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300 Gay Mormons Meet in Salt Lake City Conference

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2011

In the same weekend in which about 70 people attended the annual convention for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in Phoenix which included a very large contingent of people associated with the Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International as well as other LDS church members, about 300 people attended a three-day conference in a Salt Lake City church to discuss the issues surrounding gay Mormons. The conference, held at First Baptist Church, featured author and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson, Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, researcher John Dehlin, filmmaker Kendall Wilcox, Faith in Action’s Jimmy Creech, and gay psychologist Lee Beckstead. The conference was organized by Mormon Stories, which is not affiliated with the LDS church, and was intended to “build bridges between all who identify as Mormon,” at task which Beakstead said he found difficult:

During the Saturday morning session, Dr. Lee Beckstead, a Salt Lake therapist whose research has focused on resolving sexual, social and religious conflicts, said Mormons with same-gender attraction often feel torn apart by individuals urging them to “get off the fence — to be gay or be Mormon,” suggesting that one can’t be both.

Beckstead said either choice is painful.

“You can’t cut off a part of yourself and not do harm — even if you’re doing it to please God, or parents, or family or friends,” he said. While Beckstead said that he personally had a hard time being both gay and Mormon, the same may not be true for others.

“My resolution may not be your resolution,” he said, urging conferencegoers to “keep exploring for yourself what your truth is, what is right for you. That is where you will find your happiness.”

The Salt Lake Tribune (no link, although that may change soon) reports that Kevin Kloosterman, an LDS bishop from Illinois described the treatment of gays by the church as “an atrocity” and personally apologized, although he clarified that he was only speaking for himself and not the church. But he added that “straight members of the church have a lot of repenting to do.”

Comments

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Scout
November 8th, 2011 | LINK

I wish the gay mormons the very best of luck. Life is probably not terribly easy for them. :(

cowboy
November 8th, 2011 | LINK

The conference came too late for some. Since Halloween, there has been two young Mormon men who have taken their own lives near where I live. One was the son of an LDS Bishop and just last weekend this young man’s best friend was found hanging in the family’s garage.

We can only speculate. Privacy dictates we give the two grieving families a buffer of respect.

But, we need to get to these young people. The It-gets-Better campaign maybe didn’t quite hit the right chords with everyone.

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