Woman who had lived lesbian lifestyle brings hope to Mormons with same-sex attraction through LDS Church's new website

Published: Saturday, Dec. 8 2012 8:00 p.m. MST

Laurie Campbell speaks about hope in a video associated with a new LDS website, www.mormonsandgays.org

LDS Church

For Laurie Campbell, it is time to come forward.

"I've never really wanted to be this visible," she said during a recent telephone interview. "I have children. I have a life. I have a few of my family members and friends who still don't know much about my history. I don't know how they'll respond now."

Still, she says, she knew she needed to come forward and participate in the new website, www.mormonsandgays.org, launched Thursday by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You'll see her in several of the website's video sequences, sharing her thoughts and feelings along with other church leaders and members, urging compassion, acceptance, love, and empathy between Latter-day Saints and those who experience same-sex attraction.

With all her heart, she believes God requires this of her.

"It's time," she says quietly. "My husband and I thought and prayed about this a lot when the church approached me a year ago to be interviewed for the website. We feel it's time for me to come forward and be more vocal."

So here she is, coming forward as a happily-married 52-year-old mother of three who, 30 years ago, was living her life as a lesbian.

"We knew this was going to be a church website, so we figured our family and friends would see it," she said Friday. "The thing is, I hadn't told my kids about my past yet, and we just moved into a new ward. And I'm thinking, 'yeah, we're going to be telling everybody to come look at this website where I talk about the sins I did.' "

But after representatives from the church explained the purpose of the website to her and asked her to participate, she and her husband talked and prayed about it and felt it was the right thing for them to do. The filming process was sensitively handled, she felt, and talking to her children about it was a sweet experience.

"After talking to my oldest daughter, I asked her if she was going to be embarrassed by having me on a church website talking about my experiences with same-gender attraction, and she said, 'I'm not embarrassed. I'm proud of you for doing it,' " Campbell said. "My youngest daughter was like, 'oh sure, no problem.' It was no big deal to her."

As far as members of her new ward are concerned, she said, "Well, when they see it, they'll know. My motto in this has been the lyric of a hymn: 'Do what is right, let the consequence follow.' "

She has already received responses from friends who know her and her personal history.

"The first phone call came from a friend of mine who is a lesbian and not a church member," Campbell said. "She said she had just seen the website and was moved by it. She said, 'I am just so proud of you.' That meant a lot to me, coming from someone who is living the lifestyle."

Another call came from a friend who is LDS and who struggles with reconciling her faith with same-sex attraction. "She said she felt like there were angels behind this website," Campbell said. "She felt the spirit so strongly. I'm like, 'well, yeah — that's what we were going for.' "

Campbell has told her story before, in a book published by Deseret Book in 1994 called "Born That Way?" She has spoken about her experiences at several annual conferences of Evergreen International, an independent organization that focuses on same-sex attraction from within the perspective of the doctrines, teachings and policies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She also has a blog with North Star, a website for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction.

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