What Do You Think Happened to This Young Mormon After He Came Out of the Closet?

Jamison Manwaring got to the point where he couldn’t keep lying about who he is. Back in March, he finally announced that he is attracted to men, using a medium that could hardly be more public: a video he posted to YouTube.

Manwaring is a Mormon, as is his extended family … so we all know where this is going. Cue the angry disappointment from his relatives, the shaming by his fellow believers, the ostracizing by his peers, the gay-baiting comments on his Facebook page.

But here’s the funny thing. What Manwaring found in his Mormon community was love and acceptance, of all things.

NPR has the story:

[Jamison’s brother] Jonathan on learning that Jamison was gay:

“It was definitely a shock and definitely changed my worldview in a lot of ways. I guess I never conceptualized the lonely paths people walk. … Now I feel like just being able to do that has just opened my mind and my ability to reach out to others.”

What [his sister-in-law] Rachel tells her five young children about their uncle:

“I was so grateful, when Jamison came out, that we could be so open with our children. They have a gay uncle, and that doesn’t change anything. We grew up with this idea of just this deviant lifestyle, and just kind of unknown. For my kids, gay is not scary. It’s not strange, it’s not gross: It’s very normal.” …

What Jonathan wants for his brother:

“I would want him to experience being able to share his gifts, his talents, his love with somebody else and to have a family. I would want that for him, for his happiness. I think our church community would be better off if we would allow our church members who are homosexual to stay with us.”

As for Jamison’s mom and dad,

His parents have given him lots of love, even if they haven’t fully supported his gay lifestyle, Manwaring says.

And the church?

 “I live right in the city [Salt Lake City],” he says. “I need my church community, and so I’m glad I can be fully gay, fully out at church.”

No doubt, homophobia is still rife within much of the Mormon faith. On the other hand, stories like Jamison’s are incredibly heartening, and a sign that even in some of America’s more ossified religious environments, change is more than possible — it is occurring.


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  • https://www.facebook.com/master.lovelife Leif Cid

    Watch the trailer for the Documentary
    8 : The Mormon Proposition
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezwIZo-hKiI

  • Terry Firma

    I already linked to it in the story.

  • Rob P

    I hate that phrase “gay lifestyle”. I am gay. Neil Patrick Harris is gay. Billie Jean King is gay. I can assure you that we have totally different life styles.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I agree and I too really hate the phrase “gay lifestyle”. It is usually used by conservatives to say in code that being gay is a choice that you can make.

    In my opinion the mormon church has become like the rcc. They still think that being gay is unnatural and sinful, but they are being nice now and saying that it’s only wrong if you act on it.

    I do have to wonder how he can believe that it’s wrong for him to act on his attractions and yet stay with them.

    P.S. I am loving the reaction of the mormon church at the ban being struck down in UT.

  • Malachi Muncy

    thank you for letting me know. That really makes sense

  • Jeremiah Traeger

    I was going to say the same thing. I don’t understand it. My gay classmates and I have the same lifestyle. We wake up, go to class, do our homework, cry over exam grades, go to the bars, and go home. We do it over the next day. Even if being gay was a choice this would be the case. They have a warped worldview when they thing being gay leads you to a completely different “lifestyle” than the one they currently partake in.

  • Terry Firma

    I know. I cringed too.

  • Mark W.

    Wait, you mean that there isn’t a super-sekrit handshake and underground clubs where everything is always fabulous and a rule book on being gay and lifestyle guidelines. How can this be? The media…they’ve lied to us yet again.

  • Rob P

    I was bummed when I had “recruited” 25 people and didn’t get a toaster oven.

  • http://thecriticalatheist.com/ David Joseph Post

    The super secret handshake would be the ones used in the Mormon Temples, with baptismal fonts underground.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Gay lifestyle is like saying “married life” or “bachelor lifestyle”. There’s no need to make an offense thing. Sexual relations are a subset of lifestyle choice and making a note of it to distinguish it from others is not automatically mean one doesn’t have other parts of their life as well.

  • Rob P

    Sorry, but in general when someone says “the gay lifestyle” it is usually dripping with condescension, derison, disgust, and disapproval. Just look at how it is used in the article. “they haven’t fully supported his gay lifestyle.” When was the last time you heard someone say “I support their married lifestyle”?

  • The Starship Maxima

    You make a good point Rob, but it is really right to automatically assume the motive of a person?

    Nobody says I support the “married lifestyle” but people might say “well, he/she is being a player, but whatever.”

  • Rob P

    Starship Maxima,
    People who are pro-gay don’t use the phrase “gay lifestyle”. Someone who is shedding their anti-gay biases might say it, but then they need to know why they shouldn’t say it. That being that it is no more accurate than if you say “the French Lifestyle” or “the Baptist Lifestyle”.
    And the diference between “He’s being a player” and “the gay lifestyle” should be pretty obvious. One is about an individual while the other paints a group with a broad brush.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I hadn’t really thought of it that way before.

  • Rob P

    I kind of thought so. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😉 Being gay, it is obviously something I have had to think about, among other things.
    I am going to make a presumption about you Starship Maxima and wish you a Merry Christmas.

  • The Starship Maxima

    And I will not be offended :)

    Happy…..Solstice? to you.

  • Rob P

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greeting, Happy Wednesday. Any of those will do.

  • Colin B

    Would have been easy to selectively ignore a story like this that runs counter to the usual homophobic narrative associated with groups such as Mormonism. Well done for not doing so,

  • SeekerLancer

    And this is the kind of story that needs more positive response to encourage others within the church to do the same. It likely won’t have a rippling effect or anything, but it’s a start.

  • Matt Potter

    From the NPR article,
    “The idea of living by myself for the rest of my life is very depressing,
    and I do want a long-term committed relationship, with a man, and to
    have a family with him. That is outside of what the church would want me
    to do and what they say to do, but that is what is best for me so that I
    can live a full, fulfilling life.”

    I’m glad Jamison is trying to be himself but the reality is being himself will get him ex’d. I just hope those around him see the bigotry towards him and leave with him.

  • Terry Firma

    I get so discouraged by this kind of kneejerk negativism. Same whenever the new Pope says something that’s actually humble and inclusive and humanistic — people here tend to crap all over it with the same old hard-bitten vehemence.

    What Jamison experienced this year would have been unheard of in Mormon circles 20 or 10 and maybe even five years ago. His coming-out was, on the whole, an unexpectedly positive experience for him, and I’m happy.

    I think it’s really odd to be dismissive of that, and to refuse to acknowledge what a semi-seismic religious and cultural shift it represents.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    time will tell, Terry. so people are supportive, some people, for now. but what about later on? as steven points out below, it’s highly likely he’ll be ex’d. who knows how this will affect his opportunities in the wider Mormon community, jobs and schools and scholarships?

    as i am with anyone, esp gay people, who say they “need” their church, i’m worried for the long term consequences for this young man. the church needs to demonize people in order to keep power and control over its members. he’s just painted a big target for that on his back.

  • ShhhImReading

    The Mormons are great at cultural shifts. If something doesn’t work for them anymore, because everyone else out there thinks it’s bullshit, they toss it out. Polygamy? Gone. Blood atonement? Gone. Dark skin a punishment for siding with the devil? Gone. Homosexuals are the new Lamanites, and it’s not okay.

    It’s part of a greater, Mormon-specific pattern of behavior. In thirty years they’ll act like they invented tolerance, and try to win gay converts, while completely glossing over their own horrible history of hatred.

  • Terry Firma

    Yes, it’s terrible that those damn Mormons moved beyond polygamy and overt racism, and that they are increasingly coming to terms with gay people in their midst. How dare they?!

  • Matt Potter

    I’m sorry that it came across as ‘kneejerk negativism’. I’m happy that our society is becoming more supportive and accepting of the LGBT community. I think it is wonderful that his family is also supporting him. This is a nice story but an exception to the rule. I’m coming at this from an ex-mormon perspective though. I grew up in the church, held multiple priesthood callings in our ward, and was married in the Temple. I despise the leaders of the LDS church probably more than most because that was all I knew for a time. Church doctrine on accepting homosexuals might have seemed to ease but it’s still the same. The only way Jamison can be in good standing with the church is to remain celibate. If he is planning to marry and have a family, which he has already stated, he has put himself at odds with the church. The shift you speak of is purely cultural in this case, believe me when I say the church has no interest in shifting any of their stances.

  • Terry Firma

    “This is a nice story but an exception to the rule.”
    It’s called “news.”

  • Matt Potter

    I tried to give a reasonable response to your critique of my post and all you reply with is semantics. I’m sorry I wrote ‘story’ instead of ‘news’ but your reply wasn’t needed or helpful in any way.

    Edited to add this final comment. Even you in your own post wrote, “NPR has the story:”, so what is your complaint about the term I used when you wrote the same one?

  • Terry Firma

    You took my comment the wrong way. If it were a “business as usual” story, it wouldn’t be news. The fact that Jamison’s experience is out of the ordinary makes it newsworthy, which is why we wrote about it here.

  • Steven

    Exactly. I’m. An ex-Mormon, and this story is really white-washing this guy’s situation. He will be excommunicated, and will be ostracized by many devout Mormons. SLC is probably a better place to come out than say, Rexburg, where the Mormons make up a larger part of the population.

    Even if he decided to stay by remaining celibate, the whole church doctrine is built around being married and having children.

  • Christopher Griswold

    Having grown up Mormon, this story doesn’t surprise me at all. Very rarely did I see the vitriol stereotypically spewed by the more fundamentalist Christian denominations. When I came out as an atheist, while my family wasn’t terribly supportive overall, they weren’t angry and bitter towards me either.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    ah, the old “gay lifestyle” cannard. it’s so tired.

    religion is a “lifestyle choice.” being gay is a description of a fact, a state of being, like being left handed or brown eyed.

    i really don’t know why that’s so hard for some people to understand. or do his parents think the way they raised him contributed to his “lifestyle?” if so, i guess Mormonism isn’t what we all thought it was.

  • revyloution

    Silly girl, sexuality might be a mater of nature, but handedness is clearly a choice and lifestyle. The word sinister comes from the Latin for left handed! Homosexuality is fine and natural, but left handers should be burned at the stake.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I don’t see what’s so hard that just because you are predisposed to something, you still have to actually ACT on it.

  • Stev84

    Go back a few weeks to the marriage equality “hearings” in Hawaii (more like a circus) to see the true face of the Mormon church.

  • The Starship Maxima

    The biggest thing, which will be missed by many, is that for many religious people, this is exactly the view on homosexuality.

    Are there many who are raging phobes? Yes. But many of us are fully capable of not agreeing with a choice or behavior and moving on past that. The gays in our lives are similar to the atheists, pro-choicers, Catholics, communists, and others in our lives who have some worldview, belief, or behavior we don’t agree with.

    Our take, “So what?” That doesn’t make them less our friends, family, coworkers, fellow football fans, fellow soldiers, fellow human beings.

  • LDSTruth

    One of our Articles of Faith says that we will abide by the laws of the country for which we live.

    The United States Government outlawed polygamy so the practice was discontinued. However, the Church will not comply with any law that violates Gospel Doctrine.

    The LDS Church has made changes and corrections thought its history. However, Gospel Doctrine is God’s law which the LDS Church will never violate under any circumstances.

    No one is prohibited from being a member of the LDS Church, gay or otherwise,
    but if they admit to practicing a lifestyle that violates Gospel Doctrine, they will be excommunicated.

    Excommunication is not a punishment. It wipes an individuals slate clean so that they can do what is required through the repentance process to regain their membership.

    If you think the LDS Church will change because the Courts are now legislating law or because of social attitudes, the Second Coming will happen before that ever does.

    I would challenge those of you who obviously don’t know anything about the Church except for what you have learned from anti-Mormon sites or former members or those who have simply not asked for their name to be removed from church records yet, to site one Gospel Doctrine from the Book of Mormon or Doctrine & Covenants that has ever been changed.

    By the way, Polygamy was not based on Gospel Doctrine nor was denying those of color the priesthood, which was instituted by Brigham Young. So please make sure you know what is and is not Doctrine.

    Prophets are human beings who make mistakes, just as Peter did when he denied he was a disciple of Jesus Christ 3 times.