I believe in my heart through personal revelation, that our church is by far the most accepting of LGBTQ+ members. Based on what I’ve experienced. This may not be the case for past members or people who left the Church. All churches have experienced a lack of understanding or tolerance for people who are different, that was in the past. I have witness times have changed. Have you?
I understand that a lot of people may not comprehend or approve of me being gay and a worthy temple recommend holder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that a lot of my LGBTQ+ friends will never understand why I became a Latter-day Saint, or will distance themselves from me. It’s okay! I choose to love and care deeply for all my brothers and sisters! That’s the difference between someone who is striving to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ and someone who needs to do a little more work loving and accepting those they may not understand. I’m writing this at the risk of losing friendships and work relationships and upsetting my family for divulging my innermost secrets and struggles. Nothing can change this if it needs to be done.
After years of searching, I unexpectedly discovered a new family in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now secure in his relationship with the Church and with God. Now I share the story of how a gay man, found his home in the Church. Determined to be a survivor, not a victim, I use my life’s journey as a source of inspiration to help others in similar situations and to foster a better understanding of God’s many LGBTQ brothers and sisters in the world. I now love serving as a Ward Mission Leader, assisting sisters and elders throughout New England and the world.
“No matter your religion, faith background, sexual orientation, or race, I challenge you to choose love!”
Turn Up The Love Devotional – June 2 at the Pasadena Stake Center from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Join Dennis Schleicher as he shares his story as a gay man that was welcomed into the fold of God with open arms and was taught about the true nature of God’s love for everyone. Follow Dennis’ journey from hate-crime victim to a Ward Mission Leader that helps hundreds of missionaries better reach the LGBTQ community.
When our Prophet talks about us “all being mothers,” what I feel him saying is that we are all creators.
Are not we all mothers? We ARE all creators. Whether we choose to partner with our Heavenly Parents and create human bodies to be populated with souls to come to earth or we partner with them to create technology, books, music or other artwork or perhaps we create a cure for a previously incurable disease; we are ALL creators. We are ALL mothers.
I have belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for six years coming up next month. During this time, no matter what Ward or Branch I have attended, each and every year I have joined in the singing the one hymn in the hymnal that recognizes our Mother in Heaven every year on Mother’s Day.
In 1845, Eliza R. Snow (Relief Society President 1867-1887) wrote the hymn, “O My Father,” penning the most well-known reference to Mother God. Written only months after Prophet Jospeph Smith Jr.’s death, it has been speculated that the Prophet may have taught of a Mother in Heaven either implicitly or to limited audiences.
President Nelson went on to say last October, “Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.”
When I listen to childless women and their frustration with some of these quotes and standpoints, I contemplate if they were to substitute the word creatorfor motherif there would still be offense taken?
Our society, and in particular some of our cultures, tend to pass judgment on what types of parents we are, how many children we produce and how we choose to raise them. How we judge one another trickles down into how we feel about ourselves. When we internalize external judgments, we diminish our own divinity.
Our role as creators is divine. Our Mother in Heaven is just as important as our Father in Heaven.
Elder Erastus Snow stated, “There can be no God except that he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way,” a statement, according to the Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven, that has been reaffirmed by several General Authorities.
Thank you, Mother and Father, for the gift of creation…for the gift of motherhood.
I remember the nervousness that overcame me not long after I felt the impression to seek out and listen to the Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They talk a lot about “being in the world, but not of the world,” but all of my friends were “of the world,” none of my family were members of The Church (except my granddaughters) and most of my friends had “alternative lifestyles.” When I decided I wanted and needed to be Baptized, I prayed constantly about the situation with my friends. How could I tell my friends I was now a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would they want to be my friends anymore? Did that matter?
During my repentance process in the weeks before my Baptism, I was relatively quiet on Facebook, a social media outlet where I had spent an inordinate amount of time during the previous 5 years accumulating an audience for my writing. At times I had been known to make a spectacle out of myself, becoming rather dramatic about loves and losses and pain and pleasures. I had been known for “letting it all hang out.” How could I reconcile my previous behavior with the life I wanted, no, needed to create and begin to live? I prayed more.
The answers came gradually, but they came. I was impressed to read “The Articles of Faith.” They all rang so true in my heart that not only did my “bosom begin to burn” but I also wept with joy several times. Then I came to the 11th:
“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
The second part of that statement, “and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may [emphasis added]” caused me to completely lose my cool. I broke down and cried loudly; I bawled. Why? Because it was an answer to my prayers. There was NOTHING in the church Doctrine that said I had to exclude those who worshiped differently from myself from my life, ABSOLUTELY the opposite!!!
Relief filled my soul. But what about all of the people who followed my social media? Now that I no longer practiced alternative beliefs, should I even be “out there” in the public? What about all of my photos and the things I posted?
As I began to hint about my baptism on social media some people I thought were my friends were quick to delete me from their connections, I cried but continued to pray about it. I didn’t want to lose friends, but those people who had “unfriended” me weren’t acting like friends. My prayers to my Heavenly Father continued, so did my tears.
I deleted hundreds of photos of myself that embarrassed me from my social media accounts and I prayed to know if I should continue with an online presence. After all, it would have been easier just to delete the accounts.
The impression I felt from the Holy Ghost was persistent: I needed to be LOUDER about my conversion than I was my sins.
I was at a loss how to accomplish that. The year before my Baptism was quite humiliating as I looked back upon my own inequity to others in addition to myself. I continued to pray and study my scriptures.
Then came the answer: Start a blog about your conversion to The Church.Share your feelings about God and your faith and be honest with those who follow you.
In a few weeks, it will have been 4 years since I sought out Missionaries to receive the lessons leading to my Baptism. In the subsequent years I have “cleaned up my act” on Facebook and other social media outlets, but I am louder than ever! I want the world (including my friends) to know HOW being a Mormon has changed my life!
In the last six years, I have worked hard not to alienate my friends and family. It’s difficult to convey to them how much I love ALL of them and I respect what they chose to believe in, all of that is part of them and I love them.
I had an opportunity to travel with a very dear friend of mine recently. Cub, as he likes to be called, is a professional photographer and acted as my assistant on a recent trip. In our travels across the country, we incurred our number of odd looks at us, but he helped me to see my world through different eyes. I saw judgment from my fellow church members when they watched him light a cigarette, I felt their stares and disapproval in both of our directions. That made me incredibly sad.
We visited the Ft. Lauderdale Temple towards the end of our time together. I asked Cub to take some photos of me when I was done with my session; he enthusiastically complied. When we were finished with our pictures another temple patron asked him to take her photo. Cub graciously agreed to do so.
While he was doing that act of service, I took a few snapshots myself for social media. I shared it first on Instagram as “Cubby doing service at the Temple,” then, after talking it over with Cub, I shared it again on my Facebook page and to a group called Facebook group focusing on members of The Church with an additional introduction:
For a while, I almost felt like I was exploiting my friend and his service. Although he had given his consent for both photos to be shared on the internet inclusive of my comment about his lifestyle, he had not asked for the photo to be taken.
While Cub probably wished I had allowed him to continue his nap in the car, I felt it was important. There was a lesson here for not only me. I am not ashamed of my friends. I love each and every one of them. Not in spite of their beliefs or their actions, but as WHOLE people with different ideas about life and different understandings of the universe.
We read in John 13:34 that Jesus Christ himself told us:
I believe that His love is unconditional. That is something I try to work towards each and
every day. I am so grateful to ALL of my diverse friends, like Cub, who help me to remember what my Heavenly Father commanded me to do.
I know without a doubt that there’s a place for all LGBTQ children within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As fellow brothers and sisters, everything that I’ve studied in our doctrine displays zero evidence that I am not allowed to be an active member of our church. I can’t find anything that says, I don’t have a home or place to worship. It’s the media and those who are judgmental. Or have left our gospel that continuously tells me that I don’t have a home in Mormonism. Our doctrine, along with scripture tells me differently.
Episode 108: Dennis Schleicher, Gay LDS Convert, Author, National Personality
My friend Dennis shares his life story including life as a gay man (including appearances of Larry King Live and Sally Jessy Raphel), joining the Church in 2017, and now serving as the Ward Mission Leader and helping missionaries church wide on LGBTQ issues.
Dennis’ book ‘Is He Nuts, Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ’ is being released by church book publisher Cedar Fort in August 2019. I encourage everyone to read his book (for more information go to www.DennisSchleicher.net).
Thank you, Dennis, for sharing your story. You are one of the most courageous persons I know. Thanks for blessing 1000s
Missionaries are awesome! Meet a few I’ve worked with.
I am an openly gay man who feels nothing but love from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was told my entire life that God rejected me and I was going to hell merely for my sexual orientation. I needed to change my entire persona and become straight. This left such a bad taste in my mouth about organized religion in general that I refused to attend any church for many, many years.
It was Latter-day Saints who taught me that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children, regardless of their sexual orientation. We are all children of God, and we should leave judgment to the Savior. It is not our place. We are asked only to love. Let’s all Turn Up The Love.
A message I received from a missionaries companion on a lesson she learned
“Hi, Dennis! I’m the one who commented on Stephanie’s post! I just thought I would share my experience. It’s nothing spectacular
compared to your’s and Sister Guimaras’ and I’m honestly a little embarrassed by it but I learned a valuable lesson. I was training Sister Guimaras at the time (which she really didn’t need training) but there was this idea that trainers set the tones for the rest of their trainee’s mission. I was so stressed out because I felt that I needed to teach her something and as I said, she didn’t need any kind of training. Seriously I learned more than I taught. I believe you came in at the end of the day and I was so exhausted and frankly glad it was Sister Guimaras’ “turn” to give a tour. I overheard you and your friends talking and I thought that it would be an interesting tour. Typically people who were not of our faith who came into the sites during the summer months were “antis” and had no intention of hearing us out. When Sister Guimaras came back she spoke of her experience and the Spirit that was felt. I learned how important it is to interact with people because you never know who you are going to meet or what experiences you are going to have just because you are too tired or too busy or whatever the excuse is. I know that I never actually got to meet you, but I have heard about your spiritual journey and I just think that is so incredible.”
I met Dennis when he spoke at a meeting of writers. He shared how different writing genres receiving different compensation with Christian writers receiving low compensation. “For example”, Dennis said, “if you were looking for a book about the Mormon faith that author would be compensated less than a murder mystery novelist.”As a Latter-day Saint myself, I found his reference a bit odd and was prepared to defend any negative comments but they never came. Dennis was so upbeat and interesting that I spoke with him several times before and after his talk and even purchased two of his personal research books about leveraging social media for promotion. He exuded positive energy that felt familiar and comfortable. It seemed pretty clear to me that he was gay and I’m happily married to a wonderful man so my interest was strictly business.
After his talk, I asked Dennis what his first book was about and what he was currently writing. He was pretty vague about everything and moved onto another topic.That seemed odd at the time since all the writers I know love to speak about their books.Before parting, I linked to him on Facebook and he shared a few social media tips with me.Dennis extended a vague offer of help and I yearned for success shortcuts in an ocean of information.
At home, I researched Dennis and found the topic of his first book from over a decade ago to be terribly unsavory.This shook me to my core as the information in front of me directly contradicted my initial, positive impression. How could I be so wrong? My positive feelings about him were swallowed up in darkness and I planned to stay far away.
Less than a week later I saw a Facebook post with Dennis and missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.And then there were a few more including one where a good friend of his was going on a mission.I thought his family might be LDS.Then I recognized one of the missionaries and made an online comment about how Elder So-and-So served in Westerly, RI.And I commented on other posts until it felt as though I was seeing the real Dennis. Then I received a private message from Dennis saying, “I finally figured out you’re LDS!”“You too!, I typed. It was a day or two later that Dennis and I shared a long phone call and our testimonies of mature-age conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.“Every convert has a past,” Dennis shared.I remember all too well how grateful I was to my Savior after baptism decades ago and how my heart changed forever. At the core of Christianity is the belief that people can change for the better. Dennis and I are both living proof of God’s love in this abiding principle. He and I became friends with a shared desire to help others find and accept the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. I began to support him in online forums and, because I’m both a writer and LDS, am now part of the “Is He Nuts” Dennis Schleicher community.
What would both of us have missed had I listened to my head and the hard, cold facts instead of the Holy Ghost whispering “he is a good man and a kindred spirit.”?I’m so grateful to have recognized and acted upon the whisperings of the Spirit as dark proof blocked my path.The darkness was the old Dennis but I met and trust the new Dennis who has been transformed by the love of our Savior. By trusting in the goodness I feel, I have a new friend.That hinge decision could have slammed a door shut but, instead, opened a door to new opportunities.I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers each of us with open arms and an open heart.He loves and forgives and implores each of us to do the same. Each of us has a past but it doesn’t have to control our future.