025: Advocating for Your Gay Mormon Family Member – Part 3

Wendy and Tom Montgomery are devout Mormons from California who have five children.  They were part of the movement of many LDS members who pounded on doors in 2008 to support the passage of Proposition 8, the state referendum that overturned the ruling that allowed

17485_10200647508284513_1403979342_nsame-sex couples to marry in California.  They did so not knowing that their oldest son Jordan was gay and that he was struggling with suicidal ideation due to the position his church had taken that homosexual behavior was sinful.  He was also worried his family would cut him off if he told them what he was struggling with.  He was 13 when he came out to his parents.

This podcast interviews not only Wendy and Tom, but also Jordan (15) and his sister Susannah (14) who has become an advocate for him within the church and her community.  They discuss the struggles of loving their faith and wanting to continue with their Mormon heritage while simultaneously going through many hurtful experiences as they try to educate themselves and others and stand in unity as a family structure.  It is a wonderfully vulnerable and open window into the types of issues so many LDS families are struggling with as they grapple with the implications of our Mormon beliefs and their LGBT loved ones.

They have been recently interviewed by a wide variety of media outlets.

Oblivion (A Mormon Teen Speaks Out for Others, Part 1 of 2) by Susannah Montgomery on No More Strangers: LGBT Mormon Forum

Oblivion (A Mormon Teen Speaks Out for Others, Part 2 of 2)

mormonsandgays.org

Family Acceptance ProjectFamilies are Forever

NPR interview: Keeping the Faith, and Loving Your Gay Son

ABC interview: Mormon Mom Who Fought for Prop 8, Now Fights for Gay Son

Huffington Post did an article called Gay Mormons: Wendy and Tom Montgomery Lead Push to Change LDS Church Stance on Homosexuality.

Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

Daniel Parkinson is the main moderator at Gay Mormon Stories

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for audio production of this podcast.

 

3 comments for “025: Advocating for Your Gay Mormon Family Member – Part 3

  1. Keth
    November 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s stories like this that I want to share with people to spread awareness and love for all of our Heavenly Parents’ children.

  2. J
    November 11, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Lets face it. This whole gay issue is about sex. Its not about a man loving another man. That happens all the time. I have brothers and fiends I love but I don’t want to have sex with them.
    Gay sex makes me sick. The thought of it literally turns my stomach. Like green peas mixed with motor oil. Some might like it but I cant even imagine swallowing the stuff. But to each their own. If a dudes idea of a good time is him sticking his finger in a light socket, who am I to stop them from doing it?
    I do think there might be something wrong with gay sex. I see these kids toys where a child learns that a round peg goes in the round hole and a square peg goes in the square whole. In general men and women are fundamentally compatible with one another. Its like some how the idea of gay sex is like trying to put the round peg in the triangle whole. Its just not ment to be.
    For this reason and the effects of gay sex on peoples lives, that I wonder whether or not being homosexual should be considered a learning disability or a mental illness. Please don’t get me wrong. Their have been wonderful people who have had mental illness who have contributed much to our society. Just as there are wonderful people who are gay and whom have contributed wonderful things to the world.
    Is it possible that both Homosexuality and Mental illness are products of evolution? Evolution occurs when small changes with in the DNA occur, this produces a characteristic that might be beneficial to the survival of the individual and species. Some times these characteristics are good for us and some times they are not.
    This is something I have thought about. I have two brothers, both are gay. One is married to a woman and has kids and struggles with his same sex attraction. The other is married to a man. They live in the heart of Salt Lake city Utah. Both are wonderful people.
    I wish the Montgomery family the best as they navigate this topic. I think they are doing a good thing bringing their story to the community.

  3. TC
    March 5, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Thank you for this podcast! It is so valuable! I was raised much like Tom and Wendy and feel like my understanding has taken off in the past few years. In the 2004 and 2008 elections I lived in VA and through my work was spreading literature in my area affirming traditional marriage definitions on referendums along with pro-life literature. I had written a blog post about my position and to this day am so grateful that I did not publish it. My husband struggled to support my efforts because he has two gay siblings who had recently come out as adults and left the church. It is something we have talked often about as I have sought to educate myself and struggled to find resources without agendas. I was so excited when I found Mormon Stories 1 ½ years ago and could hear people’s actual stories like Carolynn Pearson and Benji Schwimmer. I needed to know what it was like to be them. I was so thrilled when the church came out with its website but had many of the same concerns as expressed in this podcast.

    I am so thankful for Wendy and Tom’s willingness to stay in the church and work through this challenge. I was so grateful for the experiences they shared about their interactions with church leaders and members. I guess having been in Primary for so long, I forget how brutal it can be outside that bubble.

    While I totally admire Susannah’s courage in speaking up and am grateful she is modeling how we can all do this, I cringed at the experience at girls camp. Should the stake president have been more aware and educated? Yes, of course. My parents still struggle shedding decades of myths, misconceptions, and fears but that totally could have been my dad in front of those girls and leaders and that breaks my heart to think of him being put on the spot like that. But perhaps that’s what it takes? I simply hope we can be Christlike in our attempts to ask or share things like this. I feel like I’m often bringing this issue before my own parents to consider as one of my cousins they helped raise is gay, married and had her first child last summer. Baptized at 16, she left the church soon after entering college. Her parents have been inactive her whole life. Her and I have recently begun reconnecting.

    I really appreciated Tom and Wendy’s regular meeting with their leaders to keep up a conversation. I see that as such a catalyst for meaningful change at the local level and on up the chain as more leaders ask for more direction. When a face is put on a challenge in our midst, it is a lot easier for us all to have compassion and seek answers. Perhaps I’m an optimist. I cried through some of the hurtful experiences shared here. I want to give Wendy a big hug!

    I have particularly tried to make it known to people I interact with in my ward that I am a listening ear and soft place to land on a number of hard issues. I have a handful of friends in my ward who have gay siblings and are sensitive to this issue and strong enough to speak up. If I knew a ward member struggled with this issue, I would not hesitate to bring it before our bishop (keeping the family’s privacy paramount) and possibly ward council. Luckily, I think that my current ward council would be sensitive to this and approach it with a true desire to foster faith, hope and charity in our members and meetings. It’s up to us at the council level to help provide a sensitive, compassionate environment – regardless of what challenges our members are facing. We’ve discussed this at length at recent council meetings. As a newish Primary president, I have had conversations with some of our youth leaders about ensuring disparaging remarks or jokes about gays don’t happen and why I feel it is important. It starts young, sadly.

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