By Ryan Collett
A new It Gets Better video was released this week by LGBT students at Brigham Young University — one of the most conservative universities in the country and one that consistently ranks among the unfriendliest towards the LGBT community.
BYU is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, and is known for its rigorous academics and strict moral code. Students enrolled at BYU agree to follow the school’s official Honor Code, a code of conduct that prohibits premarital sex, drugs and alcohol, and homosexual conduct.
The video was filmed by members of a campus group called Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA). The group was formed in 2010 when the university amended its Honor Code to allow gay rights activism. While homosexual activity — sex, kissing, handholding — is still not allowed, gay students have more of a voice than ever before.
The Mormon Church recognizes evidence that homosexuality is innate, but does not allow its members to participate in homosexual relationships. The Church encourages its members to participate in voting against pro same-sex marriage amendments around the country.
Gay Mormons find themselves in a particular position, often facing opposition from both conservative Mormons for their orientations and the larger LGBT community for their religious beliefs. The USGA’s It Gets Better video attempts to raise awareness for these individuals said Kendall Wilcox, one of the producers of the project.
“If there is any message to be taken by the Latter-day Saints Church or BYU administration it is that we hope they continue to make strides in creating a more loving environment in Mormon culture that is conducive to those who involuntarily experience homosexuality and choose to live the Mormon lifestyle,” said Wilcox.
The video plays out like traditional It Gets Better videos, featuring BYU students sharing their stories of coming out and coming to terms with their homosexuality. Despite their unique challenge of reconciling faith with identity, the students can all say, “It gets better.”
“We want to make it clear that this was neither a publicity stunt paid for by the LDS Church nor was it a political move against the LDS Church,” said Wilcox. “It was simply an effort to share stories and offer a sense of hope.”