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  5. I’ve heard you are a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What are your opinions on gay rights, particularly in light of the church’s controversial relationship to the LGBTQ+ community? (Also related: Do you still agree with the views you expressed in 2008 in your essay about Dumbledore’s homosexuality?)

I’ve heard you are a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What are your opinions on gay rights, particularly in light of the church’s controversial relationship to the LGBTQ+ community? (Also related: Do you still agree with the views you expressed in 2008 in your essay about Dumbledore’s homosexuality?)


I am a practicing and faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of that, I support the leaders of the church, accept them as my spiritual advisors, and believe they are led by God.

That said, on the position of gay rights, I find my own beliefs more liberal than the general tenor of the church. Over the years, through interaction with wonderfully patient members of the LGBTQ+ community, I think I’ve come a long way.

My current stance is one of unequivocable support for LGBTQ+ rights. I support gay marriage. I support trans rights, the rights of non-binary people, and I support the rights of trans people to affirm their own identity with love and support. I support anti-discrimination legislation, and have voted consistently along these lines for the last fifteen years. I am marking the posting of this FAQ item, at the encouragement of several of my LGBTQ+ fans, with a sizable donation to the Utah Pride Center and another to The OUT Foundation.

How do I reconcile this belief of mine with the teachings of the church? Well, I believe one of the purposes of our life on this planet is to grow, learn, mature, and understand. Even Christ learned measure by measure. I think the church itself has made great strides in the past years: it has come out against conversion therapy. It has begun allowing a trans person’s preferred name to be noted on their records and used in church meetings. It has supported the Respect for Marriage Act in the United States.

The church’s first prophet, Joseph Smith, famously taught, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” My current beliefs are where I’ve arrived on my journey, as I attempt to show the love that Jesus Christ taught. I look forward to seeing further changes in the church, and I work to make sure I am helping from within it to create a place that is welcoming of LGBTQ+ people and ideas. I would love, for example, to see the church recognize gay marriage among its members. Both temporally and eternally. I would support ordaining trans men to the priesthood. (And would support the ordination of women, though that is another issue.)

That said, I do not represent the church, and I trust the leaders to lead it wisely. I am patient with them, and accept that if what I want never happens, then that is God’s will. I do not always know why the church does what it does, or why God does what He does. As Nephi said, “I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” (1 Nephi 11:17).

I have had profound spiritual experiences that reinforce to me that God exists, loves his children, and wants me in this church. I believe the men and women who lead it are good people, called of God, and deserve my trust even when they make choices that I would not make. While no human is infallible, and church leaders have made mistakes in the past, I believe Russell M. Nelson is the prophet of God. It’s his job to speak for the church and for God, not mine. I’m glad I don’t have to. It’s tough enough to figure out what I feel and want sometimes, let alone trying to figure out what an entire church body needs.

I put LGBTQ+ people into my books, and will continue to do so. Not because I want to fulfill a quota, but because I genuinely believe that it is right for the characters–and is a good and important thing for me to be doing. God created LGBTQ+ people in this world; to ignore such an important aspect of His creation would be to deny, in some small way, Him. On a more personal note, one hallmark and theme of my writing is trying to make certain that people in my stories reflect the people I see around me, as they want to be presented. This is something that, when I was growing up, very few popular fiction stories did. I consider it a personal mandate to do better.

I will make mistakes. I have made them in the past. I appreciate those who firmly, yet lovingly, help me see this. On the topic of Dumbledore, you might have seen excerpts from an essay I wrote many years ago (in 2007) on the topic. Though my blog has changed hosting many times, and I don’t even have access to the original essay, you can easily find it on the Wayback Machine or various internet archives. (Here’s a link, if you want to read it)

There are certainly some wrong-headed ideas presented in the article, though if you haven’t read it (and instead have read only excerpts) you might want to read the actual thing. I think some of the content will surprise you, as it was the writings of a man trying (poorly) to learn how to be supportive of LGBTQ+ ideas, even while not being willing to fully commit.

Back in 2007, I was mostly known only in my community, not to the world at large. The essay, then, was directed at my local community, and was more controversial among them (for being too liberal) than it was controversial to the world at large for being homophobic. That might surprise you, if you’ve read the excerpts that often float around the internet. This was mostly me trying to encourage other members of the church to be more open and welcoming of gay characters and ideas.

That said, the essay does display the casual bigotry common to people who (like myself) have lived lives where we haven’t had to deal with some of the issues common to the lives of people suffering discrimination. Many of the assertions (such as my view on gay marriage) do not reflect my current stance. After writing it, and interacting with those who found it objectionable–even painful–I came to understand them and their experiences better. Though they did not owe me that honor, they gave it freely.

For that reason, I don’t regret writing the essay. The alternative would have been to remain quiet, and therefore never learn. I appreciate greatly those who are willing to talk, rather than yell. Those who encourage, rather than despise. I hope that I am able to learn from their examples and show similar understanding.

In return, I’d like to be very clear. I apologize, deeply, for the pain I brought you. For both my unaware bigotry and the bad decisions I made with eyes wide open. I am trying to do

That said, I recognize that this FAQ entry itself might be unpopular with some of you, as it presents someone walking between two worlds, unwilling to condemn either one. To the conservative members of my church who might read this, I would like to say that I genuinely believe what I’ve said here. I’m not trying to pander to a crowd; I think what I am doing is right, and what God would want me to do. The savior taught us to look inward, at how we can be better, rather than pointing fingers or throwing stones at others.

People trying to make their life experience and desires heard should not offend you. Rather, can we not look at these experiences as better opportunities to understand? How can we follow the great commandment to love our neighbors if we don’t understand them? I encourage you to read more about the life experiences of those different from yourselves, and I promise you that you will grow by doing so.

To the members of the LGBTQ+ community, or those aligned with them, who think I do not go far enough, I understand–but disagree. I will not disavow my faith. To do so would be pandering, because it is not where my heart is. I am proud to be a member of this church, and am proud of my heritage in it. As one of my ancestors said, when challenged and asked if he was a Mormon, I reply the same. “Yes, siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through.”

And would it really be better if I left? I suspect many reading this would want for the church to change, and become more LGBTQ+ friendly. That will not happen if the people inside of it, who are faithful, do not change. I believe in the power of change, and the power of people to become better. It is the foundation of my writing, and without that ability to change, the world becomes a much darker, more sorrowful place.

I do not want to deny your frustration, and I know you’ve been told far too often to be patient with people who are hurting you. I will not make those requests of you now, as I once did. Instead I’ll simply say this: I am listening. And, as I promised, I am trying. That is the best I can do.

Brandon Sanderson
January 2023

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