Mormon Bishop Says He Gives Voice To LGBTQ Community
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not endorse LGBTQ members who act on their sexuality. An LDS Bishop who led a singles ward learned to listen carefully to how LGBTQ people struggle to feel accepted in society especially in religious environments that don’t accept their sexual orientation. He’s no longer a Bishop but remains an active Mormon and he’s working to build tolerance and love for a whole community both gay and straight. Carolyn Murray has this:
Richard Ostler has developed a podcast and a website to help people understand LGBTQ experiences. He uses social media as well as community meetings. A recent gathering, he hosted in Heber drew about 70 people.
“I’m an active member of the church but I’m not doing this is an official church event or somethingthat’s represented by the church. I was a singles ward Bishop and had LGBTQ members in our congregation and for the first time in my life, I sort of listened to them and heard the unique nature of their journey. I’ve just been trying to bring voice to their unique journey, so members of the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can do better to bear their burdens and understand their unique road.”
Ostler said he doesn’t want to change Mormon doctrine. He isn’t an activist, criticizing church leaders but more of a facilitator and he said he’s trying to do better and help other Mormons do better. He thinks, fear drives intolerance.
“I think there’s a lot of fear. I think we’ve created fear historically, in our society, fear around the civil rights movement, fear around women’s role in our society. And, I think there’s a great deal of fear in us versus them of LGBTQ people. I love to use the term, God’s LGBTQ Children. In fact, with 16 million Mormons, and about three to four percent of the population identifying as LGBTQ, I’d like to share that’s 780,000 Latter-Day Saints that identifies as LGBTQ. And, that’s like filling BYU stadium 12 times.”
Ostler believes the church relationship with LGBTQ members is still evolving and is like a chapter book. He said the final chapter hasn’t been written yet. The LDS Church no longer uses conversion therapy, nor do they encourage gay people to enter heterosexual marriage. He said the church no longer believes you can pray the gay away or be cured of sexual orientation.
"A mom has a lot of fear if her child comes out as gay. You know, how that child fits into the plan of salvation or a church. I think chapter 20 is when that fear is gone. There’s bad behavior in the straight community and the LGBTQ community. We just put that on LGBTQ people and say how their sexual orientation is somehow liked to pornography, drugs or alcohol is somehow wrong.”
Ostler doesn’t think he’s risking his standing with the LDS Church by promoting tolerance and understanding of the LGBTQ population. He said he won’t cross certain lines. The LDS Church has not asked him to stop his podcasts or holding community meetings.
“I feel and what others are doing is just trying to honor President Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve charge to do better. And, I think the best way we do better is to hear stories. Most of our content is not me because it’s better if our LGBTQ people are talking. So, I’m trying t use my privilege and just bring voice to LGBTQ people through podcasts especially. Most of the podcasts I do are just interviewing LGBTQ people. Because most don’t have the privilege, I have of knowing so many now and I have sat with hundreds and hundreds and just listened to their stories.”
That’s small business owner and active LDS member, Richard Ostler. Go to listenlearnandlove.org for information about his presentations and his podcast.