North Star International has launched a new website featuring profiles and information about faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affected by same-sex attraction. The website, LDSVoicesofHope.org, offers a look into the lives of Mormons who open up about their own experiences or the experiences of family members.
The project is a dynamic extension of the book by noted author and marriage and family therapist Ty Mansfield, Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction (Deseret Book, 2011), which contains an array of inspirational messages from men and women who have personal experience with the issue of same-sex attraction. Based on the book’s continuing success and resulting feedback, it became obvious to Mansfield that there were many more stories to be told, and thus sought a vehicle through which to share them.
“What a difference from the day when, as a young BYU student, I had difficulty finding anyone faithfully living with this experience,” Mansfield said. “There are many, many other stories out there that need to be told, and there is a growing number of people desirous and ready to share them.”
Voice(s) of Hope has a singular focus on assisting those individuals who desire to live in harmony with the teachings and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding marriage and sexual expression. Its power stems from the collection of simple, heart-felt video testimonies of diverse men and women who share their stories of how they have reconciled their homosexuality with the gospel and to ultimately come to a place of happiness and peace. Among the profiles are single men and women of all ages, married couples of all ages, backgrounds, professions, ethnicities and Church assignments including newly returned missionaries, bishops and stake presidents. Participants include converts to the faith and those raised in the faith, as well as some who have left the Church and later returned and others who have never acted on their attractions.
While the site’s initial launch features 17 interviews, each one including edited highlight and full-length interviews for those interested in the entire story, and 7 essays, video and written essays will be added weekly to the site until the project’s goal of 1,000 participant contributions has been reached.
“For many Church members who experience same-sex attraction, society has reinforced the belief that there were only two viewpoints available: that same-sex attraction is something to be ashamed of and kept a secret, or that individuals are to adopt a gay identity and purse a same-sex relationship, leading to a lifestyle in conflict with the doctrines and values of the Church,” said North Star vice president and project director Kerry Harding.
“Voice(s) of Hope seeks to more effectively illustrate that other options consistent with Church teachings are available to those who desire them. There are hundreds, if not thousands of men and women who have discovered a path in the faith that brings them happiness and peace. The site’s collective message isn’t so much, This is what you should do’ as it is simply, This is what has worked for me.'”
North Star International is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to building community for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the doctrines and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The purpose of North Star is to be a spiritually uplifting resource for individuals and families dealing with the complex issue of same-sex attraction. It is also to empower individuals to help educate themselves, their family, friends, and Church leaders as they strive to become integrated more fully and lovingly into the LDS community.