The decision to publish an article about same-sex attraction in LDS Living was not made lightly. To be honest, I lost a fair amount of sleep over this story wondering how it would be received by our readers and if, in the end, it would be worth the risk.
We knew that many people, both inside and outside of the Church, would be uncomfortable or even offended by the topic. We also knew that by sharing their story, Ty and Danielle Mansfield would be subjecting themselves to scrutiny and criticism—something they were fully prepared to do. But we strongly believed that by running this story, we could accomplish three goals:
Facilitate within the Mormon culture a conversation about SSA.
Increase understanding and compassion for those experiencing SSA.
Give hope and encouragement to Church members who themselves are struggling with SSA.
This article was not meant to stir up controversy for the sake of controversy. And it definitely isn’t suggesting that there is a “magic formula” for everyone dealing with this issue. Rather, it gives an honest look into the heart and mind of a man with same-sex attraction who also has a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and is doing everything in his power to live it. Since Ty had previously resigned himself to the fact that he would never marry in this life, I found it fascinating and touching to learn how Ty and Danielle’s love story unfolded and how they keep their marriage on solid ground. And judging from the responses we have received, it seems many of our readers did, too.
That’s not to say that we haven’t received a fair amount of criticism—we certainly have. But as Ty and I have shared the feedback we’ve received, both positive and negative, it’s clear that we have accomplished our goals. We have received e-mails, Facebook messages, and handwritten letters from Church members who are secretly battling with SSA, from bishops who are doing their best to counsel members dealing with this issue, and even from members who don’t struggle with it but have been inspired by Ty and Danielle to work harder to strengthen their marriages. The messages have been deeply personal and heartfelt, expressing pain and sorrow, as well as renewed hope and faith, and I’m grateful that they took the time to tell us how the story has affected them.
So was it worth the risk? Absolutely. To know that even one person has been touched by Ty and Danielle’s story, and to know that LDS Living had the privilege of being a small part of it, makes it all worthwhile. Thank you, Ty and Danielle, for your honesty and courage. I know many of us are better people because of it.
Jamie Lawson is managing editor of LDS Living magazine. She has two adorable boys who help her stay up to date on the latest technology, fashion trends, and catch phrases.