“Utah is a very LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) biased community,” said Alex Muzio, an dance major at the University of Utah. “I know there are a lot of areas where openly gay men and woman don’t even feel comfortable being themselves in fear of abuse. It seems as if in Utah the topic of homosexuality isn’t talked about openly as if it were a secret.”
Muzio was born and raised in California but he decided to come to Utah for college. Muzio is openly gay and came out to his parents when he was in high school. Muzio is from a very liberal state and now attends college in very conservative state. The Utah culture is strongly dominated by the Mormon Church. Muzio, having not been raised in Utah or in the LDS religion, has experienced and observed through his friends how being gay can affect being comfortable in who he is as a person in Utah.
According to M. Russell Ballard, an authority of the Mormon Church, the religion is firm on its position on condemning homosexuality as a sinful behavior. One of the principles of the LDS church is the law of chastity. It permits sexual relations only between a husband and wife who are legally married. Furthermore, the church believes that marriage between a man and God ordains a woman and that children are entitled to be raised by a mother and a father who honor their marital vows with complete fidelity.
Mormons believe marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations, but are an important part of rearing children. They teach that same-sex marriage undermines the purpose of marriage. The Mormon Church issued the document “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in 1995. This official statement confirmed, “The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
Increasingly, the church has had to deal with the issue of gay Mormons more and more as people identifying themselves as gay or lesbian. Frequently, a gay or lesbian who has been raised a Mormon will disassociate themselves from the church because of doctrines, but a gay Mormon community is growing. There are also many gay Mormons who wish to overcome their same-sex attraction.
In 2010, at the 180 semi-annual General Conference, president of church organization Boyd K. Packer, which is nationally broadcasted, gave a sermon to the saints of the LDS church. In his remarks, Packer said some would argue that gays “were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?.” Activists and allies of the gay community have called Packer’s statement to be hurtful and ostracize gay church members and can lead some to consider or attempt suicide.
“Religion, I feel, is an major part of youth suicide. Especially in Utah. Kids grow up with a strong sense of belonging to the LDS church. When they start to realize that they are not the perfect child, they turn to their religion for comfort and guidance,” said Kaden Kruse, a Speakers Bureau Coordinator at University of Utah – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center.
Kruse, a former Latter-day Saint member and now openly gay; he has a person, didn’t have such hard time with his parents and church leaders when he came out as he really felt about the same-sex. Kruse continued to talk about when gay and lesbian youth start to realize that they are not the perfect child they turn to their religion for comfort and guidance. They can begin to feel like they are immoral and wrong. Furthermore, it has an effect on our dating life. The conservative nature of Utah, due primarily to the fact the it’s mostly LDS, makes it hard for non-traditional couples to date.
While the Mormon religion is the majority in Utah, there will always be difference between these two groups. The gay community has harbored resentments towards the LDS Church because the church has donated to Proportion 8, “I cannot speak on behalf of the entire LGBT community but I feel that I feel that the LDS church plays puppet master with social issues such as marriage equality,” said Max Garrett , an student at the University of Utah; the Utah gay community has chosen to separate themselves from the religious culture.
“For my friends who were raised Mormon, there have been good stories and bad. Their families have embraced some. In those cases there parents have chosen selectivity in their beliefs altering their view of homosexuals,” said Muzio.