Taking the Long-view: My Response to the New “Mormons and Gays” Website

by Troy Williams

on my LDS mission in Bristol, England, 1991

Troyoni! On my LDS mission in Bristol, England, 1991

My quick response to the official LDS Mormons and Gays site:

Yes, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I’m optimistic.  Harvey Milk taught that when we come out to our family and friends, they have a harder time voting against us. Prejudice melts away in the face of authentic living.  Well, let’s test that theory! Let’s come out bigger.  Let’s all engage LDS Church leaders, shake their hands and share our lives. This website allows an opportunity to do just that.

Yes, it is still packed with deeply offensive language to the LGBTQ community.  No doubt.  It’s exasperating to hear that it’s okay to be gay as long as we don’t do gay.  It’s an insensitive argument that belongs in the last century.  But the website also has many positive elements.

Let’s acknowledge both.

The good news: The LDS Church did not organize in the four referendum states the way they did during Prop 8. In the past four years the Church has publicly endorsed non-discrimination policies. They are also using the term “gay” as a noun for the first time.  They have also changed policies at BYU to welcome LGBT students.  They are also encouraging members not to kick their gay kids out of the home.  This is all good and it represents a change of policy within four years.  That is incredible.

Let’s also acknowledge (especially when we are angry) that there are many, many people within the LDS Church are fighting for positive, progressive change.  They are brave and fierce.  Let’s cheer them onward. Let’s provide resources and support for their success. And also, let’s remember that social change is hard. It’s messy. And there are real lives at stake.  We have to keep engaging.

I’m deeply grateful for the efforts of Mormons Building Bridges.  They are creating real change within their wards and stakes.  Let’s continue to cheer them on the way we did during the Pride Parade last June. Here is a recent RadioActive short feature I did with Erika Munson:

Being gay is an incredible gift from God. We all need to own that.  How will I respond next time I speak to LDS leadership? I’m going to look them in the eyes, shake their hands, tell them I’m gay and invite them into a conversation about my life.  I’m never going to stop being a missionary for my LGBT family.  I’m also never going to settle until LGBT Americans enjoy full federal equality in all 50 states.

One thing I know for sure — there are two things receding in the world today: homophobia and glaciers.  I want to see Latter-day Saints and the LGBT community work to completely eliminate the former and then turn our focus on tackling the bigger social problems together.

Let’s get it on!

About Troy Williams

Troy is currently the public affairs director of KRCL 90.9 FM in Salt Lake City and the executive producer of RadioActive. His work has been featured in The Nation, Interview Magazine, Huffington Post, The Gay Times and OUT Magazine. He also co-wrote the one-woman show, The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon. In 2011 Troy will appear in the new Errol Morris documentary, Tabloid.
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