Understanding the experiences of Latter Day Saint women with same sex attractions
Alliant International University
Gay and lesbian individuals hoping to maintain their traditional faith grapple with the difficulties of experiencing same sex attractions while participating in a religion opposing homosexual behavior. The silence of this struggle leaves many who are both gay and Christian or, as is specifically addressed in this study, lesbian and Mormon, feeling invisible and unheard.
In-depth interviews were conducted to explore the experiences of six LDS women with same sex attractions as they managed the conflict between their same gender attractions and LDS doctrine. How affiliation with the family, the same sex community, and the Mormon culture increased or decreased this conflict were examined. Also explored was how LDS lesbians primarily viewed their attractions (i.e. as biological, a choice, or an addiction.) Finally, how this conflict influenced their religious behavior and personal relationship with God was examined.
Findings amongst participants were as follows. Families were generally supportive of the individual, but heightened the conflict by awkwardly mishandling sensitive issues regarding same sex attractions. Some women perceived members of the Mormon community as judgmental and unaware of the difficulties individual with same sex attractions experience. Most participants perceived the gay community as having lower moral values than they had, and as unwelcoming of those who choose to maintain their traditional religious beliefs. The majority of women were less interested in the cause of their same sex attractions and more focussed on finding peace while managing their sexual attractions and religious beliefs. The two women who accepted the biological perspective were more critical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint's stance on homosexuality. Those who reported having helpful ecclesiastical leaders, previous spiritual experiences, and a belief that the attractions had some environmental causes were less likely to experience a prolonged decrease in religious practices. All continued to believe in God, although some questioned particular aspects of traditional church precepts. Most felt their relationship with God had deepened as they worked on the issues surrounding their same sex attractions.