In December 2012, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched the website mormonsandgays.org stating:
“There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing — and what needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.” – Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Moreover, on the website, church leaders advocate that “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach.” – Elder Quentin L. Cook
But just how do Latter-day Saints really go about doing that? What does it even mean to be at the “forefront” anyway? And what does “sensitive,” “thoughtful,” “compassionate” and “outreach” towards gays and lesbians/same sex attracted individuals within the church really look like?
My friend Kristen and I spend a lot of time thinking about these questions and have put together a series of 10 video conversations called “The Forefront Talks” with the hopes to offer a bit more insight.
Who am I?
My name is Laura Skaggs Dulin. I’m a lifelong member of the church, a long time group therapist and recently completed my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. My husband, John and I have been married for 11 years and together we have two daughters. I’m also a homosexual — meaning my sexual preference is for women. For as long as I can remember, that’s just the way it’s always been and although being Mormon and gay has been incredibly challenging at times, I’m deeply grateful to be both.
In fairly typical Mormon fashion, I kept the gay part of my identity very private for most of my life — only confiding in a few close family members and friends — especially John. But things began to change drastically, when I began to receive and follow a series of spiritual promptings that led me to come out publicly– literally in church! First, in my childhood congregation I grew up in and then 6 months later, in my current ward just after the launch of http://www.mormonsandgays.org.
The highs and lows of my coming out and being out in church, along with the sincere support I received from my friend Kristen while taking that journey, is what The Forefront Talks are all about.
Who is Kristen?
Kristen Talmage Lindsay was a member of my ward during that time and turned out to be a most exceptional Latter-day Saint through my coming out process. She is a registered nurse in neonatal intensive care, wife to her husband Ryan of 10 yrs and a busy mother of 4. As a BYU student, she worked as an anatomy lab instructor, which consisted of teaching the delicate topic of reproductive anatomy and physiology. Her job: to help young Mormons become more versed in talking about sex in healthy and informed ways. In more recent years, and with the help of her nursing experience, she’s organized and led discussion groups with married Mormon women on similar topics.
It’s a great background to have in a friend when so much of what makes my life different cuts across the topic of sexuality. Kristen has also joined me in various online groups with hundreds of gay/same sex attracted Mormons who are striving to navigate this path within the church; gaining a much broader window into what it’s like for many of us.
Together, she and I share some key things in common:
1) We love The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and strive to live the gospel and keep our covenants.
2) We feel an incredible amount of respect, love and concern for gay/same sex attracted individuals, both within and beyond the community of our faith.
3) We seek to speak about this topic in real, honest and thoughtful ways with the hope to facilitate better understanding and connection amongst all these parties.
So that’s an introduction to us and to The Forefront Talks. Whether you are steeped in thinking about these topics or feel like this is still new territory, we hope you’ll find something of value in the story we’re sharing.
With Warmest Regards,
Laura Skaggs Dulin
Kristen Talmage Lindsay
Production assistance provided by Kendall Wilcox and Libni Lopez
Copyright: The Forefront Talks 2013