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Coming Out: A Gay Mormon Navigates Family, Faith And Sexuality

NPR | April 12, 2013 1:11 p.m.

Contributed By:

NPR Staff

Courtesy of Jamison Manwaring

Jamison Manwaring says he wants marriage and kids — but that will be difficult for him because he’s a gay Mormon.

Manwaring grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the youngest of eight children in a devout Mormon family. According to the Mormon church, same-sex attraction is itself not a sin but yielding to it is.

After coming home from a two-year mission at 21, Manwaring was determined to find a wife and get married. He dated women “vigorously,” but his attraction to men would not go away.

Three years ago, Manwaring told his immediate family that he was gay, and a couple of weeks ago, he came out to other relatives and friends in an online video. His older brother, Josh, says it was hard to comprehend at first, but that Jamison has done everything to educate his family. The two of them spoke with Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin about the journey.


Interview Highlights

On realizing he was attracted to men

“I knew at 14 or 15 that those feelings were very real. I just thought it was going to be a phase, and that was informed by some of the things that I read, is that you just continue to do normal things and interact with your friends, and over time those things would change. And then, you know, as far as the gospel goes, as long as you do everything you’re supposed to correctly, then, you know, God takes care of the rest. And that’s how I approached it — until I was 21, when I came home from my mission. Then I was very disappointed when those feelings were not gone.”

On coming out to his family

“We decided to just tell everybody — all my siblings, in-laws — and ended up having just an awesome experience because they didn’t say those things that I had kind of believed about myself. That it was evil, or that I was evil, or that it was a perversion. They just listened, and they said ‘We’re so glad that we know, and we wish we would’ve known a long time ago.’ “

On being a gay Mormon and wanting a family

“Not only do I want a family, but there’s nothing else to do besides have a family because all my friends are married now. It leaves you with nothing in your life. And in this context you couldn’t have a family — you know, as far as the LDS church goes — unless you feel like you could marry a woman.”

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