Dear 100 Hour Board,
This is an honest question, I’m not trying to stir up controversy or be contentious—what on earth is the policy for missionaries who are part of the LGBTQ+ community? Are they allowed to be open with their orientation? When I was on my mission, one Elder had an arm tattoo that he had to cover up with an arm band and never mention, not even to his companion. Is it something like that, or...? When I asked an MTC official about it, he seemed mildly offended and said to talk to my Stake President, who didn’t know either. All I want to know is if there’s an official, across-the-board approach, or if it’s up to each Mission President how it’s addressed. Personally, I think it should be fine to be open with who they are. Diversity, empathy—it’s really important. My life has been enriched so much by my friends in the gay community, some active, some not. Thoughts? Experiences?
From what I understand there is no official, across-the-board approach. I think the Mission President can advise an LGBTQ missionary to be or act a certain way, but ultimately the missionary gets to decide. I agree that it should be fine to be open with who they are. I think as long as they don't preach against the doctrine of the Church or act contrary to the doctrine of the Church, then they would be fine just like every other missionary in the world.
-Sunday Night Banter
I think it depends on your mission president. Personally, I was lucky enough to have a mission president who was very welcoming of gay missionaries. During zone conferences would say things about how statistically several of us were LGBTQ+, and how that was fine and he and the Lord both loved us no matter what our orientation was, and that we should always be loving and welcoming of everyone. I know that some missionaries specifically told him about being gay, and as far as I'm aware he never told them to hide that fact from anyone (although most didn't exactly advertise it, because there's no guarantee that their companions would be understanding). He was also aware that there were almost definitely some closeted missionaries, and would go out of his way to tell the entire mission that he loved us regardless of our orientation and whether or not we felt comfortable sharing it with him. Based on what I've heard about some other mission presidents, though, I don't think everyone is like that, so it seems like it's just up to the mission president what their policy is. Hopefully as the Church becomes more aware of the diversity within its membership it will come up with a universal policy to help protect its gay missionaries and make sure that mission presidents are loving and accepting.
Also, for what it's worth I definitely know some people with tattoos who went on missions and weren't told to keep their tats covered up at all times. One of my friends has a very visible tattoo on her wrist, as well as another on her back, and she never had to do anything to hide her wrist tattoo, and was very open about both her tattoos with her companions and investigators.
I searched through the missionary handbook and there isn't any mention of it. I don't know of any missionaries on my mission who were openly LGBTQ+ (although it's highly likely there were LGBTQ+ missionaries), so I don't have personal experience with it. Obviously the same missionary standards about appropriate conduct such as not flirting with or dating anyone etc. would still apply though.
My thoughts are that I think LGBTQ+ missionaries who are open about their orientation could potentially be a huge blessing to investigators, members and other missionaries on their mission. On the other hand, I'm guessing it would be hard and there would be members and missionaries who wouldn't respect them and treat them like they should be treated. I personally would love it if we had more openly LGBTQ+ missionaries and would encourage them to go on missions, but I'm not sure how it would be handled by others.
If any readers have relevant experiences please submit a correction. Hope this helps!