LGBTQ panelists intersect identity and Mormonism

Photos by Julie OstlerReading Time: 2 minutes

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UVU club Spectrum: Queer Student Alliance and UVU’s Interfaith Student Council presented at their final forum of this semester about faith and how it affects LGBTQ communities in the Classroom Building April 12.

Six diverse panelists talked about how they identify religiously, as well as their timeline for figuring out their gender and sexual identity. They shared their coming out stories in relation to their struggle for acceptance within the LDS Church, and search for empowerment to be in both communities. Some of them just used their first names.

Kelli Potter, who identifies as a transgender woman, says she became an atheist after leaving the Mormon Church 10 years ago. She said that during her time in the Mormon Church, she noticed how the culture was committed to an eternal gender binary and viewed the LGBTQ community as deviant. Potter also talked about the internal disagreements within religious communities.

“I think that the most important thing for religious people to recognize is this — their theology is not telling them to hate gay and trans people, their hatred of gay and trans people is telling them to interpret their theology the way that they are doing it. People who hate will interpret theology to hate,” she said.

Nathan Long, an English education major, said that he could see the authority of the LDS Church adjusting their language in order to accept the LGBTQ community.

“I mean, their doctrine always changes. I think they love ambiguity and that they’re going to change based on social issues,” Long said.

Tynan, a BYU student who identifies as gay and Mormon, talked about his journey of coming to terms with himself and others about his sexual orientation. He said that some days he questions being part of the faith, but he chooses to navigate through both.

He said that during his time in Chile, where he served an LDS mission, he questioned his sexuality. “On an LDS mission you’re never really talking about dating at all. So I was like, ‘maybe I’m not attracted to men anymore.’ I was sort of attracted to some of my companions, but I think I just had this fantasy that I could come home, find a woman, get married in the temple, like the typical Mormon timeline,” he said.

Karen Deysher, UVU program manager of LGBT Student Services and panel facilitator, asked the panelists their view of bad reactions to someone coming out versus a positive interaction to someone coming out.

Tynan said that for him, the bad reactions came from the people who would freeze up and not say anything.

“I just felt distance. The people I feel like had better responses were the ones who were not afraid to ask questions, were not afraid to ask me how I felt. I feel like they cared more because they were asking me more questions. For me that shows a lot of love,” Tynan said.

LGBT Student Services is located in the Liberal Arts building room 126. They also provide a weekly discussion group and Safe Zone Training.

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