Steve Young says he wants to build bridges with LGBT community

Published: Saturday, Sept. 14 2013 11:50 p.m. MDT

Maybe people have been praying for the wrong thing when they ask for gay people to become straight, she said. Instead, ask to know God's will in "respect to gays" and for the ability to fulfill it, she said.

She encouraged attendees to "trust in the pace and timing of (their) journey," and "practice the pure love of Christ."

Afterward, Benji Schwimmer, winner of the second season of "So You Think You Can Dance," invited attendees to gather around the front so they could see his dance performance to a remake of the song "True Colors."

Efforts by the church to reach out to the LGBT community, including the website mormonsandgays.org, have gone a long way for many in the community, said John Gustav-Wrathall, senior vice president of Affirmation.

"The church has been sending some signals and saying, 'We want you in the church. We value you. We want to hear your stories. We want to know who you are," he said.

Gustav-Wrathall said the messages and the number of attendees exceeded his expectations.

In the past two to three years, Affirmation saw what Gustav-Wrathall called a "resurgence" of those who "really feel connected to their faith as Latter-day Saints and who really want to make that work."

The LDS Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not a sin, but acting on it is.

"Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters," the LDS Church website states.

Some affiliated with Affirmation have gone through "a period of struggle" while trying to reconcile their sexual orientation with being LDS, Gustav-Wrathall said.

"But usually, and this is my observation, is that the default response is people want to make it work with the church. They naturally turn to the scriptures. They turn to church leaders. If they have a testimony their testimony is really kind of a resource to them in figuring it out."

Some also have experienced "intense misunderstanding and rejection," he said. In his experience, some of this misunderstanding is melting away and people are staying in the church longer.

"We're seeing more and more people who are now finding it possible to actually stay and to make it work and so this is why I think we're seeing this resurgence in Affirmation," Gustav-Wrathall said.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7

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