Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More News on the Faith Front: Former Mormon Bishop Discusses his Journey to Becoming a Straight Ally

Last year, as a sitting Mormon bishop, Kevin Kloosterman came out as an LGBT ally. As a result of the controversy that such a public statement created, Bishop Kloosterman decided to write an op-ed that appeared in The Advocate earlier this month. In this personal account, Bishop Kloosterman describes how he “made [his] journey from an adversary to fence sitter and finally to becoming an ally and advocate.”

As we would probably expect, such a journey was not easy. Yet Bishop Kloosterman writes about how his interactions with LGBT individuals, both on a personal and “virtual” level, helped him emerge as such an outspoken advocate for LGBT equality. Most notably of such interactions were his viewings of the popular television series, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which he began watching a year or two ago.

In the op-ed, Bishop Kloosterman discusses the drastic impact the show has had on him: “For me it was much more than watching five gay men help get straight guys’ act together in grooming, home decor, fashion, culture, and cuisine. It began to create a bond for me to these men. They had a certain synergy that kept me wanting to watch more. I liked them as people. I saw them as individuals expressing their God-given talents and trying to make people’s lives and the world a little bit better.”

As his first exposure to the LGBT community, Queer Eye broke down many of the stereotypes and preconceptions Bishop Kloosterman held of LGBT individuals. It was then that he realized that his traditional marriage was not under attack by a so-called “gay agenda” as many of his fellow Mormons would insist. Rather, he found that the “Fab 5” were “good men [who] had no desire to hurt [him], [his] marriage, or [his] family.”

This discovery prompted Bishop Kloosterman to fly to Utah to urge straight members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint to reach out to LGBT individuals both in and out of the church. Yet his advocacy work did not stop there. Last year, he presented at the Mormon StoriesCircling the Wagons” conference, which aims to create a space where LGBT individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore, and honor shared experiences.

Kevin Kloosterman serves as a reminder of the great potential of those within faith communities to facilitate change. Few issues strike more deeply than whom we love and how we honor our families. These issues hold a great deal of weight in faith communities in particular and have been the source of misunderstanding and judgment in such communities all across the globe. Although LGBT Mormons are still extremely divided over how to address same-sex attraction and understand the difficult choices they face, people like Kevin Kloosterman have played an integral role in creating a dialogue that have made these issues a part of the church’s public discussion.

Take Action: Want to learn more about how you can do the same? Well be not afraid. Help is on the way! It’s the new Straight For Equality publication—be not afraid: help is on the way! Straight for Equality in Faith Communities—that will have everyone talking! Download your free copy here. Still have concerns? We’ll do our best to help. Browse our website at www.straightforequality.org, check us out on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. The path to change is already being laid with bricks of hope and empowerment. It’s true that path is paved with many trials and tribulations. But together we can, in Bishop Kloosterman’s words, help others realize that “we truly should treat one another as God intended—as neighbors and friends.” One brick at a time.

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