Honoring President Monson’s Legacy as an LGBT Mormon

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For many LGBT Mormons, the passing of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson has been a bittersweet moment. As many have noted, he steered the Church during some of the most painful moments for our community during his 54 year career in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency. He was also a famously kind, charitable, humble, and hardworking man. Balancing these realities has put a strain on many LGBT Mormons- active, doubting, progressive, post, and every philosophical shade in between.

After finding out the news this morning I sat in my cold car, eyes screwed shut, and thanked Heavenly Father for allowing him to live a rich life that blessed so many. As I drove across the frozen prairie, I sang along to an old BYU-Idaho choir recording of “We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet” and thought about the ways in which President Monson’s legacy will outlive the 90 short years he spent in his second estate.


Until 2009, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a three-fold mission: perfect the saints, proclaim the gospel, and redeem the dead1. Under President Monson’s leadership a fourth aspect was added: caring for the poor and needy2. A large part of his legacy, from his years as a young bishop in Salt Lake City to the his role as the head of an international, 21st Century church, revolves around his deep commitment to charity. He famously went above and beyond to care for the widows in his ward, and exhorted Latter-day saints to go out and tend to the those in need during his General Conference talks. When many Saints think of President Monson, his lifetime of quiet, steady charity is the first thing that comes to mind.

Ways to Honor His Legacy:

  • Give your time – Sites like VolunteerMatch, Create the Good, All For Good, and the Church’s own JustServe offer location and interest-based matching for volunteer opportunities. On some of these sites you can specifically filter for LGBT nonprofits.
  • Give your energy – Do one simple act of kindness for a family member, friend, coworker, or even a stranger. From CNN’s article on President Monson’s death3:

On his 81st birthday, Monson was asked what would be an ideal gift from Church members. He replied: “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for them. That’s all I would ask.”


President Monson dedicated nearly 20 years of work to bringing a temple to what was then East Germany, beyond the Iron Curtain. Touched by the lives of the Saints he met there in 1968, he used his spiritual strength and diplomatic skills to work with Church leaders and East German government officials. By 1983 the East German Saints broke ground on the Freiberg temple. After further work with the East German government, President Monson arranged for worthy members to receive the blessings of the temple in nearby Switzerland. In 1985, 18 years after he promised Church members in East Germany that they could have a temple of their own, the prayers of the Saints of Freiberg were answered when they dedicated their temple4.

Ways to Honor His Legacy:

  • Listen with an open heart – In many of his talks, President Monson spoke of “eyes to see and ears to hear1“, but we also need to open our hearts to those who have had different experiences than us. The world is a bigger place than we can imagine, and I know that listening to someone who has walked a different path than my own is usually to my benefit. Note: as LGBT Mormons, we often come across those who see things differently than we do with regard to matters of our very identity. We can be kind to them, and listen to them if we have the mental energy. However, we are not under any obligation to allow them to hurt us and we have the right to politely disengage.
  • Find commonality – It’s easy to focus on what separates and differentiates us, but we often have more in common than we may at first realize. This is true across our relationships within Mormonism (as LGBT Mormons interacting with cisgender and/or heterosexual Mormons) and within our own community. When discussing a particularly tender subject or trying to solve a problem it can be easy to fall into the familiar ruts of Faithful vs. ExMormon, or Queer vs. Straight. unless we can find what connects us and use it to ease communication, productive discussion cannot take place.
  • Assume good intent – I’m going to come out and admit that this is one I’m continually struggling with, especially in an age of text without the aid of tone or facial expressions. But the lion’s share of diplomacy in the digital age is giving others the benefit of the doubt- and allowing them to give us the same- when communicating across continents, time zones, and cultures. When it comes down to it, talk to others the way that you’d want to be talked to.


One of the most recent, and in my opinion influential, aspects of President Monson’s legacy is the culture of openness he has cultivated through his tenure as Prophet. In particular, the last 5 years of his leadership saw the nationwide promotion of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, the release of the Gospel Topics Essays, and a renewed transparency in teaching Church history to Seminary students.

Ways to Honor His Legacy:

  • Speak your truth – This may not be a safe option for everyone, but for those who can I encourage you to speak your truth, whatever it may be. Live your life free from shame. Tell the world who you really are. Stop hiding the parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable or embarrassed- let them be loved.
  • Seek knowledge – One of the consequences of the Church’s late 2010’s transparency was a flood of new information for lifelong Mormons, many of whom were troubled by facts that they were encountering for the first time. Educate yourself about your history- in all realms, not just the Church- so that you can go throughout your life with your eyes open and your head held high.
  • Share these things with those around you – Did you find out something that unsettled you? Amazed you? Humbled you? Share this with others, because someone else could probably stand to heard about it too. I know I’d want to.

Whatever your personal feelings on President Monson are, his 50+ years of Church service have touched every Mormon alive today in some way. Some parts of his legacy are painful for LGBT Mormons to face, and some parts of it are well loved. No man, even a prophet of God, is perfect- but we can choose to carry on the best parts of him now that he’s gone.


  1. Four-fold Mission of the Church, Mormonwiki
  2. Thomas Monson, Mormon church president, dies at age 90, CNN
  3. The Three Messages That Meant the Most to President Monson, According to His Conference Talks, LDSLiving
  4. President Thomas S. Monson and the East German Latter-day Saints, Deseret News

Mixed Orientation Marriage and the Art of Sacrifice

You are 21, and drowning in grief. Your father has died suddenly, leaving you anchorless. You are suffering from a debilitating and nameless disease, and every doctor you see passes you along, telling you that there is nothing they can do for you. You are in a relationship with a woman who you love desperately, but who loves the sharp highs of anger and fuzzy lows of drugs more.

At your local library, you find a book, beautifully written, telling you that you are a beloved daughter of a Heavenly Father, and He has a Plan of Happiness for you. It tells you about the pattern of things that He has set forth, and that you agreed to in the pre-mortal realm. The book says that there is more to life than pain, and that we have come to this world to learn and experience joy. You read it greedily, taking it with you on your breaks to work, sneaking in as many pages as you can away from your girlfriend’s watchful eyes. In it you see truth, beauty, light and- most importantly- hope.

Six months later you sit in front of the local Mission President. You confess to him that you are a lesbian, but that you have broken up with your girlfriend of two years and are living separately from her in preparation for baptism. He smiles; you’ve said the right thing and you bask in his approval. Cutting ties with your girlfriend was painful, but the sacrifice was worth it. Your sins can be washed away. Your homosexuality can be washed away. Continue reading

No Closet is Bulletproof

WARNING: This blog post will discuss some topics of a personal and sensitive nature (rape, homophobia, abuse, violence, etc). If that disturbs or triggers you, please do not read it.

My name is bijte, and I’m a lesbian.

I have been closeted for a year now.

I came out in 2005 (or rather, was forcibly outed) in my small, rural, conservative town.

In 2006 I was a victim of corrective rape. Continue reading

What We Didn’t Hear at General Conference


Last weekend was the 186th Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a time when Mormons around the world assemble in chapels, stake centers, and living rooms for 8 hours (or 10 if you are a Priesthood holder) of spiritual instruction and revelation from our leaders. We’re told that the words spoken within the Conference Center and broadcast around the globe via satellite are the will of our loving Heavenly Father- the scriptures of a modern age- and Latter-day Saints eagerly await each April and October session, hungry for new spiritual insight.


This is often a joyful and exciting time for Mormons as they gather with their friends and families, cook large post-Conference meals, and excitedly speculate on new temple announcements and doctrinal changes. For weeks afterwards Mormon social media accounts are flooded with quotes, videos, and even Conference related memes to capitalize on the fresh spiritual momentum that comes with hearing the Apostles and General Authorities reveal God’s plans for His people.


It’s a little different if you’re a LGBT Mormon, however. Continue reading

The Abrahamic Test

Two weeks after news of the exclusion policy broke, my bishop called me into his office. He is a kind man, and I know he means well, but he sees my life as a lesbian as one full of pain, sorrow, and sin. He’s told me before that he thinks I am strong to face this road, as if it was my choice, as if my sexual orientation is a millstone around my neck. He cannot see the joy in what I am, or the beauty- only the eternal consequences. I was nervous to be singled out this way, and apprehensive that what he had to say could offer me any comfort.

“Sister Bijtje, the Stake President has asked that I reach out to any members who may be struggling with news about the recent policy regarding LGBT members and their children. I wanted to make sure you understand that this is coming from a place of love and we have to trust in our leaders.” Continue reading