LGBT and affirming Mormons, as well as LGBT-affirming non-Mormons, gathered this weekend at the Mormon Stories conference in Salt Lake City. The goal of the conference was to create “a space where LGBTQ or SSA (same-sex attraction) individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences.”
The conference included several speakers from within the Mormon tradition, as well as non-Mormons, including Methodist minister Jimmy Creech, and Episcopal Diocese of Utah representative Rev. Mary June Nestler. The Deseret News reported on several highlights of the conference.
One of the most significant moments came when Bishop Kevin Kloosterman of Illinois addressed the conference. He recognized the emotional wounds that the Mormon Church has caused for LGBT individuals and offered an apology. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, Kloosterman said, “I began to see the emotional wounds and scars that many of you have today and I began to ask, ‘Where did you get these wounds?’ And the answer, unfortunately, was in the house of my friends. The straight members of the church have a lot of repenting to do.”
A video and full transcript and further information about Bishop Kloosterman is on the Mormon Stories website.
The Mormon Church has been launching a public image campaign with the tag line, “I’m a Mormon.” This campaign has been in response to negative publicity the church received for its involvement in the California Proposition 8 campaign which revoked marriage equality in the state in 2008.
Besides the “I’m a Mormon” campaign, there are other signs of change from within the denomination. In addition to Kloosterman’s public apology, the Mormon Church has appointed an openly gay man into its leadership ranks. Mitch Mayne was appointed executive secretary in the Bishopric of the Bay Ward of the San Francisco Stake. Mayne is open about being gay and about his call to serve his church.
GLAAD is thankful for the witness of pro-LGBT Mormons like Kloosterman and Mayne and the many others who continue to speak out to make the church a more inclusive place. For more resources for LGBT inclusion in the Mormon Church, we encourage you to visit Mormon Stories, as well as Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.