Brigham Young University’s Gay-Mormon Panel Draws Crowds, Questions

Tuesday night, an over-capacity crowd spilled out of a second-floor auditorium in Brigham Young University’s Martin Building, where four students were discussing their attraction to members of the same sex and the conflict that created with their Mormon faith.

It’s rare for the subject matter to even be broached at BYU. And as Trevor Rantley reports, the audience’s response was largely positive.

One student who attended told me:

“These four students [in the panel] have some of the strongest testimonies and wonderful relationships with Christ. I hope that those who are struggling with same-gender attraction may see these four strong individuals and realize that they don’t have to choose between being honest about themselves and who they are and in being a member of the Church.”

While the fact that homosexuality is being discussed in the very heart of Mormon indoctrination is encouraging, we can’t help but be wary: The four students (three of whom are gay, one of whom identifies as bisexual) have all committed to following LDS standards and adhering to BYU’s honor code—which translates to lifelong celibacy for gays and lesbians.

Also, that phrase “struggling with same-gender attraction” kept cropping up in Rantley’s report of the event—it’s basically fundamentalist code for “trying to pray the gay away.” Are BYU administrators and students trying to be tolerant or are they simply pitying students they see as afflicted?

Most disturbingly, one of the speakers, Brandon Bastian, is married to a woman and has a young daughter. The secret to his “success” over homosexuality? “A genuine love… not based on physical intimacy,” he told the crowd.

That’s not a healthy marriage—that’s a perversity.  Is it any wonder, as Bastian casually mentioned, that his blushing bride is on medications that suppresses her libido?

Thankfully, at least two of the panelists seem to have accepted their sexuality as an intrinsic part of their personalities. During the question-and-answer period, speakers Adam White and Bridey Jensen both said they see themselves, down the road, in relationships with members of the same gender. Sadly, White clarified that if he did settle down with a guy and start a family, they’d all attend the Mormon Church together.

And so the cycle continues.

Photo via Christopher C. Smith, Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Joan Marcus