Last year, as a sitting Mormon bishop, I came out publicly as an ally to my LGBT sisters and brothers in and outside the church.
In the aftermath of my talk in Salt Lake City apologizing to the LGBT community and LGBT Mormons for the pain that they have gone through and recognizing that all too often that pain has been inflicted in the “house of their friends,” their families, their religious institutions, and their communities, people have asked how I made my journey from an adversary to fence sitter and finally to becoming an ally and advocate.
One of the turning points was when I first began developing personal relationships and friendships with LGBT individuals. For me this came about first in a surprising way. I began watching a television show called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. As is sometimes typical for Mormons on a variety of issues, I was late. I didn’t see it until a year or two ago, when it went into syndication.
What seemed to be a unique twist on the typical makeover show became for me my first significant introduction to the LGBT community. I had never had contact that I knew of or built a friendship with an LGBT person outside of work. The show spoke to me from the start. It had a catchy synth intro that reminded me of the dance grooves we used to club to in the late ’80s when I was at Brigham Young University, where I met my wife for the first time.
For me it was much more than watching five gay men help get straight guys’ act together in grooming, home decor, fashion, culture, and cuisine. It began to create a bond for me to these men. They had a certain synergy that kept me wanting to watch more. I liked them as people. I saw them as individuals expressing their God-given talents and trying to make people’s lives and the world a little bit better. As Carson Kressley, the show’s fashion guru, would often say, it’s not a makeover show, it’s a “make better” show.
-full commentary at Advocate.com
A group of about 150 Mormons quit their church in a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City on Saturday in a rare display of defiance ending decades of disagreement for some over issues ranging from polygamy to gay marriage.
Participants from Utah, Arizona, Idaho and elsewhere gathered in a public park to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism.”
“This feels awesome,” said Alison Lucas, from West Jordan, Utah, who took part in the rally amid soaring temperatures. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage except in a group.”
The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known for its culture of obedience, and the mass ceremony was a seldom-seen act of collective revolt.
After gathering in the park, participants hiked a half-mile up nearby Ensign Peak, scaled in 1847 by church President Brigham Young to survey the spot where his Latter-day Saints would build a city.
At the top, those gathered gave three loud shouts of “Freedom,” cheered, clapped and hugged.
“It’s been a hard journey and this is a symbolic end,” said event organizer Zilpha Larsen, of Lehi, Utah. “I just hope that it boosts people up and helps them feel more comfortable in their decision.”
The church bills itself as the one “true” Christian faith, and its theology promises families eternal relationships among those who remain faithful, sealing those gifts through special religious rites.
Among the reasons cited by those resigning are the church’s political activism against gay marriage and doctrinal teachings that conflict with scientific findings or are perceived as racist or sexist.
via ABS – CBN News.
This weekend, organized contingents of Mormons marched in LGBT pride parades in 8 cities, from New York to Santiago de Chile, marking the high point in an historic season in LDS LGBT history that began with the Mormons Building Bridges Parade in Salt Lake City on June 3.
In Seattle, the Mormons for Marriage Equality contingent counted 55 marchers at the beginning of the Pride parade. As the group made its way down the parade path, an additional 20 Mormons left the sidelines to join, repeating scenes witnessed in Washington, DC, when the parade route became a site for reunions between active Mormons and gay Mormons long estranged from the faith community.
In New York City, 50 gay Mormons and allies marched behind the banner of Affirmation, the nation’s oldest Mormon LGBT group. Some held signs quoting a verse from the Book of Mormon: “All are alike unto God.” Nineteen LDS marchers held the Affirmation banner in Houston, as did an estimated 100 LDS LGBT and allied marchers in Santiago de Chile.
The largest contingent of the weekend gathered in San Francisco, where more than 100 LDS people gathered to march behind the Mormons for Marriage Equality banner, winning the parade’s award for “Absolutely Outrageous” contingent. Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay and holds a leadership position in his San Francisco LDS congregation, offered an opening prayer for the group. “I felt prompted to ask our Father to bless us with the capacity to be ambassadors of His unconditional love,” said Mayne.
-full report by Joanna Brooks at Religion Dispatches
A new wellspring of support will be on display when the annual Pride Parade gets underway Sunday in downtown Seattle. People of faith are coming out for same-sex marriage, speaking with voices and feet, even if their bishops continue to stand against marriage equality.
The Mormon contingent in Seattle’s Pride Parade on Sunday will dress in classic missionary attire of shirts and ties, over which marchers will be wearing “Approve Referendum 74” t-shirts.
“We stand for marriage equality: We don’t stand AGAINST anything, and we are not interested in attacking anyone,” said Scott Holley of Mormons for Marriage Equality. Holley’s church stood against same-sex marriage four years ago and was instrumental in passage of California’s Prop. 8.
The newly formed Catholics for Marriage Equality will be marching nearby in the parade under a big, newly made banner. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has fought against marriage equality, but CME leader Barbara Guzzo is standing her ground and walking her talk.
Mormons Building Bridges came out in their Sunday best and celebrated the LGBT community
Over 300 Mormon allies dropped their bibles and marched in Utah’s Gay Pride parade on Sunday (3 June).
The group Mormons Building Bridges said they wanted to send a message of love to the LGBT community, saying it was compatible with their faith.
-full report: Gay Star News
Jack Denton Reese, a gay teen of LDS background committed suicide on April 22 in Mountain Green, Utah. He was 17 years old.
According to Jack’s boyfriend, Alex Smith, Jack was bullied at school. On April 23, Alex, who didn’t know yet that his boyfriend had taken his life, spoke at a panel about the bullying Jack experienced. The panel was held in connection with the screening of the documentary film, “Bullied.”
Jack attended Morgan and Weber High schools. On April 27, Weber High students attended class in their Sunday best in Jack’s honor. “You’ll always be remembered,” wrote a close friend on the mortuary’s guestbook. “I know you’re looking down on us all right now, telling us all to be ourselves no matter what people say or how harshly they judge. I know it because that’s all you wanted. I love you, Jack. Love forever in our hearts. You’re amazing just the way you are.”
“I remember Jack when he was in our ward and when he would pass the sacrament,” reads another entry. “What a handsome and dedicated young man!”
“How is it possible that on the same day on one side of the country we are being affirmed as gay and Mormon [at the Circling the Wagons Conference] while on the other side another gay Mormon is taking his life?” wrote Randall Thacker, senior vice president with Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons. “How will this suffering ever come to an end?”
read more at Affirmation, Suicide Memorials
b. January 23, 1966
d. January 31, 1998
Jay Lynn Peterson was born on January 23, 1966, in West Valley City, Utah. He was baptized in the LDS Church on May 3, 1975. After high school, Jay served in the US Navy.
On January 31, 1998, Jay was involved in a violent altercation at the Exchange Place, downtown Salt Lake City, with a man who made a derogatory statement about Jay’s sexual orientation. After the altercation, Jay drove to his apartment in the Avenues and committed suicide. He was 32 years old.
Jay is buried at the Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Riverton, Utah.
b. June 26, 1961
d. January 10, 1986.
My Gay LDS cousin Michael J. Green committed suicide on January 10, 1986. He parked his truck outside of a tavern in Clearfield, Utah, where he lived (I don’t think it was a Gay tavern), and shot himself to death in his truck.
Michael was born June 26, 1961 in Ogden, Utah to Ralph Jay Green and Mary Penman. By birth, he was my third cousin through the Beazer line, but then my grandmother Beazer married his grandfather (Ralph Beazer Green) about 1974, after the deaths of their spouses, and so by marriage Michael and I became first cousins. I remember sitting in our grandparents’ new motor home in the summer of 1975, talking about our homosexuality, both of us very confused and terrified. As badly off as I was, I remember he was even worse — he always had huge dark circles under his eyes because he couldn’t sleep at night, so tormented was he about his sexuality, and later we got into a huge fight about it.
After both our grandparents died (his grandfather in March 1976 and my grandmother in June 1976), we never spoke again. He was buried in the Syracuse City Cemetery in Utah on January 15, 1986. I sincerely hope at last he found the peace he never could find here on earth.
– from Affirmation
b. October 26, 1947
d.. December 18, 1971
The son of Gilbert Fay and Lucy Pettingill Lauritzen, Brad G. Lauritzen born in Brigham City, Utah on October 26, 1947.
In 1966, Brad registered in Brigham Young University’s Study Abroad Program and spent a semester in Grenoble, France.
While a student at BYU, Brad became affiliated with a social group for gay people in 1967 and early 1968 that met regularly in the “step down lounge” at the Wilkinson Center. Brad was outed by Donald Attridge, another gay student, in the early spring of 1968. Attridge had turned in a lengthy list of names to Apostle Spencer Kimball after receiving assurances from both BYU’s head of Standards Office, Kenneth Lauritzen (no relation to Brad), and Kimball that those on the list would be “helped” by Kimball.
Instead, Brad was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of a mental institution by his family. He later escaped and ran away to San Francisco, where he committed suicide just before Christmas, on December 18, 1971. He was 24 years old.
– from Affirmation Suicide Memorial