Straight Spouse and Gay Husband Featured in Press

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.

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Michael on July 16, 2007 at 4:08 am Reply

    Have you seen the movie “Latter Days”? It features the church (in this case, Mormon) in all it’s hypocritical glory when a Mormon missionary falls for an LA party boy. Two thumbs up.

  2. Anonymous on July 17, 2007 at 2:30 pm Reply

    Yes, Latter Days was a fun watch, but used highly exaggerated poetic license. I’ve been through a disciplinary court in the Church, and it was nothing like that depicted. They were very loving, kind, and not authoritarian at all.

  3. Jarred on July 17, 2007 at 4:21 pm Reply

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the movie took artistic license, anon. (After all, I thought the electro-shock therapy scene was over the top, myself.) But at the same time, I find myself wondering if things might vary from court to court.

    As an aside, I find it interesting how most people who talk about that movie focus on Aaron’s struggles with his religious background while mostly ignoring the transformative process that Christian also goes through. After all, while Aaron is breaking free from the teachings of his church, Christian’s realize that he wants a less shallow and more meaningful life (and even manages to succeed without resorting to ex-gay therapy *g*).

    On the original topic, I just want to say that I completely admire Mrs. Leavitt for standing by her husband. I can’t imagine it’s an easy road to walk, as I can only imagine the pain his revelation caused her after all of these years.

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