Frequently Asked Questions

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The following are some of the questions folks have occasionally about who North Star beliefs, values, and affiliations.

If there are questions you have that are not included here, please feel free to contact us.

What is North Star's connection to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

North Star wholly supports the doctrines and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including principles outlined in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and Church teachings regarding gender and the appropriate bounds of sexual expression.

Even so, North Star operates wholly independent of the Church—it is not owned by or affiliated with the Church, does not receive funding or direction from the Church, and site content is the sole responsibility of North Star and/or the authors and should not be interpreted as official statements of Church doctrine, belief, or practice.

Our mission is to serve the greater Latter-day Saint community with issues related to sexual orientation or gender identity, but all views expressed or errors made are the sole responsibility of North Star contributors.

Is North Star an “Ex-Gay” Organization?

No. First, the idea of being “ex-gay” is tied to an evangelical Christian movement that Latter-day Saints as a whole have typically never identified with. Even Evergreen International who, while in operation had some ideological similarities to the evangelical umbrella ministry Exodus International, rarely if ever used the term “ex-gay” to identify those who participated in their programs. Furthermore, neither prior to nor since North Star subsumed Evergreen International in January of 2014 has North Star identified with the evangelical Christian “ex-gay” movement.

Second, as fundamental principle, North Star does not claim or promote the idea that an individual has to eliminate homosexual attractions in order to be happy or healthy person or a faithful Latter-day Saint. While there are some who have reported that their attractions have diminished or even eliminated, or who may have at one time self-identified as gay or lesbian but no longer do so, the message and position of North Star is only that it is possible for those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria (i.e., transgender individuals) to live in joy and harmony within our covenants, values, and beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Whether or not individuals involved with North Star seek to reduce feelings of same-sex attraction therapeutically or through some other means, or however they choose to identify, is an entirely personal matter about which North Star takes no official position.

Why do you use the term “same-sex attraction” instead of gay or lesbian, or LGBT? Doesn’t that pathologize sexuality, or make it sound like same-sex attraction is a disease? Why don’t you just refer to people as who they really are?

Sexuality and romantic love, including sexual identity, are much more layered, complex, and diverse than often understood or acknowledged in popular culture. For some Latter-day Saints, particularly those who are attracted to others of the same sex but who don’t identify as gay or lesbian, It’s important to distinguish between feelings of attraction, sexual orientation, and labels or identity. There is wide variability among both individuals’ experience of sexuality and their personal sense of identity. Research seems to show that of individuals who report experiencing attraction to others of the same sex, roughly 80% of men also report some degree of attraction to women and roughly 95% of women report some attraction to men, which for some may make them less likely to identify as gay or lesbian.

There is also a growing body of research looking at sexual fluidity, which has been defined as “a situation-dependent flexibility in sexual responsiveness which may manifest in changes in sexual orientation identity over time” (Katz-Wise & Hyde, 2014). Furthermore, in an article for Psychological Review, “What does Sexual Orientation Orient?”, one researcher proposes a biobehavioral model for romantic love and sexual desire that is based on an assumption that “the evolved processes underlying sexual desire and affectional bonding are functionally independent,” given that sexual and affectional components of relationship orientation “do not always agree.” Meaning that just finding someone sexually desirable does not mean one will always be romantically bonded to them, or vice versa.

Thus, because of the layered and multidimensional nature of sexuality and romantic love, we generally prefer terminology that speaks to the most basic and inclusive description of attraction—same-sex attraction—which may or may not be fluid or persistent to the point that some would call it a “sexual orientation,” and which may or may not be incorporated into a gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity. It is very common in research for people to explore and describe the nature of their sexuality using basic terminology of same-sex attraction, distinguishing it from identity, without speaking of it in pathological terms. How people incorporate their attractions or their general experience of sexuality into a self-identity is a very personal matter around which North Star takes no official position. We also choose not to generalize a gay or lesbian identity and wish to respect the preferences of those who do not identify as gay or lesbian as much as we respect the choice of those who do identify as such.

Is North Star a therapeutic organization?

No. In the parlance of mainline Christianity, we could be considered a peer-led, lay religious support ministry. At our annual conference or other events we may hold workshops on general themes of health and wellness facilitated by licensed mental health professionals, but those workshops focus on holistic well-being and personal growth, not sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

For additional information on North Star’s position on therapy, see the next section titled, “What is North Star’s position on ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy or other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)?”

What is North Star's position on "reparative" or "conversion" therapy or other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)?

Recognizing the uniqueness of individual circumstance, North Star takes no official position on the origin or mutability of homosexual attraction or gender dysphoria but supports all efforts consistent with the gospel that help individuals live in more full harmony with their covenants and attain greater peace, fulfillment, and sense of individual worth, while affirming that the most essential and eternal growth and progress come through the power of the Savior and adherence to the teachings of His prophets. The purpose and promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not to make “gay” people “straight,” but rather to help humans to become “new creatures.”

The focus of North Star’s education and support resources is not on changing sexual orientation but rather on supporting those who desire to live within the framework of the doctrines of the Church or who might be in the process of joining or returning to the Church. North Star aims to help individuals grow spiritually and in a holistic sense of health and well-being, affirming and embracing our eternal identity as literal sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Whether or not individuals choose to make efforts to diminish or eliminate homosexual feelings, and whether or not those efforts succeed, is personal and less important to North Star’s purposes.

That said, we fully respect the right of individuals to self-determination, so if individuals desire to seek out various therapeutic efforts and find them helpful, we support their right to continue to have that ability so long as it is freely chosen, appropriately understood, and ethically conducted. There’s a large number of individuals who have found some of these approaches to be very helpful, and if there are resources that people in our community have found helpful therapeutically and which promote overall health and well-being, whether they are informed in some way by various SOCE perspectives or not, we invite them to share how their personal experiences and efforts have improved their sense of well-being and helped them better live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

North Star does not endorse the idea that everyone should seek professional therapy to address issues related to homosexuality or gender identity, or that any particular therapeutic effort is going to be helpful or effective for everyone, and we do not recommend or endorse any particular form of therapy for addressing sexuality or other mental or emotional health issues. We want to help people make the most informed choices possible, and provide to them the broadest possible range of gospel-consistent responses to this issue. While that range may include some forms of SOCE-informed therapies, there are many other therapeutic approaches that may be helpful.

For those who are looking for therapeutic help, or for mental health professionals looking for resources to help provide ethical therapy for those who desire to live a life in harmony with LDS doctrinal teachings, we recommend consulting the “Principles and Practices for Mental-Health Professionals Helping Latter-day Saints Respond to Same-Sex Attractions.” This document of “best practices” was prepared by the Reconciliation and Growth Project, a group of mental-health practitioners who represent diverse perspectives—from LGBT-affirmative to proponents of varied sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)—who have worked together to establish a mutually agreed-upon, inclusive and comprehensive therapeutic approach.

When individuals affiliated with North Star speak about their personal experiences with reconciling their same-sex attraction with their personal beliefs, it must be understood that these individuals are speaking for themselves, of their own personal experiences. They are not propounding an “official,” proscribed method of dealing with these issues. This is true even of individuals in prominent leadership positions. We recognize that different approaches will work better for different people, and that North Star can best serve its audience by bringing together the widest possible diversity of experiences within the umbrella of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Does North Star endorse or promote “mixed-orientation marriages” (heterosexual marriage in which one partner experiences homosexual attraction)? Haven’t Church leaders started discouraging heterosexual marriage for those who experience same-sex attraction?

Marriage is a very personal decision. While North Star supports the doctrines and teachings of the Church related to the appropriate bounds of sexual expression, specifically that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children,” and that “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”), we do not encourage or discourage marriage generally. We believe the individuals must carefully and prayerfully make that decision for themselves, from a place of authentic self-awareness and open communication with a potential spouse—and considering all risks, costs, benefits, and blessings.

In the context of individuals who experience homosexual attraction, Church leaders have suggested that “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Reverence and Morality,” Ensign, May 1987), but they have not explicitly discouraged marriage for those who experience same-sex attraction. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated, “We are all thrilled when some who struggle with these feelings are able to marry, raise children, and achieve family happiness,” but he also noted that we should “recognize that marriage is not an all-purpose solution” and that “same-gender attractions run deep, and trying to force a heterosexual relationship is not likely to change them.” Some attempts at marriage, he said, “have resulted in broken hearts and broken homes” (“Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 2007).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, “persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity—that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate.”

We agree with and support this counsel.

Since all of the individuals depicted in the TLC Special “My Husband’s Not Gay” are affiliated in some way with North Star, do their positions and beliefs represent North Star or those of individuals affiliated with North Star?

No. The individuals on the show speak only for themselves—not for the Church, and not for North Star. The show is not a “North Star” show and was developed entirely independently of any connection to North Star. Even among participants in the special, individuals differ in a number of areas on how to approach this issue.

To get a fuller view of the variety of perspectives within North Star, we recommend viewing the videos and reading the essays included as part of our Voices of Hope Project, where we are continually adding diverse faithful and faith-affirming perspectives.

Does North Star sponsor support groups?

No, we don’t. North Star may choose to refer individuals seeking in-person support to local support groups that we are aware of and that we believe are supportive of our mission and goals, but this does not constitute and endorsement of those groups, nor should they be referred to as “North Star support groups.” In keeping with our commitment to diversity, North Star recognizes that different support groups have different purposes and goals and not everyone will be helped by existing support groups. We encourage these individuals to form their own support group, according to their own vision for the kind of support they want, within the framework of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to share that vision with other potentially like-minded individuals.

Why was Evergreen International absorbed into North Star?

When North Star was organized in 2006, Evergreen International was an existing organization serving Latter-day Saints who wanted to live their lives within the framework of gospel teachings. The desire of North Star leadership was not to be competitive but rather to grow a complementary peer-led organization focused more on providing supportive community.

Over the years, however, as more and more of the activities of Evergreen and North Star overlapped and became redundant, leaders of both organizations decided to consolidate resources and combine efforts under the North Star umbrella, focusing the efforts of volunteers—who were often working in programs in both Evergreen and North Star—under the direction of a single volunteer-led organizational effort.

Did the timing of Evergreen’s absorption into North Star have anything to do with the dissolution of Exodus or the Church purportedly “withdrawing” its support from Evergreen?

No and no. The timing of the merger came out of discussions conducted within each of our organizations about our respective future goals and desired growth over the previous year. The timing or reasoning had nothing to do with any external parties from North Star or Evergreen, whether that be the Church or other organizations addressing same-sex attraction.

What is North Star's position on political issues? Does North Star participate in political activism?

North Star exists to help people concerned about issues related to sexual or gender identity deepen their personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to support them in their desires to live according to the teachings and covenants they have made as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We understand that political issues are of great importance to many people who make up or are influenced by our organization. In our function as a support organization whose core focus on the spiritual needs and overall health and wellness of our members, we have determined as an organization not to officially endorse political causes or to join political coalitions, including those officially sanctioned by the institutional Church.

There is often a wide array of perspectives and opinion regarding the best application of personal values to public policy, and conversations regarding political agendas often become heated or emotional. As we keep abreast of influential current events, North Star encourages the application and engagement of each member’s free agency in light of and in congruence with the doctrines of the Church and principles of the gospel.

Meanwhile, within our community’s discussion groups, we encourage our members to focus on the personal implications of supporting each other through what could be divisive and painful conflicts. We encourage questions such as, “How should we handle our hurt feelings at Church if people on either side of a political debate say things that seem mean-spirited or ignorant during discussions of a political nature?” or, “Is it possible to have policy disagreements and still show forth love as we come together as the body of Christ to build bridges of understanding and bring more people to Christ?”

What kind of resources to you have for men and women who desire, are in, or who affirm same-sex romantic/sexual relationships? What about those who experience gender dysphoria (i.e., transgender) and who desire to socially or surgically transition? And what about those who experience Intersex conditions, or disorders of sex development (DSDs)?

North Star’s mission is specifically to serve those who desire to live fully within the framework of gospel teachings regarding marriage and sexual expression. While North Star is the best and most thorough resource for those who want to live within the framework of Church teachings, we may not be best suited to serve those who are either pursuing or in a same-sex relationship, whether or not they desire to remain active in the Church. Other organizations, such as Affirmation, may be better suited to serve those who are in same-sex relationships.

With regard to gender dysphoria or transgender feelings, because Church leaders and resources have spoken very little to these issues outside of some general policies concerning “elective transsexual operations,” North Star seeks to provide resources for all individuals who desire to deepen their relationship with the Savior and pursue all blessings associated with the gospel, including sacred covenants associated with both baptism and the temple.

Concerning those with Intersex conditions, North Star currently has no resources that address disorders of sex development (DSDs), but those who do experience such conditions are welcome at any of our events or in any of our groups that would otherwise feel relevant or beneficial.

What is North Star's connection to other LDS-related groups such as Mormons Building Bridges, Circling the Wagons, Affirmation, etc?

North Star operates completely independent of any other group or organization with connections either to cultural Mormonism or to the institutional Church of Jesus Christ, whether they are supportive or critical of the Church and its positions on issues related to homosexuality or gender identity. North Star leadership has occasionally elected to participate in events sponsored by other groups as a means of contributing our perspectives and stories to the broader conversation on SSA and LGBT issues.

In addition, in its calendar, North Star may provide reference to activities or events sponsored by other organizations or groups we have reason to believe are explicitly and exclusively supportive of the doctrines and/or behavioral standards of the Church, but these references should not be interpreted as official or implied connection to or endorsement of such groups. One exception is the 2013 Reconciling Faith and Feelings Conference, of which North Star became an official co-sponsor in conjunction with the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists (AMCAP) and the Foundation for Attraction Research (FAR).

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