Being part of the LGBTQ+ isn’t always the easiest thing, especially when growing up. And, things become more complicated when, on top of being LGBTQ+, you’re also an active community member of the Mormon Church.
Many religious communities have long been at loggerheads with the LGBTQ+ community, but things are changing, and views are becoming less conservative. So, to better understand the joys and struggles of someone who grew as part of both communities, we interviewed Jane (23).
Jane grew up in the Dominican Republic and was born into the Mormon Church, being introduced to the faith as early as age one. Her family was the third family to join the Mormon Church in the Caribbean, becoming pioneers of the Mormon faith in the Dominican Republic.
Now, an adult, Jane works at the Church and has done so for a number of years. So, the Church is all she’s ever known. However, she also identifies as a lesbian.
Chapter Z sat down with Jane to find out just how easy it’s been to merge the two communities.
How would you describe the experience of being part of both the Mormon and LGBTQ+ communities?
It’s complicated. We have beliefs about God and the certainty and testimony of the Church being truth. At the same time, we don’t know where we truly stand in the eyes of God. The Mormon Church doesn’t see homosexuality itself as a sin instead as a trial. It’s seen as a challenge to overcome, but I don’t necessarily agree with that.
You can feel attraction for the same sex, but you shouldn’t act on it. It’s hard, especially when other fellow Mormons are gay. Most of them are terrified of coming out.
What would you say is the hardest thing about being Mormon and gay?
The acceptance that same-sex attraction exists is acknowledged by the Church itself and not seen as a sin on its own. However, it’s made clear that faithful members cannot receive the blessing of eternal marriage in a same-sex couple. Though not all Mormons do it, it’s unpleasant to hear fellow Mormons talking badly about the LGBTQ+ community.
And, being my age and without a partner is a hardship. Many Mormons are already married in their early twenties. Some of them might even have their first babies. People are starting to get engaged, settle and create their families. On the other hand, I’m single. It’s annoying when everyone starts bombarding you with questions on why you haven’t married yet.
Outside the Church, it’s not exactly the easiest thing either. I’m still a firm believer in God and finding someone with similar beliefs is a trial in and of itself. I believe in the power of God. So, finding someone who’s also lived through similar experiences, understands the Church’s teachings and is also part of the community has proven difficult for me.
Are there any specifically tricky moments that stick out to you?
One particularly tough moment is when my mom or my Church brothers and sisters want to match me up with someone. My mom often reminds me of how much she can’t wait for me to marry at the temple for all eternity, something reserved for men and women.
The silence regarding my sexuality when inside the Church is also challenging. I’d love to talk to other Mormons about my experience, especially during my religious mission. I’ve based my whole life around the Church, and it’s tough for me to interact with people out of it.
I don’t think anyone should hide who they are from the world. I would love to embrace my sexuality freely, but I feel trapped. Not being my most authentic self has drained me. I love God, but I can’t say the same for many of his followers.
In your experience, what is the best of being part of both communities?
The blessings I’ve received in my life are part of the best things in my life as a Mormon. My communion with God is another. I also work in the Church, and working there has been an important stepping stone for my professional life.
Being a Mormon, I’ve developed essential principles that direct my life and set meaningful goals for my romantic relationships. It has helped me focus on God and to believe in something. The Church has helped me ground myself in God’s grace.
Jane’s experience lets us know more about the experience of being a closeted Mormon in a third-world country. While being gay isn’t considered sinful, dealing with pestering questions regarding her possible married life can be challenging. Once finishing her college degree, Jane plans to escape her environment and explore the world. She wants to work on herself and rediscover herself in a new reality outside of the Church’s boundaries.
You can read more of our stories on coming out and the gay experience here.