Website Plans to Give Gay Mormons Chance to Meet, Match & Marry
If you are single, gay and Mormon and looking for love, then Origins might be the answer to your prayers. But if you’re thinking that you’re going to find the perfect well-scrubbed blond to fulfill your doorknocker missionary fantasies, sorry: This is far from a Grindr or Manhunt for Mormon groupies.
Origins’ creator Andrew Markle wanted the forthcoming website to give gay Mormons an online social network to meet others like themselves for "marriage or long-term commitment." (Seriously: Would a good Mormon accept any other purpose for a dating site?)
According to Markle, the website will act both as a tool for dating and as a resource for LGBT Mormons looking for acceptance within a church that’s still evolving on its stance on homosexuality.
Origins will also "connect gay Mormons with allies and help them reconcile their beliefs with their lifestyle," he added. Markle sees Origins as a way to help facilitate the still-nascent counter-movement among gay Mormons who don’t want to accept their church’s blanket condemnation of their sexual identity. About 22,000 practicing Mormons are gay, according to Markle.
Markle is a practicing Mormon and weekly churchgoer. By creating Origins, Markle understood his position will be controversial for many in the church and that he may face excommunication or disfellowship for his involvement in Origins.
Affirmation, an advocacy group for LGBT Mormons made up of both actively practicing members of the Mormon faith and non-members, supports Origins, which Markle hopes to launch sometime in the spring. Affirmation believes that same-gender relationships are "compatible" with the teachings of the Mormon Church and hopes to make the church more inclusive for LGBT practitioners.
Markle believes that the Origins website will be a crucial component of this effort.
Neither Origins nor Affirmations is officially sanctioned by the Mormon Church, whose elders do not recognize LGBT organizations as official church entities. Origins comes on the heels of the church’s announcement that it will now at least minister to LGBT individuals.
In December, elders of the Church of Latter Day Saints, as the most mainstream branch of the homegrown Mormon religion is officially designated, launched "Mormons and Gays," a website devoted to "discussion on same-sex attraction." According to the website, the church’s changing stance on gay members does not mean that the church accepts "homosexual behavior" as acceptable but recognizes that homosexuality is not a choice.
Like Origins, Mormons and Gays acts as a conduit for conversation and acceptance of LGBT individuals, so that church members can "respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere."
Markle realizes that the mission of Origins, which helps LGBT singles connect for the purposes of a relationship, diverges with the church’s new stance on homosexuality. Still, he sees it as another step toward gay Mormons moving beyond preliminary dialogue to action.
Frustrated with the church’s decision to call same-gender relationships "attractions," Markle acknowledged the church "still has a long way to go in regard to full inclusion" and needs to repair the damage done by decades of forcing LGBT members into the closet.
The generally secretive and inward-looking church found itself in the unwelcome glare of media and activists after the November 2008 elections when it was revealed that it was the principal back of California’s Proposition 8, a referendum that made same-sex illegal there. In the wake of protests, threatened boycotts of businesses owned by Prop. 8-supporting Mormons and Mormon-owned businesses generally, the church has appeared to back off from much of its anti-gay marriage activity.
The church also faces ridicule for its anti-gay stance in the hit Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon," which features a number, "Turn It Off," in which a deeply closeted missionary describes suppressing his sexuality. Two films -- 2003’s "Latter Days," and 2012’s "The Falls" -- are dramas about closeted missionaries. Steven Fales’ "Confessions of a Mormon Boy" is only the best known of a string of plays and one-acts about the difficulties of growing gay and Mormon.
Advocating same-sex relationships is considered grounds for expulsion from the church. Markle has already been "disfellowed" from the church for getting involved in such a relationship. Despite disapproval from the leadership, however, Markle says his fellow congregants were accepting of his orientation and relationship.
Markle hopes the church leadership will eventually catch up to its practitioners.
Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.