Preston Jenkins, a gay Latter-day Saint, said the phrase “I support you” has always led him to put his guard up. 

“The catchphrase ‘Well, I support you,’ is so ambiguous and can mean so many different things,” Jenkins said. “I’m just leery when people say that. I’m like, ‘What do you mean?’ So that’s something that I didn’t find super helpful. It actually would put me on my guard because I didn’t know what they meant. Did it mean that they were going to affirm my bad choices? Or did it mean that they were gonna stand for what was right? If it meant they were standing for what was right, that’s great.”

Dallin Jenkins, Preston’s brother, spent the last five years exploring ways to help members of the Church who experience same-sex attraction feel like they belong.

Preston (right) and Dallin Jenkins (left) laugh together. Photo courtesy of Dallin Jenkins.
Preston (right) and Dallin Jenkins (left) laugh together. Photo courtesy of Dallin Jenkins.

Even though it’s a hard topic for many to talk about, he dove headfirst into it after his brother came out as gay. 

“To be frank, it’s a hard topic,” Dallin Jenkins said. “It’s a sensitive situation that a lot of people struggle with. A lot of people get very emotional in talking about this, and that tends to kind of get in the way or hinder productive or wholesome conversations. It’s a hard topic, yes, but we need to talk about it. People need to feel like they belong.” 

As he prepared for his senior project, he imagined an event where his brother could share his experience as a gay Latter-day Saint and share gospel principles that have helped him feel rooted and that have increased his sense of belonging.

The “Do I Belong?” event will be held on June 10 at 7 p.m. at the Rexburg Tabernacle

Helping leaders

Dallin Jenkins has spoken with many young adult Church leaders who struggle to find the balance between defending the gospel and being loving and supportive. 

He believes there’s a middle ground between these seemingly contradictory ideas.

Preston Jenkins said everyone knows someone who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I feel like it’s relevant no matter where you go,” Preston Jenkins said. “Whether it impacts you personally or somebody you know, they’re going to encounter it so it’s better to be prepared.” 

Preston Jenkins said that the best thing people did for him was to continue showing love and interest in him. He appreciated when people stuck to their values. 

“They didn’t change their values to accommodate me. Like, I don’t think that’s healthy or helpful,” Preston Jenkins said. “People kept showing an interest. I think the best reactions were ‘Okay, and?’ It wasn’t like they made a big deal out of it.”