The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, walking corpse Gordon B. Hinckley, wants to solve our “problem.”

[UPDATE: Welcome Buzzflash readers. There is an additional section at the end on a gay Mormon’s suicide, illustrating the anguish of reconciling his faith with his orientation.]

Why do these religious zealots give me such juicy bits to blog about? This one is incredible. I think that dementia has set in. If God is truly talking through this gentleman, the signal is scrambled. (365Gay.com):

Appearing on CNN’s Larry King Live, Gordon B. Hinckley stressed the importance of the traditional family, telling King that of gays, “We love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that problem.”

King then asked the 94-year old leader of the world’s Mormons if the “problem” is one caused by gays themselves or one they were born with.

I don’t know. I’m not an expert on these things. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem, Hinckley replied.

“Many people who have to discipline themselves. If they transgress, they become subject to the discipline of the Church. But we try in every way that we know how to help them, to assist them, to bless their lives.”

…Earlier this year the Mormon Church was instrumental in getting passage of an amendment to the Utah Constitution banning gay marriage. In a statement published by the Church two weeks before voters in the heavily LDS state went to the polls the Church said that men should only marry women and that “any other sexual relations, including [those] between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family.

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OK. The Mormons don’t want you to know that they have unfortunately played a role in practice of “reparative aversion therapy” to rid gay Mormons of their homosexual orientation. Though the church says it is not directly affiliated with organizations responsible for the torture you are about to read about below, gay Mormons have been referred these kinds of centers for “help.” Here is an account of the type of “treatment” self-loathing homosexual Mormons put themselves through to avoid being disowned and rejected by both their church and their families.

“I dreamed that I was in a fairly erotic situation with another man, and then midway through, I would just be electrocuted.” Jayce Cox says he doesn’t have the dream on a weekly basis any more, and he’s relieved. Now it’s just every couple of months that he bolts up, startled and shaking, in the middle of the night. He attributes this recurring dream to the aversion therapy administered at Brigham Young University.

Jayce tells his story:

It’s 1995. He is sitting in an office on the campus of BYU, where his counselor has attached electrodes to his hands, arms, torso and genitals. His Mormon Bishop gave him a referral to the counselor. Jayce is shown pornographic images of men having sexual encounters. Then, ZAP! His body tingles, then aches from the electrical shock administered by his trusted counselor. He is scheduled for twice-weekly sessions for four months. “Toward the end of the program I could press a button and it would stop the shock and then a picture of a woman would come on.”

But Jayce is 19 years old and he willingly goes back for more. He gives them his college savings — $9,000 — for the treatments which are promised to cure his homosexuality.

They promised me it would work, and who doesn’t want to live a life that’s normal and acceptable in your society and have your family embrace you?” he asks rhetorically.

Therapist Ron Lawrence of Community Counseling Center in Las Vegas says this “reparative therapy” is “equivalent to what I would call the kind of torture that people experienced in Nazi concentration camps.” Jayce displays the scars on his hands and tells of more scars where the electrodes were placed “on my torso, and [breathing deeply as though reliving some excruciating pain ] on my genitalia.”

The words don’t come easily to Jayce as he explains why he so willingly gave up his education savings — and put his earning potential on hold — in order to endure what Lawrence describes as “assault and battery, abuse”.

“You’re taught that the leaders of the church will never lie to you, never deceive you and you’re taught to believe them blindly,” Jayce explains. “I believed the counselors. I believed it would work. I believed that through that [reparative therapy], faith, temple attendance and prayer and fasting I would be healed. I believe that through God anything’s possible. And I was told it would work. It probably sounds really naive, but I truly believed it would work.”

Jayce’s nightmare was also featured in the MTV True Life documentary “I’m Coming Out.

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Related Links (from Affirmation – Learning Center for Mormon Gays and Lesbians):

Panelists Agree Therapy Can’t Change Sexual Orientation

Gay Author Visits Utah, Denounces Evergreen

“The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature”: A Brief History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980

Homosexuality: A Psychiatrist’s Response to LDS Social Services

Sin & Death in Mormon Country: A Latter-day Tragedy

Is “reparative therapy” a ticket to Straightville?

Change Therapy

Anything But Straight]

[UPDATE: Here is a story of a gay Mormon’s suicide. From the Affirmation web site (Newsweek, May 8, 2000, pp. 38-39):



Henry Stuart Matis (1967-2000)

It had become an all too familiar sound. Late on the night of Feb. 24, Stuart Matis’s mother lay awake in bed, listening to her 32-year-old son pacing his room, unable to sleep. She worried that his depression was worsening. A year earlier Matis had told his parents he was gay, and all three, as devout Mormons, had struggled to reconcile Matis’s homosexuality with the teachings of their church. Matis found little comfort in Mormon doctrine, which regards homosexuality as an “abominable” sin. A church therapist instructed him to suppress his sexuality or to undergo “reparative therapy” to become a heterosexual. Matis was especially frustrated by the church’s energetic efforts to pass Proposition 22, California’s ballot measure banning same-sex marriage. The yes on prop 22 signs that dotted his Santa Clara neighborhood, many placed there by church members, were a reminder of his failure to find acceptance as a Mormon and gay man.

Matis concluded he could not be both. That night, his mother got out of bed and wrote a letter asking the church to reconsider its position on gay Mormons. Only later would she learn that her son had been up writing his own letter, to his family and friends, explaining why he couldn’t continue to live. Early the next morning, 11 days before voters would overwhelmingly approve Prop 22, Matis drove to the local Mormon church headquarters, pinned a do not resuscitate note to his shirt and shot himself in the head.

Matis’s death galvanized gay activists, who accused Prop 22 supporters of driving him to the grave. Friends and family agree that the church’s active support of the measure contributed to his decision to end his life when—and where—he did. Clearly, they say, he was trying to make a statement.

But that is only part of the story. Though gays and lesbians enjoy more rights and protections than ever before—last week Vermont approved same-sex partnerships akin to marriage—gays in search of spiritual support often find their church, synagogue or mosque to be far less accepting. To Mormons, who adhere to a strict moral code of conduct, disapproval by the church can be especially devastating. For Stuart Matis, it apparently was too much to bear. (The Mormon Church declined to comment about Matis. “Suicide is a tragedy of great personal loss for family and community,” said a spokesman. “We express our sympathy and have respect for the privacy of the families.”)

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding