Last week, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) unveiled the website,‘‘Mormon and Gay,” that affirms the Church’s “love” for LGB people as long as LGB people remain celibate.
The retooled website is an update from “Mormons and Gays,” released in 2012 on a domain unaffiliated with the church’s official website. It is now now branded and hosted on lds.org and features several videos of gay and lesbian Mormons explaining how they manage to stay Mormon and find fulfillment through celibacy. However, the website fails to highlight the journeys of transgender Mormons. The site’s FAQ section justifies this notable absence on the distinct different between sexual orientation and gender identity, but stressed the importance of inclusion and kindness towards Mormons who are transgender.
Although there has been a mixed reception to the news by advocates of LGBTQ inclusion, Affirmation, an organization that supports LGBTQ Mormons and their families, took on a more positive tone.
“If we were to point to any single part of the site as praiseworthy, it would be its tone,” Affirmation said in a statement. “It models the sorts of conversations that we hope to hear about between LGBTQ+ Mormons and their families and fellow Latter-day Saints.”
So what’s new and different from prior website?
- The renamed title “Mormon and Gay” in singular form serves as recognition that there are people who are Mormon and gay, and these identities are not mutually exclusive.
- Church teaching on “homosexuality” no longer featured prominently, but lives in a section that is superseded by videos about “loving one another.” However, doctrine on sexual orientation and gender identity has not changed.
- According to the website, the church denounced “Conversion Therapy” for the 2nd time since March with a statement that “a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.”
What has NOT changed?
- The new website does not change the Church’s position on same-sex marriage, which it considers it as “apostasy.” Furthermore, the ban on baptism for children of same-sex couples still remains in place.
- The videos featuring LGBTQ Mormons are meant to set examples for LGBTQ church members, but telling LGBTQ people to find fulfillment through a celibate life in order to feel at home at the LDS Church has been anything but accepting.
This coming November, HRC Foundation will be releasing a new guide, Coming Home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the 5th guide in the Coming Home series. The new publication is aimed LGBTQ Mormons who are on the journey toward living fully in their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and in their faith and its traditions. Visit www.hrc.org/religion to learn more.