LGBT Mormons Get Together

Slc_mormon_tempelAs you read this, "hundreds of gay Mormons, their families and friends" are gathered in Salt Lake City, UT, to talk about sexuality at a conference called "Circling The Wagons." According to The Salt Lake Tribune:

The purpose of the conference, sponsored by researcher John Dehlin, along with Mormon Stories and Open Stories Foundation, is "to create a space where LGBTQ or SSA individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences."

What kinds of folks are these LGBT Mormons? A poll conducted by Utah State University found:

… nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the 1,600 respondents had tried to change their orientation, and 86 percent classified church counseling that sought to end their same-sex attraction as not helpful, somewhat harmful or severely harmful.

About a third (29 percent) of the respondents said they remained active in the LDS faith, a little more than a third were inactive (36 percent) and 26 percent asked to have their names removed from the church’s membership rolls.

Still, nearly 70 percent said they believed in God, 52 percent believed in Jesus Christ, and 36 percent believed that LDS Church founder Joseph Smith was "a prophet of God."

Some of the attendees include a former Methodist minister who became an LGBT supporter after some of his congregants came out, as well as:

… author and playwright, Carol Lynn Pearson, retired Brigham Young University microbiology professor Bill Bradshaw, Utah State Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, filmmaker Kendall Wilcox, psychologist Lee Beckstead, as well as Dehlin, who has helped conduct online research within the LDS gay community.

Circling The Wagons is organized by Ms. Pearson's organization "Mormon Stories." Needless to say, it's not affiliated with the LDS Church.


  1. Michael says

    …or I have a great idea. Why don’t we get of the religious BS altogether (no matter the cult) and encourage rational thought and logic so we can make the world a better place for ALL PEOPLE and not be so hell-bent (pun intended) on superstitious nonsense.

  2. Steve says

    Mormonism is a cult. It’s sad how it still has such a death grip on these people and that so many can’t just get up and leave. But given their cult behavior, that also means leaving their entire family and social group behind

  3. Chance says

    Christianity is also a cult. I laugh when I hear my Pentecostal mother talk about how Jehovah’s Witness and LDS are cults, but Christianity isn’t.

    My mom took me being an atheist worse than me being gay.

  4. Steve says

    Mormonism (and JWs too) exhibits far clearer cult-like behavior than any mainstream Christian sect. The social identification with the religion is extremely high. There is great pressure to appear perfect outwardly. Elsewhere, you usually don’t get shunned by everyone for leaving. Except for the pope maybe, there isn’t a leader who pretends to be a prophet from god and whose word everyone must obey. Tithing isn’t as widespread. There aren’t secret rituals outsiders can’t know or witness

    These things exist in some other sects in a basic form, sure, but simply not to the same extent as in the Mormon church.

  5. Brian says

    Not everybody is interested in changing their religious identity completely even though their sexual identity is seen as sin. What this means is that the LDS culture will have to change to become more accepting. Nobody likes irrational hate, so they will have to change their stance and culture.

    As a some who was very Mormon at one time, I do agree it’s best to move on and create a whole new network of friends to form a community of people who don’t think a key aspect of your healthy sexual identity should be expressed. I continue to enjoy many friendships that I had when I was a devout Mormon, but I value them as individuals and not by their religious affiliation.

  6. Wayne says

    Thanks for the post. As a gay man raised Mormon in Chicago and now living in Utah, I can tell you that things are changing for the better vis-a-vis the gay community and the Mormon community.

    Half of my family is Mormon and half are Catholic. I went to an Episcopalian school (mass during the week) and Mormon church services on Sunday. From my perspective, Mormons are the furthest from being a cult. I don’t subscribe to all of their beliefs, but overall they are all the same as other Christian religions… same basic tenants, but like any Christian religion, they use different terminology to explain/express them.

    Things really are getting better for many LGBT people within or surrounded by the Mormon community. I’ve never had a negative reaction to my sexuality from family, friends or co-workers. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve found if I respect them, they respect me.

    I’m happy to see this conference being held since all the negative comments I hear on both sides are usually from people who are ignorant to the others’ lifestyle. Mormons are usually really nice people, and LGBTs are usually really nice people. Mormonism is not a cult, and LGBTs are not perverts. (I hope that wasn’t too longwinded :)

  7. says

    I cannot understand why any gay person would practice Mormonism or Catholicism. To me it is as ridiculous and stupid as it is for a black person to belong to the Republican party. These organizations not only fail to support gay people but they work at every level to destroy, maim and kill gay people everywhere. If you are a gay Mormon or Christian then by all means, step away from these Churches. You will NEVER have credibility as long as you remain and promote such disgusting faiths.

  8. Anti-Atheist says

    Some people do need divinity in their lives and are trying hard to reconcile their sexuality with a system of belief that brings them closer to the Divine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to touch God/the Goddess in whatever way you know how. For some people, this is accomplished through mainstream religions such as Mormonism and Catholicisms. It’s their way of experiencing the mysticism that is necessary to feel powerful connection and love with the world. To all you Godless persons out there: it’s incredibly rude and inhuman to dismiss someone else’s connection to the Divine simply because YOU think it’s harmful to the self or the world. The rest of the world does not live in YOUR Godless brain and soul, so stop trying to make them.

  9. says

    I’m a former Mormon, gay, atheist and I went to this conference. I found it extremely helpful and positive. Not everything in life is as black and white as you’d like to believe. Most of the organizers were themselves not gay and attendees like myself ran the spectrum of belief from atheist to LGBT friendly parents who still attend Mormon churches. One did not have to be currently gay or Mormon to participate.

    As much as I agree that we should just get rid of all the religious BS, the truth is that I’m still a father of 4 children being indoctrinated into the Mormon belief by their mother. Going to a conference like this helps me (and one day hopefully it helps them) deal with the challenges of such an arrangement.

    I’ve been out and gone myself for 6+ years but this was the first time I’ve ever had straight, Mormons or former Mormons tell me that “we acknowledge, love and accept you exactly as you are… no conditions”

    This was a good event every way I look at it.

  10. Rich says


    You make good points. If religions contented themselves with regulating the behavior and thoughts of their communicants, I would agree whole-heartedly. The insistence of these groups that public law and public policy reflect their tenets is where I say that these organizations are toxic and make me devoutly wish for their extinction.

  11. andy says

    It’s criminal the damage this cult does. I feel sorry for gay Mormons but there comes a time when you have to man up and realize THEY’RE JUST NOT INTO YOU. Run, don’t walk away. Yes you may lose your family, friends, and your whole history but it’s worth it to be free. If you can’t do it for yourself, think of all the children that will be literally tortured thru their “therapy”. How can anyone stay in a cult that does that in good conscious? and as far as not being any more a cult than other religions, I beg to differ. If you leave the LDS you are dead to them. All the catholic and protestant churches I know of allow you to stay in contact with family members who leave. It’s downright cruel to disown children because they can’t bring themselves to believe this garbage.

  12. says

    As an American Indian (and I remember visiting cousins in Salt Lake City when I was 8 years old and we weren’t allowed on a bus because we were Native) the saying, “Circle The Wagons” I always find to be a hateful phrase, since everyone knows why those wagons were being circled.

  13. Southern Comfort says

    I was raised Mormon. I got out. Had my name removed after Prop 8. Washed my hands.

    Thing is, ex-Mormons like me place absolutely no pressure on the First Presidency to let go of their anti-gay persecution. They sat on their thumbs until 1978 before they finally decided that “God” sent “revelation” to say that black men could hold the priesthood just like white men to see if that whole “Civil Rights” business from the 60s was actually here to stay. Do you think they would have bothered if all their black members had made a mass exodous and washed their hands?

    With about 17 million members world-wide forking over a tenth of their income, the Mormon church will remain a powerful and affluent adversary to gay rights all over the world until the devout LDS gays, their family and friends make it known to the First Presidency that “God” had better get with the program or they’ll all end up walking, too.

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