As much as we are discouraged in referring to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who experience same-gender-attraction, as gay Mormons, it is, nonetheless, often the way that they identify themselves. It is this very description, among other things, that has caused discomfort among many faithful members of the Church, after viewing the BYU video "It Gets Better", created to support the on campus LGBT community, to ultimately reject it.

I am one of those. I took the opportunity to discuss my concerns with a very close friend, who has faithfully dealt with same-sex attraction, as a Mormon, who understands the importance of creating a safe space, within the Church, for our brothers and sisters who carry this burden -- to not only feel love and welcomed, but that will also allow them to come to peace with their life's burden. This is a process that often makes everyone involved uncomfortable -- nonetheless, desperately needed.

Before we go any further, let me get this out of the way, right now. I am not anti-gay, nor am I a bigot. I fully support the position of the LDS Church on the issue of homosexuality, feeling that when we as members embrace such an understanding our actions then emulate that of the Savior's.

The Church teaches that all of us are sons and daughters of God and should be honored and respected as such. We reach out to assist people with all of the challenges of life. Those who struggle with same-gender attraction are certainly not excluded from the circle of love and fellowship the Church hopes to provide. 
The defining factor for each of us is that we are children of God, born on this earth for a purpose and with a divine destiny. Our challenge and opportunity is to overcome the temptations and difficulties that lead us away from God. 
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married" (“Why We Do Some of the Things We Do,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 54). LDS Newsroom

I'm not aware of any member of the Church who would not acknowledge how critical it is for those who deal with homosexual feelings, to know that they can find support within the Church, from other members who desire to more fully understand their challenges -- and are also willing to help them bear that burden. And yet, in a desire to be supportive of gospel standards, which were not acknowledged in the BYU video, leaving on a broader scale the intent of the video ambiguous, many faithful members of the Church are left not knowing what the true message of the video campaign is intended to ultimately accomplish.

For some it is simple -- stop the suicide of young Mormons who struggle with feelings of homosexuality. On this, we all can agree. However, for others, the desire that if enough negative, outside pressure is placed on LDS Church leadership, about homosexuality and same-sex marriage policies, change will inevitably have to happen -- ignoring doctrine.

It is my opinion that the latter agenda runs active throughout this particular BYU video campaign, both on and off campus. However I also believe that an even greater "agenda", if you will, can emerge -- and is hoped for by many BYU students, willing to speak out about their experiences with same-sex attraction. And that agenda is the Lord's agenda -- which is for there to be a safe space within the faithful Mormon culture, where members who face the challenge of same-gender attraction can be supported, feel love and find help in creating a fulfilling and joyful life within the gospel of Jesus Christ -- as it should be.

Referring to those who have same-gender attraction, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “We love them as sons and daughters of God. … If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71). 
We believe the standard of morality is clearly defined and applies to all of God’s children. The Church teaches chastity before marriage and complete fidelity within a marriage. Marriage is also defined by God as the union of a man and woman, and we are not at liberty to change that definition.

Although I can't support the overall "It Gets Better" campaign, I do think it's important to give props to the fact that, although not brought out in the video, every BYU student who was involved with the project is currently committed to living the BYU standards of moral conduct. To emphasize just how huge this is, my friend expressed the opinion that, "these standards are more stringent than what the general membership of the Church are required to abide." And stated that, "It is like the gospel on steroids". 

I was also reminded just how difficult it had to have been for this group of 20 brave, young BYU students to allow themselves to be recorded, sharing their very personal feelings about what it's like to deal with homosexuality.  Uncomfortable feelings such as fear of rejection, stereotypical judgments of unclean or unrighteous, and the overall experience of being stripped naked by such exposure, was most likely felt by many of these students in deciding to go public. From that perspective, I honor those who chose to do so, in hopes of a sincere desire to assist in creating a faithful space within the Church, not only for themselves, but for others with SSA, in the wings, too terrified to come out -- until it feels safe.

In my initial quandary about the mixed messaging of this video, and my sincere desire to show love and support, I decided to reach out to Adam White -- a key voice in the "It Gets Better" video, and within USGA. Understanding Same-Gender Attraction is the on campus support group behind the BYU video campaign, (not the producers) -- neither endorsed by BYU. I did this after watching Adam's own video, before calculated clips were extracted to create the specific message of the "It Gets Better" video -- which I found very helpful in my quest to better understand. The same was done with each of the students' personal video that was recorded for this project. What we see in the "It Gets Better" video is a very small part of what was actually shared by these students -- worth watching if you have the time.

Adam was kind enough to respond to my inquiries and has also agreed to allow me to post our, unedited, (except for spelling) correspondence. I felt that this was the best way for you to understand both of our desire to communicate on this issue. Just remember that neither one of us wrote, with the intention of being published. I think you will find this very enlightening, and at the least, worthy of my reason to address this topic:

Hi Adam,

I write a popular, conservative blog, with an LDS audience. After long contemplation I am considering writing a supportive post for the "It Gets Better" video you participated in.

As you know, many members are concerned that the standards of the Church were not brought out in the main video, and yet after watching your personal video, it seems quite clear that your personal desire is to remain faithful to gospel standards where chastity is involved. Also that USGA is a support group hoping to support such a desire. Is that true?

I hope you don't mind my being personal about these things but I feel that it is important to help the general membership better understand what it means to be gay and Mormon.

Just so you know, I do understand.

I guess what I'm trying to get at, is instead of reading what other people are speculating about as to how committed this group of BYU students are to keeping the commandments -- or the "true" intent of USGA -- I'd really like to hear from you personally.

There are many, both inside and outside of the Church, who would like nothing more than to see the Church change its policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I'd also love to hear your thoughts about how you feel.

Have you accepted that God will not change? How do you deal with an agenda that hopes for something different? Any personal thoughts you might share would be very welcome.

Also, if you wouldn't mind addressing the direct reference of "gay Mormon" in relation to what Elder Holland has counseled and taught about true identity. As you know, within the Church, it is discouraged to refer to individuals as "gay".

We are encouraged to use phrases like -- those who struggle with SGA or SSA. We can't say that you are homosexual, or gay, but that you have homosexual tendencies, etc... And yet throughout the entire main video that people are seeing in mass the BYU students are blatant about being "gay".

My friend's interpretation of "gay Mormon" means faithful to the gospel. I like that.

My hope is to try and blast through the concerns about the various "agendas" of a more liberal approach to SGA in the Church, to the huge step this is for members with SGA to create a safe space for living the gospel, openly acknowledging SGA. Do you think this is possible?

I have a very tender space in my heart for all of you and would like to, in some way, speak honestly about it and also represent USGA properly -- and its members. Any help you could offer would be very appreciated.

Thank you, Adam. 



Hi Kathryn,

Thank you for your well articulated message. I've been following the conversation surrounding our video, and I'm so glad somebody finally reached out to the group to understand our intentions instead of just assuming and speculating that we have an angle or an agenda.

The "true" intent of USGA is to create a home and community for gay Mormons on BYU campus, as well as to spread understanding and empathy in the BYU community concerning the topic of homosexuality. Now, some describe their experience as "struggling with SGA/SSA," and some use LGBT terms to describe their experience. Regardless of how an individual describes their experience with homosexuality, USGA is a place for them to find the support they need.

As to your questions, "Have you accepted that God will not change? How do you deal with an agenda that hopes for something different?" The answers will vary depending on who you ask at USGA. All keep the Honor Code. All are trying their best to reconcile their faith and their sexuality. USGA is place where they can do that safely and learn from the experiences of others.

Many at USGA feel it is a false representation of their experience if they used phrases like "struggling with SGA/SSA" because many don't "struggle" with the feelings. They accept their feelings as a part of them, and do not struggle with that. Many feel comfortable using the word "gay" because it better fits the way they experience their sexuality. Now, there are those who do "struggle with SGA/SSA" at USGA too. USGA welcomes all, no matter how they choose to describe their experience.

I think we are creating spaces where we can talk about homosexuality in positive, constructive ways. I think USGA is creating a community of understanding and empathy; that is what we are about.

I hope these thoughts help. Please feel free to ask any other questions that come to mind. Again, thank you for your efforts in representing our group accurately.

Thank you,

Thanks for your honesty, Adam. Your answers are very helpful in clarifying the purpose of USGA.

I'm curious... when the group meets what are the topics discussed to support members? Would you say that members are encouraged, on a regular basis, to believe or have faith that by keeping the commandments that they can be happy and have fulfilling lives within the Church? How is that approached in the group?

I imagine that for many this is difficult to reconcile a life of celibacy, and feeling that the "blessings" of the gospel are being withheld from them. Would you mind sharing how USGA helps to support members in this area? And how do members, in general, reconcile these things?

I hope you don't mind all my questions. I'm sincerely trying to understand.

How would you say that members, like myself, should and could best support members of the Church with SSA feel a part of the fold? How best can we reach out to support you and help you bear this burden?

I know it can't be easy and I know that "gay" Mormons often feel judged unclean simply because they deal with SGA. I know for myself, and I'm sure many members feel the same, but we love you and feel sad that you often suffer from feelings of isolation and depression. Surely God desires that we embrace one another and start acting like children of God -- as we are all His children.

IMO, there should be no safer place that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for those with SGA.


We discuss various facets of the LGBT community. We have had panels on bisexuality, asexuality, transgender individuals, and plan on having more panels like those ones. Various people come to speak to the group. Bill Bradshaw has spoken at our meetings, as well as Carol Lynn Pearson. Also, we have a spirituality night every month; I personally have led discussions on revelation and on faith at USGA. It is a very encouraging and empowering atmosphere, and these different types of meetings have helped members maintain fulfilling lives as Latter-day Saints.

USGA helps members reconcile Church policy and feeling closed off from certain blessings by providing a place where members can hold open conversations with each other about their hopes, fears, reservations, and faith. I'm not sure if there is a general consensus among members as to how reconciliation is achieved. There are wide spectrum of viewpoints at USGA.

I think the most important thing members can do is treat gay members as equals and as brothers and sisters. Often, gay Mormons are pitied under the guise of empathy. While Latter-day Saints don't have to see eye to eye on the issues surrounding homosexuality, hearing perspectives out and respecting the testimonies of gay Latter-day saints spreads understanding and Christlike love. This is the atmosphere that makes gay Mormons feel loved and wanted in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Thank you Adam. Do you have any reservations if I decided to just post our question and answer dialogue? I know it's really causal, but I think, as is, it might be really interesting for others to read.


I think that'd be great! Thank you Kathryn

The reason why I finally decided to come out and address this particular "It Gets Better" video, knowing that some of you, whom I deeply respect, may have initially gushed over it after watching it --- is to hopefully shed greater light on the wider agenda within the fringe of the Church -- the reason why I ultimately decided to not support the campaign.

However I do support those student, with SGA, who desire to live lives faithful to the gospel. Now that's the video I want to see. I'm not okay being made to feel that if I support the leadership of the Church that I am then anti-gay. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am confident that I stand with a multitude of other faithful members of the Church, with a compassionate desire to reach out to embrace our brothers and sisters, who carry the burden of same-gender attraction, and who desire to live the commandments of God -- to help them feel greater love and acceptance within the Church. But I am not willing to promote a campaign that manipulates their message in such a way as to attempt to undermine the commandments of God.

My gay friend explained it to me like this...  it's why kids join gangs. When they can't find a safe place to be heard, feel loved, and have their needs met, they navigate to those who stand ready, with open arms, to tell them that everything will be just fine, they are loved unconditionally, and that they will accept them no matter what choices they make in life. For the lost and vulnerable this is very persuasive. I think my friend hit the nail on the head!

So, to my dear younger brothers and sisters, who are same-gender attracted -- I love you. We love you. There are many members who stand ready to embrace you and try to understand what you experience, in order to help you bear your burden. Just give us a chance.

And yes... it is safe.

Kathryn Skaggs

WBMW latest: Now More than EVER We Need Living Prophets

Important note: In keeping with a desire to provide a positive place for those with SGA, to feel the support of the faithful LDS community, I will strongly moderate comments on this post. You are invited and encouraged to share your words of support -- which these kids really need to hear. This will not be a place to debate any of the more controversial topics mentioned in this post. We will save that for another day.

For a better understanding of the policies and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, relating to the topic of homosexuality -- please visit the LDS Newsroom.

Photo Credit: Spencer Ruiz 

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