Latter-day Saint Life

How do I partner with the Lord in supporting and loving my LGBTQ child?

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How do I partner with the Lord in supporting and loving my LGBTQ child? A mother answers this and other poignant questions from a faith-filled perspective.
Fabio Camandona/Getty Images

Many families in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including my own, have a child who identifies as LGBTQ. With this identification come many heartfelt questions, concerns, and discussions as our child navigates their own decisions on their terms. Elder Quentin L. Cook challenges, “Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach. … Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender [and/or orientation].”1

How do I have open conversations with love, respect, and support as I acknowledge the difficulties faced by my LGBTQ child? How does my personal covenant relationship with my Savior enhance my ability to walk with my child while they make decisions about their life? How do I partner with the Lord in supporting and loving my LGBTQ child? How can I help them build their own relationship with Christ and the assurance that they are loved as a child of God?

I have always been in an LGBTQ family. My oldest brother Preston is gay, and my son Jake is gay. Four years ago, I started an organization called Lift + Love to help support LGBTQ families. We work with thousands of individuals and family members like you. They come to church for the much-needed peace the gospel can bring only to be confronted with questions and tensions, both internal and external, that they could have never imagined. This tension creates immense pain and threatens the loss of connection to the gospel.

In my work, people always want to know how I stay active in the Church. I am going to be real with you: sometimes it’s really hard. For me, it is about connection. After all, the gospel of Jesus Christ is, at its very foundation, about eternal connection. Staying closely connected to the Lord helps me navigate this journey. Staying close to my son helps me support him as he navigates his.

This past Christmas, my side of the family traveled to the Holy Land and Egypt for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. While there, we saw the pyramid at Giza, a vast building known for its triangular walls.

Did you know that the triangle is the strongest shape? I thought the square was, but if you put enough pressure on one side of a square it will collapse into a rhombus, just like the boxes in your basement. Even if big pressure is applied to one side of a triangle, the other sides will compress and stretch to absorb the tension, keeping the shape sure.

Because of its ability to take pressure, I think the triangle is a powerful shape to use when talking about three eternal connections that are critical to navigating this journey and how they work together. First, our connection to our children. Second, our connection to God. Third, our child’s connection to God. I will also speak to two critically important support systems: family support and ward and stake leader support.

The power of eternal connections.
From You Are Loved

First Connection: Us to Our Children

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.”2

My mom passed away about a year ago. Not long ago, I was going through paperwork and found a talk she had given at her stake women’s conference in 1997. She told a story that happened in the 1970s, at a time when most parents lost connection with their gay children.

She began her talk,

One lovely Sunday afternoon, Brooke and I were sitting with our family in sacrament meeting. The bishop was talking about his concern about many problems of the families in our ward. In fact, he said there were only three families that weren’t dealing with a rather serious problem. Brooke and I smiled and wondered who the other two families were.

Several weeks later, our whole world crumbled in an instant when we found out from our bishop that our oldest son—the wonderful, bright, outstanding boy we loved with all our hearts—was gay.

My mom’s first thoughts came in a jumble: “Not our son, it couldn’t be.” “What did we do wrong?” “We tried to be such good parents.” “We carefully raised him according to everything we knew was right.” “How could we make him better?” “How could we make him change to be ‘normal?’”

She continued,

As we sought help for him and for our family and struggled with our feelings of anger, guilt, denial and fear we went through a difficult journey of understanding. Over the years we have come face-to-face with the power of love and we know that God does not abandon us.

We have found we had an enormous capacity to love as we have reconciled our feelings about a society that misunderstands him, a religion that rejects him, and a God who loves him.

My life has been enriched by having a gay son. And I will support him every step of the way.

To speak openly about having a gay son twenty-six years ago was likely the bravest public thing my mom ever did.

My parents fully loved and supported Preston. He was an important part of our family, and so was his partner. But my brother came out to the world in the 1980s, when the world thought being gay was a choice. He was called a deviant. He was blamed for not being faithful enough to cure himself. He constantly heard the message that there was something terribly, terribly wrong with him.

These messages damaged him. They disconnected him from himself, from the Church, and from his identity as a child of God. His life was full of pain. Six years ago, at the age of fifty-eight, my brother Preston ended his own life. His last words describe an unbearable sadness that he was not accepted, or acceptable, as he was.

Preston’s death and his pain were particularly hard because I had received clear spiritual promptings that my own son Jake was gay. A year later, Jake came into our room late at night, shut the door, and said we needed to talk.

Gratefully, because of my brother, we were prepared for this moment. When he said the words, “I’m gay,” we were ready with the love and support we knew he needed. We pulled our big eighteen-year-old boy in between us on our bed and told him how much we loved him and that we knew how much God loved him. That sacred moment was one of absolute peace for all three of us—so peaceful that my husband fell asleep while we were talking.

Jake graduated from BYU last year and is off at grad school. He has a lot of difficult choices ahead of him, choices that only he can make, but we know he’s thoughtful, and he will be guided by the Spirit. And he has us, and we will support him every step of the way!

The Second Connection: Us to God

I’ve been wrestling with the complexities of this space for forty years. Sometimes this process has been exquisitely painful. I’ve worried I’d lose faith in the Church or in God. I’ve cycled through confusion and fear and there are times when I have come to the Savior with red hot anger and open wounds.

I’ve tested the Savior’s promise in James 1, the very scripture that Joseph Smith turned to when he had questions: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5).

We all know the King James Version, but I’m going to share these verses with you from the New International Version because the wording is a little more modern and conversational.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:2–5, New International Version)

Testing this pattern has given me confidence to go to the Lord with every bit of anger, frustration, and all the questions I might have. And I have a lot of questions.

About a month before my son came out, he wasn’t doing very well. He was hurting and angry. I felt like he was disappearing into himself, and he’d all but stopped talking. We had an honest, real conversation about depression and suicide and asked some questions from an online test; he self-scored high on half of them. The next morning, I called a therapist and his pediatrician and got help.

Watching Jake struggle against himself was breaking my heart and breaking me down. It had barely been a year since my brother’s death; I wasn’t going to let the same thing happen to my son.

Later that morning, somehow, I dragged myself to a book club lunch that I didn’t want to go to. I was trying to keep it together when my daughter texted me a photo. She was on a BYU study abroad for her major in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the church where the original marble Christus sits, and she’d sent me a picture of it. The photo of Christ with His hands reaching forward filled my broken heart with such sweet peace.

As I was looking at it, I realized there was an inscription under the feet of the Savior. It said “KOMMER TIL MIG.” I happened to be sitting across the table from a dear friend who served her mission in Denmark, so I asked her, “What does this mean?”

With her big, warm smile, she said, “It means come to me.”

So easy: just come to Me.

That’s my how—I go to Him.

And rather than rebuke me in times of pain, He gives me peace that I can hold onto until pain subsides. The peace He sends usually comes from others, like my friend who happened to speak Danish, and from the many others who love, minister to, and support our family. I have been the recipient of goodness from countless inspired women who have lifted me up and bound my wounds.

Even with these tender mercies, it is not easy for LGBTQ families to come to Him in the ways we had so easily before. So, we must find new ways to deepen our connection to God so we can go to Him.

Scriptures have been a critical tool for living in this tension. As I read with all the questions I have as a mother, the Spirit teaches me in new ways.

I read about Eve, who was faced with a complicated choice she had to make for the good of her family. Because of her wisdom and strength, she grew in understanding and reliance on God.3

Jochebed put her baby Moses in a basket and sent him down the river, knowing he would probably be raised outside of her faith. She trusted that God would protect and guide him.4 I see the same faith in many families whose LGBTQ children are leaving or have left the Church.

Notice how often women and mothers in scripture partner with God to solve complicated problems. Eve, Jochebed, Rebekah,5 Esther,6 Sariah,7 Mary,8 Elizabeth,9 Abish,10 and more, all were guided to a solution different than the norms of their day.

Notice there are no perfect families in the scriptures. Not one. But there are plenty of families in complicated situations. And when they turn to the Savior, He guides them. In each story, He says, “I know you feel broken or forgotten, but watch what happens with your faith and My power.”

Another tool I’ve relied on is the temple. Recently, I felt a nudge to serve as an ordinance worker in the temple.

The initiatory ordinances11 are a reminder of the power of God’s blessings that I have access to as I strive to be faithful. These blessings include an increase of strength, an ability to know truth from error, protection from the adversary, and a reminder that we are to have joy in our families—even when they are imperfect. Maybe because they are imperfect.

In the endowment,12 I’ve learned the importance the Lord places on agency. We are meant to learn from our own bitter-and-sweet experiences. We’re promised further light and knowledge as we ask, seek, and knock.13 He wants us to ask. He is anxious to teach us. And for me, the endowment has been a place of important personal revelation about my unique family and the plan the Lord has for each of us.

These are some of my tools for navigating the tension in this journey. They aren’t going to fit everyone. Regardless of the tools you use, I believe what President Nelson testified at the April 2023 General Conference. Whatever the question or problem, “the answer is always found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.”14

I invite you to go to Him. Trust Him. As you do you will know the power of His eternal connection. Trust Him to guide you. He is the way.

▶ You may also like: 6 Book of Mormon verses every parent should know

Third Connection: Your Child to God

Brace yourself: this is the hard part. Notice we parents are nowhere in this connection.

I know we love these babies, and we want to march them right to their full potential. But we also know it’s not the Lord’s way. Many of our children will use their agency and make decisions that drive us crazy or cause big heartaches. This experience is hardly limited to our LGBTQ children.

Have faith, not fear. The Savior is the connection. Our children are His children. He knows them, and He will guide them in ways that they understand. The best thing we can do is teach them young and remind them often that His hands are always stretched out as He says, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28 and Ether 12:27).

If you have lost connection with LGBTQ loved ones, do what you can to reconnect. They desperately need us to stay connected and supportive. Our LGBTQ children are under attack. The voices of the world tell them they are not valued as they are. The voices say they are not divine children of God. The voices of the world tell them that there is something terribly, terribly wrong with them.

Our children are constantly hearing these dangerous messages that cause shame and separation (spiritually and emotionally) from themselves, from family, and from God.

Even after all we can do, many of us will watch our children walk away from the Church. Or from us. If this happens, you may have to change the way you connect a little. We know the gospel can be a feast for the soul, but it can never be enjoyed if it’s force-fed. Find common ground to rebuild your relationship.

When the fear creeps in, and I know it does, remember what Joseph Smith taught the women in the very first days of the Relief Society: “If you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.”15

Mothers, go to the Savior and ask for his angels to watch over your child. Have faith. You are in divine partnership with Heaven. As we protect and nurture our relationships with our children, we will be a powerful tether stretching between our children and the Savior.

There are two important supportive factors I want to touch on that can make large differences in our LGBTQ children’s overall well-being.

Support from Family

Studies, including the “Family Acceptance Project,”16 which was created with a Latter-day Saint researcher, show that LGBTQ children who are highly rejected by their parents—meaning they are kicked out, blamed, told they can’t talk about their orientation, or told their orientation is against God—are “8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs”17 when compared with LGBTQ youth who are not at all, or only slightly, rejected by their parents.

These are shocking numbers that prove that the family is vitally important not only for the spiritual health of our LGBTQ children but for their good mental health and well-being.

Tom Christofferson tells a story about his LGBTQ family in his book, That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family.18 Years ago, his family was going on vacation, and Tom wanted to bring his partner. One of the brothers was so uncomfortable with this that he thought he might not bring his children on the trip. His mom and dad gathered his four brothers and his sisters-in-law for a council.

Tom remembers, “They began with prayer, and then, as I recall, my father talked about the importance of unity and loyalty to one another. My mother said, ‘I am ashamed to say it, but there was a time when I thought we were the perfect Mormon family … but then life happens, and I realized that there is no perfect Mormon family. The only thing we can really be perfect at is loving each other.’”

His mother continued, “The most important lesson your children will learn from how our family treats their Uncle Tom is that nothing they can ever do will take them outside the circle of our family’s love.”

Tom said that became their guiding principle.19

When we realize the goal is not to have a perfect Latter-day Saint family but to become perfect at loving one another, we can grow together and become stronger as we partner with each other and the Lord.

Support from Wards and Leaders

It’s been fifty years since my parents realized my brother was gay, and in many ways, we are in a vastly different world.

We know now that being LGBTQ is not a choice. Because our children are so young and vulnerable, many parents are fiercely protective of their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. These messages no longer land on the individual alone. They are felt by and threaten to disconnect the entire family, often before local leaders know that there is an LGBTQ person in the family.

The latest Gallup research says 7.1 percent of adults identify as LGBTQ.20 That means if your ward has 300 people, 21 people in your ward might identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. That is a big number and it doesn’t include their family members, who are also affected by both positive and negative messaging.

From You Are Loved

Local leaders and ward members play such a vital connective role in helping individuals and families know that they belong. Most people I meet are desperately trying to stay connected. Jean B. Bingham, former Relief Society General President, talked about this kind of disconnection during the BYU Women’s Conference in 2021. She taught,

Studies have shown that the number one reason people leave religion is that they feel judged or unwelcome. That is cited more often than doctrinal disagreement or lack of belief. The good news is that situation can practically be eliminated if we really open our arms and hearts to everyone. We can seek to “be a light, not a judge.” That is something left only to the Lord. Our responsibility is to extend an open hand and heart. As we do that, we find that we have created a safe place for sharing, a safe place to grow, a safe place to become our best selves.21

Get to know the resources for LGBTQ members on the church website.22 There is good information for families and leaders there, including Elder Cook’s challenge to us all: “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront of expressing love, compassion, and outreach.”23

President Nelson has often spoken of the gathering of Israel. In general conference, he said, “The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.”

He continued, “My dear brothers and sisters, the best is yet to come for those who spend their lives building up others. Today I invite you to examine your discipleship within the context of the way you treat others. I bless you to make any adjustments that may be needed so that your behavior is ennobling, respectful, and representative of a true follower of Jesus Christ.”24

We are called to be gatherers, connectors. Our heavenly parents’ LGBTQ children and their families need our open hands and open hearts to help them stay connected and close so they can feel the light and warmth of the Savior’s gospel.

My testimony of the Savior has been forged along this journey. I count it all joy that I was raised in a loving, faithful LGBTQ family. I have been stretched. I have had to dig in. Because I’ve had to rely on the Savior, I have come to know Him, and I know I am known by Him. He strengthens and guides me. I testify that the Lord loves His LGBTQ children exactly as they are, and I believe they have much to teach us.

You Are Loved

We all have struggles. From feeling friendless and alone to grieving the death of a loved one, none of us have lives that look exactly how we might want them to. Even so, in our trials and difficulties, we can know that we are loved. Not only by the people closest to us—though their love is essential too—but most of all, by the Creator of the Universe, our Father in Heaven. This collection of addresses by women for women explores how we can recognize our divine worth and potential and come to see ourselves and others the way God does—with grace, optimism, and love. Available at Deseret Book and


1. Quentin L. Cook, “How Can I Include or Reach Out to Those Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction in My Ward or Stake?” Life Help: Same Sex Attraction, Gospel Library.

2. Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold Thy Mother,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2015.

3. See Genesis 3.

4. See Exodus 2:1–4.

5. See Genesis 22–49.

6. See the book of Esther.

7. See 1 Nephi 1.

8. See Study Helps: Guide to the Scriptures, “Mary, Mother of Jesus,” Gospel Library.

9. See Luke 1.

10. See Alma 19.

11. See “Prophetic Teachings on Temples,” Endowment Initiatory-Washing and Anointing, Gospel Library.

12. See “Prophetic Teachings on Temples,” Endowment Overview, Gospel Library.

13. See Matthew 7:7.

14. Russell M. Nelson, “The Answer Is Always Jesus Christ,” Liahona, May 2023.

15. Relief Society Minute Book, Nauvoo, Illinois, Apr. 28, 1842, Church History Library, 38.

16. San Francisco State University, “Welcome to the Family Acceptance Project, “

17. C. Ryan, “Engaging families to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth: The Family Acceptance Project,” The Prevention Researcher (2010), 11–13.

18. Tom Christofferson, That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family, 2017.

19. Candice Madsen, “Christofferson Brothers Share How They Remained ‘As One,’” KSL News, October 2017.

20. Jeffery M. Jones, “LGBT Identification in U.S. Ticks Up to 7.1%,” Gallup News, February 2022.

21. “The Promise of Belonging,” Jean B. Bingham, Sharon Eubank, and Reyna I. Aburto, BYU Women’s Conference, April 2021.


23. Quentin L. Cook, “How Can I Include or Reach Out to Those Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction in My Ward or Stake?” Life Help: Same Sex Attraction, Gospel Library.

24. Russell M. Nelson, “Peacemakers Needed,” Liahona, May 2023.

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