Barbara Leavitt is a straight woman who married her husband over two decades ago in a Mormon Temple (Latter Day Saints–LDS). They spoke the other day outside of Evergreen International, an ex-gay program in Salt Lake City. Lester turned to Evergreen for help for his same-sex attractions. The Salt Lake Tribune published a piece about Barbara and Lester.
When she married her husband Lester in a 1981 LDS temple wedding, Barbara Leavitt had big plans.
“I was going to be the best wife ever,” she said this week with a small, rueful laugh.
But Barbara always knew there was a part of Lester she’d never reach, some secret, private place filled with thoughts and feelings he’d never share.
In 2006, after 25 years of marriage, it all came out – or rather, Lester did. For most of his life, Lester struggled with his attraction to other men, avidly seeking help and reading literature from organizations that claimed to help gay people become heterosexual or to help weaken attraction to others of the same sex.
The material he received did more harm than good, Lester said, which is why the couple demonstrated outside Evergreen International’s Salt Lake City headquarters on Tuesday morning. Evergreen is a resource for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that, according to its Web site, helps people “diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior.”
When Lester came out to her, she went to the church for support, but got the exact opposite.
In her pain and confusion she turned to her church friends for support and peace. Instead, she said, with rare exceptions, she found only overwhelming fear and discrimination.
“I was told, ‘It’s too bad you can’t love Lester anymore, and that he won’t be the father of your children for all eternity,’ ” she said in her speech.
She added that she received hateful e-mails from church members she barely knew, condemning her for standing by her husband. For Lester, the alienation was more intense.
Read all of the Salt Lake Tribune’s piece A Call for more “Christlike” Approach
The Express Gay News also published an extensive piece about the Leavitt’s, their children and Lester’s partner, Mickey Rowe.