In an effort to help those affected by same-sex attraction and their friends and families, the Church has updated resources about this issue on its official website, LDS.org, and will be providing additional training for ward and stake leaders.
“The hardest part of the journey is the two words gay and Mormon coexisting,” said Roger Sanchez, a member of the Church who began experiencing same-sex attraction at a young age.
“There were many sleepless nights spent crying to my Heavenly Father for help. I couldn’t tell anyone because if that ever came out, I would not know how to survive on my own. I assumed I would be alone if they knew the real me.”
Active Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction may face a similar longing for authenticity and fear of rejection, yet often people who care about them don't always know the best way to support them.
When Brother Sanchez told his parents he was gay, it was the hardest thing he had ever done. “My parents expressed their love for me, but it was hard for them,” he said.
Jessyca Fulmer found that coming out and telling people she is gay has been “terrifying but also healing.” She wants to help educate members on the reality of what she and many others deal with and how to best respond and love them.
Tonya Miller has a son who experiences same-sex attraction, and, along with other Church members and leaders, urges people to respond with love. Rather than asking why, she learned to ask, “How can I be the mom that this child of God needs?” She found her answer. “My job as a parent is to love my children, no strings attached.”
The Church acknowledges that Latter-day Saints experience same-sex attraction in a variety of ways. Some strive to remain celibate and others marry. Some identify as gay or lesbian while others do not.
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. Resources include helpful answers to frequently asked questions, tips for parents, new videos, and first-hand accounts from gay members, spouses, family, and ecclesiastical leaders.
Translations of two sections of the website — Church Teachings and Frequently Asked Questions — as well as the Same-Sex Attraction entry in Gospel Topics are in progress for Spanish, Portuguese, and 35 other languages.
Church leaders hope members will use the content — which provides vocabulary and a foundation for healthy dialog between members, families and leaders — as a platform for personal revelation.
The updated resource “offers a place where the people whose lives are impacted by attraction to the same sex can find inspiration to work through difficult challenges while remaining faithful to Church teachings,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“‘Mormon and Gay’ does not offer a comprehensive explanation of everything related to same-sex attraction,” he said, “but it does reflect the feelings of Church leaders as to how we should treat each other as part of the human family.”
“The hardest part continues to be finding a place in the Church,” writes Brother Sanchez. “But I’m here to stay. I’m here to figure it out. I stay because this is the truth. I’m living proof that ‘gay’ and ‘Mormon’ can coexist.”
Training for leaders
The Church will provide additional training to ward and stake leaders, urging them to show love and understanding for members who experience attraction to the same sex.
“As a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a video on MormonandGay.lds.org. “Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
“There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has stated. “But what is changing — and what needs to change — is helping Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.”