It Gets Better, BYU

In 2006 a group called Soulforce came to BYU. My memory isn’t good enough to remember exactly what I thought or said at the time, but I do have vague recollections of distrust and annoyance. Who was this group coming to our campus and spreading a message we were never going to believe in? We have a structure and a culture that influences and defines our beliefs, and we didn’t need “the world” telling us how to think and act.

In 2007 BYU made changes to the Honor Code that clarified whether an openly homosexual person can attend. Wonderful progress, but a bit shameful considering the previous wording had people feeling like they had to remain closeted to be part of the student body. Any type of homosexual activity, kissing, holding hands, etc still isn’t allowed (not just on campus, this means that current students can’t participate in such things anywhere, at any time).

In 2010 BYU made another shift to policy, lifting a ban on advocacy of homosexuality. A group called Understanding Same-Gender Attraction was formed, and the beautiful video you see below could be made. Recently BYU allowed a panel discussion comprised of three self-identified homosexual students and one bisexual student. All four students currently attend BYU and were there to share their experiences and beliefs. It makes my heart happy to hear that the event was not only allowed, it was filled to capacity, with all seats taken a half-hour before the event began. This doesn’t mean things are even close to where I’d like them to be, but when I return to BYU one last time this summer I will be interacting with students here and there who feel the same way I do.

They’re looking for change.

Hoping for change.

Advocating for change in large and small ways.

If you are LGBTQ at BYU this Summer term (or heterosexual of course, I don’t discriminate), I want you to know that I would love to be your friend. You can tell me which fro-yo place is the best right now. We Mormons love our frozen yogurt.

I am a straight ally, and I want to help make it better for everyone, no matter their orientation or belief system.

I didn’t always feel the way I do now, but I’m human, and I change as I stretch and learn and grow. We all change. And we can become better.

28 thoughts on “It Gets Better, BYU

  1. Jenna, this post brought me to tears. You have no idea how happy I am that such negative thoughts CAN change and that LGBTQs are welcome at places they never thought they would be. Thank you.

    MtnGal85 Reply:

    I couldnt put it any better than this… so ‘ditto’ to Julia. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Hannah Reply:

    You have articulated my feelings exactly. Jenna, I have always been a huge fan of yours, which you know. That being said, some of your options on issues like LGBTQ always rubbed me up the wrong way and I am so proud to see how you have grown.

    I think growth is a wonderful thing. Sometimes if makes your world bigger and sometimes it makes your world smaller(e.g. cutting out a certain food), regardless, it’s been so wonderful to join you along your journey. This post literally brought tears to my eyes and I hope that people looking for a straight ally take up your offer for friendship.

  2. I never comment, though I’m a loyal reader. I’m de-lurking to say that this is hands down, the most beautiful post you’ve ever written. Growth is a wonderful thing.

  3. <3<3<3
    My partner and I saw this the other day, and the first thing I said when we were done drying our tears was, "I wonder if Jenna has seen this!" ha!

    Thanks for posting about this – it's such a moving It Gets Better video.

  4. When I was in college I volunteered with a ministry for high school students. Most of the girls I hung out with were gay, and they knew I didn’t care about their sexuality, I just cared about them. Looking back, I wish I had known acceptance wasn’t enough, and I should have been a more vocal supporter. Lots of other people in the ministry thought it wasn’t OK and got annoyed at me for not telling them that.

    I forwarded one of them this video: the other day. It’s from a well known Catholic priest. And while it’s not the best done video out there, it speaks out against people who tell LGBTQ people they are wrong or bad.

    The world needs more straight allys! Regardless of religious belief, Jesus definitely never said to ostracize people. I heard SLC was recently rated “gayest city” in the US. It’s a silly definition, the magazine does it to highlight cities, not actually to rate them (will any city ever pass SF?) But it was supposedly based on support groups, LGBT book stores, etc. (Though could’ve been to just annoy SLC too!) But it’s exciting that there is change going on, even in some of the most conservative corners of the world.

    Jenna Reply:

    I really like the way he relates things back to dignity.

    “wonderfully made”. We are all valuable to God!

  5. Love this, love you. Thank you for writing about this and sharing this video. I watched it the other day with tears in my eyes and of course, thought of you. You’re doing a good thing, Jenna. 🙂

  6. I’m really proud of you for spending time reflecting on gay rights issues and making your own decision not necessarily exactly in line with that of the Mormon church. I’ve always loved your blog, but have had to agree to disagree in the past on this issue. With you being such a popular blogger in both the Mormon and non-Mormon community, I think that your acceptance of all, regardless of their sexual orientation, could have a big impact on others! And yes, great video! : ) I’m glad BYU is starting to shift its policies on LGBT students.

  7. Right on, Jenna! Like you, my understanding and acceptance have changed over time. It will be interesting to see what happens with the LGBT community within the framework of the LDS Church in the future. I can’t imagine that the Church would accept such relationships by marriage in temples, because of the divine pattern for families. I wonder though if they will be allowed to marry outside the temple? It’s not my place to decide Church policy, thank goodness. This might come across as a bit intolerant but I promise I don’t mean it that way at all.

  8. I love you for this post, Jenna! I saw the vid on Dooce a few days ago and cried my eyes out, haha. I’m so amazed at the progress BYU has made. Thanks for using your internet presence to add another voice to the chorus of support for LGBTQ students at BYU! 🙂

  9. Great post. It’s still hard, because queer folks can’t act on their feelings, can’t have relationships, but it’s slowly starting to get better. Being able to talk about this issue is a very necessary step. I also love your last two statements. It’s so important for people to recognize that our ideas change and evolve as we learn and grow. Thanks for this post.

  10. what a great post! i can only fathom how coragious the students are for actually “outing” themselves, coming from such a background.

    it needs to be spread! definately. and i’m sure it would heal up some wounds….

    thanks for posting and it’s great to hear that you’ve grown. growth is always a good thing. you can be proud!

  11. I recently found your blog, and I’m thrilled I did. You’re a wonderful writer, and this is an awesome post. That video is amazing. I cried when I first saw it last week. Like you said, it made “my heart happy.”

  12. Thank you, that was awesome.

    I personally have family members who are homosexual and bisexual. In the words of the Saviour “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” I’m not without sin, I will not condemn any lifestyle, sexual orientation, or religion different from my own.
    (It’s a work in progress that has lead to many tearful prayers.)
    I’m so very frustrated and upset by those who feel because they are Christian they can cast judgments without consequence. When I was told by a priesthood leader I should vote against gay marriage in my state I was angry (working on that too!) and no one has the right to tell me what to vote for. Now I’m working on speaking out against rude/crude jokes made by ignorant and biased people.

  13. Jenna, this post moved me to tears. Matter of fact, I`m still tearing up!
    Thank you for writing it, thank you for being so public with your personal growth, and thank you for being open to learning and changing and accepting.
    I hope you are able to become `real life`friends with a LGBTQ person in the next little while. I`m a straight female, married and living in Vancouver, with a five month old daughter, and my best friend is a gay man – and he`s the greatest friend I`ve ever had. Sweet, kind, and the funniest person I`ve ever met. And he`s enriched my life in so many ways.
    Just wanted to say thank you for you, and this post. It gives me more hope about the future of our world than I can adequately express.

Comments are closed.