1. Do you feel the LDS church and its members practice inhumane treatment toward homosexuals?
I think this question would serve a better purpose being broken up into two. The way I’m treated by members of the church isn’t always symmetrical to the way the church treats me.
Almost all of the closest people in my life, the people who love me the most, are members of the church and are devout in its teachings. I would say that those people have never treated me in any way that could be construed as inhumane. My family tree is practically dripping with members of the LDS church, and I consider myself to be a member of the church. My dad has always served in higher auxiliary callings including the office of bishop. Ever since I came out to my family, the love has been overflowing. My family and friends have poured more love into me than I could have ever asked for. They all recognize how real my attractions are and they also recognize how hard it is/has been for me to have them. They have gone above and beyond showing humaneness in regards to this. I feel overall members of the church are humane towards me and my feelings and beliefs. (I’m not disregarding the ones that show hostility towards homosexuals, though. It would be a miracle if a group that had millions of followers didn’t have some that didn’t understand the whole picture.)
The way the church treats me has a different feel to it. It’s hard to pinpoint my feelings towards this because of the enormous size of the church. When I came out to my family my dad was serving, at the time, as my bishop. He was well versed in this matter, having dealt with numerous other members of the ward going through it over the years. He always expressed to me and made it clear that the church recognized, what they synonymously call, my same gender attraction to be real feelings and not choices etc. He made me understand that there is always a place for me in the plan and that Heavenly Father loves me no matter what. His words and even my stake president’s words were always comforting, reassuring, and hopeful. However, it was hard for me to reconcile their words with the fierce battle against proposition eight in California because of the opposition that lied within. What my bishop and stake president were telling me seemed so opposite of what the church was saying/doing to prevent marriage in California. It seems like my local church leaders were not synchronous with the brethren in Salt Lake City.
2. Does the LDS church's stance on homosexuality affect your overall beliefs and opinions of church doctrine?
Yes. I’m 21 years old now, and have spent my whole life as a member of the church. I’m pretty well educated and versed in the church’s doctrine, beliefs, etc. I believe most of them, as well. However, there have been/are times where the disconnect between my orientation and the church’s stance has led me to discount the church’s validity as a whole. The LDS church is the only church to claim to have a living prophet, or in other words a man who speaks face to face with God or Heavenly Father. So when I take that into account and also add in my genuine attraction that I know isn’t wrong, it is hard for me not to have an “all or nothing” attitude toward the church’s validity.
3. Do you feel the LDS church and its teachings are a barrier between you and your family?
This is a hard question for me to answer. I don’t think I could have a better family to deal with this. They’re all very invested in their beliefs to the church. All of my siblings that are of age have been married in the temple and hold callings in the church and believe, without a doubt, in the truthfulness of the gospel. With that in mind I know that my family absolutely loves me and will love me no matter what I decide to do with my attractions. I do, however, know what they want me to do with these attractions, and happiness doesn’t seem available on that path. As of right now there are no barriers between my family and me. I hope it stays that way.
4. What are your overall feelings toward the LDS church?
I love the church and the service they do for many people throughout the world who deserve it. I love watching the people closest to me in life grab an infinite amount of comfort and hope from the church. I love the church’s ability to call people to be better.
5. What would you suggest to the church in order to bridge the gap between its members and the LGBT community?
This question is impossible. I think the church should continue to do whatever Heavenly Father instructs them to do, if that is really what is happening. If they did what the members “wanted” them to do their validity could be discounted entirely. However I do think the church needs to choose their words wisely during conference talks, firesides etc. The recent talk by Elder Packer was devastating to me, only because of the effect I knew it would have on others. But it’s talks like that they need to word wisely in order to save lives. I also think it was unequivocally wrong for them to be so public and giving in the world of politics. It comes down to basic separation of church and state.
6. How would you describe how members of the church treat you when you attend church functions?
Members of the church always treat me very nicely when I’m at church or other activities. It’s as simple as that.
7. In what ways did the beliefs you grew up with prevent you from accepting your sexuality?
For a long time it was impossible for me to understand why I was the way I am. I grew up, from a very young age, thinking I was evil, and impure and in my later teen years I was certain I would live my whole life unloved and alone. These thoughts were terrifying to me and it was almost encouraging for me to suppress it and almost ignore it.
8. Are you a proponent of gay marriage? Why?
Absolutely. It seems inconceivable to me that anyone can think someone is not entitled to that.
9. Do you feel there are adequate resources inside the LDS church for gay members to openly discuss their sexuality?
Not even close. The only open dialogue I ever found about homosexuality in the church was after I came out and started having conversations with my bishop. I searched lds.org and yearned for the topic to come up, in depth, during a lesson or a general priesthood session or even conference. It never did until recently. It wasn’t until I came out that I had been told that I wasn’t evil, impure and abominable. That was 18 long years.
10. Did you ever consider the church's recommended "solution" to live a celibate lifestyle? Why did you reject this option?
Yes. I had actually at one point decided this is what I would do. It stayed that way for about a year. However, increasingly I was seeing my “straight” friends fall in love, get married and even have kids and I knew that I could have that, too. It was a realization that my life would be wasted if I were alone. I plan to be as in love and committed to one person (a man) as my parents are to each other and I can’t wait. I will continue to attend church and live by its teachings. I also plan on treating my relationship with my future husband as if we are going to the temple to be married. That is, if I were in the exact same relationship with a girl, we would be worthy to enter the temple for our marriage.