Are you a gay Mormon who is single and looking for love?
Then a forthcoming website is here to answer your prayers. Created by Andrew Markle, "Origins" seeks to give gay Mormons an online social network to meet others like them for "marriage or long-term commitment." According to Markle, the website will act both as a tool for dating and as a resource for LGBTQ Mormons looking for acceptance within a church that's still evolving on its stance on homosexuality.
Markle stated that Origins will also "connect gay Mormons with allies and help them reconcile their [religious] beliefs with their lifestyle." Markle believes that Origins is about building a gay Mormon community and estimates that there are around 22,000 practicing gay Mormons.
Expected to launch in the second quarter of 2013, Origins is supported by Affirmation, an advocacy group for LGBTQ Mormons made up of both actively practicing members of the Mormon faith and non-members.
Affirmation seeks provide a safe space in the Mormon church "where LGBT individuals, as well as those questioning their orientation, can associate with like individuals, ask questions, and know that they are not alone." Affirmation believes that same-gender relationships are "compatible" with the teachings of the Mormon church and hopes to make the church more inclusive for LGBTQ practitioners.
Markle believes that the Origins website will be a crucial component of this effort.
Although neither Origins nor Affirmations is officially sanctioned by the Mormon Church -- as the Elders do not openly recognize LGBT organizations as official church entities -- Origins comes on the heels of the church's announcement that they will minister to LGBTQ individuals.
In December, the Mormon Church launched "Mormons and Gays," a website devoted to "discussion on same-sex attraction." According to the website, the church's changing stance on gay members does not mean that the church accepts "homosexual behavior" as acceptable but recognizes that homosexuality is not a choice.
Like Origins, Mormons and Gays acts as a conduit for conversation and acceptance of LGBTQ individuals, so that church members can "respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere."
Markle realizes that the mission of Origins, which helps LGBTQ singles connect for the purposes of a relationship, diverges with the church's new stance on homosexuality -- which is of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" variety.
For Markle, Origins will act as a further step in the right direction for gay Mormons -- moving from preliminary dialogue to a place of action. Frustrated with the church's decision to call same-gender relationships "attractions," Markle stated that the church "still has a long way to go in regard to full inclusion" and repairing the damage done by decades of forcing LGBTQ members into the closet.
In order to act as a force for good in the lives of its Mormon members, the church must continue to evolve and make amends to the gay faithful.
As a practicing Mormon and weekly churchgoer, Markle understands his position may be controversial for many in the church and that he may face excommunication or disfellowship for his involvement in Origins -- as advocating homosexual relationships may be grounds for expulsion from the church.
Markle was recently disfellowed from the church for getting involved in a relationship, which he could be excommunicated for.
Despite disapproval from the leadership, Markle's other churchgoers were like a family to him. They were welcoming of his orientation -- and treated his new relationship just like any other. Markle hopes that the church will one day be able to say the same.