Tag Archives: #Becauseofhim

Sincerely, Anonymous

I’ve been staring at the computer screen for days now and have written nothing. I just don’t know where to begin. How do I put these feelings and thoughts into words?

The problem is there is no way for any of you to “understand.” Maybe you can relate, or maybe you can empathize, but how can I help you understand something I can’t even understand myself.

Here it goes.

I’m a girl. I love music. It is everything to me. I’m an artist. I’m clumsy and easily distracted.  I’m a hard worker and always take on way more than I can handle. I love sports. I have a short temper, and I love alone time. I love nature and hope to travel the world. I have high respects for people who are kind, and I’m a sucker for funny people. I’m a girl that has dreams, goals, flaws, a future, a past, AND I just happen to be bisexual.

That is a scary thing to admit. One of my biggest fears was disappointing my parents. What would they think of me if I told them? Could or would they be proud of a bisexual daughter? Does God love His bisexual daughter? They seem like silly questions now. My sexuality does not define me or my actions. It is a part of me, and it is a challenge that I will have to struggle with every day for the rest of my life. But that label does not mean that I have sinned. I am not ashamed of it. And I shouldn’t be. Obviously, there will be specific struggles that I will face as a bisexual Latter-day Saint, but I know that they can’t keep me from living a fulfilling, and gospel-oriented life.

As I’ve learned to accept who I am, I’ve come to understand how infinite God’s love is. He hasn’t left me alone in this. He loves me no matter what, and He knew who He was giving this challenge to. A tough girl who has learned to admit when she needs help. A tough girl who takes every challenge head on. A tough girl who likes to beat the odds. A tough girl who wants to be the best person that she can be. But I’m also a girl that feels insecure and irrelevant sometimes. My sexuality has made me more empathetic and non-judgmental, but I won’t lie and say it hasn’t crippled me in some ways. I hate not being able to understand why I am the way I am. What does this even mean? Why is this one of the challenges God gave me? How am I going to fit in the world? Am I significant, even though I’m broken? This is a time where I just have to trust God, despite all the hurt, insecurity, and doubt. The Savior’s Atonement is infinite and intimate, and I can find grace, mercy, and peace by using it. God loves all of His children and He understands, when no one else can or will.

You know, the world is going to be ugly. People are going to be mean. They’ll disagree. They’ll judge. They’ll share their opinions, no matter how disrespectful and ignorant they are. I know that the world can be cruel. That doesn’t surprise me. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t also beautiful. I’ve met such kind-hearted and supportive people. People that make the world breathtakingly beautiful. People that I see the reflection of Christ in. I haven’t told very many people that I’m bisexual (never really found it necessary to share with more). Only a few close friends and a few immediate family members know. For some (my parents) it was tough for them at first. They were shocked and frustrated. Sad that I had another big, life-long trial to carry on my back. But every single one of them have been so supportive. None of them know what it means, but they’ve shown me grace and love when I couldn’t give that to myself. That support means the world. It makes the temptations a little lighter. That’s something I really encourage and hope for the world. That we can all be supportive and loving with the LGBT community. I don’t expect anyone to understand or to agree, but I do expect a universal and unbiased love.

For the LDS community (and many other churches), we dedicate our lives to be more like Christ. Christ loved and forgave all. He didn’t look at people and see “overweight,” “socially-awkward,” “illiterate,” or even “gay.” He knows we are all sinful and broken, but He sees us in a light of love, a light of compassion and mercy. I wish that was something I saw emulated in our people. My hope is that in time, we can live and think that way.

I am girl. A girl that happens to be bisexual. A girl that is ready for change in the world. A change that requires a change of heart and mind. A change that’ll bring about the BEST world. You in?

Sincerely,

Anonymous

PRESS RELEASE

BYU’s LGBTQ/SSA Student Group Releases New Video: #INeedHimToo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Contact

April 14, 2015                                                                                                Samy Galvez, USGA President

byu.usga@gmail.com


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PROVO, UT  —  Understanding Same Gender Attraction (USGA), Brigham Young University’s unofficial group of LGBTQ/SSA students, this weekend released their new video, “#INeedHimToo.” The video release represents a new chapter in USGA’s dialogue with the public about LGBTQ/SSA students at Brigham Young University. The release is intended to remind the public, BYU students and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that in most ways their LGBTQ/SSA brothers and sisters are just like them. As pointed out in the video, many individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or same-sex attracted are active, believing members of the Mormon Church and hold strong beliefs in God. #INeedHimToo can be viewed here.

“We’re here to open hearts and start a conversation, not to protest,” said USGA President Samy Galvez. “We want to remind our straight brothers and sisters that LGBTQ people are as much a part of the body of Christ as they are. This is not an ‘us versus them’ battle. There is only us; all of us. We hope this message can inspire and uplift all people, while reminding them of the realities of being queer and Mormon.”

Public discourse often portrays religious people and LGBTQ individuals as two separate and mutually exclusive groups. Even the LDS Church’s “Fairness for all” initiative drew clear lines between those seeking to preserve religious liberty or promote gay rights. #INeedHimToo intends to bridge that gap and share perspectives of BYU students who know that being LGBTQ and Mormon are not antithetical.

As of Tuesday at 2 p.m. MT, #INeedHimToo had over 31,500 views on Facebook and YouTube.

To accompany the video release, USGA compiled a meme-filled Buzzfeed list, “27 Reasons LGBTQ People Need Jesus Too.”

About USGA (Understanding Same Gender Attraction) at BYU
USGA is an unofficial group of LGBTQ/SSA BYU students, allies, faculty, and guests seeking to improve the quality of life for LGBTQ individuals in the BYU community.  Founded in 2010, USGA meets weekly in the Provo City Library on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and runs meetings that seek to build faith, foster community, provide opportunities for service, and help educate members and guests about LGBTQ issues. There are 33 members of USGA’s leadership team and weekly meetings typically draw 70 to 90 attendees.

To learn more about USGA, connect with them on Twitter or Facebook and visit their blog.

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I Need Him Too – Video

Today, USGA launches a new video.

I Need Him Too is intended to remind BYU students, Mormons, and people everywhere, that just because someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual, trasngender, queer, or same-sex attracted, does not mean they can’t be spiritual, Mormon, a member of the Church, or believe in God and Jesus Christ.  In the war of rhetoric and emotions over same-sex marriage, and anti-discrimination and religious rights legislation, what is too often lost is the reality that there are people in the middle. Real people. With hopes and dreams just like you. This is not “us” verses “them.” There is no “them.” Gay rights and religious rights are not opposites that need to be balanced.  There is only us. I am not so different from you, and you are not so different from me.

As President Uchtdorf said,

If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.

When you’re done watching the video, if you have a few minutes, take this brief survey to give us feedback on our video and help us better communicate with our audience in the future. Thanks
https://byu.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8vUVS1rVFxtZFlj

Response to Millennial Mormons

Last month, the blog Millennial Mormons posted an article about gay marriage that caused quite a comment firestorm.  They then posted a follow-up article (that can be read in its original form and entirety here) by a different author.  While I appreciate the attempts of both articles, and don’t think either was motivated by any sort of malice or even ambivalence, I found some serious and severe issues with the second article.  The only way I know how to do the article justice is by responding paragraph by paragraph.  The article in its entirety appears below in italics, while my responses are in bolded text.  I have modified some of the formatting.  Because this is essentially two blog posts, it is super-duper long.  Some of my comments can stand alone, but some will make a lot more sense if you read them in the context of the paragraph they are responding to.

All of this is somewhat influenced by my surprise at reading an article entitled “the Church loves gay people, and so does Jesus Christ” that included only one example of evidence as to how the Church “loves” gay people.  Before I get into the actual responses, I’m going to talk a little bit about love and hate.

Love (noun)
1. an intense feeling of deep affection.
“Babies fill parents with of love.”
Synonyms: deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, endearment.

Hate (verb)
1. to feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone).
“The boys hate each other.”
Synonyms: loathe, detest, despise, dislike, abhor, execrate.

Here is my main contention: to love someone or a group of people one must display “an intense feeling of deep affection.” To hate them, one must display “an intense or passionate dislike.”  The Church has referred to the gay community, gay activists, and gay people as adversaries and perverted and warned that their activism will bring about calamities and the very destruction of society as we know it.  In recent years, Apostles have been coupling their strident rhetoric against gay marriage with a reminder to be civil and respectful even with people we disagree with.  Very rarely has it been acknowledged that there are hundreds of thousands of members of the Church who are same-sex attracted or identify as gay or lesbian.  Yes, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS—2% of 15 million is 300,000.  You could fill at least ninety-eight Conference Centers with gay members of the Church and still not have enough room.

So ask yourself, as you read through this post, if you can think of statements, actions, and rhetoric from the Church towards these thousands of our brothers and sisters that display an intense feeling of deep affection.  If you can’t, ask yourself what that would look like.  What does love mean to you? Have you see that from the Church towards gay people?

If you’re pro-gay marriage and our posts make you angry, please remember that we are human just like you are, and we have no desire to hurt you. You can call us wrong, and that’s ok. Whether or not your believe us, I can tell you that we love people regardless of beliefs.

We posted an article about gay marriage the other day. The number of comments, both positive and negative, that we received in response were overwhelming. With the high number of negative comments in mind, I want to make a few things clear.
The church does not “hate gay people”.

First of all, the church is made up of it’s members. So to say that an organization hates any large group of people is a bit ridiculous. I don’t doubt that there are some less-than-Christ-like members of the church who harbor negative feelings toward gay people. I am not one of those people – some of my best friends are gay. Regardless of whether they’re faithful church members, they’re great people and I love them.

First of all, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a hierarchal organization that we Mormons believe is led by a Prophet and Apostles who speak for God on the earth. If the Church was just the sum of its members, we would be a democracy, which we clearly are not.  This institution has a PR department, a legal department, and an HR department—it has procedures, guidelines, and rules, not to mention the doctrine and policies it receives and reveals.  Hate is an emotionally-loaded and vague word.  But, it is entirely plausible to say that an organization or institution can have policies or take actions that are detrimental, harmful, or even hateful towards individuals or groups.This is to say nothing of the countless members of the Church whose opinions on members of the queer/same-sex attracted (SSA) community range from ignorant to downright revulsion (if you don’t believe me, spend fifteen seconds in the comments section of any Deseret News, LDS Living, or Meridian Magazine article on the topic).  Or of the hundreds of families in Utah who have disowned and made homeless their own queer children—abandoning them to the streets.

While I will not say that the Church “hates gay people,” a false negative does not make a positive.  The Church of JESUS CHRIST should LOVE everyone.  Clearly the Church as an institution has had past failings in its ignorance of, approach to, and treatment towards gay people, and the Church as a body of believers has a long way to go in being kind and loving to those that are different. 

The final problem with this paragraph is the tokenizing of “gay people”.  Just because you have a gay friend, a black friend, or a Mormon friend does not mean you are free of prejudice or ignorance or an expert on any minority group.

We don’t hate you for your beliefs, so please don’t hate us for ours. 

Hold the phone.  We don’t hate you for your beliefs.  Really. Truly. Honestly. I don’t hate you. Period.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that we came to Earth to be tested, and that we’ll all face temptations that we must overcome in order to return to our Heavenly Father. Every single member of the church is tempted by things. If I went to my bishop and said I wanted to start smoking Marijuana because I think it would really help my anxiety, he would not be OK with that, and neither would the Lord. That would not mean, however, that my bishop hates me. It simply means that he has my best interests at heart and is aware of the importance of keeping the commandments in this life. If large numbers of the church wanted to start drinking wine at social functions because it would give them a bit more of a buzz, again – church leaders wouldn’t be ok with that. It’s not a matter of love or hate – it’s simply a matter of obedience and commandments.

This paragraph, where to begin?

It is not appropriate to compare being attracted to someone to deciding on a whim to smoke marijuana or drink wine. On a scale of 1 to 10, the appropriateness level is 0. You know what you could compare being attracted to someone to? Being attracted to someone.  The idea of comparing homosexuality to alcoholism or drug use is old and tired (full disclosure, I used to use these exact metaphors as a teenager). They are based on the reduction of same-sex attraction to a solely lustful and physical experience. Being gay or lesbian or same-sex attracted means you’re attracted to members of the same sex. Not just penises. Or abs. Or boobs. Or butts.  I’m attracted to people. Men. Men with souls and hopes and dreams. Men that want to be fathers. Men with beautiful eyes. Men with infectious smiles. Men whose company inspires me to be more selfless and loving and patient.  How similar is that to wanting to smoke marijuana? Zero percent similar.

The Church is free to receive any and every revelation from God it claims to, and it is free to enforce those standards for its members.  And you are free to agree and believe them as you see fit.  But you’re not free to misrepresent, misconstrue, and spread misinformation in the process. So please stop comparing being attracted to someone of the same gender as something either on the same level as or similar to drug or alcohol consumption or addiction.  I’ve never done drugs or drank, but I bet you anyone who has and is also gay, lesbian, or same-sex attracted can assure you they’re not the same type of thing. Sex addiction is real, promiscuity is real, and those are things that afflict both the homosexual and heterosexual populations.  But same-sex attraction is not like a “temptation” to drink. Period. End of story.

In 2009, Salt Lake City became the first city in Utah to offer housing and employment protection for gays and lesbians – an action supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Read more here.) The church openly supported the rights of gays and lesbians to not be discriminated against financially or in terms of housing or employment because of their sexuality. So whether or not you agree with their stance on marriage, you can quite clearly see that the church does not “hate gay people” – it is simply defending our beliefs.

I personally am very grateful that the Church lent its support to the non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City. To say, however, that this is evidence that the Church doesn’t “hate gay people” is a little silly.  What’s important to note here is that the Church didn’t lead on this issue.  People from the queer community had to negotiate and haggle with them to get their support—a simple stamp of approval for a single city where the Church is headquartered.  When similar ordinances were discussed in any other city in the state, or for the statewide ordinance that has been introduced year after year in the Utah legislature, the Church was conspicuously silent.  A one-time, begrudging stamp of approval does not erase an entire history of animosity.

The “Mormon” church defends traditional marriage because we believe in the doctrine of the family.

That’s really all I have to say about that point. Whether you hate us or not for it, we’re just defending our beliefs because we want societies to be as happy and flourishing as they can be. Of course we aren’t perfect, but we should still strive for ideals. 

Defend. Traditional. Doctrine of the Family. Let’s look at these three terms.

  1. Defend

The only impact same-sex marriage has on “traditional” marriage is that it decreases the likelihood that closeted gay men and women will marry opposite-sex spouses to fulfil what they see as a religious commandment—marriages that have failure rates as high as 80% that lead to broken homes and broken hearts.  That right there is reason enough to support same-sex marriage; it quite literally will strengthen “traditional” marriages by making it less likely that a small but specific segment of the population will be getting divorces. 

Other than that, same-sex marriage has no impact on “traditional” marriages and families.  But there are dozens of other things that do have direct implications: teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births for adult women, poverty and joblessness among men, education levels of men and women, etc.  Think for a minute about if the Church put as much effort and resources into mobilizing its members to combat any of these other issues. The positive impact could be really consequential.

So, defending is not really the word you want to use here.  More like distracting from strengthening.

  1. Traditional Marriage

This one is easy.  Let’s take all of scripturedom from 7,000 years ago until just now.  The only times that heterosexual, non-incestual, monogamous marriage (what the Church currently calls “traditional”) was the norm of recorded scripture are 1890–­present (124 years), parts of the New Testament (~100 years), and parts of the Book of Mormon (~900 years that don’t overlap with the NT).  Altogether, that’s 1124 years out of 7,000 years of history.  That’s 16%, if I’m being generous.  Let’s count the ways that 16% of history, most of it relatively recent, count as “traditional”: zero ways.  If you want to get really specific, our model for and concept of marriage, family, and all their appendages essentially comes from mid-century American norms. To call that traditional is irony in the utmost.  Aberration is the word you’re looking for here.

  1. Doctrine of the Family

I covered most of this in the preceding paragraph, but what is exactly our “doctrine of the family”? Since 1995, it’s been semi-officially that we claim that monogamous, heterosexual marriage to be ordained of God. And, anything outside of these bounds is amongst the gravest of sins and cause for excommunication from the Church.  The other 90% of scriptural history is rife with everyone from normal peasants to prophets doing things that would currently get them excommunicated from Church by not obeying the “doctrine of the family.” It’s totally fine to say this is the current doctrine of the family, but don’t pretend it hasn’t changed or is immune to external social pressures.

Same-sex marriage may have dramatic consequences on our religious freedom.

A popular argument among gay marriage advocates is that gay marriage won’t affect anyone but those getting married. I believe this is false. Once gay marriage is legalized, there’s every chance that a legal battle against the church will begin. People may demand that the church marry gay couples in our chapels – then temples. Temples will be shut down before the Lord allows that to happen. The church may be forced to comply or lose its tax-exempt status. THAT is why we aren’t “mixing church and state” – we’re trying to DEFEND what the founding fathers believed about not mixing church and state.

(^ These are my own speculations.)

We aren’t trying to force anyone not to be gay.

lol.

I’m glad you clarified that these are merely speculations.  Because they are 100% demonstrably false.  Let’s look at a list of countries that have already legalized gay marriage:

Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil (2013), France (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), most of Mexico (2013) and England & Wales (2014).

These seventeen countries house a lot of temples.

Netherlands (1), Spain (1), Canada (8), South Africa (1), Sweden (1), Portugal (1), Argentina (2), Denmark (1), Brazil (8), France (1), Uruguay (1), New Zealand (1), most of Mexico (14) and England & Wales (2) including a few under construction.  For a grand total of forty-three temples by my count, or roughly 27% of the operating or under construction temples worldwide.

Combined, these countries have roughly seventy-five years of gay marriage history. 

Let us count how many of these countries (ALL of which have fewer and weaker religious liberty rights than the US, and some of whom have official state religions) have forced or attempted to force LDS clergy to officiate same-sex weddings, meeting houses to be used for said weddings, or for same-sex weddings to happen in temples.

Zero countries. Literally zero.

I could get into the assertion of “that is why we aren’t mixing church and state.”

So I will.

The reason the legal arguments failed to prevent same-sex marriage from happening in the US (which enjoys the strongest religious protections in the world of which I know), is because (wait for it) the legal arguments failed. Literally dozens of states came up with dozens of separate legal briefs, opinions, and state constitutional amendments, and dozens of private organizations submitted amicus briefs.  They all lost. Why? Because religions and churches are free to define whatever they want to define however they claim God sees fit.  But as soon as they want to coerce society into using their definitions and codes of behavior, they need to provide arguments based on fact, logic, reason, research, and science—not faith and belief.  Very few of the arguments against same-sex marriage are anything other than window dressings for the but-God-said-so-a-long-time-ago-so-this-is-how-society-should-be argument. 

This paragraph is awash in double speak.  “We’re afraid that the government will not let our Church practice our religion by forcing the State to accept our definitions and apply them to all of society because we are trying to defend the separation of Church and State that we are ostensibly seeking to usurp.”

Like what actually even?

It sucks for us too.

Trust me when I say that I have every sympathy for gay people wanting to get married who are unable to. Too often in the gay marriage debate, we forget WHY each side is fighting for what they’re fighting for. It’s obvious why gay people would want marriage legalized – I am 100% certain that if I were not a member of the church who believed in the scriptures and the commandments and the power of modern-day prophets, I would believe that too. The church doesn’t want to make people miserable. (Return to that housing issue earlier – we fight for right, regardless of who is relates to.) We just want to stand up for what we believe are eternal truths. We aren’t forcing anyone to not be gay. We aren’t forcing people to do anything, really. We are just asking that marriage be preserved as between a man and a woman. (Especially because we may be forced to do things when gay marriage is legalized.)

Just like we probably won’t change your beliefs, ours will not be changed. So there’s no point fighting and hating each other.

Sucks, eh?

Has a man ever come into your church with a shotgun threatening to shoot you? Have you  gone through “therapy” to rid yourself of your testimony? Have you ever been electrocuted to get you to stop believing what the Spirit has confirmed to you? Have you forced yourself to throw up every time you have a spiritual experience to get them to stop? Have you been disowned and kicked out of your house for telling your parents you’re Mormon? Have you been raped because of your membership in the Church? Have you been beaten to death for your belief in the Book of Mormon? Because those things have happened to gay people and continue to happen to gay people. Those are things that suck.

There is a huge difference between standing up for what you believe in and encouraging your members (who believe you have divine revelation from God) to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to actively preserve a legal statute that discriminates against them. 

Standing up for what you believe in would look like posting your beliefs on Facebook, not attending the wedding of your gay best friends, or voicing your opinion in a discussion at school or amongst a group of friends. 

Actively trying to preserve or change a law (on either side) is not voicing your beliefs, it’s activism.  The queer community owns its activism. They are proud to be known to fight for what they see as their rights, privileges, and obligations.  People who oppose them are just as much activists and shouldn’t be hiding behind the façade of saying they’re just voicing their opinions. 

Finally, it would be accurate to say that the Church is no longer forcing anyone not to be gay.  But it used to.  “Being gay” (meaning you told your Bishop you’re attracted to the same sex) got many people excommunicated back in the day.  BYU’s President Wilkinson once gave a speech telling all the gays at BYU to leave immediately. Students at BYU underwent electro-shock therapy to cure them of their gayness so they could continue going to school.  Not to mention all of the passive-aggression from countless books, Conference talks, and Ensign articles.  The Church is (or was until last Monday) trying to force people not to be able to get married to a same-sex partner.

I am fairly certain gay marriage will soon be legal everywhere. We were taught last General Conference that some things that aren’t pleasing to the Lord will become legal, and we will have to endure them. Let’s just all remember that we’re all human beings with feelings, and we are more than our differing beliefs. Let’s not think that we can’t work together to make the world a better place – to end homelessness, to make those who feel alone feel loved, and to do the whole host of things that we’re probably failing to do.

John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” 

Yes, we all have feelings, even queer people.  I personally would much rather spend my time and energy working to alleviate the objectively vast and varied problems of the world—instead of wondering if I’ll be able to find love, to adopt and raise children, and to have spousal benefits that help me sleep at night. 

And trust me when I say that I wish this wasn’t an issue. It’s exhausting and so painful for both sides. But it has to be one for as long as I believe in defending my religion.

Nope.

It really doesn’t.

You could say “Hey I believe that God wants me to marry someone of the opposite sex and have children and raise them in the Gospel. But I also recognize that is not a valid reason to deny someone the same legal benefits I enjoy from the government under which I reside. I will defend my church’s right to practice and preach as it sees fit, but I won’t use my beliefs to actively try to harm other people by denying them benefits and legal protection. And I will show people whose beliefs and behavior don’t conform with mine love by genuinely being interested in their life, helping them when they’re in need, sharing my deeply held beliefs with them, offering counsel and advice when they want it, and hoping they do the same for me. I can recognize that a diversity of beliefs and experiences can enrich not only my life but other’s live as well—and those beautiful experiences can help me become all the better of a person as I strive to be more like my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.”

It’s not easy. But it really is that simple.

10 Christlike Ways to Help Your Gay Mormon Friends

With the media and the world sending so many different messages about LGBT/same-sex attracted individuals, it can be confusing to know exactly how to help.

The Church has been clear on its stance–the Church-produced site mormonsandgays.org says:

“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

There are many ways to help LGBT/same-sex attracted individuals in the Church without compromising our beliefs in the family and the plan of salvation. Here are 10 ways to help:

1. Let love be your guide.

Always think about how the Savior reached out to everyone in his life. He did not stop talking to anyone because of their sins/temptations/imperfections/qualities. Show interest in your friend’s life and remember that he/she is still the same person as before.

2. Remember that it is ok to be gay/LGBT/same-sex attracted and Mormon.

Being gay means only one thing: that the person is attracted to the same sex. It does not mean they do not believe in Christ, that they hate the Church, or that they plan on marrying someone of the same sex. It is perfectly ok to be gay and still be a member of the Church. In fact, gay/LGBT/same-sex attracted members of the Church bring diversity to our Church and many also have strong testimonies of the Savior and the Church.

3. Ask before making any assumptions. 

Finding out a friend is LGBT/same-sex attracted can be hard. There may be many questions in your head, and you may jump to conclusions unknowingly. Avoid the tendency to jump to any conclusions. If your friend has trusted you enough to talk to you about this, your friend will appreciate that you ask questions and show interest. It may be intimidating to ask questions sometimes–nobody wants to feel like they’re making dumb or insensitive questions; but as long as you show true interest and care, questions will be welcome. That being said, respect the right your friend has to not answer a question.

4. Be proactive in learning about LGBT/same-sex attracted issues.

Google can be your best friend. Use the internet to learn more about different perspectives, but do not let just one website define your whole understanding. Make sure that, whatever your source is, it is not the only one. Again, learning as much as possible will help you be the best ally for your friend.

5. Use proper language.

While there are many words and labels that can be used, and the best one is always the one your friend chooses. Ask your friend how they would like you to talk about it. Some will choose gay, others will choose lesbian, queer, or same-sex attracted. Respect the word your friend has chosen and use it.

6. Don’t be a bystander. 

If you hear anyone using language that is disrespectful or hurtful, make sure you talk to the person and kindly invite them to use different language. The Prophet and Apostles have emphasized that there is no room for bullying or abuse in the Church, so we shouldn’t stand by in these situations.

7. If your friend is in danger, seek help. 

If you feel your friend is at risk of hurting him/herself or others, seek help immediately. There are many lifelines that are specialized in helping those at risk of suicide. It is better to be safe than sorry. Here are a few places where you can find help:

The Trevor Project 

National Suicide Prevention Landline

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

8. Respect your friend’s decisions.

Sometimes your friend might make decisions you may not agree with. This does not mean you should stop talking to your friend, nor does it mean that you can no longer be friends. Use this as an opportunity to ask more questions and understand. Maybe you will change your mind and learn more! Even if you do not agree after talking, always remember that your friend still loves you and will also respect your choices.

9. Become involved. 

There are many ways to serve the LGBT/same-sex attracted community. There are a few Mormon organizations, Affirmation and Northstar (neither are Church-sponsored), that help mormons who are LGBT/same-sex attracted. Mormons Building Bridges is also another group for members who are not LGBT/same-sex attracted but want to help their friends. If you are at BYU or BYU-I you can visit USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction), a student-run organization that meets every Thursday at 7 PM in both campuses. All organizations have friendly people in them who will be more than happy to help you and answer your questions.

10. Share this post! 

Share this post with others who may have questions, and, if you have more questions, feel free to ask away!