According to the Associated Press, Evan Clayson, a Houstonian, is participating in an online study on gay Mormons with nearly 1,000 others. It is believed to be the first study to focus specifically on the gay Mormon demographic, said Renee Galliher, who is leading the study.

Boyd K. Packer

Clayson came out as gay to his Mormon congregation from the pulpit in Houston earlier this year. Like many gay Mormons, Clayson wasn’t so keen on outing himself due to the church’s stance on homosexuality.

Like many faiths, Mormonism teaches not only that relationships outside of a traditional marriage are a sin, but that any homosexual feelings whatsoever are sins all on their own. Boyd K. Packer, next in line for the faith’s presidency, said he believed gays could change their orientation through prayer.

Researchers at Utah State University are hosting the online study, which is open to Mormons of the whole LGBT spectrum.

“You’ll see that we’re asking them to talk with us about a whole range of experiences both related to and unrelated to their religiosity,” said Galliher, who is neither gay nor Mormon.

They hope the data gathered will provide understanding and insight that can be beneficial to both Mormon church leaders and families. It also aims to separate the truth from the myth in the gay Mormon experience.

“We’ve tried to develop a survey that was framed neutrally enough that people would be able to tell their stories,” said Galliher, “whatever their story is.”