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Utah Groups Hope to Bridge Religious and LGBTQ+ Communities

Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah
Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City

The Mormon Church recently voiced support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would federally protect marriage equality. 

HEBER CITY (KSL) -- Local groups in Utah are working to help people in the LGBTQ community feel more welcome and more understood.

Kyle Ashworth was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served a mission, married in the temple, and had some kids.

"And after all those things, I still was gay," Ashworth said.

Now, he's married again and hosts the podcast Latter Gay Stories, where he's hoping by sharing people's stories, others might get a better understanding.

"A lot of the religious population have no need to draw closer to the queer community," Ashworth explained. "It's usually only when someone's son or daughter or child comes out that a family actually pays attention to these topics."

He's not the only one in Utah with this kind of personal mission, like Susie Augenstein.

"I'm constantly begging and pleading for people, especially those that don't have LGBTQ kids in their lives, to join us and to help support those that do because they need us," Augenstein said.

She's an ally to queer kids and adults through a group called Peculiar.

"Whether it's a shooting like happened or a suicide, we just need to stop the deaths and have them feel like they're a part of us," explained Augenstein.

And it's tragedies like the one in Colorado that have people on the side of allyship and support. Asking others to join them or, at the very least, listen.

"Because often in this space, we see so much trauma, and we see a lot of triage where we're left putting people back together," Ashworth said.

Getting to know people who may seem nothing like you is the kind of big ask these folks are going for.

"This great gay agenda is to get up in the morning and to love and be loved," said Ashworth.

Neither of these groups is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but both say better understanding is essential, especially when it comes to the mental health of LGBTQ youth.

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Related: Mormon Church Comes Out in Favor of Marriage Equality Law

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