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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “06 – BYU”

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06 – BYU (and Institute for Human Values)


“[Meeting of BYU Board of Trustees] The other question was the growing problem in our society of homosexuality.…

I was informed that President McKay, in one of the temple meetings, had said that in his view homosexuality was worse than immorality, that it is a filthy and unnatural habit.  I was, therefore, instructed that whenever we had cases of this kind, except where the students were really repentant and immediately working out their problems, that we should suspend them from the university.”  (Ernest L. Wilkinson diary, May 21, 1959)


“[Meeting with David O. McKay] President McKay consented to us engaging an expert on our campus to try and detect those who are guilty of homosexual acts.”  (Ernest L. Wilkinson memorandum, in David O. McKay diary, April 25, 1962)


September 12, 1962: Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of BYU, met with BYU general counsel Clyde Sandgren, the new Dean of Students, J. Elliott Cameron, and Apostle Spencer Kimball and Mark E Petersen ‘on the question of homosexuals who might possibly be part of the student body.’ They developed a cooperative system where Mormon General Authorities and other Church administrators would give BYU any information they obtained about homosexuals on campus and BYU would give Church administrators information about homosexual church members. They decide ‘as a general policy that no one will be admitted as a student at the BYU whom we have convincing evidence is a homosexual.’ (Ernest L. Wilkinson journal, September 12, 1962)…” (Seth Anderson, “Timeline of Mormon Thinking About Homosexuality,” NoMoreStrangers.org, December 8, 2013)


“Nor do we intend to admit to our campus any homosexuals.  If any of you have this tendency and have not completely abandoned it, may I suggest that you leave the university immediately after this assembly; and if you will be honest enough to let us know the reason, we will voluntarily refund your tuition.  We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence.”  (Ernest L Wilkinson, BYU Convocation speech, September 23, 1965; published in Church News, November 13, 1965, p. 11)


[Concerning the BYU Honor Code.  The meeting included Ernest Wilkinson, David Haight and the First Presidency.]  “The only item which consideration was given by the First Presidency was item 6, which they had suggested read as follows:… ‘and no self-abuse (masturbation) or homosexual activity…’

After some discussion of the matter, the Brethren were in agreement that the paragraph should read as follows:… ‘Homosexuality will not be tolerated.’” (David O. McKay diary, August 18, 1967)


“The homosexuality problem at Brigham Young University campus was reviewed for members of the Boards.  President Oaks reviewed past Board and General Authority actions on this matter.  He then indicated that it was his understanding from past actions that there was clear directions that no known overt homosexual was to be enrolled or permitted to remain at Brigham Young University.  However, he expressed concern with regard to the following subjects:

  1. Who is authorized to make exceptions?
  2. What effect should a policy give to the enormous variety in the intensity of homosexual problems?
  3. What, if any, effect should a policy give to the fact that a person has confessed and is being counseled and making progress?
  4. How should the enormous practical problem of handling homosexuals when there is only a suspicion that a person is homosexual, or when a person is a confirmed homosexual but this fact is known only to his bishop.

President Oaks then asked for specific authorization to work with the following students, allowing them to continue enrollment at BYU:

Students with homosexual tendencies, but who have had no overt experiences, or whose overt experiences were so long ago (followed by sincere repentance) that they have satisfactorily separated themselves from the category of ‘overt homosexuals.’

Students without homosexual tendencies, but who have had some overt experience, have confessed, and are in the process of repentance.

Action: Elder Marvin J. Ashton was asked to work with Brigham Young University in defining a policy relative to homosexuals.  A clarification will help the Church Educational System, bishops and stake presidents with this problem.”  (Minutes, Board Meeting, December 6, 1972)


“Under BYU’s President, Dallin Oaks, campus security was instructed to find homosexual students and bring them before standards to be treated or expelled.…” (Ben Williams, “One-way ticket to Provo,” Q Salt Lake, October 23, 2014)


“President Oaks reviewed with members of the Boards the action of the Executive Committees on April 19, 1973, which is indicated in the following excerpt from the minutes of that meeting:

President Oaks sought direction from the Executive Committee on how he should deal with some specific problems of irregular sexual behavior on the part of BYU employees and students.  This matter had been discussed by the Executive Committee and board some months ago, but had been deferred until after preparation of a general statement on homosexuality printed in the February 1973 issue of the Priesthood Bulletin.  After considering the most recent action by the Board of Trustees on this subject (January 16, 1969) that homosexual students would not be admitted or retained at BYU without approval from the General Authorities, the Executive Committee instructed President Oaks that no known overt homosexuals were to be enrolled or permitted to remain at BYU as students or employees, but that the following persons were not to be treated as ‘overt and active homosexuals’ for the purpose of this policy:

  1. persons who had repented of evil acts and totally forsaken them for a suitably lengthy period of time, and 
  2. persons who had been guilty of irregular sexual behavior not equivalent to fornication or adultery and who were repentant and showed evidence that their irregularities would not be repeated.

The retention or dismissal of employees or students falling in the latter two categories should be a matter of decision on an individual basis by the administration at BYU, after considering the nature and duration of involvement, the circumstances of the student’s or employee’s work at the University, and the recommendation of the ecclesiastical officer having jurisdiction over the case.

Action: It was the consensus of the Boards that Brigham Young University should proceed as counseled in this matter.”  (Minutes – Board Meeting, May 2, 1973)


“Dallin H. Oaks, president of the 25,000 student, Mormon-owned school, admitted drug users and active homosexuals are ‘two influences we wish to exclude from the BYU community.’

Oaks’ statement was in response to claims by a former undercover agent for BYU’s security force that agents had used electronic devices to spy on students, made searches of dorms and other student housing unites without bone fide search warrants, and conducted ‘witch hunts’ for gay people and drug abusers.

Joseph ‘Skip’ Morrow, a recent graduate of BYU, told an Associated Press reporter he quite the security force ‘in disgust’ when asked to take spying assignments he considered ‘beyond the responsibilities of a law enforcement agency.’…

BYU Security Chief Robert Kelshaw denied that Morrow was ever employed by his department.  He admitted that agents have checked ‘homosexual haunts’ looking for BYU students as far away as Salt Lake City 40 miles north of Provo.  He also said a self-contained body microphone has been used on officers and informants during investigations.…

According to Oaks, a purpose of the security fore is to help protect the university from influences that ‘we try to exclude from our university community.’

‘Two influences we wish to exclude from the BYU community are active homosexuals and drug users, and these subjects are therefore among those with which our security force is concerned,’ he said.…

According to gay students subjected to the school’s discipline, students are required to visit the counselor for homosexual problems of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) in Salt Lake City.  They are asked to give a complete history of their sexual experience and to give the names of other gay people.  They are told that homosexuality is a serious sin and that they must repent.  Psychiatric counseling is advised, and students report that many of the doctors recommended practice shock therapy and treat homosexuality as ‘an illness.’

Those students who refuse to follow BYU’s policy or the church’s ‘call for repentance’ are generally expelled from BYU and either disfellowshipped or excommunicated from the Mormon Church.”  (The Advocate, June 18, 1975, p. 15)


“The ‘buyer’ should ‘beware’ when he selects a psychotherapist, says Dr. Allen E. Bergin, professor of clinical psychology at Brigham Young University.

‘Like any form of intervention such as X-rays or drugs, psychotherapy can be helpful or harmful depending on who uses it and how,’ Dr. Bergin says.”  (“Therapist Selection No Simple Choice,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 1976)


“[p. 3] The present study is an effort to investigate only one treatment factor used in aversive conditioning of male homosexuality.  The principal focus will be to determine whether the use of nude male and female pictures is a necessary requisite for successful treatment using Behavioral techniques.…

[p. 4] Despite criticism and expressed need for modification of the technique, the success rate for aversion therapy has been encouraging.  Feldman and MacCulloch (1965) found that their approach was successful with approximately 60 percent of their patients.…

[p. 42] Seventeen male subjects were used in the study, 14 completed treatment.… The nature and extent of homosexual activity ranged from frequent sexual activity with multi-partner involvement to covert activity.…

[p. 43] It was mandatory that all subjects chosen to participate sign and have witnessed a prepared statement explaining (a) the experimental nature of the treatment procedure, (b) the use of aversive electric shock, (c) the showing of 33 mm slides that might be construed by subjects as possibly offensive, and (d) that Brigham Young University was not in any direct way endorsing the procedures used.…

[p. 46] A graded series of discrete shocks were delivered to each subject at the “belly” of the bicep.…

[p. 54] Male and female nude visual-cue stimuli were chosen randomly by the experimenter from a series of pictures taken from recent Playboy/Playgirl-like magazines.…

[p. 70] Analysis of differences between groups on the sexual orientation measure indicated a highly significant therapy effect only (F=17.54, p<0.001), showing that at the conclusion of treatment, both treatment groups evaluated themselves as significantly less homosexual than heterosexual (see Table 6).  This finding suggests [p. 71] that the type of Behavior Therapy used in the present study was highly effective in changing subjective evaluation of sexual orientation, as measured two weeks subsequent to treatment termination.…

[p. 82] It can be assumed that Behavior therapy involving aversive conditioning, specifically Thorne’s (1968) EAT procedure, is an effective treatment for male homosexuality.… (Max Ford McBride, “Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy,” PhD Dissertation, BYU, August 1976)


“Institute of Human Behavior

President Oaks indicated that in response to the fact that personal problems of Church members were increasing in number and seriousness, and that revealed truth about human behavior was not being used systematically by professionals to combat these problems, it was proposed that an Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior be established at BYU to sponsor and conduct research that would assist in preventing and changing problem behaviors which lead people away from eternal life.… Dr. Allen Bergin of BYU was recommended as the director for the Institute.

ACTION: Approved.”  (Minutes – Combined Boards’ Meeting, September 1, 1976)


“President Dallin Oaks said the institute will counter secular trends that explain human behavior without reference to God or traditional values.…

Bergin also said the institute will accept contracts from the LDS Church’s social services and will research social and emotional problems within the LDS value system.”  (“Y. Launches Institute On Behavior,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 30, 1976)


“An Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior has been established at BYU with Dr. Allen E. Bergin, one of the nation’s leading clinical psychologists, as its director.…

‘The program will involve theory construction, beginning with the scriptures as a basic frame of reference.’  He pointed out that there are no other institutes in the world exactly like this one.… (“Behavior institute established at Y,” Daily Universe, September 29, 1976)


“[p. 6] Reference was made to a letter on homosexuality which was circulated several weeks ago to all General Authorities purportedly from the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young University.  [Initially called The Payne Papers, it was later published under the title, Prologue.]  It has been determined that the letter did not come from the BYU Psychology Department, and all indications are that the person who anonymously planted this letter in the mailroom in the Church Office Building attempted to implicate the BYU Psychology Department.  It was reported that the publication, “The Open Door,” which purports to be the voice of the Salt Lake City ‘gay’ community, has begun to reprint that letter in a series of articles over the next six months.  It was indicated that [Church] Commissioner [of Education Jeffrey] Holland and President Oaks are working very closely with Elder Boyd K. Packer concerning this matter.  It was also reported that Dr. Allen Bergin of BYU had prepared an excellent paper refuting the major claims made by homosexuals and that this paper could be helpful to the University and the Church in counteracting the rather sophisticated pro-homosexuality platform espoused by the anonymous [p. 7] letter which the General Authorities and others had received.”  (Minutes – Executive Committee Meeting, September 15, 1977)


“[p. v] The Mormon culture lags far behind as born out by the lecture given by Dr. Reed Payne to his beginning psychology class at BYU in the Spring of 1977.… My letter to Dr. Payne has given me hope.…

[p. 1] I was homosexual long before any kind of sexual experience.… I obeyed all the counsel of the Church explicitly and faithfully.  No one could have been more determined or confident.  It was an absolute desire.  Prayer, fasting, and faithful allegiance to the Church were to the spirit and to the letter.  I developed stomach ulcers as a result and came close to bleeding to death several times before the doctors could get the hemorrhaging stopped.  No one could understand why I had ulcers, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone about my horrible problem.  My parents were desperate, and the doctors helpless but I was determined to change.  I finally went to one of the General Authorities.  He counseled me to put those thoughts out of my mind, to date, to think manly thoughts, be faithful to the Church, and not to wear tight pants.  I could see he didn’t grasp the problem or understand its depth.…

I had felt confident that through complete devotion to the Lord on a mission I would be blessed in return with the fulfillment of the greatest desire of my heart.  I knew I could not marry under the circumstances, and after an excruciating evaluation, I broke my engagement.  I returned to BYU and in desperation, went to the counseling services.  Again, the counsel was followed but nothing changed.  I sought out several other General Authorities who were supposed to be specialists in helping young men with this problem.  I followed their council and that of the special professional counselor they had for this problem.  Nothing changed.…

[p. 2] Implicit in your lecture is the subscription to the Church-held position that homosexuality is a matter of conscious choice, an exercise of free agency.…

[p. 5] At no point did I ever choose to be homosexual.  I cannot count the times I have determinedly chosen to be heterosexual.  I remain homosexual.  I say confidently that at no particular point did you choose to be heterosexual.  Your heterosexuality precedes any such superficial decision.  You cannot now choose to be homosexual.…

[p. 12] BYU Pre-eminent in Shock Therapy

Let me tell you briefly of a young man who recently successfully completed this treatment at BYU under the direction of Dr. Ford McBride, whose work you are familiar with.  He is, according to Dr. McBride, one of his ‘star cases.’… After completing a successful mission, he returned to BYU as homosexual as before.  He dated, socialized and studied hard, but his desires were becoming increasingly insistent in spit of his vigorous efforts to put them behind.  Try as he might, the advice given him by the Church was totally without any effect.  He knew under the circumstances that he could not marry.  With trepidation, he finally went to the counseling service.  He was given a battery of tests and interviews, then was set up on a conditioning therapy program coupled with hypnosis and supportive counseling.  He was sent to Salt Lake to magazine stores to find pictures of naked men that excited him.  These were made into slides and flashed on a screen while he sat in a chair with electrodes strapped to his arms.  As the pictures were shown, he was given a shock; the purpose being to couple the pain of the shock with the stimulating picture in order to condition him so that he not only disliked the shock but also the picture.  This was the first time he had ever looked at pictures of naked men.  He was given a [p. 13] dial to determine the strength of the shock, and was soon keeping it on full strength, as he was determined to be cured as quickly as possible.  He came out of these sessions nauseated, shaking, and with mild burns on his arms.  He was hypnotized and told he would no longer think homosexual thoughts but would instead have heterosexual ones.  The therapy sessions progressed well, and he was sent again to Salt Lake to find pictures of nude girls which were shown to him without the shock.  He was counseled to let his imagination have free play on these pictures and was to let them be the basis of his sexual fantasies.  He understood what they meant.

For nearly two years this therapy lasted, during which time he felt confident that he was changing and that homosexuality was behind him.  His therapist was extremely pleased and had him write a letter, stating that he was now cured through these reconditioning techniques.

Shortly after this, a girl friend introduced him to a friend whom I shall call Bob.  Bob was talented, intelligent, and handsome.  He was about to leave for a mission.   Immediately upon his introduction to Bob, he knew that nothing really had changed.  He felt so intensely attracted that he could no longer deny the fact to himself.  They were soon great friends, and he knew that all his years of resistance to this experience and all of what had happened in therapy, painful as it had been, had not even scratched the surface of who he really always was.…

[p. 14] Dr. McBride has never bothered to conduct any follow-up with my friend though an extended and detailed post-therapy program was originally promised.  This young man, like many others, had never had a homosexual experience prior to therapy.… According to conditioning and ‘appetitional’ theories, he should have become heterosexual.  His therapist and the counseling department believe him to be; they have his letter to prove it.  He knows differently.  His story can be and is duplicated over and over.  Right now, young men are going into the Smith Family Living Center to be strapped with electrodes and shocked out of homosexuality.…

Regardless of all official disclaimers, the Church has unwittingly come to support a ‘Playboy therapy’ of the type carried out by Drs. Thorne and McBride…” (Cloy Jenkins et al., Prologue: An Examination of the Mormon Attitude Towards Homosexuality.  This was first published in 1978, as referenced above, #1745)


“Dear Elder Packer:

I am delighted to know that you will be ‘taking on’ the sensitive subject of homosexuality in your forthcoming fireside address at BYU.…

After our phone conversation this morning, it occurred to me that you should be informed about a recent national publication attacking Brigham Young University and the Church on the subject of homosexuality.… In view of this national publication [The Advocate], and the accusations it makes (such as ‘that the incidence of homosexuality is higher at BYU than on other college campuses across the country,’ which I doubt), your remarks are likely to get wide newspaper coverage and to be viewed by many against the background of this article and these charges.  I thought you should be aware of that.”  [This apparently refers to “The Heterosexual Solution: A Dilemma for Gay Mormons,” published in the February 22, 1978 edition of The Advocate, which is a distillation of The Payne Papers.] (Dallin H. Oaks to Boyd K. Packer, February 14, 1978)


“This is my final report on this matter [Prologue], unless you have counsel or direction on what further we might do.…

2. Hal Visick and I continue of the opinion that any direct legal action by the University against the publishers would be counter-productive, arousing greater public attention and resentment than any benefit to be gained.

3. We are still unaware of the identity of the authors.…

I believe it would be best for us now to let this matter drop.”  (Dallin H. Oaks to Jeffrey R. Holland [Church Commissioner of Education], November 9, 1978)


“May I briefly report what we have already given to the Presiding Bishopric and will be giving to the First Presidency this Friday.

The assignment was to recommend specific steps the Church might take in combating homosexuality and other sexual misconduct.  Our basic theme is that truth lies with the scriptures and prophets, not with secular data or debate.

Our specific response is in two parts.  Part one is a review of the means by which the ‘opposition’ attempts to indoctrinate our people.  Among our exhibits are fallacious claims in the Payne papers, examples of LDS people unwittingly legitimizing worldliness (inconsistent messages from Church-related documents, the Universe advertising Seals & Crofts the same day it reported President Kimball’s talk on standards) and ‘macho’ behavior of priesthood holders as reported by their long-suffering wives.

The second part consists of examples of truth being on our side.  Among the factors are:

  1. The consistent and clear statements of inspired men.
  1. Data from our own work.  Dr. Elizabeth James’ dissertation, commissioned by LDS Social Services and supervised by Allen Bergin.  This comprehensive study documents considerable success in treatment of homosexuality (from 33 to 60% success) even when using rather primitive, secular methods.
  1. Explication of the developmental pattern of sexual deviance.
  1. Creation of a clinically oriented document in which sacred and secular data are gathered for guidance of parents, individuals, curriculum writers, etc.
  1. Creation of an LDS book on human behavior after the manner of Articles of Faith.
  1. Creation of a political action kid for use of member-citizens in local legislative efforts.

Our presentation is two hours long so this memo is rather concise.

We hope we are properly aware of the need, when invited, to serve loyally and well without either assuming an inappropriate role or ignoring the need to firmly establish professional foundations irrespective of ties with Church headquarters.”  (Victor Brown, Jr. to Robert K. Thomas [Academic Vice President, BYU], November 14, 1978)


“[Abstract] Bisexuality and long-term treatment were consistently associated with greater improvement than were exclusive homosexuality and short-term intervention…”

[p. 108: James’s meta-analysis showed that 58% (213/370) of “exclusively homosexual – Kinsey 5-6” were “not improved,” vs. 19% (38/200) of “bisexual – Kinsey 1-4.” (Elizabeth C. James, “Treatment of Homosexuality: A Reanalysis and Synthesis of Outcome Studies,” PhD dissertation, BYU, December 1978.  Note that the dissertation, as stated in #1755 above, was commissioned by LDS Social Services and that Allen Bergin was her supervisor.)


“I am writing you because I am informed that Elder Thomas S. Monson, in behalf of the committee that President Marion G. Romney chairs, has suggested that we work through you on the financial details of this important project, which was the subject of separate presentations to the First Presidency, the Twelve, the Presiding Bishopric, and the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

I understand that the work of Daniel H. Ludlow on an ecclesiastical document is contemplated to conclude by December 31, 1979, and that the work of Victor Brown, Jr. and Allen Bergin on a book with professional standing, to be published with an eastern publisher, is contemplated to be completed at that same time.  [A total budget of $96,577.00 was requested.]”  (Dallin H. Oaks to Bishop J. Richard Clarke, March 7, 1979)


“President Oaks also made reference to recent Utah State legislation, House Bill No. 80 which amended Section 53-45-5 of the Utah Code, which now provides that ‘Members of the police or security department of any college or university shall be appointed by the governing board of such institution and when so appointed shall be peace officers and shall also have all of the powers possessed by policemen in cities and by sheriffs.’  Elsewhere in the Act, any ‘police officer employed by any college or university’ is characterized as a Category I officer with statewide jurisdiction, subject only to other provisions of the Code which require cooperation, notice to local officers, etc.…

The following resolution was proposed:…

It is further resolved that the designation and appointment as set forth in this resolution shall extend, hereafter, to all officers of the Brigham Young University Security/Police who are duly and routinely employed by Brigham Young University.

Action: Resolution approved.”

(Minutes – Board Meeting, May 2, 1979)


“Statewide Jurisdiction of BYU Security

Elliot Cameron reported on the Chipman case and on the status of the statewide jurisdiction of BYU Security.  It was suggested that President Oaks might discuss the statewide jurisdiction of BYU Security and also clarify the statement concerning BYU’s policy regarding homosexuals at both the student assembly and at the annual fall faculty meeting.”  (Minutes of the President’s Weekly Meeting, August 1, 1979)


“Dear Elder Monson,

Last week Professors Victor Brown, Jr. and Allen Bergin met with Robert K. Thomas and me, at their request, to express reservations about their ability to achieve the goals of this project under the arrangements previously established.  After hearing their concerns and considering other things known to us, Brother Thomas and I share their concerns.  Consequently, I am writing this letter to suggest significant modifications in the goals and procedures for carrying out this important project.

As you recall, this project was launched at the suggestion of Messrs. Brown and Bergin, communicated first to the First Presidency, then with the Twelve, and finally with a large group of General Authorities.  The first detailed information I had of this project was what I learned when I was invited to hear the presentation to the General Authorities.  Since it did not come through educational channels, responsible B.Y.U. administrators were not part of the original definition of the project, though we were asked to carry it out according to the terms and conditions defined by the Brown-Bergin presentation.  My letter of March 7, 1979 to Bishop J. Richard Clark submitted a request for funding, which was granted in a sufficient amount to support Messrs. Brown and Bergin and the related work of Dan Ludlow through December 31, 1979.  I understand that Brother Ludlow’s work will be completed by that date.

The objective of the project was to prepare a manuscript along the lines outlined by Victor Brown, Jr. in his oral presentation, which would set forth significant empirical evidence in support of the Church’s position on homosexuality.  The Church would fund the project.  The resulting book was to be published by a press having nothing to do with the Church in order to magnify its acceptability in the scholarly community and among non-Mormons.

Subsequent events have persuaded Messrs. Brown and Bergin—and Robert K. Thomas and I agree—that our objective to present the evidence in this manner with maximum effect cannot be achieved.  During recent professional conferences involving related scholarly work, Allen Bergin has been specifically questioned about whether he lacks objectivity because his scholarly work was thought to be supported or directed by the Church.  He is persuaded—and we think he is right—that for him to complete this book under the conditions outlined (including direct Church funding and the necessary review by persons representing the Church) would seriously erode his professional standing—a major loss in the credibility with which he will continue to serve the Church during his entire scholarly career—and significantly reduce the desired impact of the book.

While we are persuaded that we cannot achieve the original objectives to the extent hoped, we also believe that these objectives are so important that we need to achieve them to the maximum extent possible.  After discussing the matter thoroughly, Robert K. Thomas and I propose the following, which has the full support of Brown and Bergin, as the best possible alternative:

  1. Drop Allen Bergin as a co-author of the book, but retain him as a consultant, whose input will increase the quality of the book.
  1. Complete the book with Victor Brown as sole author, with consultation by Allen Bergin and with such review and suggestions by a General Authority(ies) consultant as are deemed appropriate for a university publication on this subject.
  1. Discontinue direct Church funding of the project as of December 31, 1979 (when the current funding runs out).  Thereafter, complete the effort on the book through the normal funding channels pertaining to scholarly work in the Church Educational System.
  1. Publish the book in the BYU Press, if acceptable for such publication.
  1. Encourage Allen Bergin to continue research and writing in this subject area, using conventional University procedures and resources and conventional scholarly outlets.

The foregoing proposal will put this whole project back into the channels in which, in my judgment, it should have originated—the normal Church Educational System and the Brigham Young University creative channels as to funding and supervision.…” (Dallin H. Oaks to Thomas S. Monson, September 13, 1979)


“Brigham Young University says its security police staked out homosexual bars in Salt Lake City to investigate homosexual activity at the Mormon-owned school, but stopped the practice once administrators learned of it.

Paul Richards, director of public relations for the university, confirmed yesterday allegations by the American Civil Liberties Union that security officers ventured off campus and wrote letters to a homosexual-orientated newspaper soliciting responses as part of a crackdown on homosexuals.

The Mormon Church has a strict ban on homosexuality.

‘Those things were done,’ Mr. Richards said.  ‘But when President [Dallin] Oaks got involved, he said, “Cut that out right now.”’

Mr. Richards said the surveillance had occurred more than a year ago, before the Utah Legislature approved a controversial bill giving peace officer status to campus police.”  (“Brigham Young U. Admits Stakeouts on Homosexuals,” September 27, 1979, p. A16)


“Sunday’s demonstration lasted 45 minutes and was the first gay rights march to be approved by the Salt Lake City Council.…

‘We were expecting about 40 demonstrators, but as it turned out fewer came,’ he said.  ‘This march was orderly and legal.’”  (Daily Universe, October 5, 1981)


“[p. 1] In the early 1970s students who confessed homosexual tendencies were referred to the BYU Counseling Center. Steve, then a BYU professor, went through this counseling program and received what he called ‘the shock treatment,’ similar to the therapy sometimes used by psychologist to help patients stop smoking.

Jon, a former BYU student who is gay, described this treatment as experiencing an electrical shock well viewing a pornographic picture of a male. The patient would then be shown a pornographic picture of the female without electric shock.

When asked about this treatment, a former BYU counselor said that ‘aversive therapy—not shock treatment’—had been used in the past. Mild electric stimulus was used in conjunction with slides of males and females in various stages of dress.

But, according to this counselor, ‘Even the raciest pictures wouldn’t be considered pornography.’…

Dave, a former BYU student, said he knew two gay students in 1973 who, threatened with expulsion from the University, we’re persuaded to work for security as spies.  ‘Security was obnoxious and new how to push people into things they didn’t want to do,’ said Dave.  Apparently a few of the spies became fed up with such tactics and went to TV stations in Salt Lake City to tell their story publicly. ‘After that blew over things were quiet for a while,’ said Dave.…

[p. 12] Wrote Williams, ‘No one knows what causes homosexuality.  However, we do know one thing that does not cause homosexuality and that is free choice.  Until the cause or causes are known it is grossly inappropriate to moralize about it.’…

One month later on March 5, Elder Boyd K. Packer addressed a BYU 12-stake Fireside in which he directed his talk toward homosexuals.

Elder Packer’s comments, published by the Church under the title ‘To the One,’ reflected and emphasized the Church’s policy on homosexuals.  He used the word ‘homosexual’ only once in his address.  ‘Please notice that I use it as an adjective, not as a noun.  I reject it as a noun.  I repeat, I accept that word as an adjective to describe a temporary condition.  I reject it as a noun naming a permanent one.’…

Another significant event during this time concerned action taken by the Utah Legislature.  During its 1977-78 interim the Transportation and Public Safety Study Committee headed by Public Safety Commissioner Larry Lunnen made a study to re-define the authority of various law enforcement agencies throughout the state, including BYU Security.

As a result of the study the Legislature passed House Bill 80 giving BYU Security officers 24 hour jurisdiction throughout the state.

In addition to that, the bill read ambiguously, ‘Members of the police and security department of any college or university shall also have the power to enforce all rules and regulations promulgated by the governing board of such an institution.’…

This rebuttal [to the Payne letter] also gave a brief conclusion of the unfinished study being done for LDS Social Services.  ‘There is no scientific evidence that homosexual behavior is the inevitable product of biological or environmental influences.  However, there is evidence that agency is involved.  Homosexuality can be changed.’

According to one BYU professor, the rebuttal was so poorly done that ‘it was an embarrassment to all involved,’ and most of the copies were given back to the authors at their request.…

In Homosexuality, a Church handbook distributed to stake presidents and bishops, the Church policies and procedures are spelled out.  ‘As we have previously stated, homosexuality is a sin in the same degree as adultery and fornication.’

The handbook emphasizes that ‘homosexuality is a learned behavior, and as such can be changed.’  The handbook states that ‘Modern day prophets have clearly promised that homosexuality can be changed.  You should convey this positive attitude because it encourages change.… Be careful not to label people “homosexual.”  It is better to refer to their “homosexual behavior” than to call them a homosexual.’…

Because the modern day prophets have clearly promised that homosexuality can be conquered, those ‘rebellious’ homosexuals who believe otherwise are subject to excommunication from the Church.

In Welfare Services Packet One, instructions to bisohps and stake presidents concerning homosexuals include, ‘An attitude of stiffneckedness and rebellion is almost always a clear indication of the need to be sternly disciplined, even to excommunication, so that others are not contaminated by unclean habits.’

Another procedure of repentance was outlined by the Church handbook.  ‘Since homosexual behavior is possible only with others, the individual should disclose his sexual partners as an essential part of repentance.  The purpose is to help save others.…

Elder Boyd K. Packer said the following: ‘There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it.  They are just “that way” and can only yield to those desires.  That is a malicious and destructive lie.  While it is convincing to some, it is of the devil.’” (Dean Huffaker, “Homosexuality at BYU,” Seventh East Press, April 12, 1982)


“[p. 224] Instead of simply offering advice church leaders began to encourage practicing or would be homosexuals to undertake a new type of therapy introduced to BYU in the 1970s. This method, known as aversion therapy, involved the use of electric shock treatment to change behavior.…

Along with aversion therapy, the church also stepped up surveillance and spying, particularly at BYU, which became a focal point of the attack against gays. In one famous incident, an undercover agent for the BYU security department placed an ad in the gay newspaper asking to meet gay students. A student responded to the ad, an advance was made, and the student was arrested.…

At the peak of the campaign against gays, the BYU security force was granted statewide power by the Mormon-dominated legislature, an action that was widely interpreted as directed against gays. Soon after this authority was granted, BYU security joined the Utah highway patrol in a raid at a rest stop on Highway I-15 between Provo (where the BYU campus is situated) and Salt Lake City. Acting on the tip that the rest stop and its bathroom were a gay hangout, several people were rounded up, including, as it turned out, a BYU instructor. That night, according to members of the gay community, the instructor hanged himself in jail. Though hushed up publicly, word about the incident quickly spread on the gate underground with devastating effect. Fears about discovery, already deep, further intensified.…

[p. 225] Aversion therapy was suspended, although a less intensive practice, described by a psychologist in the BYU Comprehensive Clinic as ‘coversive therapy,’ that is the association of negative thoughts with pictures, was employed.… (Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley, America’s Saints: The Rise of Mormon Power (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984))


“Leon, a convert to Mormonism and a former BYU student, was asked to leave the university after one of his roommates informed on him. ‘My biggest mistake was having another gay roommate along with two straight ones, he says. ‘I was told I could stay at school if I informed on other gays. I just couldn’t do that.’…

Another headline event was the apprehension of a man in drag who was found cruising the men’s washroom in the university’s Phys Ed building. A clear plastic door has since been placed on the men’s sauna room so school officials can monitor what goes on inside, undercover security police patrol the swimming area and locker rooms, and the old witchhunts of the past are starting up again, Steve says, but this time it’s a lot quieter.”  (Jonathan Stevens, “Mormon Gays,” The Body Politic, September, 1985, p. 35)


“Brigham Young University may soon have to face the question of what to do about an avowed homosexual, but celibate, professor.

Three weeks ago, officials at the Mormon Church-owned school summoned Thomas Matthews, an assistant professor in the Spanish department, to a discussion about his homosexuality.…

And though Matthews says he has been celibate, he is increasingly public about being gay.

’I started coming out in private conversations about a year ago,’ he said this week. ‘I was tired of answering questions about why I am 39 and not married.’…

The discussion was prompted by another person’s call to the church’s general authorities, Matthew said.

He said he did not know who that person was.

’But rather than calling me, the authorities called my department chair,’ he said.…

BYU has no policy on celibate homosexuals among the faculty, said spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins.”  (“BYU May Face Decision On Gay, But Celibate, Language Professor,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 22, 1995)


“[p. 267] One of the projects which grew out of the Institute for Studies in Human Behavior and Values was a book written by Victor L. Brown, Jr., Human Intimacy: Illusion and Reality. Alan E. Bergin originally worked on this book is a co-author, but moved into the background when the project became a church-sponsored product, instead of a more narrowly focused professional work. The book was [p. 268] published by Parliament Publishers in Salt Lake City, Utah, not by the church publishing arm, Deseret, in an attempt to dissociate the book from the official church, and thus promote an acceptance of its contents by non-LDS therapists. Despite this dissociation, church headquarters sent copies of this book to every bishop and stake president in the entire church, thus promoting the work as a quasi-official LDS philosophy of sex.…”

(Eric Gottfrid Swedin, “‘You are healing souls:’ A History of Psychotherapy Within the Modern Latter-day Saint Community,” PhD dissertation, Case Western Reserve University, January 1996)


“A piece called ‘The Cure Program’ is more ominous. The work was inspired by Meyers’ research into aversion therapy, a homosexual ‘cure’ program performed for several years at BYU (a program whose existence is still denied by many Mormons) that began as part of the dissertation by Max Ford McBride in 1976, who called his program ‘Affect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy.’ The process required gay male subjects to be strapped to an electroshock machine with a rubber ring attached to their penises. Photos of naked men were flashed on a screen and if the subjects got an erection, they would receive a shock on the arm.

Meyers’ piece consists of three large wooden ‘electric’ chairs, replete with menacing metal headpieces. The chairs sit on rubber triangular platforms (representative of the pink triangles Nazis tattooed on homosexuals on their way to concentration camps).  In front of each chair sits a podium. Scrolls of paper hang over the front of each podium, onto which slides of nude men from gay porno magazines will be projected during the gallery installation. The scrolls of paper become shredded and will cover the gallery floor. Meyers means the shredded paper to represent secrecy. ‘Although aversion therapy has long since been discontinued,’ Meyer says, ‘I think shock treatment is a metaphor for what the church still does by denying homosexuality—it’s a way of killing off part of our humanity.’

The electric-chair imagery in ‘The Cure Program’ is more starkly brutal than Meyers’ other pieces.  The center chair’s front legs rise up to form a cross, implying that the church’s attempts to quash homosexuality is a mind of modern-day crucifixion.  It is with this piece that any questions are put to rest about how viscerally damaged Meyers feels.” (Marsha Barber, “Gallery of Defiance,” Private Eye Weekly, April 4, 1996, p. 16)


“Don Harryman attended BYU in the mid 1970’s and went through the aversion therapy program.  ‘The way the Mormons viewed it, {homosexuality} was practically worse than being a murderer, and it was spoken about as often,’ he tells me.  ‘I was desperate to change my sexuality.’ A school counselor promised that aversion therapy would do the trick.  ‘They have an instrument that you put on {your penis} that measures an erection.  The shock would come to your arm randomly, {and it was} very painful.’ At first, the therapy seemed to work. ‘I hadn’t ever had sex {with a man} to begin with,’ Harryman recalls, ‘and I just got used to not thinking about it.’  But the ‘cure’ didn’t last long, Harryman notes: ‘Six months later, a new roommate moved in and I fell in love and was sexual with him within 24 hours.  It was like the lights going on and me saying, “Wow, this was all a sham!”’

While BYU has since abandoned electroshock treatments for homosexuals, Harryman—who now lives in Hawaii, where he is involved in the Hawaii Equal Rights Marriage Project—claims that some church leaders as recently as two years ago were quietly referring people to outside doctors who perform electroshock therapy.  And the Mormon Church today promotes its own kind of Aversion Therapy Lite, offering counseling and group therapy aimed at ‘curing’ Mormon men and women who have same-sex desires.” (Michelangelo Signorile, “The Secret History of Mormons,” Out magazine, August, 1996, p. 26)


“In July 1995, after an unidentified person called a general authority, BYU officials met with [Thomas] Matthews to discuss his sexuality. ‘There are a lot of reasons why I’m leaving BYU,’ Matthews recently told the Associated Press. ‘Obviously, the most crucial one is that I’m gay and I’m out of the closet and BYU doesn’t like it.” (“Gay Professor Leaves University,” Sunstone, December 1996, p. 74)


“Professor O’Donovan:

BYU provides counseling to students with same-sex attraction and does not use aversive therapies, torturous or otherwise.  Shock therapy is not used at BYU.  We have not been able to verify your assertion that electric shock therapy was being used as late as 1986, or that electric shock was ever used on gay and lesbian students at BYU. If you have documentation of such treatment you may wish to share that information with us.” (Merrill J. Bateman, BYU President, to Connell O’Donovan, April 9, 1997)

597, 2628:

“At the outset of this lecture I feel it is imperative that you all know of my agenda, since I do not subscribe to the theory of academic objectivity. First, I am Queer, and by that I mean that I participate politically, spiritually, socially, and intellectually in a community of men-loving-men. (But don’t ask me to define what a man is! I’m still working on that one!) Second, I was raised a Mormon, completed a mission for the Latter-Day Saint Church, and married a woman in the Salt Lake Mormon Temple, but due to the homophobia and heterosexism I encountered in the church, I came to realize that for me the only viable solution was to explore spirituality on my own path. I was later officially excommunicated by the Mormon Church for my stance opposing their oppression of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered people.…

I am not here to whine about my own victimization at the hands of the homophobic Mormon patriarchy. I am here to document and publicize the hypocrisy of an institution that publicly proclaims “family values”, compassion, honor, and love while privately destroying the lives of tens of thousands of people because they happen to love those of their own sex.…

Through interviews I conducted with older Lesbian and Gay Mormons, I learned that in the mid-1940s, during the administration of BYU President Howard McDonald, there was a large social network of about 30 Lesbians and Gay men, most of whom were staff and faculty, and only included a handful of very trusted students. They gathered informally at private homes to meet for support and to find partners. In the spring of 1948, two members of this group, Kent Taylor and Richard Snow, met with Mormon Church President, George Albert Smith (who was also allegedly a homosexual). During this meeting, the church president told the two lovers that they need only live their lives honorably and God would accept them. These two men came back to their social network and joyfully reported their experience.…

In early 1959, as a way of controlling student behavior, Wilkinson vigorously proposed and supported a plan to have the Dean of Students send questionnaires to all Mormon bishops affiliated with BYU. The questionnaires would have required that the bishops report to the school administration the names of all students who had confessed privately to the bishops “any propensity for stealing or immorality of anything of that kind”, effectively breaking the secrecy of the confessional. On May 21 1959, according to his own office journal, Wilkinson met with BYU’s Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees to discuss two controversial topics: Wilkinson’s plan to implement the questionnaires, and “the growing problem in our society of homosexuality”. Wilkinson reported that “these two problems interested the Brethren very, very much”.

A member of the Executive Committee informed Wilkinson that Mormon Church president David O. McKay, in a recent secret meeting in the Salt Lake Temple, had said that “in his view homosexuality was worse than immorality; that it is a filthy and unnatural habit”. Thus Wilkinson was informed by the Executive Committee that whenever a student had this “problem”, unless the student was “really repentant and immediately working out their problems”, the BYU administration “should suspend them from the University”. This was the first of several similar policy decisions made covertly by the Board of Trustees and Executive Committees.…

On July 10, 1964, apostle Spencer Kimball gave a speech at BYU to all religion teacher entitled “A Counselling Problem in the Church”. Seven out of the 20 pages of this speech deal specifically with homosexuality. In his speech Kimball notes that he is “persuaded to consider briefly [an] area of trouble which has been more in the background but which now is being written about…and is being brought out into the limelight….including deviates called ‘peeping toms’, exhibitionists, homosexuals, and perverts in other areas.” Kimball then admonishes the religion faculty to “be helpful in these areas as you indoctrinate in the preventive spiritual medicine”, acknowledging that in reference to the “abominable and detestable crime against nature…we know such a disease is curable”.

Aix months later, Kimball was back at BYU to speak, but this time the entire student body heard his lecture called “Love versus Lust”. Indicating that “sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality”, Kimball wishes to avoid mentioning “these unholy terms and the reprehensible practices” but he has a “responsibility to the youth of Zion that they be not deceived”. Here is a lengthy quote from this speech:

Good men, wise men, God-fearing men everywhere…denounce the practice [of homosexuality] as being unworthy of sons of God; and Christ’s Church denounces it and condemns it so long as men have bodies which can be defiled….This heinous homosexual sin is of the ages. Many cities have gone out of existence because of it. It was present in Israel’s wandering days, tolerated by the Greeks, and found in the baths of corrupt Rome. In Exodus, the law required death for the culprit who had sex play with animals, the deviate who committed incest, or the depraved one who had homosexual or other vicious practices.

“This is a most unpleasant subject to dwell upon, but I am pressed to speak of it boldly so that no student in this University, nor youth in the Church, will ever have any question in his mind as to the illicit and diabolical nature of this perverse program. Again, Lucifer deceives and prompts logic and rationalization which will destroy men and make them servants of Satan forever….Let it never be said that the Church avoided condemning this obnoxious practice not that it has winked at this abominable sin. And I feel certain that this University will never knowingly enroll an unrepentant person who follows these practices nor tolerate on its campus anyone with these tendencies who fails to repent and put his or her life in order.”

This extremely homophobic speech later appeared in the 1965 BYU Speeches of the Year and a decade later was made into a pamphlet for general distribution to the church.…

This dramatic increase in identified Gays and Lesbians spurred the BYU administration to begin what is often referred to by Gay Mormons as the “Witch Hunts of ’68”. Authorities were convinced that a large “homosexual ring” was located on campus. Extensive security files were kept on students suspected of homosexuality, and all new prospective teachers had to be interviewed by a general authority before being offered a position at BYU.…

One former Gay BYU student referred to only as LML reported to a newspaper that in 1968, he was coerced into turning over names of other Gays at BYU to the church administration in order to help absolve him of his “sins”. A week later, the same newspaper received a letter to the editor by one of the people whom LML had turned in, confirming the story in a very dramatic and emotional manner.…

One year after his appointment to the presidency, Oaks brought the issue of homosexuality to the Board of Trustees for further discussion. Specifically, Oaks wanted to know what to do with students or school personnel who were not “overtly” homosexual.

These questions brought up several issues that the church had yet to deal with, so apostle Marvin Ashton was given the task of helping BYU clarify their policies on homosexuality.

After working with Apostle Ashton, on May 1973, the Executive Committee instructed President Oaks that “no known overt homosexuals were to be enrolled or permitted to remain at BYU as students or employees”.…

Another tactic taken by BYU administration was the creation of extensive student spy networks. The BYU Honor Code of the 60s and early 70s mandated that students report any infractions of the Honor Code to the Standards Office, even if anonymously. This allowed the Standards Office and BYU Campus Security to engage in practices that were anything but honorable, in order to maintain the honor code. Campus security visited Gay bars in Salt Lake City, noting car license plate numbers with BYU parking stickers and turning that information over to the Standards Office. Decoys were used to entrap male students in bathrooms. Students could even gain credit for posing as Gay decoys by signing up for the Justice Administration 299R course. In 1973, for example, two Gay BYU students were caught and threatened with expulsion from the school. However, they were then informed that they could remain at BYU if they would “work for [BYU] security as spies” to entrap other Gays attending BYU. They decided to do this. A man named David, who knew these two students, reported to a newspaper that BYU “Security was obnoxious and knew how to push people into things they didn’t want to do”. Apparently, several other Gays who had been coerced into spying for security became “fed up” with the situation and went to TV stations in Salt Lake City with their stories. With such negative publicity focused on BYU, the Security Office became less aggressive in their tactics for awhile.…

In a 1975 interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, President Oaks was asked “if BYU security agents checked known homosexual haunts looking for BYU students”. Oaks replied that he personally didn’t know, but “he wouldn’t be surprised if security officers had made such investigations over a period of time”. Joseph Morrow, a BYU security guard in 1973, claimed that such investigations of Gay spaces were commonplace in the early 1970s. Morrow stated that once he was asked by his supervisor, Paul Tanner, “to go to Salt Lake City to check for BYU Parking permits on cars gathered around specific bars. The bars…were known homosexual haunts.” When Morrow expressed reticence over the assignment, he was told “it was a regular weekend practice”.…

In January 1975, BYU administration decided to begin another purge of Queer people on campus. The first target of the purge was the Drama Department.…

Others however, found no humor in this situation at all. The October 1975 issue of the Advocate, carried an article by Robert McQueen about the Mormon Church and homosexuality. McQueen, a former Mormon would later become the editor in chief and then chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Advocate until his death from AIDS in 1989. In this 1975 article, McQueen reported that five Gay men he had known at BYU had gotten caught in the Purge of ’75, were coerced into therapy, expelled from BYU, outed by church officials, and then excommunicated. Rather than face the bigotry of family, friends, church, and state, each one committed suicide. Another man who was caught in that purge remembers that a BYU professor shot and killed himself that year after being entrapped at a local off campus restroom.…

In 1976, Ford McBride completed his 102 page doctoral dissertation on the “Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy”, under the direction of the aforementioned D. Eugene Thorne. For his dissertation, McBride and Thorne used 14 Gay male subjects in electric aversive conditioning and assertion training. The purpose of this study was to discover whether using pornographic photos of men and women was helpful in aversion therapy. In the Mormon weltannschaung, the end certainly justifies the means: heterosexuality must be attained AT ANY COST – even if it means using pornography, which the Mormon Church is usually vehemently opposed to.

The 14 Gay men were compared after being “treated” on an out-patient basis during 22 sessions of shock therapy. Each of the 22 sessions lasted 50 minutes. 10 of those minutes were spent in “assertive training” and the remaining 40 minutes in “aversive conditioning”. the average duration of treatment for the men was three months. As you can see here in the transparency, the release form these men were required to sign informed them that “damage to tissure or organs may occur”, that they would be looking at “sensitive materials” possibly contrary to their values [ie. pornography], and that BYU would be released from any responsibility for any damages done to them.…

BYU and church officials grew so alarmed about the homosexual “ring” on campus that in 1976 they established the Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior on campus (hereafter Values Institute), with psychology professor Allen Bergin as director. The Values Institute was charged with producing a manuscript “which would set forth significant empirical evidence in support of the Church’s position on homosexuality”. This book, funded by the church, would be written for a “New York Times type of audience” by Bergin and Victor L. Brown Jr., approved of by at least one general authority, published by a popular eastern press, and made to appear as though it had no ties at all to the church. The resulting book would then be available as “secular evidence” to back up the church’s anti-Gay stance.…

Ultimately the institute’s greatest challenge came from an unexpected quarter: Gay BYU undergraduate student Cloy Jenkins. About June 1977, after attending an anti-Gay lecture by BYU psychology professor I. Reed Payne (coincidentally a member of the Values Institute), Jenkins quickly prepared a lengthy but thoughtful response to Payne’s lecture, calling for a “well reasoned dialogue on these issues”. After getting help from two friends in editing his essay (now published by Prometheus Press as a pamphlet entitled Prologue), Jenkins had copies of it mailed to various church officials. Jenkins’s paper was soon circulating among faculty and administration at both BYU and Ricks College, as well as television and radio stations, and newspapers throughout Utah and Idaho.

he church’s reaction was immediate. According to a social services counselor at BYU, Jenkins’s paper caused “a real stir at BYU and in the Church – officials in both places are very touchy over it”. Allen Bergin, as director of the Values Institute, was directed by LDS Social Services and the BYU Comprehensive Clinic to prepare a rebuttal. This proved to be difficult, however, because Jenkins had made several “really good and undisputable points”, his figures on the numbers of Gays at BYU were accurate, and, according to BYU’s Executive Committee, he had used a “rather sophisticated pro-homosexuality platform”. Bergin finished his rebuttal on August 22, 1977 and titled it “A Reply to Unfounded Assertions Regarding Homosexuality”. BYU’s executive committee immediately hailed it as “an excellent paper refuting [the] major claims” of Jenkins. Despite this initial optimism, one BYU professor said that Bergin’s rebuttal on behalf of the church was actually so poorly written that “it was an embarrassment to all involved”. Word went out that “all copies be returned [to Bergin] as he hopes to rewrite his reply.” Apparently, Bergin did try to rewrite his response, but without much success. Bergin’s colleague, Victor L. Brown, Jr., also tried to rebut Jenkins, but his response was so poorly done that it was never released to the public.

When it became apparent that no authoritative response was forthcoming from the Values Institute, the church hierarchy decided to intervene personally. Church President Spencer Kimball asked Apostle Boyd K. Packer to “specifically address the local problem of homosexuality and to offer solutions” to BYU students. Packer at first declined the assignment, something almost unheard of in the higher church councils, but when pressed again urgently by Kimball, Packer decided to speak to an assembly of BYU students in early March, 1978. At the same time, the Advocate, a national Gay news magazine, was also preparing to publish excerpts from Jenkins’s paper in its 22 February issue. When BYU president Dallin Oaks found out about the upcoming Advocate article he then drafted a letter to Packer, warning that “in view of this national publication, and the accusations it makes…your [upcoming] remarks are likely to get wide newspaper coverage and to be viewed by many against the background of this article and these charges.”

On March 5, 1978, Packer delivered his now-infamous “To the One” speech during a twelve-stake fireside at BYU. [EXCERPT p. 2]Although the entire speech dealt with homosexuality, Packer used the word “homosexual” only once because he felt that Mormons “can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them”. This is not Packer’s only theory about the causes of homosexuality – and causation was vital, because, for Packer, finding the cause was an “essential step in developing a cure”. Packer theorized that the cause of homosexuality “will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness”.…

Meanwhile, church and BYU administrators were desperately trying to find Cloy Jenkins to bring a law suit against him – for “the misleading representations in this publication [as] a violation of the postal laws and regulations”. In a November 1978 report to LDS church commissioner of education Jeffrey R. Holland, Dallin Oaks summarized BYU’s unsuccessful attempts to track down the author, and recommended that “it would be best for us now to let this matter drop” because “any direct action by the University against the publishers would be counterproductive, arousing greater public attention [than] any benefit to be gained.”…

On September 13, 1979 Oaks wrote to Apostle Thomas Monson to explain the problems of the “Bergin-Brown Book on Values” and to inform church officials that school administrators had become persuaded “that we cannot achieve the original objectives to the extent hoped” by having the book appear through the “independent popular publisher”.…

That same year [1992] the BYU Counseling Center was up for reaccreditation by the American Psychological Association. All staff members at the Counseling Center were told during a staff meeting to destroy and/or falsify all records pertaining to homosexual clients, so that the Center could maintain its accreditation.…

Even when confronted with the various documents from out of BYU’s own archives, including Ford McBride’s 1976 Phd dissertation at BYU, Merrill Bateman refused to recant his statement that electric shock therapy was never used at BYU on Queer students.…” (Connell O’Donovan, “Private Pain, Public Purges: A History of Homosexuality at Brigham Young University,” Delivered April 28, 1997, University of California, Santa Cruz)


“U.N. councils face substantial pressure to adopt legal norms that pose a threat to family stability — pressure coming as a result of often one-sided influence of lobbies hostile to traditional family, religious and cultural values, said Richard Wilkins, BYU law professor and director of NGO Family Voice: The World Family Policy Center.

Wilkins has been involved with the center for three years. The center is a joint project of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and the School of Family Sciences.…

The center hosts the annual World Family Policy Forum for world leaders and diplomats every January in Provo. The center will also host the second World Congress of Families in November in Geneva.…” (BYU NewsNet, July 4, 1999)


“From the 14th to the 17th of November 1999, the World Family Policy Center from Brigham Young University (formerly known as NGO Family Voices) will host (together with the Howard Center of Chicago, Illinois) the Second World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland.  The congress will bring together leading scholars, governmental officials, diplomats, and religious leaders from around the world to discuss strengthening the family ‘as a fundamental unit of society.’” (Richard G. Wilkins, “Defending the Family,” BYU devotional address, July 6, 1999)


“Brigham Young University television stations have canceled their planned broadcasts of an Orem therapist’s presentation on helping gay men turn straight.

Station officials decided that the presentation by psychotherapist Jeff Robinson might be an oversimplification of a complex issue.…” (“BYU cancels broadcast of therapist’s talk on helping gay men turn straight,” Associated Press, January 15, 2003)


“… 5th annual World Family Policy Forum at BYU sponsored by the World Family Policy Center.…

… a dinner July 16 at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City during which they were welcomed to Church headquarters by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve. Along with Elder Scott’s brief opening and closing remarks was an address given by Sheri L. Dew…

‘[Scott] Although we come from very different backgrounds and cultures and some of the principles that we adhere to may differ, we are all convinced that only through the natural family which God organized as His basis of society can we continue to enjoy the blessings and freedoms and advantages that flow from living those things.…’

The World Family Policy Center, sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, in partnership with BYU’s School of Family Life, facilitates international policy debate by serving as an exchange point for the discussion and evaluation of emerging international legal norms and as an active participant in the examination of United Nations documents.” (Julie Dockstader Heaps, “The family is the basic unit of society. 5th annual World Family Policy Forum draws U.N. delegates from 38 countries,” Church News, July 26, 2003)


“I received a phone call late one May night this year from an old acquaintance in Salt Lake informing me that my e-mail buddy, whom I’ll call Daniel, apparently committed suicide in Salt Lake in Salt Lake on the previous Tuesday evening. I say ‘apparently’ as Daniel had been dealing with a severe case of pneumonia and after being released from a hospital stay had overdosed on his anti-depressant medication.…

Daniel’s mother is a psychotherapist who currently does ‘reparative therapy’ on Gays. Daniel’s father is a prominent Mormon psychologist who, in the late 1970s, became affiliated with the Values Institute at Brigham Young University. The primary objective of the ironically named Values Institute was to produce a ‘secular,’ anti-Gay book which would carefully explain all the reasons that homosexuality is sick and wrong.  Fortunately, after spending some $150,000 in church funds to produce this book, the Values Institute was disbanded and Daniel’s father was released from his position because the institute was unable to attain its goals with any credibility.…” (Connell O’Donovan, “Stumbling Towards Zion,” August, 2003)\


“Leaders From The Following Organizations Helped Plan This Congress…

The World Family Policy Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Confirmed Speakers for World Congress of Families III…

Richard Wilkins (USA), J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University


(“You Are Invited To Be A Delegate At The WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES III, March 29-31, 2004, Mexico City”)


“As far as I can tell, the earliest experiments with aversive therapies at BYU to “cure” homosexuality date to the mid-1960s and were spearheaded by D. Eugene Thorne, head of BYU’s Psychology Dept. By 1968, he had gained enough information to report his findings from BYU in a paper given in San Francisco that year for the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. Then in 1969, school administration became more careful in its use of controversial therapies for treating “sexual deviancy” as they put it. The administration publicly claimed that use of such therapies had been curtailed but unofficially they continued unabated. BYU’s Academic Vice President, Robert Thomas, advised college deans to alert those who were using aversive therapies to be “particularly cautious in utilizing them” not because they might prove harmful per se, but out of fear for law suits.…

Max Ford McBride’s PhD dissertation, completed in August 1976 under the direction of BYU psychology professor D. Eugene Thorne (note that Dr. I. Reed Payne, of the “Payne Papers” infamy, was also on his dissertation committee), is an excellent example of clinical dehumanization practiced by Mormon “therapists”. In the Mormon worldview, the end certainly justifies the means: heterosexuality must be attained and maintained AT ANY COST – even if it means using pornography (which the Mormon Church is usually vehemently opposed to) and physical torture.

Under the oversight of his committee chairman, Dr. Thorne, McBride experimented on fourteen Gay male subjects to determine if using photographs of nude men and women from Playgirl- and Playboy-type magazines was helpful in electric shock therapy. The 14 Gay BYU students in McBride’s study were compared after being “treated” on an out-patient basis during 22 sessions of shock therapy. Each of the 22 sessions lasted 50 minutes. 10 of those minutes were spent in “assertive training” and the remaining 40 minutes in “aversive conditioning.” The average duration of treatment for the men was three months. The release form these men were required to sign informed them that “damage to tissue or organs may occur,” that they would be looking at “sensitive materials” possibly contrary to their values [ie. pornography], and that BYU would be released from any responsibility for any damage done to them.

The longterm effects of the electric shock “therapy” these men were subjected to has been crippling. Two of the men committed suicide soon after completing this torturous study. Every survivor I have interviewed has suffered life-long emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical damage. In 1999, John Cameron, one of the 14 men who went through this horrific experience in 1976 when he was a 23 year old BYU student and member of the Young Ambassadors, wrote to me, “For 22 years now I have lived with the scars of the experience – unable to articulate a personal suffering and longing that have almost crippled me….I didn’t completely come out of the closet until I was 34, and only after much angry, pissed-off therapy. I spent a lot of money just so I could yell at my psychologist and break things in his office for an hour every week for two years. But it was a hell of a lot more fun than Ford McBride and the electrodes.”

A Gay psychology intern at BYU named Ray actually assisted in giving electric shock therapy to fellow Gay men in the late 1970s. In an interview he did for Sean Weakland’s documentary on aversive therapies at BYU called Legacies, Ray gave the following report on his activities and their results (which I quote here extensively because Ray has so much “insider” knowledge): 

“A lot of times BYU security would catch people in compromising positions on campus. Those people would have the choice to either be kicked out of school and have their families notified about what they had done or they could go through this therapy. We had quite a few people who were going through it. There were others in the therapy who felt so much guilt for being the way they were or they had been promised that if they underwent the therapy they would be able to marry and have children and they would be turned. Of course they had to have the desire to change, and if the therapy failed (which it always did), it was their fault for the failure since they didn’t have enough desire.

“Anyway, they would come in usually three times a week. I would be behind a glass one-way mirror, and they would be on the other side of it. They had their choice to look at pornographic magazines or watch porno videos. We would tape electrodes to their groin, thigh, chest and armpits. We had another machine that would monitor their breathing and heart rate. If there was a difference in their heart rate when looking at homosexual pornography, we would turn a dial which would send a current to shock them. If they were a new patient, we would use a very low current. From the reaction that I saw there were muscle spasms which looked very painful.

“After that was over, we would switch the pornography over so that it was a man and a woman having sex, and we would play very soothing music in the background to try and get the mind to relate to that. For the people that had been doing the therapy longer we turned the voltage way up so that you could see burn marks on the skin and quite often they would also throw up during the therapy. This is speculation, but most of the students at BYU probably hadn’t even seen pornography before.

“After undergoing that kind of pain over a number of months, everyone said that they had completely changed. They kept records for as long as the people were at BYU. After they had graduated, there was no records kept to see what kind of success rate they had. The BYU statistics were wrong because the people were lying. They were desperate to get their degree and get out of the situation. They had been blackmailed into the situation in the first place.

“We did have some people who became completely asexual after undergoing the therapy. But no, we never changed anyone from gay to straight….We had several people who committed suicide during the therapy. We had three different people who hung themselves in the Harris Fine Arts Center on BYU campus.”

In the late 1970s, Carol Lynn Pearson, a famous Mormon poet whose husband Gerald Pearson was Gay, met one of Gerald’s Gay friends at BYU named Sam. Sam told Carol Lynn that “they strapped me in a chair and attached wires to me. Then they showed me porno movies of men in sexual activity. When I got turned on, they gave me a shock.” At first they just shocked his hands. “After that they added my forearms, and then my calves and thighs. That was when they started cranking up the voltage. I had to go in two or three times a week….Only it didn’t work. All I wanted was not to touch anybody, not to be with anybody. I felt like I was being turned into a zombie. I would walk down the street and be freaked by everyone. The idea of touching anyone, even my family, made me sick.” After enduring several “treatments”, Sam started to question his participation in his own torture. “I made myself walk up those steps and go into that building and sit down in that chair. And take the shocks. Until I gave up….There were burns on my arms but inside there was nothing different. Nothing! Just more pain.” Sam left and never went back.

Later, Sam told Gerald and Carol Lynn Pearson about another Gay BYU student named John who had committed suicide after going through electric shock treatments at BYU. After leaving BYU both Sam and John had decided to move to Los Angeles together, although just as friends, not lovers. “We were going to drop everything and go make a new life. [John] told that to the General Authority that was on his case, and the man told him he’d be better off at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake with a millstone tied around his neck than to stay a homosexual. John believed him. He believed everything they said to him. He drove back to Provo, told his roommates he was going to the laundromat, drove up Rock Canyon, laid out a blanket, and blew his brains out.” Sam fared almost as badly as John. In 1981, after leaving a Gay bar in San Francisco, without any warning he was attacked in a vicious anti-Gay hate crime by two young men wielding a crow bar. He nearly died when they smashed his head in. Sam went through five major surgeries and $70,000 in plastic surgery to repiece his face together again. He was also blinded in one eye, which was replaced by a glass eye.

I also personally recall an Affirmation meeting in 1988 when a man showed up calling himself only David. He sat alone in a corner during our meeting and became extremely jittery when anyone approached him. I spoke with him but he requested that I remain at least six feet in distance away from him. He then rolled up his shirt sleeves and showed me his arms. The deeply-scarred skin on the inside of his arms looked like raw hamburger and I almost vomitted from the sight. He informed me that he had participated in electric shock therapy at BYU in 1977 and had been allowed to turn up the voltage as high as he wanted to. The results were badly burned arms and a complete inability to come physically close to any male without him emotionally breaking down from the trauma. His homosexual desires were as strong as ever but he was unable to touch another man even for a simple hug, he had no heterosexual desires whatsoever, and he was constantly on the verge of suicide. David never returned to Affirmation and I suspect from his fragile emotional state that he did not survive his ordeal for much longer. I also met two Lesbians in 1990 at the Gay Pride festivities in Salt Lake who claimed that they had also gone through electric shock therapy at BYU in the 1970s but I was not able to conduct a formal interview and we lost contact. That is the only knowledge I have of women being subjected to this torturous treatment at the hands of so-called therapists.

Another Gay BYU student named Randy Smith went through aversion therapy at BYU in the late 1970s, but when it failed to make him heterosexual, he was excommunicated and expelled from the school. Disillusioned by his treatment by the church and school, in 1981 he organized a protest against the LDS Church during it’s semiannual conference in October. After he got legal permits to do so, he and 16 other protesters marched around Temple Square with signs and banners protesting the unethical treatment of Gays by the Mormon Church and then held a press conference, calling for the end of aversion therapies. Almost all Mormons present simply ignored the vocal protest in their midst.

Robert McQueen, a Gay returned missionary and editor in chief of The Advocate, published an article on Gays at BYU called “The Heterosexual Solution: A Dilemma for Gay Mormons”, accompanied by a very intense depiction of the shock therapy, as well as a scandalous cartoon depicting Spencer Kimball, Brigham Young, and Joseph Smith showing a picture of a naked woman to two Gay men in bed together (which is essentially what McBride was doing with his “therapy” at the Y).

Andrew Welch, a former Daily Utah Chronicle staff member, produced a 16 minute documentary on electric shock therapy at BYU in 1977 and early 1978. San Francisco public television station KQED helped produce the documentary, which they broadcast in July of 1978.  For the documentary, Welch interviewed 40 Gay men and two BYU psychologists, and showed the electric shock therapy device being used at BYU.  Utah’s PBS station, KUED, refused to air the program on these torturous practices however, citing religious differences, and the belief that the program had nothing to do with civil rights – only “morality”. (In 1982, BYU student Keith Mitchell also produced a three part documentary on homosexuality at BYU. However only the first two parts were aired. Part 3, scheduled to air on August 6, 1982, was cancelled for not meeting “the standard of accuracy set by the station”. Part 3 simply contained interviews with Gay BYU students and was thought to be “too sensational”.)

Dr. Eugene Thorne’s career after BYU has continued to be controversial. Thorne became co-owner and Executive Director of the Provo Canyon School (for severely “troubled teens”) in March of 1979. In Milonas v. Williams, two students named Timothy Milonas Jr. and Kenneth Rice sued Provo Canyon School administrators, including D. Eugene Thorne, for causing Milonas, Rice, and other students at the school to “suffer and to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, anti-therapeutic and inhumane treatment, and denial of due process of law.” The school (and Dr. Thorne) were found guilty of violating the students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by monitoring and censoring student mail, using isolation rooms unnecessarily, and using physical force to coerce behavior modification. The guilty verdict was appealed but the rehearing was denied by the Court of Appeals on November 9, 1982. Despite being successfully sued for inhumane treatment of students, Thorne left the Provo Canyon School and became director of the Discovery Academy, a school similar to Provo Canyon School, but located in the city of Provo itself. Dr. Ford McBride is also currently in practice in Provo, Utah. 

In April 1997 I made a call for BYU to admit what had been done to these people, apologize, and make financial reparations to them. However despite the massive evidence to the contrary, Merrill Joseph Bateman, then President of BYU and a high ranking LDS General Authority, issued a statement to me via email on April 9, 1997 in response to my call, indicating that, “we have not been able to verify your assertion that electric shock therapy…was ever used on gay and lesbian students at BYU.” At least a dozen other people over the course of several years thereafter received similar denials from Bateman or his office, when they have contacted him about this issue. To my knowledge, Bateman has never retracted his denial. Bateman is currently a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.” (Connell O’Donovan, “’The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’:  A Revised History of Homosexuality & Mormonism, 1840-1980,” 2004)


“… Brigham Young University, rated by the Princeton Review is the 10th most homophobic college in the US.” (Hugo Salinas, “Gays and Lesbians to Protest at Brigham Young University,” www.Affirmation.org, January 2006)


“The organizers of the Soulforce Equality Ride have just announced the venue for the rally they will hold in Provo. The rally will be held in Kiwanis Park in Provo, Utah, on Sunday, April 10, at 6:00 PM.”  (Lisa Hansen, “Equality Ride Announces Venue for BYU Rally,” www.affirmation.org, March 2006)


“Soulforce—a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy group—is scheduled to visit the school April 10 as part of a nationwide Equality Ride tour.…

‘[BYU Honor Code] advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) for any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.’…

… the group is stopping at schools with written policies against homosexual activity.”  (Todd Hollingshead, “Gay advocacy group to pay a visit to BYU campus,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, 2006)


“’Let’s be honest,’ said the Equality Ride co-director Haven Herrin.  ‘BYU has a discriminatory stance against GLBT people, and we wanted to address that.’

Of the 220 schools across the nation that banned homosexuality on campus, Herrin said BYU has one of the toughest, most stringent policies.…

… it is almost impossible that visits from groups like Soulforce will result in change in honor code policy.…

Herrin said a conversation about the BYU environment is worthwhile. And a conversation, she said, is all Soulforce is after.”  (John Hyde, “Gay Rights Group ‘Soulforce’ to Visit BYU to Protest,” BYU NewsNet, March 24, 2006)


“Soulforce is, in part, protesting the BYU Honor code, which states the following:

‘Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.  Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.

School authorities may dismiss students for sexual transgressions independent of action by a Church Disciplinary Council.  No one known to be guilty of overt and active homosexual conduct is to be enrolled or permitted to remain at Church Educational System campuses as students, but the following conduct is not to be treated as ‘overt and active’ for the purpose of his policy:

  1. Persons who have repented of evil acts and totally forsaken them for a suitable lengthy period of time.
  1. Persons who have been guilty of irregular sexual behavior not equivalent to fornication or adultery and who are repentant and show evidence that their irregularities will not be repeated.  The retention or dismissal of students should be a matter of decision on an individual basis by the administration, after considering the nature and duration of involvement, the circumstances of the student’s work at the institution, and the recommendation of the ecclesiastical officer having jurisdiction over the case.’

‘Our policies are based on the teachings and doctrine of our sponsor church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. ‘We do acknowledge that the BYU environment may not be for everyone, however that is a decision that students make in coming here and one that visitors will need to make in visiting our campus.’…”  (Hugo Salinas, “Touring Gays and Lesbians to Protest at Brigham Young University,” Q Salt Lake, April 1, 2006, p. 6)


“’We’ve got a campus map of where we can’t go,’ [Haven] Herrin said, adding that BYU officials have prohibited the group from setting up a table, handing out literature or holding any kind of demonstration.”  (Michael Rigert, “Gay rights advocates share message at worship service,” Provo Daily Herald, April 10, 2006)


“Three Equality Riders and two of their supporters were arrested today after attempting to deliver speeches on discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at Brigham Young University.… Bedwell and Solomon had attempted to read letters from closeted BYU students in front of a lunchtime crowd of students. The Reitan parents tried to speak about their experiences in raising the child. Jacob Reitan began a speech about learning from the history of religion-based discrimination. All were escorted off campus before their public statements can be completed.…

The Riders and their supporters were arrested because of stringent guidelines set down by the university in order to restrict dialogue during the Equality Ride stop. Equality Riders were told they could not hand out literature, set up a display table or hold a formal presentation or speech. It was this last restriction that led to the arrest of the five Riders.” (Soulforce Press Release, April 10, 2006)


“BYU police officers, dressed in suits, and several university officials monitored the discussions in front of the Wilkinson Student Center and broke up groups they considered too large. Hundreds of students stopped to speak with the Soulforce members—some in opposition, some in support.” (Todd Hollingshead, “Gay activists escorted off BYU campus, arrested,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 11, 2006)


“Twenty-four people were arrested at a gay ‘die-in’ Tuesday afternoon at Brigham Young University in Provo—the second day gay demonstrators from the Soulforce Equality Ride were arrested at the Mormon school.…

When they reached the school a group of 24 entered the campus and carrying Easter lilies walked to the steps of the administration building where they fell to the ground in a ‘die-in’ to symbolize gay Mormons who taken their own lives over what the writer said was anti-gay bias fostered by the church.”  (“2nd Day of Gay Arrests at BYU,” 365Gay.com, April 11, 2006)


“… It took an hour for the demonstrators to stage their memorial as LDS Gay suicide stories were read—hardly resembl[ing] a mass arrest. No handcuffs were used, and Soulforce members had told BYU officials where they’d be and what they’d be doing prior to the staging.

‘Last night they let us know exactly how this was going to take place,’ said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. ‘It was coordinated how the citations would be issued.’…”  (Todd Hollingshead, “Rights tour again busted at BYU,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 12, 2006)


“The marchers proceeded somberly and silently on a 42-minute walk past the LDS Missionary Training Center, the Marriott Center, Larry H. Miller field and LaVell Edwards Stadium.

The procession ended at the campus entrance on the corner of Bulldog Boulevard and Canyon Road, where Soulforce conducted a rally to memorialize the deaths of 22 members of the LDS Church who committed suicide between 1965 and 2004.

Soulforce leaders read biographies of each of the gay men—11 served LDS Church missions and six were former BYU students and graduates.…

Each marcher represented one of the dead man and carried a little. The rally lasted more than an hour, with each marcher waiting until a biography was red before walking from the street corner up onto campus and collapsing on the grass as if dead.…” (Tad Walch, “24 arrested at BYU,” Deseret News, April 12, 2006)


“In April last year, 24 Equality Riders with gay rights group Soulforce stopped at Brigham Young University to dialogue with students, professors and administrators about the school’s anti-gay policies. This year, the Riders plan on returning with three Utah students in their ranks.…

‘The official reason why we’re returning to BYU is that it’s still the highest school for suicides in a state that leads the nation.’…

‘The administration was adept at spinning the die-in so little got accomplished,’ he said.

But Cramer and Kulisch say they have a better idea for dialoguing this year.  Instead of a ‘die-in’ they’d like to get between 1,000 and 3,000 people to walk around the outside of the school in what Cramer describes as a ‘wall of Jericho’ against discrimination.” (JoSelle Vanderhooft, “Utahns to Join 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, Protest BYU,” Q Salt Lake, February 1, 2007, p. 8)


“Three full-time Brigham Young University students and two BYU graduates called on the school to clarify its Honor Code policy about homosexual behavior and advocacy during a panel discussion Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the Soulforce Equality Riders who organized the panel urged anyone who might join today’s planned ‘Walls of Jericho’ march around the outskirts of the BYU campus to stay off university property.…

The panel discussion was held at the Provo City Library at Academy Square…

Jackson asked BYU to clarify its Honor Code policy, which prohibits any sexual behavior outside marriage and any implicit advocacy of homosexual behavior.

‘If BYU wants celibate students, it has every right to demand that and to limit behavior,’ Jackson said, ‘but the issue with the Honor Code is not about lifestyle, it’s about identity. Not being allowed to express an identity is very damaging.’…

The university does accept gay applicatns.  BYU’s Jenkins said if they uphold the Honor Code they have no reason to fear punishment for identifying themselves as gay or lesbian if they don’t do so in a way that is a protest or demonstration or is meant to persuade others.” (Tad Walch, “Y. urged to clarify its policy on gays,” Deseret News, March 22, 2007)


“Gay-advocate group Soulforce’s second visit to Brigham Young University has produced more arrests.…” (Todd Hollingshead, “Gay-rights duo arrested at BYU,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, 2007)


“Eight members of the gay activist group Soulforce Equality were arrested for trespassing on the campus of BYU-Idaho Monday.…”  (Nate Eaton, “8 Arrested During Soulforce Visit to BYU-Idaho,” www.KIDK.com)


“Brigham Young University modified text included with its Honor Code last week, a change that clarifies the university’s policy against homosexual behavior among students rather than against homosexual orientation.

BYU didn’t publicize the clarifications, which were under consideration before the protest last month by the Soulforce Equality Riders, and university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the process is continuing.

‘Our Honor Code has not changed,’ Jenkins said, ‘but there has been a clarification. Some students have said some of the clarifications are confusing and we have begun the process of going through and clarifying just what is meant.’…

Now the written policy more clearly states that gays can attend BYU without concern that the Honor Code Office will take action against them because of their sexual orientation.

The altered text reads, ‘Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards.’

The clarification adds, ‘One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue.’

BYU students who joined a panel discussion organized by Soulforce last month called for clarification of the Honor Code and quoted language that now has been removed.…” (Tad Walch, “BYU clarifies Honor Code about gay orientation,” Deseret News, April 18, 2007)


“What BYU’s Honor Code said on homo-sexual behavior or advocacy, and what it says now:


Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.


Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.” (“Change to BYU’s Honor Code,” Deseret News, April 18, 2007)


“The change occurred three weeks after gay and lesbian students urged the BYU administration to clarify its policies.  The students were participating in a panel organized by Soulforce Equality Riders near BYU. 

A BYU spokesperson denied that the Ride had anything to do with the change.

Carri Jenkins said the revised rules are part of an ongoing process to reflect student questions and concerns.…” (Lisa Hansen, “BYU Relaxes Anti-Gay Policies,” Q Salt Lake, May 1, 2007, p. 8)


“[4th World Congress of Families] The conference’s more than 130 speakers included several from Utah who represented the moral positions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

‘Legalizing same-sex marriage will drain marriage of its social meaning,’ said Lynn Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University.

That view was reinforced by Elder Bruce Hafen of the Quorums of Seventy and a former dean of the BYU law school.…” (Steve Fidel, “Warsaw forum promotes ‘natural family,’” Deseret News, May 13, 2007)


“Meanwhile, back at BYU in 1976, trouble was brewing.  On September 1, 1976, BYU’s Board of Trustees founded the Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior, hereafter referred to simply as the Values Institute, with Dr. Allen E. Bergin as its Director. Although the public was not informed of the true nature of the ironically named ‘Values Institute,’ its goals were to produce an anti-Gay scientific book, written by Bergin and Victor L. Brown Jr., funded by church tithing monies, which would be printed by an eastern press and made to appear as though it had no ties to the Church.  This would then be used as ‘secular evidence’ to back up the church’s homophobic stance.  Other Values Institute goals were to prepare anti-Gay papers and rebuttals, support academic and scientific research vindicating the church’s stance on homosexuality, and lastly to recommend to the First Presidency ‘specific steps the Church might take in combating homosexuality and other sexual misconduct.’

And most horribly, at BYU in 1976, Dr. D. Eugene Thorne, head of BYU’s Psych Department, oversaw PhD student Max Ford McBride in his PhD dissertation that involved experiments on Gay men using Gay and Straight pornography with electric-shock therapy.  They started out with 16 Gay male BYU students and staff, but two committed suicide during the experiment, so the study only ended up with 14 subjects.

Now Stephen James Matthew Price (who later changed his name to Stephan ‘Zak’ Zakharias), a 22-year-old Gay convert to the church from Davis, CA (near Sacramento) was living in Utah at the time and personally knew the two men who had committed suicide during Thorne and McBride’s electric shock therapy on them, and this became the driving force behind his conviction that a support group for Gay Mormons needed to be formed ultimately in order to prevent any further suicides.” (Connell O’Donovan, “Affirmation: Singing the Songs of our Redemption, 1977 to 2007,” Keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of Affirmation, May 27, 2007)


“I must also mention that Kenneth Kline, one of the organizers of the Salt Lake Human Rights Convention, had been involved with organizing Gays at BYU, and in fact is the one who had published the pamphlet now known as ProloguePrologue had been written in the spring of 1977 mainly by Gay BYU student Cloy Jenkins, aided by Ricks College faculty member Howard Salisbury.  Jenkins wrote this paper in response to an anti-Gay lecture he had attended on campus delivered by Dr. Reed Payne – at the time, Jenkins’ remarks were simply known as ‘the Payne Papers.’  Kenneth Kline had gotten Donald Attridge to do a pencil sketch of the BYU campus for the cover artwork, and published the Payne Papers, and then somehow had gotten the pamphlet to be mailed out by the Church Office Building to all General Authorities, plus TV and radio stations, and many BYU professors, etc. making it look as though the pamphlet was a BYU publication and approved of by the Church.  This stunt caused a HUGE controversy in the Church and on campus at the Y, bless his heart.  In any case Kenneth Kline had somewhat sneakily booked the Mormon-owned Hotel Utah for the conference. However when the Presiding Bishopric, which ran the Hotel, found out the exact nature of the ‘Human Rights’ convention, it reneged on the contract and the convention had to be held at a much smaller, lesser known hotel downtown.” (Connell O’Donovan, “Affirmation: Singing the Songs of our Redemption, 1977 to 2007,” Keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of Affirmation, May 27, 2007)


“The atmosphere at BYU during the mid-seventies was difficult emotional terrain for a young man in his twenties to travel alone, especially a mainstream Mormon experiencing homosexual urges. Young John Cameron, like the character Aaron in 14, was lost on the campus of Brigham Young University and all of the psychological road signs and spiritual detours sent a young gay man traveling in circles. Finally, like any lost traveler, John asked for directions and ended up in Max Ford McBride’s experiment.

Up until that time I never, ever, ever, ever thought of blaming the Mormon Church for anything. I wasn’t mad at them. I was mad at myself. I was angry that I didn’t have the courage to deal with who I was earlier; that I didn’t have the guts to leave religion behind and move forward with my life. But when he [Merrill Bateman] tried to deny that [reparative therapy] ever happened, [when] they said they couldn’t find any record of the experiment, … that infuriated me because that was lying and a Church should not lie.

It was after these revelations that John started to write.

I wanted to tell about it because I actually think they were trying to do a good thing with this [reparative therapy]. They were trying to help people. They were trying to help people out of sin, and that’s what Church does. Not the best idea, but at that time did we know any better? No. We thought this was good cutting-edge work.”

(John Clarence Cameron, interviewed by Jodi Mardesich, “Archive of ‘14’,” theatre.uIowa.edu, January 2008)


“The experience of the two playwrights John Cameron, 56, head of the University of Iowa’s acting program, and Roman Feeser, 33, of New York City, are separated by more than a two-decade age range.

Cameron served an LDS mission in Guatamala and El Salvador, and performed as a Young Ambassador while attending Brigham Young University. After graduating with a psychology degree, he performed in Mormon musicals, such as ‘Saturday’s Warrior’ and Pearson’s ‘My Turn on Earth.’ He left religion behind in his late 20s, when he began doubting the existence of God, before coming out as a gay man at age 34.

His harrowing, powerful play, ‘14,’ was inspired by his experience undergoing electric shock treatment in a 1976 research study at BYU. As a college student, Cameron volunteered for the experiment, conducted by then BYU-graduate student Max Ford McBride, hoping it would alter his same-sex attraction. Instead, the psychological and emotional wounds nearly crippled him, once leading him to contemplate suicide.

The play’s title refers to the number of men included in a three-month study, as well as the study’s follow-up period, which lasted just two weeks. But the story’s more universal theme, according to the playwright, is the human condition of isolation. ‘We’re kind of unwilling to accept that,’ he says. ‘I keep playing with the idea that maybe accepting our isolation is the healthiest thing.’

The play, Cameron’s first to be produced, is powerful on the page, thanks to the authority of his spare writing. ‘To have an autobiographical play that runs under two hours lets you know the writer is cutting right to the heart of the story,’ says Jim VanValen, a professional actor, theater professor at Iowa’s Cornell College and former student of Cameron’s who played the lead character.

At the heart of ‘14’ are violent face-offs between the loosely autobiographical main character, Ron, and Aaron, a younger version of himself. The storytelling is layered with snippets of LDS hymns, such as ‘We Are Sowing’ and ‘When Upon Life’s Billows,’ before building to graphic later scenes depicting what’s happening as Aaron is being electrically shocked while viewing pornographic images.

Beyond the specifically Mormon references, audiences seemed to respond to the drama’s dark humor and psychological questions. ‘That fractured self is a story that resonates for all of us,’ VanValen says. ‘We all have the need to connect with the part of ourselves that we deny or are ashamed of. Or that we want to be or can’t be.’

Over the course of his life, Cameron says he had tried to forget about the shock treatments and didn’t want to talk about it, until he learned from a researcher that two men in the experiment had committed suicide. Later, Cameron reluctantly agreed to be interviewed by a reporter writing about homophobia at BYU in the national gay magazine, The Advocate. As Cameron writes in the play, it seemed the ultimate irony when his account and quotes, due to space limitations, were cut from the magazine story.…” (Ellen Fagg, “Plays about gay Mormons attracting audiences nationally,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 15, 2008)


[p. 107] When Evan Thompson continued to struggle with homosexual desire after opting for heterosexual marriage and social standing in the LDS Church, he enrolled in electroshock aversion therapy at BYU. Although BYU officials privately agreed to discontinue such practices in 1969, they persisted well into the 1970s; a 1976 study conducted by a BYU doctoral student optimistically reported ‘change toward heterosexual adjustment’ in fourteen homosexual Mormon men. However, the author based his conclusions on a single follow-up evaluation conducted two weeks after the last treatment session. When Evan Thompson found similar therapy ineffective, his BYU psychiatrist dismissed his case as exceptional: ‘Oh, well not with you because you’re so bright, it wouldn’t work with you.’

[p. 110] A 1949 ruling by the Honor System’s governing board extended the code beyond the BYU campus to anywhere a student may go. The code not only obligated students to observe the rules themselves, but also to report the improper conduct of others. Newly enrolled students, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, pledged to live by the rules and ‘aid those who may stumble by pointing the right way with a kind hand.’…

[p. 111] By the time Rick Pace and Lee Paulsen attended BYU, the university had become [p. 112] the centerpiece in the church’s crusade against homosexuality. In 1965, the fall semester welcoming address included BYU President Ernest Wilkinson’s request that all homosexuals leave the university voluntarily in exchange for a tuition refund. During that same year, Lee Paulsen had an involuntary brush with BYU’s security apparatus. After his boyfriend’s mother tipped them off, security officers ‘came to my dorm, took me in and interviewed me in a really Gestapo-like fashion.  They told me they had information that I belonged to a ‘gay sorority’ in Tucson.’ When Lee appealed the university’s decision to expel him, Spencer W. Kimball refused reinstatement because Lee refused to provide names.…

[p. 130] For Bill Cloward, however, ‘Going home from my mission was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do because I knew I was going home to this girl who had waited two years for me, though I asked her not to.’ When Bill confided in his bishop about his homosexuality and misgivings over the impending nuptials, the bishop assured him that the feelings would pass and urged him to proceed with the marriage. Similarly, Wayne Hewitt’s BYU therapist persuaded him that ‘everything would switch’ if he married and had sex with his wife.…

[p. 217] In 1978 the Utah Legislature gave BYU’s security force powers rivaling those of the State Police. Unlike city police and county sheriffs departments assigned specific jurisdictions, the new law allowed BYU officers to operate anywhere in the state to arrest lawbreakers of any religious persuasion. Reverend Robert Waldrop of Salt Lake’s Metropolitan Community Church acknowledged Mormons’ right to teach that [p. 218] homosexuality was sinful, but expressed outrage that the church could enforce those beliefs ‘with its own militia.’ His fears seemed warranted, for BYU Security Chief Robert Kelshaw acknowledged previous surveillance of the Sun Tavern.… 

[p. 238] One of the more ambitious efforts to publicize gays’ experiences in the Mormon Church was a 1978 television documentary produced by former Utahn Andrew Welch. The film included interviews with forty gay men and two BYU psychologists, as well as [p. 239] material on electroshock conversion therapy. After tentatively scheduling its broadcast in Salt Lake, the local PBS affiliate, KUED, canceled the program, citing station guidelines dictating a clear separation of church and state. In response to criticism from local gay leaders, KUED General Manager Robert Reed insisted that ‘public television should not interfere with intra-denominational affairs….It’s our judgment that it’s a religious issue-not a civil issue…that is, someone’s rights under the Constitution have not been abrogated or threatened.’ 

However, PBS stations in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco followed a different standard, airing the program during Gay Pride Week. A University of Utah Chronicle editorial expressed dismay that KUER’s management did not consider the church’s practices civil issues when Mormons comprised 60 percent of the state.…” (Douglas A. Winkler, “Lavender Sons of Zion: A History of Gay Men in Salt Lake City, 1950-79,” PhD Dissertation, University of Utah, May 2008)


“Electro-shock Therapy

Also as late as 20 years ago, the church counseled men with homosexual tendencies to participate in shock-aversion, vomit-aversion and other heinous experimental therapies.

At church-owned Brigham Young University, Dr. D. Eugene Thorne, head of BYU’s Psych Department, oversaw doctoral student Max Ford McBride in his PhD dissertation involving experiments on gay men using gay and straight pornography with electric-shock therapy. They study started out with 16 gay male BYU students and staff, but two committed suicide during the experiment, so the study ended up with 14 subjects.

In a documentary by Sean Weakland, Legacies, a man who was a BYU intern during the experiments described how they were conducted.

‘We would tape electrodes to their groin, thigh, chest and armpits. We had another machine that would monitor their breathing and heart rate. If there was a difference in their heart rate when looking at homosexual pornography, we would turn a dial which would send a current to shock them. If they were a new patient, we would use a very low current. From the reaction that I saw there were muscle spasms which looked very painful.

‘After that was over, we would switch the pornography over so that it was a man and a woman having sex, and we would play very soothing music in the background to try and get the mind to relate to that. For the people that had been doing the therapy longer we turned the voltage way up so that you could see burn marks on the skin and quite often they would also throw up during the therapy. This is speculation, but most of the students at BYU probably hadn’t even seen pornography before [this experience].’” (“Mo’s vs. ‘Mos: The battle between Mormons and Gays,” Q Salt Lake, September 14, 2009)


 “[p. 89] Utah state laws during President Kimball’s administration outlawed homosexual activities. Although such activity was increasingly ignored elsewhere, BYU’s Security Department under Robert Kelshaw and the Honor Council enforced these laws, energetically attempting to identify and expel those involved in homosexual activities. Efforts at BYU to alter orientation by an experimental treatment of electroshock therapy failed to produce the desired results. When the Utah legislature in 1979 gave campus police at BYU and other Utah universities authority to act as law enforcement agents beyond the bounds of the campus, critics saw the measure as designed to authorize the pursuit of student homosexual activities off campus. However, since 1964 BYU officers had already been able to act off campus because they were sworn in as members of the Provo City police force.” (Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, Working Draft, Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2009)


“In spring of 1977 Dr. Reed Payne, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, presented anti-gay views on homosexuality in a lecture to his beginning psychology class. His comments weren’t well-received by some closeted gay students who were present. Soon after this lecture, BYU student Cloy Jenkins and BYU instructor Lee Williams authored a 52-page rebuttal to Dr. Payne’s assertion that homosexuality was a pathological condition. The crux of these writings became a pamphlet simply called ‘The Payne Papers,’ which called for a ‘well-reasoned dialogue’ on the issue of homosexuals and the LDS Church. Good luck with that.

In the essay, the ‘anonymous’ authors explained what it was like to be gay, and asserted that homosexuality cannot be cured; that it was a state of being and not just a chosen pattern of behavior, and that those claiming to have been cured might have experienced modification of their sexual behavior but not their orientation.…

While Cloy Jenkins and Lee Williams were the principle authors, Ricks College faculty member Howard Salisbury and Jeff Williams, Lee Williams brother, who was also gay, contributed to the final draft of the pamphlet.

Later that summer, Salt Lake City gay activist Ken Kline solicited BYU student Donald Attridge to do a pencil sketch of the BYU campus for the cover artwork, and Kline then published ‘The Payne Papers’ as an anonymous pamphlet. Kline, who knew a gay man who worked in the church office building’s mail room, also managed to get the pamphlet mailed to all the General Authorities, TV and radio stations, and most of the LDS church faculty at BYU and Ricks College. Doing this made it look as though the pamphlet was a BYU publication and that the church had approved it. Needless to say, LDS leaders were pissed.

The ‘pro-homosexuality’ pamphlet flustered church officials to such a degree that in August, Allen Bergin, director of the Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior at BYU, was directed by LDS Social Services and BYU Comprehensive Clinic to prepare a response to ‘The Payne Papers.’ It was entitled ‘A Reply to Unfounded Assertions Regarding Homosexuality.’ It was dismal.

In the Sept. 1, 1977 Salt Lake City’s gay publication, The Open Door, which happened to be owned by Ken Kline,  began the serialization of the anonymous ‘Payne Papers.’  Then, as now, the LDS Church read the local gay news. On Sept. 15, two weeks after the serialization, BYU’s administration officially addressed the papers during a meeting of the Executive Committee of Brigham Young University.

‘It was reported that the publication, The Open Door, which purports to be the voice of the Salt Lake City ‘gay community,’ has begun to reprint that letter in a series of articles over the next six months,’ the minutes read. ‘It was indicated that Commissioner [Jeffrey] Holland and President [Dallin] Oaks are working closely with Elder Boyd K. Packer concerning this matter. It was also reported that Dr. Allen Bergin of BYU had prepared an excellent paper refuting the major claims made by homosexuals and that this paper could be helpful to the university and the church in counteracting the rather sophisticated pro-homosexuality platform by the anonymous letter which the General Authorities and others received.’

In Feb. 1978, national gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate sent out press packets to newspaper agencies across the United States regarding the upcoming publication of ‘The Payne Papers’ in the magazine. The religion editor of a newspaper in Oregon had sent a copy of the press packet to a Mormon friend, who then forwarded it to Dallin Oaks at BYU. Oaks was so concerned about the negative publicity generated by the article that he drafted a letter to Boyd K. Packer warning him that ‘in view of this national publication and the accusations it makes … your [upcoming] remarks are likely to get wide newspaper coverage and to be viewed by many against the background of this article and these charges.’

In response to The Advocate’s publication of the Payne Papers, LDS Church President Spencer Kimball asked Packer to ‘specifically address the local problem of homosexuality and offer solutions’ at a 12 Stake Fireside at BYU.  On March 5, 1978, Packer delivered his now infamous ‘To the One’ speech, in which he told the audience that homosexuality is a curable problem when considered as a moral or spiritual matter.

The Presiding Bishop Office of the LDS Church financed BYU’s Value’s Institute attempts to rebut ‘The Payne Papers’ through the tithing funds that church members contributed for ‘humanitarian projects.’ The Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior recommended ‘specific steps the Church might take in combating homosexuality and other sexual misconduct’ and affirmed that their ‘basic theme is that truth lies with the scriptures and the prophets, not with secular data or debate.’

Victor L. Brown of the Values Institute decried ‘the fallacious claims in the Payne Papers’ as the ‘opposition’s attempts to indoctrinate our people.’ He suggested that church authorities create a ‘political-action kit for use of member-citizens in local legislative efforts’ to oppose gay rights.

The institute also proposed attempts to get an East Coast publisher to publish their anti-homosexuality data so it would appear as an ‘independent’ source in support of their claims that homosexuality is curable and preventable.

By the beginning of 1980, BYU’s Institute for Studies in Values and Human Behavior hadn’t succeeded in achieving its directive to refute ‘The Payne Papers.’ Also, Allen Bergin’s fellow professionals were challenging his scholarly objectivity and professional standing during conferences. Even BYU President Dallin Oaks became annoyed at what he perceived to be an undermining of his own authority by members of the institute. Oaks wrote Thomas Monson to explain the problems of the Bergin-Brown book on values, and to inform church officials that school administrators had become persuaded ‘that we cannot achieve the original objectives to the extent hoped’ by having the book appear through ‘independent popular publishers.’ Thus, that covert operation was dropped.

Eventually, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons acquired the rights to ‘The Payne Papers’ and republished it under the new title ‘Prologue.’” (Ben Williams, “The Payne Papers,” Q Salt Lake, December 23, 2010)


“Over the past few years, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned Brigham Young University has been tweaking its Honor Code — the set of standards by which all students agree to abide — on homosexuality. In 2007 when it reworded and expanded its standards to focus on homosexual actions, versus homosexual feelings, it received a lot of media attention.

But earlier this school year, it completely removed ‘advocacy’ from the code, and no one seemed to notice.

As late as the 2009-2010 school year, the code had a section titled, ‘Homosexual Behavior or Advocacy’ which stated ‘homosexual behavior and advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violates the Honor Code.’

‘Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable,’ was included in the code that year.

This year, however, any reference to advocacy has been stripped.

The ‘Homosexuality’ section of the code now reads:

Homosexual Behavior

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.

The code had read, from 2007 through 2010, as:

Homosexual Behavior or Advocacy

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior and/or advocacy of homosexual behavior are is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

Prior to its 2007 update, it had read:

Homosexual Behavior or Advocacy

Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation. Students can be enrolled at the University and remain in good Honor Code standing if they maintain a current ecclesiastical endorsement and conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code. Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.”

(“BYU removes pro-gay advocacy from its honor code,” Q Salt Lake, February 2, 2011)


“John Cameron said he was a naive and devout Mormon who felt ‘out of sync’ with the world, when he volunteered to be part of a study of ‘electric aversion therapy’ in 1976 at Utah’s Brigham Young University.

Twice a week for six months, he jolted himself with painful shocks to the penis to rid himself of his attraction to men.

‘I kept trying to fight it, praying and fasting and abstaining and being the best person I could,’ said Cameron, now a 59-year-old playwright and head of the acting program at the University of Iowa.

‘I was never actively gay, never had any encounters with men — never had moments when I failed and actually had sex with other men,’ he said.

But his undercurrent of feelings put him in direct conflict with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) and its principles.

‘As teens we were taught that homosexuality was second only to murder in the eyes of God,’ he said.

‘I was very, very religious and the Mormon church was the center of my life,’ said Cameron, who had done missionary work in Guatemala and El Salvador.

The 1976 study at Brigham Young, ‘Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy,’ was written by Max Ford McBride, then a graduate student in the psychology department.

‘I thought he was my savior,’ said Cameron, who enrolled with 13 other willing subjects, all Mormons who thought they might be gay, for a three- to six-month course of therapy.

A mercury-filled tube was placed around the base of his penis to measure the level of stimulation he experienced when viewing nude images of men and women.

Shocks, given in three 10-second intervals, were then administered in conjunction with certain images. Participants set their own pain levels.

Cameron said his shame was so deep that he selected the highest level.

‘Max didn’t do it, we did it,’ he said. ‘I was always turning it up to get the most pain because I was desperate.’

Homosexuals were seen as a ‘prurient, expendable population,’ according to Cameron. ‘To admit homosexuality in 1976 was the kiss of death. You could be targeted, lose your job, lose your income, lose everything.’

And those weren’t the only attempted cures that were used in that era. Others allege they were given chemical compounds, which were administered through an IV and caused subjects to vomit when they were stimulated.

Psychologists confirm those harsh experiments were used in a variety of medical settings by scientists of all faiths.

Church officials say they no longer support aversion therapy, but a generation who grew up in the 1970s say they have been scarred for life because of well-intentioned attempts to change their sexual orientation.…

Carri P. Jenkins, assistant to the president of BYU, confirmed that McBride did study the effects of aversion therapy in the 1970s. She said the experiment was an ‘outgrowth of the behaviorist movement, which believed that any behavior could be modified.

‘Our understanding is that most behaviorists no longer believe this is an appropriate treatment for those who are seeking change,’ she said.

Jenkins said other universities at the time used similar techniques, and none of this type has taken place at BYU since then.

‘The BYU Counseling Center never practiced therapy that would involve chemical or induced vomiting,’ she said.…

Cameron, who is now openly gay, wrote a play about his shock therapy experience, ‘14,’ which includes much of McBride’s controversial dissertation. ‘I think we need to know the story, to learn from it.’…

He confessed his struggle to a psychology professor and asked for help. The response ended up in Cameron’s play: ‘No one is a homosexual. Homosexuality doesn’t exist. It’s just a symptom of a deeper problem you are not willing to deal with.’

Cameron said he was deemed a success and was ‘desperate’ enough to believe the therapy worked. But he said it pushed him ‘deeper and deeper into [my] own closet.’

During the study, Cameron said McBride suggested he wear a rubber band on his wrist and snap it if he had inappropriate thoughts. ‘I got the thin ones so they would hurt more,’ he said. ‘Some days I would come home and have bloody wrists.’

Connell O’Donovan, who now works at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told ABCNews.com he was sent to BYU in 1976 for vomit therapy, but couldn’t go through with it.

BYU said its counseling services never conducted such treatment, but O’Donovan counters that he was evaluated by Joseph Smith Family Living Center, another service on campus.…” (Susan Donaldson James, “Mormon ‘Gay Cure’ Study Used Electric Shocks Against Homosexual Feelings,” ABCNews.go.com, 
March 30, 2011)


“A month before my return to the Y though, the Lord’s university began ferreting out and expelling all the gay students they could lay their hands on. Known as the ‘Purge of ’75,’ BYU security officers interrogated students majoring in fine arts, drama and dance, and placed electronic recording devices on decoy students. Security operatives took recorded plate numbers of cars parked outside of Salt Lake City’s gay bars. At least five gay students committed suicide.

BYU’s president, Dallin Oaks, in a Salt Lake Tribune article admitted that electronic recording devices had been planted on students without bona fide search warrants. When he was asked if there was a widespread campaign to find homosexuals on his campus, Oaks replied, ‘Two influences we wish to exclude from the BYU community are active homosexuals and drug users, and these subjects are therefore among those with which our security forces are concerned.’…” (Ben Williams, “Lambda Lore: Trapped by the Mormons,” Q Salt Lake, April 14, 2011)


“LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University has fired Kendall Wilcox, an executive producer in the school’s broadcasting department who, on his own time, is making an independent documentary about being gay and Mormon.…

The Emmy-winning filmmaker, who in an email Friday declined to be interviewed, defended himself in his Facebook post. He said he faced ‘an increasingly hostile work environment over the last several months with which I refused to continue to engage.’…

‘Kendall was terminated for two basic reasons,’ [BYU Spokeswoman Carri] Jenkins said Friday. ‘He refused to come to work, and he refused to communicate with his supervisor.’…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Openly gay BYU producer, filmmaker fired,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 18, 2011)


“A group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally students and friends meeting at Brigham Young University has become so large that they are looking for a larger space to gather. Currently, the Understanding Same Gender Attraction group is meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursdays at the Talmage Math Sciences/Computer Building, Rm. 111, but they have outgrown the space.…

The group, formed in July 2010, is not officially part of BYU…

In the 1970s and ’80s, BYU security would travel to Salt Lake City gay bars and record license plate numbers of suspected students and bring them up on honor code violations or subject them to electroshock aversion therapy experiments.

But recent changes to the honor code may have paved the way for a gay-affirmative group to meet on campus. The changes to code now target only gay behavior rather than feelings.…” (“Gay-supportive group meeting at BYU,” Q Salt Lake, February 2, 2012)


“This evening, a panel of gay BYU students spoke about their experiences to a lecture hall packed with their classmates.… There wasn’t even standing room. Apparently all the seats had filled up half an hour before.…” (Christopher C. Smith, Chris Smith’s Carrel Blog, April 5, 2012)


“Students at Brigham Young University filmed an ‘It Gets Better’ YouTube video and spoke out about the increasing understanding of homosexuals within the Mormon Church.…

There [are] more than 1,500 LGBT students on campus, the video said.…” (“BYU students release ‘It Gets Better’ video,” Q Salt Lake, April 6, 2012)


“On Wednesday, students packed a BYU classroom in Provo to hear four gay and lesbian students describe their experience of being homosexual and Mormon.…

Now, a new video features 22 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight BYU students talking about their stories of ‘pain and peace in dealing with homosexuality and membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ according to a release.…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “New video sheds light on being gay and Mormon at BYU,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 2012)


“At BYU, the video is just one more sign of changing attitudes toward being gay and Mormon. On the Provo campus Wednesday, an estimated 600 students crammed into a room that seated 260 to listen to four students discuss what it’s like to balance their faith, which teaches that same-sex sexual activity is sinful, with their gay or bisexual identities. The speakers were part of an unofficial school club called Understanding Same Gender Attraction.…” (Rosemary Winters, “Gay BYU students to Mormon youths: ‘It gets better,’” Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 2012)


“But [Bridey] Jensen [a fifth-year senior and acting president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction] said reaction to the video, which has been viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube, has been ‘overwhelmingly positive.’

Carri Jenkins, an assistant to Brigham Young’s president, told CNN that the production of the video is not a violation of the honor code and that the students will not be punished.…

Some scholars of Mormonism, such as Columbia University’s Richard Bushman, said they see the very existence of such a gay rights group at Brigham Young as a step toward greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.

‘The last 10 years have been a huge sea change in terms of willingness to accept homosexuals,’ Bushman said. ‘Gay kids are still going to have a tough time in the church, but this level of acceptance and acknowledgment – that is really that last decade I would say.’…” (Dan Merica, “Gay rights activists see Mormons softening attitudes toward their community,” CNN.com, April 17, 2012)


“Dozens of faces gazed at Katy Adams as her eyes began to puddle, her voice shaking. Visibly reflective in thought, Katy relived the news of a phone call, five years ago, from her brother — wanting to jump off a rooftop at Brigham Young University — calling his parents, ‘to say goodbye.’ Katy paused, looked out into the crowd around her, and then shared another moment in her life. Her father’s difficult journey from believing that homosexuality was ‘unnatural,’ to unconditionally loving his gay son. He used his BYU professorship to discuss homosexuality in the classroom, and provided a safe haven to gay students whose ‘LDS families abandoned them.’ The consequence of his action? He received threats from BYU — the largest religious university in the United States, owned by the family’s church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and was forced into early retirement, if ‘he wanted to keep his insurance benefits.’…” (Joseph Ward III, “Mormons Take Steps to Welcome Gay Community,” Huffington Post, May 1, 2012)


“In February, 1969, the Mormon Church’s general authorities met again as Brigham Young University’s board of trustees to discuss the ongoing problem of homosexuality on that campus. Years earlier in 1962, University president Ernest Wilkinson had met with the school’s general counsel, Clyde Sandgren; the new dean of Students, Elliott Cameron; and Mormon apostles Spencer Kimball and Mark Petersen ‘on the question of homosexuals who might be a part of our student body.’ Kimball and Petersen informed Wilkinson at this meeting, that ‘no one will be admitted as a student at the B.Y.U. whom we have convincing evidence is a homosexual.’ Additionally, a decision was made because the number of homosexuals on campus was considered ‘a very small percentage of the whole,’ school administrators agreed ‘not to dignify [homosexuality] by meeting with the [homosexual] men and women of the university in a public setting, but handle each case on its own.’ In other words, school officials were determined to preserve the university’s image of being free of immorality.…

The following year, in 1968, for the first time, the LDS General Handbook of Instructions, a policy guide for the church’s lay clergy, added ‘homosexual acts’ to the list of sins for which a person could be excommunicated from the Mormon Church and the purging began in earnest. The first large-scale persecution of homosexuals at the Provo campus was known as ‘The Witch Hunt of 1968.’ BYU officials acted on accusations and a spy network purged homosexuals off the Provo Campus or forced them into shock treatment therapy. All of the students rounded up were expelled from the university and comments of deviancy placed in their academic files. The official ruling from church headquarters was that none of these homosexual students ‘would be admitted or retained at BYU without approval from the General Authorities’.

The Mormon general authorities later, in early 1969, quietly ended the confidentiality of its members’ confessions to their LDS leaders in order to root out homosexuality on its campuses in Utah and Idaho. With this new mandate, Wilkinson instructed all BYU bishops and stake presidents to report to university authorities any student who confessed ‘unacceptable conduct.’ This was done, according to Wilkinson, so as to eliminate ‘students who do not fit into the culture of BYU so those who would fit into it might be admitted to the institution.’…” (Ben Williams, “Gay life in Utah in 1968-69,” Q Salt Lake, August 24, 2013)


“I told the Dean before I retired that my only desire was to see this Church become a safe and accepting place my son would want to come back to, along with his other LGBT friends. He nodded his head in agreement and then threatened my job! I stopped feeling safe at BYU. In fact, it became a very hostile environment from that point on. One more student complaint, they told me, and the AVP would take a job action. Plus they told me what content to teach, and that they were going to have ‘observers’ in my classroom to find ways to ‘help’ me improve my teaching–right! And they rewrote my annual Stewardship letter, which had been very complimentary. The revised edition was anything but complimentary. 

I wanted to get an attorney and go after them, for that was a very upsetting experience, to come at me and threaten my job with no letter indicating what I was doing wrong, and no due process, and when I said–my class is recorded and on the McKay School website, and you can sit in your office and watch what I teach, his only response was, ‘We don’t have time!’ 

There is a saying I have heard that goes, ‘I just retired from BYU, and have to get my testimony back.’ I changed it to, ‘I just retired from BYU and have to find a reason to want to get it back!’” (James R. Birrell to Carol Lynn Pearson, April 30, 2014)


“’As severe as this stance on same-sex marriage is, the fact that the Mormon community even recognizes gay members is a huge step forward. Up until 2007, the BYU Honor Code made it permissible for students to be expelled if they came out of the closet.…

It wasn’t until 2010 that administrators removed the prohibition against ‘advocacy of homosexual behavior’ from the Honor Code.…

Cary, who graduated from BYU in 2011, explains that ‘LDS Church leaders are counseled when they speak with young men and women who are gay to help them move away from calling themselves gay or lesbian to saying ‘I struggle with same-gender attractions.’’

Cary says the language choice both pathologizes homosexuality and makes it seem temporary…

Although there are no statistics on suicide at BYU specifically, Utah has the nation’s highest prevalence of suicidal thoughts among adults, according to a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control.…

With all of these frustrations and dangers both on and off the BYU campus, some LGBT students have tried advocating for change through USGA, Understanding Same Gender Attraction. Though not officially recognized by BYU, the group was permitted to meet on campus when it started in 2010 as ‘a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction.’ At its peak, the group drew 100 members to its weekly meetings and was a vanguard for LGBT advocacy. But in December 2012, BYU asked the group to no longer hold meetings on campusJenkins completely disputes this claim, stating in her email, ‘I am not aware that anyone at the university told the group they needed to move their meetings off-campus and, in fact, I had the impression that it was the group’s decision to move their meetings off-campus.’

However, White, the president of USGA from 2012 to 2014, said the group was asked not to hold meetings on campus, which was confirmed by every student interviewed for this article and Wilcox, a former faculty member.…” (Emily Shire, “Mormon U. Forces Gays to Be Celibate,” TheDailyBeast.com, May 13, 2014)


BYU ranked 4th on the list of the 20 most gay-unfriendly universities in the country. (“Princeton Review updates list of 20 most LGBT friendly, unfriendly colleges,” lgbtqnation.com, August 4, 2014)


“Yesterday the Princeton Review released its annual survey results which listed Provo’s Brigham Young University, owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) as the fourth most gay-unfriendly university in America.  BYU claimed the number 6 spot last year.…” (“Movin’ on up: BYU moves from 6th to 4th most ‘gay-unfriendly’ university in America,” Q Salt Lake, August 5, 2014)


“Greeting cards celebrating same-sex marriages turned up at the Brigham Young University bookstore Tuesday.

Placed by Hallmark, the cards reading ‘Mr. and Mr.’ and ‘Mrs. and Mrs.’ were quickly removed when bookstore staff discovered them after photos surfaced online. The outside vendor stocked the shelves without realizing the school wouldn’t want to sell the cards marketed to buyers celebrating unions between two brides and two grooms, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.…” (Lindsay Whitehurst, “Mormon-owned BYU removes gay-marriage cards at bookstore,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 20, 2014)


“Designated drivers in the parking lots of gay bars saw men writing down license plate numbers. Some Brigham Young University students reported being outed by campus security soon thereafter, Aaron says.

‘Then the families ended up finding out they were excommunicated,’ he says.

Even for Aaron’s family, who accepted his homosexuality, the available ‘support’ was punishing to parents.

‘It was the mother’s fault for being too close, or the father’s fault for being too distant: That was the material out there. There weren’t role models for parents to point to and say, ‘I’ll talk to so and so because he’s going through the same things.’ There was a big transformation that had to happen for a lot of parents to accept this.’…” (Erin Alberty, “Longtime Utah LGBT advocates recount brutal history,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 8, 2014)


“[Susan, 11/15] Dad, I think you are already aware of this, but is this entry true? It in the article ‘Timeline of Mormon Thinking About Homosexuality’ posted on the No More Strangers: LGBT Mormon Forum website. 

1973– LDS psychologist Allen E. Bergin of BYU and Victor L. Brown, Jr. of LDS Social Services wrote ‘Homosexuality: Welfare Services Packet I’ to use to counsel gay Mormons. The packet indicated that ‘an essential part of repentance’ was to disclose to Church authorities the names of other homosexuals, in order ‘to help save others’. The packet also stated that the lesbian ‘needs to learn feminine behavior’ while the gay man ‘needs to learn…what a manly priesthood leader and father does.’ It also explained that ‘excommunication cleanses the Church….There is no place in God’s Church for those who persist in vile behavior.’”

“[Allen, 11/16] Not true.  I didn’t even know Vic Brown in 1973 and I doubt that he had anything to do with that particular pamphlet anyway.  The writer of this chronology mixes a lot of real facts along with a degree of emotionally motivated distortion.  I can’t blame him for that because there has been a lot of injustice and harm done.  On the other hand, some gay activists are very busy trying to rationalize indulgence in unfortunate sexual activity that is alien to the spirit of what is good and true human behavior.

Vic and I were asked to work on this problem in 1977, which we did until sometime in 1978.  Our work did not result in the hoped-for new insights and methods of altering hmx and it gradually fizzled-out.  My views changed some and are reflected in the sections on the topic in my book: Eternal Values and Personal Growth, 2003.  Even that needs a degree revising in light of new developments, though I don’t think it is entirely off-base.

I like your and Mom’s views and actions in reaching out with love and support for glbt persons.  They need and deserve it; and I hope to do better along that vein.  At the same time, I cannot support sexual freedom for them any more than I would for heterosexuals who are sexually unfulfilled.  Self-sacrifice in that domain is required of us all at many times in our lives and, in lots of cases, for most or all of a lifetime.

On a related note, it is interesting that there is a large, hidden group of gay and lesbian persons who have suppressed their homosexuality in order to enter into heterosexual marriage in an ‘adaptation’ that has worked well for many. Ty Mansfield’s organization is along those lines. It won’t work for all, but it is unfortunate that these people are generally hidden from public view.  Their testimonies could be powerful if they chose to speak out; but the many that I have known over the years choose not to do so.  Instead they take joy in their families which now include large numbers of children and grandchildren.” (Email exchange between Susan and Allen Bergin, November 15-16, 2015)


“Transgender students at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus are no longer protected under a federal education law designed to prevent discrimination.

After a transgender student’s discrimination complaint triggered a federal investigation into the school, BYU-Idaho sought a religious waiver from extending civil rights protections to transgender students. Transitioning to a different gender conflicts with teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns the Rexburg school, university President Clark Gilbert argued.

In a March 15 letter to Gilbert, the U.S. Department of Education agreed that BYU-Idaho should not have to enforce some provisions of Title IX. An education department spokeswoman confirmed Friday that civil rights investigators subsequently stopped their inquiry into the student’s complaint, which was related to classes and housing.

‘The exemptions allow the university to legally uphold its longstanding rights as a religious university,’ said Brett Crandall, a spokesman for BYU-Idaho, in a prepared statement.…” (Annie Knox, “Feds exempt BYU-Idaho from protecting transgender students from discrimination,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 29, 2016)


[26] “Having read somewhere about the BYU Psychology Clinic, I sought out the anonymity of a telephone booth and, after several tries ending with my hanging up, I completed the call.

The person on the line tried in vain to get me to say what my problem was, but I simply could not say it. In a few weeks the fall semester would begin, I was told, and if I would call back, I could make an appointment to see a counselor. I subsequently made the call-and waited through the following anxious days for the appointment.

In an old ‘lower campus’ building, I sat paralyzed with fear waiting for my appointment and was finally greeted by a pleasant and attractive man. Once in the session, he explained that he was a graduate student in psychology and that counseling experience in the clinic was part of the requirements in his doctoral program. Both in that session and in the following sessions, we talked comfortably on general topics and I gradually overcame some of the resistance I had to talking in detail about my sexual feelings. Hypnosis was used to facilitate this process, and I began to gain some confidence that perhaps I was really going to be helped with what I had always feared, never experienced, and learned to hate so perfectly about myself.

As the sessions progressed, we reached a point where my counselor indicated we had spent enough time in an analysis phase and now needed to move into a treatment phase. My purpose there was to change from a homosexual into a heterosexual. That premise was never discussed as one of many alternatives by my counselor, nor would it have occurred to me that there were other alternatives-like accepting myself as I was. He explained a new treatment called aversion therapy which had shown ‘promising results’ and which involved the use of electric shock and sexually explicit slides. I did not even briefly consider the possibility of emotional, physical, or spiritual damage to myself in the treatment—I was determined to change. Without hesitation I signed the forms which released the Psychology Clinic and BYU from any liability. 

[27] My counselor explained that it would be necessary for me to obtain sexually erotic, preferably nude, photographs of men-the shock would be applied while I was viewing the slides. It was never indicated where I might find such photographs-perhaps he assumed that I knew. Having no car and no one with a car in whom I could confide my secret, I hitchhiked to Salt Lake-it was the only place I figured I could find such photographs. Up and down the streets of Salt Lake I walked, until at length I discovered a bookstore that looked seedy enough to have pornography. I entered, terrified that I might see someone I knew and examined every book and magazine in the store, until I finally made my way to the shelf where pornographic magazines were displayed. I stuffed a few copies of Playgirl in between some other magazines I had selected hoping that the Playgirl might seem a last minute casual selection for a wife or girlfriend. Purchasing those magazines was not casual by any means, and it was the first time in my life that I had ever seen, let alone purchased, any such publication. I felt out of place, alone and frightened.

My next assignment was to view the photographs and to take the ones I found most erotic to a local camera store, where I was told an arrangement had been made through the Psychology Clinic to have the photographs made into slides. All was approved, I was told, and only the owner of the store knew about the arrangement. Of course I would also have to pay for the slides. I took the photographs in a plain manila envelope to this store and, summon- ing my courage, went to the counter and stated that I had photographs to be made into slides for a program supervised by a BYU professor. I had been told his name was the key to complete anonymity. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than it seemed the eyes of every employee left their immediate task and stared. It was humiliating and embarrassing. I felt as though all of those strangers knew my most private business.

The actual sessions of aversion therapy began after that, and with the exception of about a two-month break, I had sessions twice a week for the next year. Beginning with the first call to the Psychology Clinic and continuing on with the weekly visits, the trip to Salt Lake and to the camera store, I started to lead a double life. I was secretive about my whereabouts and timed my sessions to precede or follow other activities so that no one would know. I [28] would go to a room in the Smith Family Living Center where an electrode was attached to my arm and I was asked to ruminate or otherwise fantasize about sexual activity with men-no small task since I had never had the experience and was not too sure what two men did with each other. During the viewing, random and painful electric shocks would he sent through my ann. Later the procedure was modified. When shock was being introduced during the viewing of a male slide, I could stop the shock by pressing a plunger, which would cause a slide of a clothed woman to appear on the screen. Even now other details of the therapy are too embarrassing for me to write about. (A detailed description of this therapy can be found in M. F. McBride, ‘Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Shock Therapy,’ Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1976.) This treatment was augmented by counseling, in which I was encouraged to be ‘physical’ with women, and by more hypnosis, wherein suggestion was made that I would become uncontrollably nauseated if I thought about men in an erotic way.

I cannot say that I ever became nauseated thinking about men-but I certainly became very skilled at looking away and thinking about something else at the first sign of any sexual feelings. Likewise I never became ‘physical’ with women. I liked the women I dated but became even more anxious than I previously had been about holding hands or kissing them. Besides I was never certain how ‘physical’ I was supposed to be.

The counselor with whom I had started my treatment graduated part way through my treatment, and his replacement was another graduate student who was working on the aversion therapy as part of his dissertation. Since I had signed the release at the beginning of the treatment which freed BYU or any person involved with this experiment from any liability for any ill effects that I might suffer, the burns on my arms and the emotional trauma I experienced seemed to me the price that I had to pay for change. The countless talks I had heard about knocking on the door until your hands were bloody rang in my ears, and in my desperation I began to feel that my suffering and hence my being a martyr was additional proof that what I was doing was right.

In the spring of 1975, I finished the treatment. The criteria used by my counselor to determine whether I was cured of homosexuality were not clear to me, but in the final few sessions [29] he talked optimistically about my ‘progress’ and the woman, soon to come into my life, whom I would marry.  I also believed that would happen.” (Don D. Harryman, “With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding,” in: Ron Schow, Wayne Schow & Marybeth Raynes, eds., Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), pp. 23-35)


I’ve reviewed the files regarding the BYU Values Institute that I still have left, which are not many; but, combining those with me memories, here is my summary.

1.  The Institute was founded in Sept, 1976 in order to give me a place where I could do creative work with adequate time, budget and staff support.  This came to pass not long after I arrived from Columbia U, partly due to the influence of a BYU administrator who was very supportive and a general authority who said:  “Allen needs his own Institute”.  The topic of homosexuality was NOT on the original agenda.…

3.  During the first half of 1977, I organized “The Theory Group” with the hope of outlining an original conceptual approach to human behavior, pathology and treatment.  This included myself and Vic, plus Truman Madsen and Terry Warner from Philosophy, and Stephen Covey from Organizational Behavior.  This was a truly wonderful and exciting time as we met weekly for a single, multi-hour discussion of how to merge gospel principles with psycho-social theories and practices.  Although it was very interesting and most stimulating, a grand theory never evolved. Unfortunately, our goals were unrealistic; and it soon became evident that we each needed to keep doing our own thing a best we could within our fields.  For me, this meant focusing on research theory and practice in the area of religion and mental health, which gradually bore fruit and all kinds of good things happened.  Likewise for the other members of the group who kept studying, writing, creating, publishing, and influencing a new generation of talented students.

4.  Sometime, I think in 1977 but I’m not sure, Vic was contacted via his Church connections in Salt Lake about doing a project on Homosexuality–causes, cures, nature of, etc. This was considered to be an important problem; and I was asked to coordinate with Vic in coming up with a document regarding the current status of this problem and what best could be done to understand and treat it.  In the meanwhile, LDS and other gay activists were hammering the church about the issue and wanting an improved approach to handling it.

This occurred in the midst of Vic and I each doing other heavy-duty problem solving on mental health in general re: theory, research and practice, including how better to train grad students in the broad spectrum of mental health professional work.

5.  For the next year or so we, and some grad students, puzzled over this complex issue; and we consulted with leaders in Salt Lake about it.  I supervised one or two doctoral students who elected to do dissertations on the topic; and, Vic, likewise, got some grad students involved.  This was heavy-duty work.  Vic and I had both done counseling in the past with gay and lesbian clients, doing the best we could to help, given the then-current ways of helping people with reorientation, or at least better adaptation.  We also were lucky to find contacts in the LGBT community who had experienced positive outcomes and were living an orthodox LDS life, several of whom had successfully married.…

6.  The need to respond to the request from church HQ for a new approach to homosexuality entered into this mix and was a distraction, but also an interesting challenge to see what we supposedly smart people could come up with.  We worked on this by synthesizing extant literature, calling upon our past experiences trying to help LDS LGBT clients, and pondering the possibility of some “new” approach.  We submitted an occasional progress report and went to meet with General Authorities and LDS Social Services people.

A lot of what we did was “talk” and “hope”.  Indeed, there were at times unrealistic hopes or expectations put upon us.  Sometimes, we submitted “working papers” or brief reports on dissertation research.  Ultimately, not a lot came of this effort and it slowly died-out.  I, in particular, was happy to return time to my focus on religion and mental health, which eventually became one of my main professional contributions. In addition, I continued my projects on psychotherapy research, which also flourished, with the assistance of faculty collaborators and grad students.  So, homosexuality, for me, was a professional focus of brief duration, though I always had an interest it which ultimately became more intense when 2 of my sons and one grandson proved to be “gay”. (that is another interesting story that has taught me a lot and helped me realize how little I knew.)…

7.  Administrative issues.  I bowed-out of directing the Values Institute in !978, after almost 2 years of “headaches”.  The place was a focus of all kinds of pressures from Church, BYU, and professional public.  It wasn’t fun and it detracted from my doing the substantive work that I liked.…  

8.  In about 1980, (or ’81?) Vic tired of the BYU machinations he had to deal with and accepted a position coordinating LDS clinical services for California, and moved to Sacramento.  He eventually became a trouble-shooter for the church, in his field of expertise, in many countries of the world; and he was happier.

At that time, I was asked to resume my previous role as head of the Values Institute, which Vic had been managing.  I declined to re-enter an administrative position; so the President, Jeffrey Holland, and colleagues decided to close the Institute, after a 5-year existence.…

9.  We did not come up with an original theory nor technique for treating Hmx issues; but we were part of the mental health establishment in considering it to be a disorder needing treatment.  The question continues as to whether “reorientation” is a worthy goal.  I think it is in some cases (bisexuals) but maybe not others. However, is even this a real reorientation or, more likely, an “adaptation”? 

I have pretty good evidence (from my experience and some stats) that adaptation works for many bisexuals (maybe 50%) and for some at the Kinsey 5 or 6 level (10-20%).  However, these are old data.  But, I could list for you a bunch of men I know, who are in these subgroups, who have chosen to adapt, and have been aided by spiritual, social, emotional, and ecclesiastical influences.  For the most part, they have been happy.  There have been lapses at times, and then recoveries.  They do not report total absence of the old feelings but they claim to prefer the joy of hetero marriage, children and grandchildren vs their old ways or gay marriage.  I think they have an absolute right to their feelings and their choices.  I celebrate their journeys. Too bad that they cant organize publicly and declare their stories.  Contrary activists should leave them alone. 

10.  The Values Institute NEVER endorsed aversive conditioning as a reorientation therapy.  I studied that approach when it became rather visible in England; and I went to a workshop the creators held in Manhattan.  I came away disliking this approach and so reported this to my PhD students at Columbia in my therapy seminar.  However, it was used in many universities and clinics and probably still is by some.

 One professor at BYU did use it, as did one or more of his grad students in their dissertation research.  I believe that this went on in the 1960’s and maybe into the 70’s.  I was not aware of it going on when I was at BYU in the 1970’s but it could have been still going on.  It NEVER involved shocking genitals, as some critics have claimed!!

Much has been made of this clinical research by gay activists and critics of BYU and the LDS Church; however, they do not mention that it was being done in many places in the world as an effort to help people. Critics seem to think that the procedure has special relevance to religious doctrines of various faiths; but it doesn’t.   Aversive conditioning of many kinds has been done for many impulse-related disorders and addictions over many decades.  Like the spanking of disobedient children, its efficacy and safety continue to be challenged.  Personally, I don’t like it.

(Allen Bergin to GAP, September 30, 2015)

Bergin: My reputation was based on evidence that I did in psychotherapy research.  I had done all these books and studies and articles, and partly became famous because I said that psychotherapy can be for better or for worse.  There are some bad therapists and there is bad therapy and there are negative outcomes.  Pretty soon, I was invited to go all over the world to talk about my therapy research.

So the Values Institute kind of sidetracked me from that, but I was OK with it because I liked the idea of a spiritual approach to human behavior, and a values approach.  But it turned out to be a mixed bag.  I was naïve; I didn’t realize how much of a political structure there is in the Church for getting what you want done.

Prince: It’s one to have the data driving the project; it’s another to have dogma driving the project.

Bergin: Right.  I tried to stay independent of that, but I couldn’t because there was some funding coming from BYU, and some coming straight down from the Church.  I forget what sources, but I think Vic was an agent for that, that he had all the contacts up north.…

Can I give you something in brackets, not for publication?

Prince: Absolutely.

Bergin: I think this will help you understand.  This is something I didn’t understand, but the Values Institute became a tool of the Church, and they wanted us to do this and that and the other thing.  I resented it.  I just felt like—the Relief Society presidency called and said, “We want you to do this project on depression in Mormon women,” and blah, blah, blah.  It was like all of a sudden we were to be the angels of redemption for all the problems in the Church.  I think it was partly because Vic was there, and he had been head of Social Services.  His dad was still the Presiding Bishop.  I just got really frustrated with it.  It took me a while to figure out what was happening, that the power structure wanted us to be a tool to promote church policy, or to help them with policy.  There were differences of opinion up there about it.  Like Elder [Boyd] Packer would be at one end, and other Elders on another end.  It was just crazy.  I thought, “How did I ever get into this?”

Prince: So they were more interested in you supporting the policies that they already had, rather than using your data to formulate policies?

Bergin: Well no, I think it was mixed.  They really wanted our opinions.  I forget how soon I resigned, but I resigned as director after two years, and Vic took over.  So it was not a happy period.  I continued to be affiliated in a lesser role, and I think I was in there for five years, 1976-81.…

(Allen Bergin, September 27, 2015)

Claudia: I know one family whose son went on a mission. They were so devout; the parents were temple workers. Then their son went on his mission, and when he came home I think he went to B.Y.U. Hawaii. They found out that he was gay, and then he went to B.Y.U. and went through the electric shock aversion treatment. He called his parents one day and said he was coming home. What happened was that they’d told him that if he would give them the names of the other gay people at the school, that they wouldn’t excommunicate him. He said, “No.” And so they excommunicated this young man and he went home.  I won’t tell you where home was, even.  

Greg: About what year was this?

Claudia: That was in the late 80s. He ended up dying, I think in 1990, of AIDs.  The parents took care of him at the end.  His mother was a nurse and they took care of him the last few years of his life. They wanted to have his service in the L.D.S. chapel, the stake center.  He had all these friends who were returned missionaries who were gay. The father was even having church meetings with them on Sundays at their home because they had been missionaries. When he died they had the funeral at the stake center and all of these young men who were his friends, who were returned missionaries, were there. At the end of the service, the stake president went in and just gave them hellfire and damnation about the homosexuality.

Greg: During the service?

Claudia: Yes.  At the end of the service, before they’d had the closing prayer. All of these young men stood up, turned their back on it and walked out. The mother just cries still, to this day, when she tells her story. It just breaks your heart.  So that whole family dropped out of the Church because of this.  That was such an ugly thing to do for this young man’s funeral. He had been such a sweet, devoted missionary and devoted member. They realize, “I’m not that.”

(Claudia Bradshaw, March 4, 2012)

Dabakis: So everything was going fine.  I still hadn’t had sex.  Then I went on my mission.  I came back to BYU, and one day Standards called me in and said, “We have a reason to believe that you are gay.  We are willing to let all of this go, but we want the names of ten other gay students.”  I said, “First of all, I don’t know any gay students.  I have been looking for gay students”—I didn’t say that, but I honestly didn’t know any.  I said, “Look, I don’t know any.  Where did you get my name?  I’m horrified.”  I remember saying, “You go talk to Elder Petersen.”  They went, “Yeah, right.”

They called me back two other times, and they weren’t buying the fact that I didn’t know anybody.  They said, “Do you have any suspicions about anybody?”  I said, “Of course.  There are people that I know, and I wonder about them.”  They said, “OK, give us their names.”  I said, “I’m not going to give you the names.  Then you’re going to end up with a lot people like me sitting here, when I don’t even know who these people are.  No.”  They said, “Well, we see this as an act of disloyalty and a breaking of the Honor Code, where you agree not to tolerate sin—that you won’t sin and you won’t accept sin.”  That was a long time ago, so I’m trying to get the details right.

So they said, “Look.  We have a simple policy.  We don’t want people like you on our campus.  So either you come back with a list of ten names, or we are simply going to ask you to leave.”  I said, “Look, I’m almost at graduation.”  They said, “It’s your decision, and it should be clear what the Lord would want you to do.”

Prince: What was the approximate year of this?

Dabakis: This would have been 1975 or 1976.  I thought about it for a day, and then went to the registrar and withdrew from school.  I was going to have it be on my own terms, and that was the end of it.

(James Dabakis, August 2, 2013)

Dabakis: The much-heralded BYU gay group and their video, which went viral and is still seen by hundreds of people.  We’re up over 500,000 views the last time I looked.  The Church called me in December [2012] and said, “We are going to close the BYU group.”

Prince: Not just move them off campus, but close them down?

Dabakis: Yes.  “We are going to close them down.”  It was clear that the decision had been made by the board of trustees that there were factors above and beyond these committees of the Church.  That is, they had been pressured by alumni and by parents and by the conservative crazies that, “This kind of thing just can’t go on.  How can this be?  It’s wrong.”  The board had already made the decision.  Their point was, “Can you help us quell this?”  I said, “I don’t want to help you.  I think this is a terrible decision.  I’m going to tell the kids how to get every CNN reporter to cover this.  Why shouldn’t you get smashed on this?  How could you possibly make this decision?”

Well, it turns out that I had been trying for a long time to get the BYU kids to meet with anybody on South Temple.  They are sensational kids.  Everybody would be proud to have these kinds of kids representing them, including the Church.  But they had always said no.

Well, there were ugly rumors about what this group was doing, that they had been infiltrated by the community, that they were activists, that they were this, they were that, and it just wasn’t true.  There were about 20% of the group coming from the outside, but it was active LDS kids from other schools that didn’t feel comfortable with the gay groups, and they certainly didn’t feel comfortable with the LDS groups.  So they were going, but they weren’t subverting the system; they were helping it.  But nobody wanted to hear about that.

So I said, “All right.  Let me see what I can do.  I think you guys are stupid.”  So I drove to Provo.  The college kids can meet with you any time, especially if you’ve got food.  I said, “You guys have a choice in life.  You can do the glitzy thing, and you will get the trucks and the networks, and you’ll have a big to-do.  But where will you be in a week?  I don’t know where, but it won’t be a good place.  You’ll create hostility.  I get why you’re hostile, and I’m asking you guys to think about being the mature ones here.  What if it is your idea to move off-campus?  And what if the Church—or at least BYU—says, ‘We will be supportive of that’?”

Prince: Or, “We won’t oppose.”  [Laughter]

Dabakis: Sure.  So I left the kids alone.  Then they came back and said, “What are they offering?”  So I called back to Salt Lake and I said, “Look, you guys, you can’t wait—I know it takes you guys eight months to decide anything, but we need an answer back immediately.  The kids will make an internal decision to move off-campus because they need a bigger space and because sometimes there are topics that they want to talk about that they are a little uncomfortable with on campus.  So the kids will make that internal decision; but what they want is an OK from the administration that they exist and they are recognized as an asset to the community.  Second, they want a meeting with church officials, next Friday at noon.”  “Oh, well…”  “Ten minutes.”  And I hung up.  They called back in nine minutes and said, “OK, it’s a deal.”

So the kids just quietly went about their business, and announced that they were moving off-campus.  Blah, blah, blah.  “They are meeting off-campus, and it’s fine.”  The kids were very disappointed, though, because that takes away the element of official-ness; but it was either that or nothingness.  Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

We hauled the kids up to Salt Lake and had a wonderful lunch.  They said, “We had our last meeting last Thursday night, and it was a testimony meeting.”  The church guys said, “What?”  There was an M.P.A. student, there were four of the smartest, amazing kids you could ever imagine.  It became clear that the people at that lunch were thinking, “What the hell.  This was a mistake.”

Prince: Were there any people from the ecclesiastical side at the luncheon?

Dabakis: Yes.

Prince: So it was the Brethren, and not the Bureaucrats?

Dabakis: Yes.  That’s exactly right.  So now we ended up with me at the lunch saying, “All right, let’s make everybody uncomfortable here.”  By that time there were kind of great with the kids.  I said, “I just want to make sure you guys—you church people—understand what you are saying to these kids and tens of thousands of other Mormon kids.  I want to make sure I’ve got this right.  ‘It’s OK for you to go to church, have a job, tithe, have a temple recommend, be part of the LDS community; but you can never, ever have a relationship.  You can never have sex.  You can never participate fully in life.  And somehow, some way, God is going to straighten it out.  But the requirement is, nonetheless, that you’ve got to go live with your Aunt Edna the rest of your life, and you can never have a relationship.’  I just want to make sure and clear that that is what you are saying to these kids.  Look at them and tell them that.”  It was awkward, but I don’t care.  That’s what the point of the whole thing was, because those kids had saved the ass of the Mormon Church at that moment.  And it wasn’t the first time they did that.  There is a group that goes to conservative colleges and creates mayhem with their own gay students and with local ones.

(James Dabakis, August 2, 2013)

Rich: How many times in this whole process do they choose something, not because it’s intrinsically right and not because they truly know what they are talking about?  It’s not the principal or the moral; it’s that, “We are going to do this because he has some standing.  But if his standing and his credibility are gone, then we can’t have him do this.”  There is nothing that says they have any truth to offer to this issue that is scientifically supported.  “We’re just going to utilize people to produce it.”  Allen had not done any studies in this, but he had a plan to go and do some studies to give this some credibility.

I remember reading all this stuff by Victor Brown [Jr.], and I was saying, “Victor, you don’t have the data to indicate that you can stand and say, ‘These people chose this.’  And you are writing a scholarly work and the Church is going to stand behind it because you need that to be said.”  I was telling Allen [Bergin] and the people in the meetings that this was not going to work.

They decided to complete the book with Victor Brown as sole author—well, authority in position puts Victor in a position of saying, “Do this because of your credibility”—with consultation by Allen and to be reviewed by General Authorities.

(Richard Ferré, March 29, 2015)

O’Donovan: The opposition to same-sex marriage actually started at the Human Values Institute at BYU.

Prince: With Allen Bergin.

O’Donovan: Yes.  One of the products that they came up with was this Citizens Action Kit to help Mormons influence their local legislatures to not pass equal rights legislation.…

Prince: Was Bergin’s institute involved in reparative therapy, or was that an earlier time?

O’Donovan: They sponsored students to do that.  They sponsored Max Ford McBride’s electric shock therapy thesis, and they sponsored Elizabeth James’s dissertation on the effectiveness of reparative therapy. [McBride’s dissertation makes no reference to Allen Bergin or the Human Values Institute.  However, Bergin was the chair of James’s doctoral committee, and in the Acknowledgements section she wrote, “Dr. Bergin was instrumental in providing not only the original direction for the project almost two years ago, but also continued thoughtful guidance throughout the analysis and synthesis.”]

(Connell O’Donovan, January 18, 2015)

Prince: One of the things you can enlighten me on is the BYU Security people staking out your bar.

Redburn: Yes, they did that.  Years ago I had a bar called the Sun Tavern, which was across from the Union Pacific Depot.  It’s gone now—the Utah Jazz play there.  BYU sent up spies to take license numbers down of any BYU students who were in the Sun Tavern.  It was a gay bar, although we had straight people there too.  It didn’t really prove anything.  Then, they tried to come in and I wouldn’t let them in because we knew who they were.  It was always the same people.  They would drive around the block, and park, you know.

Prince: How did you figure out the BYU connection, what they were really up to?

Redburn: They had “BYU” on their car.  They had all but a neon sign!  When you’ve lived here a long time you can pretty well know.  I don’t know how I knew, probably because they looked so innocent and pure.  I talked to them: “What are you doing?  You could destroy these peoples’ lives.  Because they are here doesn’t mean they are gay.”  Of course, they were not supposed to be in a bar drinking, but we served other things beside beer—we were a beer bar at the time.  

Prince: Did they explain to you what they were doing?

Redburn: I just talked to them a little bit.  They said, “We don’t want any gay people going to BYU.”  This was a long time ago.

Prince: When did you start the bar?

Redburn: About 1973.  I was trying to remember the years that I had that.  The Sun Tavern was the first bar that gay and straight people went to to dance.  It had a big dance floor.  I think I was the first guy to put in a DJ instead of a jukebox.  So we got straight and gay, and everybody loved it and packed the place.  But we did have the BYU spies and we knew when they were there.  I had a doorman and sometimes I’d have somebody outside watching what was going on.

Prince: What was their response when you told them they could be ruining peoples’ lives?

Redburn: They said, “We don’t know what happens when we tell whoever we tell.”  I said, “Well, I’m sure it’s not good.  You don’t know, when they are here, if they are gay or straight, so you’ve got to think about that.”  I can’t remember how long that went on, but it went on a while.  Winter, summer, they were there, and they were from BYU.  Their cars were marked!  It was like a police car.  You could tell it was them.  When customers would come in they would say, “They are outside, driving around.”

(Joseph Redburn, April 8, 2015)

Prince: Start with your experiences as a student at BYU.

Zollinger: I wasn’t the greatest academic when I was there.  I was more interested in girls than academics.  My experience there with the Psychology Department extends from 1969 through 1976, with a couple of years off.  In 1970, when I was a senior, I took a couple of courses from Gene Thorne, who was a behaviorist on the faculty.  There were only six or seven clinical professors.  He seemed to be the one who was big on behaviorism.  He was only in his mid-30s then, and kind of a showboat.  In all of the training of pigeons, mice and everything in the study, there was never anything but a brief mention of homosexuality.  He never talked about how it was being treated.

I had a couple of dates with a girl in 1971 who was an older student, about 30.  She said, “Oh, you’re in psychology.  Do you know Dr. Thorne?”  I said, “Yes, he was my teacher.”  She said, “I work for him.”  “Oh, are you a secretary?”  “Oh, no.”  “Well, how do you know him?”  “Well, I work in his private practice.”  “What do you do?”  Then she got squeamish and didn’t want to talk.  She said, “Well, we don’t like to talk about it.”  I said, “Well now, you have me interested.”  Well, she was a model for his aversive therapy.  She would dress up in a short dress and act sexy, and if they were able to get aroused they would remove the shock.  I was just appalled to think something like that would be going on.

(Jake Zollinger, September 8, 2015)