Friday, September 17, 2021

Life on Purpose program is starting next week!


"Becky shares simple tools that allow us to take charge of our minds and emotions. Powerful, life-changing concepts that help us break through walls and upgrade our relationships, our thoughts, our moods, and the Heavenly inspiration we receive. This Life on Purpose program has truly changed my life and my relationship with my Heavenly Parents and my Jesus! I am so grateful!" - Cay


The Second Coming is getting closer. There is a lot going on.


Fear, confusion, mental health struggles, exhaustion. The adversary seems to be working overtime. Many are feeling overwhelmed and stuck and don't know what to do next.


As a faith-based mentor, I have never seen a greater need than now for the tools the Life on Purpose program teaches - to manage and upgrade our own thoughts, emotions, relationships, inspiration, order, habits and self-mastery, and to overcome obstacles to accomplish what we feel called to do, whether in or out of our home, or both.


We're starting on Saturday, September 25.


Click the link to check out the program and register.

There's a deep discount through Tuesday, Sept 21 and some amazing bonuses!

If you're a faith-based person, I invite you to check in with God to see if this program feels right for you. If it does, I'm excited to have you join us! It's going to be an amazing ten weeks!

"Becky's faith-based mentoring program has given me access to tools and reprogramming new habits in a way I have never experienced in any other self-improvement program I have taken. Her Progress Tracker is my planner going forward forever. I love it. The goal posters have pushed me to break through hang-ups about goals in the past and helped me realize the accomplishment. It is a powerful part of the program. A better understanding of how to connect with heaven and hear Them has changed my perspective of those who live on the other side of the veil and I have learned through letters to heaven and heaven journaling they are closer than I ever realized and learning how to hear and receive messages of strength and encouragement from them has been such a blessing in my life. Becky herself is such an inspired and fun leader. Her happiness is contagious and her spirit is deeply touching. I love the changes I am making in my future from being involved in the Life on Purpose training." - Vicki


Thursday, July 8, 2021

$50 off Class for LDS Parents of LGBTQ Kids (Starts next week!)


"When my son first came out in 2007, I searched high and low for support, answers, anything that would help me reconcile my testimony of the church with my son's reality. My cognitive dissonance was intense and painful. My son and my marriage suffered because of this. If someone like Becky, someone who was active in church who also had a gay child, had been around mentoring parents in 2007, my whole family would have navigated the last 14 years a LOT better. I would have paid triple what she's charging. She is far more qualified to coach/mentor LDS parents of LGBTQ kids than the professional therapist I saw for six months (who had zero experience in the LDS-LGBTQ world) and I paid over $2000 for that therapy." 

- Carol C. 


Months ago, I started feeling prompted to create this class. It's the class I wish I could have taken when my son first came out as gay. 


There is a lot of pain, confusion, and intense emotion in this community. 


As a faith-based mentor and life coach, I'd love to support you with hope, support, resources, and tools as you navigate your journey and support your LGBTQ child in theirs. 


I am donating 15% of the proceeds to Flourish Therapy, a cause near and dear to my heart.


Click here for details and registration.


We start NEXT WEEK, Thursday, July 15, and we go for five weeks. 


You get ten hours of quality trainings that can help you find more peace, hope, clarity, support, and personal revelation on your path. 


The class is on sale for $50 off! Now only $147. 


Reach out if you have any questions about the course or have a financial need for a scholarship. 


Click here to register. 



Hugs, 


Becky 



P.S. If this course doesn't apply to you, but to someone you know, please forward this to them. Countless parents have reached out to me feeling isolated and desperate for support and resources. This class may be the lifeline they are looking for.


Art is "Jesus Said Love Everyone" by J. Kirk Richards and is used by permission.


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"When my 13-year-old came out as transgender, I was totally thrown off my game.  Everything in me resisted this as reality.  I knew I needed education and support but was afraid of what that would look like.  Would I be pushed to come to a certain conclusion?  Would I be looked down upon and judged as unsupportive?  Would I be shamed for my ignorance or ingrained bias?  I was relieved when Becky had an attitude of being with me wherever I was in my journey and wherever it would take me.  Feeling loved and accepted right where I was gave me the safety I needed to open my heart, learn, and face this new reality.  Becky practices what she preaches: to love."


- Sara



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Post #10 - (Part 2 - Continued from Part 1)



(Continued from Part 1)

4) CONTAGION
Past: The church used to teach that being gay was contagious so it was dangerous to be around gay people. That accepting homosexuality as a normal experience for a certain percentage of society would influence straight people to become gay. And that if gay marriage was legalized, it would hurt straight marriage and depopulate the nation. (It makes sense to be scared of gay marriage if you truly believed that our nation would cease to exist. That would scare me too.)
Now that gay marriage has been legal for five years, I can assure you that my delightful neighbors, two doors down the street from us, who are in a gay marriage, aren’t hurting my marriage at all. In fact, my marriage is as happy and healthy as ever. My marriage stands on its own and I don’t need to disparage anyone’s gay marriage for me to have a wonderful straight marriage. We also see that plenty of straight people keep having babies so the fear of depopulating our nation is put to rest as well.
Present: M. Russell Ballard emphasized keeping our LGBTQ siblings close and welcoming them in our congregations, rather than rejecting or avoiding them: “We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord.” (“Questions and Answers,” BYU Devotional, Nov. 14, 2017)
I’m not denying the possibility that some young people may experiment as they’re figuring out their sexual orientation or gender identity, but that’s different from the LGBTQ people I know and love who did not become that way from being influenced by other LGBTQ people. They were all raised around straight people, and their family’s straightness wasn’t contagious to them. Either way, sexuality isn’t contagious.
5) CHURCH’S TREATMENT OF PEOPLE COMING OUT AS GAY.
Past: When my friend Tom Christofferson, the gay brother of the apostle, D. Todd Christofferson, came out as gay in the 1980’s, the norm was for members to be excommunicated just for being gay. (You can read Tom’s story in his book “That We May Be One”: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family published by Deseret Book.)
Present: Now a person can be openly gay and be an active and worthy member of the church. “The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior. People who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual can make and keep covenants with God and fully and worthily participate in the Church. … Identifying [this way] is not a sin and does not prohibit one from participating in the Church, holding callings, or attending the temple.” (“Same-Sex Attraction,” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/.../gospel.../same-sex attraction?lang=eng)
Speaking of the importance of LGBTQ people feeling supported, Debra Oaks Coe, a trainer in the topic of suicide prevention, mentioned how schools that have clubs supporting LGBTQ students have reduced suicide rates and other positive benefits:
“Dr. Alli Martin, who wrote her doctoral thesis on this topic, shared with me that researchers have found that schools with active gay-straight-alliance clubs (GSAs) have overall better climates than those without GSAs. Schools with GSAs also have decreased risk of suicidality and suicide attempts, dropping out, and drug and alcohol abuse. One common finding in this body of research is that these outcomes benefit all students, not just LGBTQ students. …
“This finding illustrates the relationship between having a GSA in a school and improved school climate, regardless of whether a student is a member of the club. While these clubs improve the climate for all youth at a school, they are of particular importance for multi-marginalized youth.” (Quoted in Listen, Learn, and Love: Embracing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints by Richard Ostler)
Now that we’ve looked at the five C’s, let me reiterate that I believe that our leaders have been doing their best to figure out a complex topic. I personally also held a lot of the past beliefs I mentioned until I discovered my son is gay, started understanding his church-related pain and trauma, and I started researching this topic in depth. I think of culture like a fishbowl - it’s the water you swim in, the air, the food, the environment, and it is not easy to question the culture and beliefs you’ve always held as true. So I do my best to give loads of grace to leaders whom I believe are doing their best. And I love that we are a church that’s an ongoing restoration that makes positive changes over time.
Here’s an interesting parallel. During the time period when our gay members were taught they could change, mainstream Christianity was going through a similar movement called “ex-gay ministries” where many people perpetuated the myth that conversion therapy works to make gay people straight. As I studied the history of this movement both in and out of our church, it helped me give grace to our leaders, realizing that misinformed people misinform other people. I’ve been misinformed by past, harmful teachings and I’ve misinformed other people by passing on those teachings. (I’ve since apologized to my son and some of my seminary students who later came out as LGBTQ.)
Justin Lee, an Evangelical Christian author, tells his story of being convinced that ex-gay conversion therapy made gay people straight. He wanted to believe it and tried for years to change. Along with other gay people he knew who tried conversion therapy, eventually, he admitted that it didn’t work after all. Justin interviewed one of the leaders (a gay man) of a large ex-gay ministry on his YouTube channel who said that 99.9% of the time conversion therapy doesn’t work. Justin has taught me a lot about giving compassion, grace, and forgiveness about this topic.
(You can read Justin’s story in his book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate.
As the body of research about LGBTQ people keeps growing, it brings to mind something M. Russell Ballard said:
“It is important to remember that I am a General Authority, but that does not make me an authority in general! My calling and life experiences allow me to respond to certain types of questions. There are other types of questions that require an expert in a specific subject matter. This is exactly what I do when I need an answer to such questions: I seek help from others, including those with degrees and expertise in such fields.”
Professionals with “degrees and expertise in such fields” of biology and mental health best practices for LGBTQ people are producing more research and answers as time goes on. I’m glad President Ballard admonished us to seek help from experts. Because LGBTQ people have higher risks for depression and suicidal ideation, utilizing mental health experts is wise and can even save lives.
When we see how significantly these and other teachings have changed over the years about LGBTQ people, and how much harm some of those teachings have caused, I believe that we’ll likely see more changes in the future, just as we have seen in the past.
All of this has motivated me even more deeply to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s charge to seek personal revelation. I know many other LGBTQ people and their parents have sought and received the reassuring comfort that God loves them completely just as they are, and have received peace-giving guidance for their individual paths. Personal revelation is how the restoration began through a young boy and is a beautiful part of the ongoing restoration. Personal revelation invigorates me.
President Russell M. Nelson said: “What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? … Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! … You don’t have to wonder about what is true. … Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true. I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation..” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018).
I know in the deepest part of my soul that our Heavenly Parents and Savior LOVE and ADORE their LGBTQ children. I know They want those children and the rest of us to follow President Nelson’s invitation to seek personal revelation to find answers to our questions, and I know They want to speak to us.
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To below to purchase any of the books I mentioned in this post:
That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon's Perspective on Faith and Family by Tom Christofferson
Listen, Learn, and Love: Embracing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints by Richard Ostler
Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee
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For anyone interested in a more thorough study of the changes in teachings about LGBTQ people from the past to the present, here are two quote documents.
The first document is quotes of current teachings compiled by Richard Ostler: “Perspectives on Ministering to
LGBTQ Church Members.” Many of the current quotes in this post came from this document. https://www.dropbox.com/.../11.10.20%20LGBTQ...
The second document is quotes of past teachings compiled by Kyle Ashworth: “On the Record: A Chronology of LGBTQ+ Messaging”
(Trigger warning: These quotes were painful for me to read, and if you’re a person who has already experienced church-related trauma, reading these quotes will likely be triggering. Even though it was heavy, I’m glad I read the quotes so I can empathize with the pain of LGBTQ members (thus keeping my baptismal covenant to mourn, bear, and comfort), better understand our history, and appreciate the positive changes our church has been making over time. I read them over a year ago and more quotes have been added since. Please use your own discretion.)
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This is part of a series of educational posts in June (Pride month) to answer common questions I hear about the LGBTQ-LDS intersection. You can check my page for more posts in the series.
Feel free to share any posts you resonate with.
I hit the 5K limit of Facebook friends, so if you want to see these posts, you can “follow” me on Facebook instead of sending a friend request. Or follow me on Instagram @purposedrivenmentoring
I welcome RESPECTFUL comments and discussions. Any derogatory comments about our LGBTQ siblings or the church will be deleted.

Post #10 (Part 1) - What church teachings have changed over time about LGBTQ people? (The five C’s)


Q - What church teachings have changed over time about LGBTQ people? (The five C’s)


A - Latter-day Saint teachings about LGBTQ people have changed significantly over the years.

First, I want to celebrate the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is part of an ongoing restoration, that the ninth Article of Faith is alive and well, and that our church makes positive changes over time. That’s invigorating and exciting to me. It’s one of the things I love about our church. It’s one way we are a “living church” (see D&C 1:30).
President Russell M. Nelson has said, “We are witnesses to the process of restoration. If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There’s much more to come. … Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It’s going to be exciting.” (LDS Living, Oct. 31, 2018)
Before we talk about the five C’s of LGBTQ teachings, let’s look at how our church’s teachings have changed in positive ways with various topics like black people and birth control :
Black people:
Past: In the past, black people weren’t allowed priesthood or temple blessings or mixed-race marriages.
Present: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”
Birth control:
Past: The church taught that women and their offspring would be cursed and wiped from the nation if they used the devilish art of birth control.
Present: “The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife. … Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple.”
Personally, I am thrilled about the positive changes in teachings that have come with these topics and others.
Some may see changes in teachings over time and think the church can’t be led by God. I have received my own personal revelation that this church is led by God AND that the church isn’t yet perfect. How could any church possibly be perfect? We are all humans and the only perfect person on this earth was Christ. I believe our leaders are doing their best to align with God’s will AND I believe they aren’t perfect. And it builds my hope and faith to see the positive changes our church has made over time.
Here are some examples of church leaders acknowledging that neither they nor their teachings are perfect.
M. Russell Ballard said: "Too many people think Church leaders and members should be perfect or nearly perfect … Our leaders have the best intentions, but sometimes we make mistakes.” ("God Is at the Helm." Oct 2015 General Conference)
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.” ("Come Join With Us." Oct 2013 General Conference)
Bruce R. McConkie, soon after the lifting of the priesthood and temple ban for black people said: “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.” (“All Are Alike Unto God,” BYU Address, August 18, 1978)
Dallin H. Oaks, in the 2018 “Be One Celebration” which honored 40 years since the lifting of the priesthood and temple ban for black people, said: “I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them.” (2018 Be One Celebration)
Brigham Young said: "I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church that is perfect in its fullness. ... We are not capacitated to throw off in one day all our traditions, and our prepossessed feelings and notions, but have to do it little by little." (Journal of Discourses 2:309-317.)
Wait a minute. If our leaders and teachings aren’t always perfect, can our church still be led by God? Yes. Do you know of any perfect organization in the entire history of the world? I sure don’t. Because they are all led by human beings.
I respect, honor, and trust people more when they admit that they make mistakes like the quotes above. Believing that leaders are humans doing their best helps me give them grace. I certainly need grace myself.
So knowing that we are part of an ongoing restoration and that it’s a good thing to make positive changes over time, let’s look at the five C’s: Choice, Cause, Cure, Contagion, and the Church’s treatment of a person coming out.
In summary, our church used to teach that being gay was evil and was a choice, that the cause of being gay was either bad parenting, sexual abuse, or sin, that the cure was intense righteousness and having a mixed-orientation marriage, that being gay was contagious, and that if someone came out as gay, they used to be ex-communicated. Let’s look at each of these teachings more deeply both in the past and present.
(Trigger warning: If you’re an LGBTQ person who has experienced church-related trauma, reading some of the past teachings below may trigger more trauma.)
1) CHOICE.
Past: The church used to teach that being gay was a choice. (I covered the topic of choice in depth in post #1.)
Present: M. Russell Ballard taught that people don’t choose to have same-sex attraction: “Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that the experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin but acting on it is. Even though individuals DO NOT CHOOSE to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including [those with same-sex attraction].” (M. Russell Ballard, “The Lord Needs You Now!”, Ensign, September 2015, emphasis added).
2) CAUSE
Past: The church used to teach that homosexuality was caused by poor parenting (absent fathers and overbearing mothers), sexual abuse, or sin like pornography or masturbation.
The church no longer teaches that any of those things cause someone to be gay. Let’s unpack those reasons a bit. First, my gay son was raised in the same family as his four siblings who aren’t gay, we parented them all in similar ways, and we’re really loving parents, so that reason doesn’t make sense to me. Second, our son wasn’t sexually abused and many other gay people weren’t either. Many people who were sexually abused are straight, so that reason doesn’t make sense to me either.
And the last reason, sin: I’m good friends with several current and former stake presidency members. We’ve had discussions about how the vast majority of young single adult males in their stakes (and quite a large number of females) struggle with pornography use. So if pornography causes homosexuality, the vast majority would be gay. That’s not the case so that argument doesn’t hold up to me either.
Present: Dallin H. Oaks said: “The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction.” (Source: Interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: ‘Same-Gender Attraction,” 2006, Newsroom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
More and more scientific research is explaining the biology of being gay. There are genetics and epigenetics involved. Also, over 1,500 animal species have been found to mate with their own gender. Since God created all those animals, that’s a good indication to me that being gay is a natural-occurring experience for a minority of many species, including humans, that it’s not a choice and is not evil. (See this document for a brief overview of the anatomical and neurological processes that determine sexual orientation: https://www.dropbox.com/.../Sexual%20Orientation%20Not...)
3) CURE
Past: The church used to teach that gay people would become straight through prayer combined with extreme righteous living, marrying a person of the opposite sex, avoiding contact with other LGBTQ people, and conversion/reparative therapy which sometimes included exposure to pornography with electric shock therapy.
Present: The Church no longer teaches that someone can change their sexual orientation. “[A] change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/.../gay/individuals...)
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes ‘conversion therapy’ and our therapists do not practice it.” (LDS Newsroom, “Church Continues to Oppose Conversion Therapy,” Oct. 25, 2019)
Jeffrey R. Holland said: “[T]his son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would. But little by little, his heart changed.” (““Behold Thy Mother,” Oct 2015 General Conference)
Dallin H. Oaks said: “We definitely do not recommend [heterosexual] marriage as a solution to same-gender feelings. ... In times past, decades ago, there were some practices to that effect. We have eradicated them in the Church now.” (“Tribtalk interview with Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Jan. 29, 2015, minute 17:30 - 17:56 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIJ6gL_xc-M)

(Continued in Part 2)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Post #9 - Why all the labels? Straight people don't use labels. And what do all these letters mean, anyway?


Q - Why all the labels? Straight people don’t use labels. And what do all these letters mean, anyway?


A - You’re right that straight people don’t need to label themselves or to come out because in our heteronormative culture, people assume you’re straight and treat you as such unless you let them know otherwise.

The Church’s website supports people choosing their own labels:
“People who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual can make and keep covenants with God and fully and worthily participate in the Church. Identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin and does not prohibit one from participating in the Church, holding callings, or attending the temple.”
(Source: “Same-Sex Attraction,” Gospel Topics, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Richard Ostler shared his thoughts about labels in his book Listen, Learn and Love:
“The covenants I made at baptism teach me to show respect as I mourn with others, help bear their burdens, and offer comfort. Part of showing respect to a group of people includes acknowledging that they, as a people, exist. … Using the labels that others use to describe themselves validates their identities and the unique positions they are in—both in our society and in the Church. We can’t minister, support, and help our LGBTQ members if we don’t first acknowledge that they exist. ...
“President Ballard did this when he said, ‘I want anyone who is a member of the Church who is gay or lesbian to know I believe you have a place in the kingdom and recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do.’ In this statement, President Ballard uses the terms gay and lesbian to acknowledge that LGBTQ Latter-day Saints exist and have a place in our Church. President Russell M. Nelson also used these labels (and added transgender and bisexual) in an address given at [BYU] in September 2019. I’m grateful to the examples of Presidents Ballard and Nelson.
“Of course, our primary label and identity is that of beloved children of Heavenly Parents. This identity is central to our restored doctrine. However, we often take on additional labels to create a sense of community with others who are in some way similar to us; belonging to such a community can provide opportunities for us to create authentic connections, share experiences with those who are in a comparable situation, cope with difficult things, and find healing. As I have listened to others and visualized their paths, I have come to understand the need for people to use the labels they choose for themselves. If they feel denied a part of their essence, we may be adding to the shame that they have already been made to feel about who they are.
“Letting groups or individuals decide what they want to be called also humanizes them. … Dehumanizing a group of people makes it easier to say and do unkind things to them. (BrenĂ© Brown has pointed out that one of the first stages of the Holocaust was the dehumanization of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany, which gave them subhuman names.)
“As we know, Jesus humanized and valued everyone. He set the example by associating with (and teaching about) those who society said He shouldn’t be with, such as the woman at the well and the good Samaritan. … Respect means giving individuals the right to be called by their preferred name. For example, Saul changed his name to Paul (Acts 13:9). …
“Latter-day Saints have been called Mormons for over a century. … In 2018, President Nelson asked both Church members and those not of our religion to stop using that label. Even though Mormon may have been okay in the past, today we prefer Latter-day Saint, and when people outside our faith use the label we have chosen, we feel respected.
“Personal names and pronouns often indicate gender, and so many transgender Latter-day Saints use a new first name that reflects their gender identity. I show respect by using their desired first name and the appropriate pronouns (he/she/they). I don’t require them to somehow prove their gender before I extend this courtesy. It costs me nothing to call them by their preferred name [and pronouns], but it means everything to them. Yes, understanding our transgender Church members may take us outside of our comfort zone, but showing respect to others is a Christlike behavior that we should all strive for.
“I love the powerful and instructive words of Ben Schilaty:
‘I wish I could label myself as I please. I have been told many times by church leaders to not label myself as gay and I obeyed that counsel during my 20s. I didn’t want to be gay. I didn’t want to be attracted to men. And I hated myself for having those feelings. The times when I didn’t identify as gay were the hardest, darkest times in my life. Choosing to identify as gay has been wonderful and freeing. I’m no longer trying to change something about myself that I can’t change, but I’m acknowledging the unique circumstances of my life and choosing to live in them. My beliefs and commitment to the restored gospel have not changed since I started labeling myself as gay. I live church standards as much as I always have. But what has changed is that I don’t hate myself anymore. I wish church leaders would honor our agency and grant us the freedom to choose how to define ourselves.’
Now here is a simple description of the labels you may have heard some people identify as. Again, I’m quoting Richard Ostler’s book Listen, Learn and Love:
“LGBTQ: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer; those who are not heterosexual or cisgender
“Lesbian: Female with sexual orientation to same sex
“Gay: Male or female with sexual orientation to same sex
“Same-Sex Attraction: Male or female with sexual orientation to same sex
“Bisexual: Male or female with sexual orientation to both sexes
“Transgender: Person whose gender identity or gender expression does not match their biological sex.
“Gender Dysphoria: Distress a person feels when their gender identity does not match their biological sex
“Cisgender: Person whose gender identity matches their biological sex
“Non-binary: Person whose gender identity is not exclusively masculine or feminine
“Cishet: Person who is both cisgender and heterosexual
“Queer: Umbrella term for someone who is not straight and/or not cisgender, or questioning
“Pansexual: Person who is attracted to people regardless of their gender
“Asexual: Person who is attracted to no one”
(I’m finished quoting Richard Ostler and I’ll add some of my own thoughts at the end here.)
Demisexual: Person who is attracted to no one until they are emotionally bonded to one person
Gender-fluid: Person who may go back and forth between identifying with female or male
It is helpful to know that there are two categories these labels include: sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sexual orientation is about which sex a person is attracted to. How old were you when you realized which sex you were attracted to? I remember having my first crush on a boy in second grade and passing notes back and forth to each other. That means I was around 8 years old when I became aware that I was attracted to boys. That means I’m straight or heterosexual. Most people are.
A small minority aren’t straight. A gay or lesbian person is attracted to people of their own sex. A bisexual person is attracted to both sexes.
I’ve mentioned before that around 1,500 animal species have been found to mate with their own sex. Just like in humans, it’s a small minority.
Gender identity. How old were you when you gravitated toward things associated with a particular gender, like wearing dresses or only enjoying activities seen as masculine? For most of us, we were aware of our gender identity at a very young age - around preschool age.
Most people are cis-gender, meaning it feels like your body and your spirit are the same gender as each other. Mine feel like a match which makes me a cis-gender person. Most people are.
But for a very small minority, their body feels like it doesn’t match their spirit. That really distressing mis-match feeling is called gender dysphoria. When a person experiences this feeling, they may identify as transgender. If a person’s gender identity is not exclusively masculine or feminine, they may label themselves as non-binary. Intersex people can have a variety of ways that they biologically don’t fit a binary male or female biology. They may have genitals of both sexes, genitals of one sex and chromosomes of the other, or other variations of intersex.
It was helpful for me to realize these two groups of labels - sexual orientation and gender identity. And someone may have a minority label in both areas, for example, I’m friends with a PhD student who identifies as lesbian (attracted to women) and also non-binary (doesn’t identify as strictly male or female). I have a transgender woman friend who is straight which means she is attracted to men.
If you’re a parent (or loved one) of an LGBTQ child, it can mean the world to your child that you ask what label they are comfortable with and to learn what different labels mean. If I’m not sure, I like to ask, “Do you mind if I ask how you identify?” If you ask kindly, most LGBTQ people are happy when we ask questions with the intent to understand and show respect.
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Quotes from Richard Ostler’s book Listen, Learn and Love shared with permission. You can purchase Richard’s book from Deseret Book or Amazon:
Click here to purchase Ben’s book A Walk in My Shoes: Questions I'm Often Asked as a Gay Latter-day Saint:
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This is part of a series of educational posts in June (Pride month) to answer common questions I hear about the LGBTQ-LDS intersection. You can check my page for more posts in the series.
Feel free to share any posts you resonate with.
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I welcome RESPECTFUL comments and discussions. Any derogatory comments about our LGBTQ siblings or the church will be deleted.