testimony)
Members truly interested in repenting of this practice should stay away from pride parades and gay bars much as the alcoholic should stay away from bars.
Sometimes members who have SSA recieve little to no fellowship from their ward and stake members. Sometimes the only thing left are their GLBT friends; even if it’s at an event such as pride. Since no one else seems to listen as to what they are feeling inside they express it otherwise. (You can’t have your cake and eat it too.)
Deleting atlernate views does not a good blog make.
Church members who are genuinely interested in repenting of this practice should not go to pride parades or gay bars much as the alcoholic should tay away from bars.
Stay away from bars, not tay.
I loved the discussion. One thing that was not addressed, however, is the issue of how to deal with this issue on an international scale. There is no denying that this is now a very international church, and views on homosexuality vary so widely around the world that it almost seems an impossible task to come to a common approach.
For example, a little more than a week ago I was speaking with a young person from an African nation who is attending school here in the United States. This person has been a member his whole life, and his father has held many leadership callings in his home country. Out of the blue, he said, “I hope you are not offended by my saying this, but I am among those who believe that gays should be killed.” Once I picked my jaw up off the floor and managed to bring my blood pressure down a few dozen points, I engaged him in what I thought was a respectful conversation. However, he is not to be persuaded otherwise, and became very angry and animated about the issue. I think I nearly destroyed his testimony when I told him the Church has somewhat softened its stance on LGBT issues, has a publication called “God Loveth His Children” that addresses it, and that an openly gay man serves in a bishopric in California (thanks Mitch)!
My point is that it may be much harder to move the international Church membership in this direction than the
U.S. members. This may be something that needs to be looked at.
I agree Kate–this is an important GLOBAL issue. We are not a church that is limited to the inter mountain west any longer. And the flip side to your story is cultures where it’s quite acceptable to be gay, for example in some Asian countries. Sadly I think the LGBT issue is among *many* challenges we face as a faith as we continue to grow, and begin to realize that much of how we operate and think today doesn’t work when we broaden our lens to include a world population.
Thanks for bringing this up–I wish I had a better answer for you. That said, we have to walk before we run. And thanks for being an ambassador of what our Savior’s true message is–one of love and inclusion for everyone, including gay individuals (and black ones, too!).
I cannot even get my stake president to move in any action to talking about the issue publicly in church – nor any of my past few bishops. For six years I supplied many ideas and programs which they have not moved on. As one bishop told me, he said that he did not feel it appropriate to talk about them in public forum. Six years of hearing no and you get very agitated when they look at you and say they love you and ask you if you need anything — but never give you what you really need.
The Lord does love homosexuals. That’s why he calls them to repent, so that they might cast off the bonds of sin and rejoice in their salvation. Keeping people from returning to the Lord by endorsing their sin is not the act of someone who loves. It’s the act of the enemy. And a very bitter enemy at that.
The speakers seem to ignore the fact that LDS leaders claim direct inspiration from Christ. How you can believe this and at the same time believe and understand that they are so utterly clueless with regards to LGBT issues is something only a person with a compartmentalized mind can explain.
Anything to the comparison with the history of unfolding understandings prior to the receipt of the 1978 revelation on the subject of priesthood and temple blessings for all and the current unfolding understandings of sexual orientation and gender identity? Mitch addresses this in the episode, along with presenting a pretty broad view of how doctrines and teachings naturally (and rightly) follow new understandings of the world. I’m in basic alignment with him on this. It doesn’t feel strange or make them feel “less than” to me to think that even prophets would follow a learning curve.
I love a line from Sister Joan Chittister, a Catholic nun, who talks about times when questions are being “seeded.” This feels like one of those times to me. No one here is claiming revelation for all of Mormonism, simply expressing where our own spiritual promptings are taking us.
This interview was refreshing. Too often, it seems, certain organizations, such as GLAAD, GLSEN, TWO and so on, engage incessantly in name-calling and harassment, demonizing anyone who does not hold to their political agenda. Hence, adolescents are cut off from their parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, and others who are able to support them.
Have these lobbyists ever consider that they may have had a part to play in gay youth suicides by spreading messages that marginalizes
a student’s family and friends?
Messages such as be silent if you have questions about health risks. Be silent
if your same-sex desires are unwanted. Be silent if you have questions about
whether sexual orientation is mutable. Be silent if you wonder if sexual
orientation is more of a sliding scale than a dichotomy.
Messages such as, “Shut up, be gay, and be
happy. We will not tolerate dissent.”
You’re a bit misinformed. Actually the LGBT community is pretty open to sexual orientation being a sliding scale. That’s why there is a B in there. Bisexual. The LGBT community is very active about talking about health risks and the importance of safe sex.
As far as wanting youth to be happy- that is something they’re guilty of. Studies have shown that someone can’t force away their sexual orientation. You can’t change attraction. It’s emotionally scarring to tell kids that something about them self that they can’t change is evil or wrong. Some parents threaten to be physically violent or kick out their child for being gay. If parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders are going to be un-accepting or abusive, they are unable to be supportive regardless of “lobbyists.” People have been doing damage to gays far before gay rights organizations came to be, that’s WHY they came to be.
My first introduction to any
kind of possible change from SSA came from Exodus, and then it was Evergreen.
Over 6 years I’ve collected information and passed it on to my stake leaders
and several bishops. All of whom have looked at it, but have done nothing with
it. I’ve made every attempt at trying to get my ward and stake leaders to open
up an Evergreen group within our stake, but as the stake president has said
“The Numbers Are Not There”. I hold my church leaders in grave
contempt for hearing about these groups, but never once mentioning it in public
forum. I was told by my last bishop that mentioning it would be ‘inappropriate’.
I know that if I’ve needed it,
others have too. But we are not human according to my stake president, just a
number… the Jews were considered numbers too. I remember well the Pink
Triangle and its meaning; and I wear one as well as placing one on my Facebook
page. There are people who try live faithful to gospel principles who have SSA,
unfortunately they are left to walk alone, and when they can’t take any more
they either leave the church or they kill themselves. If my church leaders
think they can wash their hands of that they are gravely mistaken; they will
answer with their own souls. They will pay… every last one that turned a
blind eye and tried to wash their hands of “us” – people, not
numbers. [Albany, NY Stake]
Well I saw a man today and he looked like you
And I found myself staring like a fool
Until he turned and I had to look away
‘Cause he was just a statue made of clay
Statues made of clay, so pretty and so cheaply made
But they don’t weather well like the strong granite stone
They crumble and they leave you all alone…
Statues Made Of Clay
(Albany, NY Stake)
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