What’s It Like To Be Gay And Mormon?
LDS and LGBTQ?
If you think these two acronyms can’t go together, think again. An article published today by the Utah Statesman highlights psychological research on same-sex attracted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Led by researchers from Brigham Young and Utah State University, Exploration of Experiences and Psychological Health of Same-sex Attracted Latter-day Saints provides a look at the daily lives and psychological experiences of 1,635 current and former members of the LDS church who report having experienced same-sex attraction.
And as it turns out, being gay and Mormon can mean many things. According to preliminary results published on the the project’s website, 35 percent of respondents were currently in a committed same-sex relationship, 14 percent were celibate by choice, and an additional 16 percent were currently married to an opposite-sex partner. Although some respondents reported being out to friends, family, coworkers, and church members, 43 percent described themselves as “mostly in the closet.” Just 49 percent currently identified as LDS.
Respondents also shared some things in common. The average participant reported “feeling different” from their peers by age 9 or 10, experiencing their first same-sex attraction around age 14, and coming out for the first time around age 22. However, 54 percent gave the lowest rating, 0-Closed or Not Suportive, when asked to rate how accepting their family is or was of being LGBTQ.
Most–65 percent of participants–also reported trying to change their sexual orientation at some point, through efforts ranging from “personal righteousness” to church counseling and psychotherapy.
About 10 percent of these respondents had received aversion therapy for same-sex attraction, with most describing it as harmful and ineffective. According to one of the study’s authors, graduate student John Dehlin, results of aversion therapy ranged from shame to depression and attempted suicide. Meanwhile, counseling with a therapist who was “open and supportive” was reported to be highly effective for most individuals who received it.
As Dehlin stated, “Acceptance is much more healing and affirming than rejecting who you are.”
Posted by CJ Newton, MA, Counseling.info Editor on April 11, 2012 at 05:00 AM