The LDS Church released an updated Mormon and Gay website last Tuesday as a resource for members in and out of the LGBTQ community.
Mormon and Gay is an updated version of the website Mormons and Gays, originally released in 2012.
“The new appellation, Mormon and Gay, reflects the reality that a person doesn’t need to choose between these two identities — one can, in fact, be gay and live faithful to the teachings of Christ,” the church news release says.
New features of the website include personal narratives from families, friends and church leaders of those with same-sex attraction. There are also portions of the website with frequently asked questions, explanations of how to understand sexual orientation, tips for families and advice for those dealing with depressive and suicidal thoughts.
Other portions of the website include frequently asked questions, explanations of sexual orientation, tips for parents, guidance for responding to depression and suicide, and information about self-mastery and sexual expression.
USGA president Addison Jenkins, a BYU senior studying geography, thinks the website will be most helpful for parents and ecclesiastical leaders of LGBTQ members. Jenkins was part of a focus group a few months ago when the church was creating the website.
“A week or two ago, I heard of families who are just — they don’t get it. Their response is just not acceptable when it comes to their kid coming out to them,” Jenkins said. “So I think this website hopefully will get them up to speed or bring up the rear end of where unfortunately a lot of people in the Church still are on these issues.”
Marriage and family therapist Darren Johansen has worked with LDS members of the LGBTQ community and their families in his practice. He thinks the website is a great resource for family members to understand their LGBTQ loved ones better.
“It’s a great resource for people to go and understand,” Johansen said. “I think one of the most troubling things for people who are outside — at least in their mind — of the norm in church membership is that they don’t feel understood and they don’t feel loved.”
The website is notably lacking in information on transgender individuals and gender dysphoria. Jenkins thinks the church should be doing more to address the issues faced by those people who are both transgender and Mormon.
“I think trans people — I think — is the epitome of all of those issues because there’s even less direction; less direction on something that’s more critical,” Jenkins said. “Me not knowing where the line is on whether I can date and stuff like that, that’s difficult, and that’s important to me, but it’s not every day I wake up and it’s not every time I use the bathroom and it’s not every time I go to church. But for trans people, your living, breathing, walking reality is a question every minute of the day.”
Jenkins hopes any future guidance from the LDS Church for transgender members will be more specific in addressing their needs.
“In the absence of a revelation or an understanding or a policy like that, we can give more guidance, more direction, more specificity, and also talk about it,” Jenkins said.