"I'm a man that lives in two worlds that a lot of people don't think intersect," Mayne said. "Both sides of myself exist in me. It's part of my DNA, part of my makeup."
Actively Mormon and openly gay: It's the sort of combo that might leave people wondering. After all, the LDS Church teaches that homosexuality, specifically if same-sex attractions are acted upon, is a sin. And the church has actively backed measures to ban same-sex marriages.
In mid-August he was selected, or called (as Mormons say) by local church officials to serve in an LDS Church leadership position in San Francisco.
Mayne's appointment may have generated attention, but he's not the first gay Mormon to assume a leadership role in the church.
In Seattle, Washington, and Oakland, California, gay men have reportedly served in LDS Church leadership roles, Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote in her piece about Mayne in The Salt Lake Tribune. What makes Mayne unique, Stack said, is that he "may be the first local LDS leader to announce his orientation over the pulpit."
Late last month, from the pulpit, Mayne revealed - to anyone who didn't already know - who he is:
"I am a gay Latter-day Saint.Mayne shared these words during a farewell address to the Oakland ward he long attended, amid an announcement that he would be leaving because he had been named the executive secretary to the bishop of the Bay Ward. It is a role in which he'll offer administrative help but also take part in shaping congregational work.
"I don't want pity. To pity me is to make me a victim. I want understanding. To understand me is to love me as an equal.
"I don't want tolerance. If I am tolerated, I am disliked in some way. I want respect as a fellow striving child of God - an equal in his eyes.
"I don't want acceptance. To accept me is to graciously grant me the favor of your company. To accept me is to marginalize me with the assumption that I am less than you. I am your peer. I am neither above you nor below you."
"While that's not a big accomplishment in and of itself," Mayne said, "it is a remarkable accomplishment for the simple fact that maybe for the first time, a man was called to a priesthood leadership position not in spite of the fact that he is gay, but partly because he is gay."
Don Fletcher, an ophthalmologist, said that when he was called last month to serve as the bishop and leader of the Bay Ward he wanted to make sure every Latter-day Saint in his ward knew they were welcome, including the vast majority who weren't showing up. Of the 950 members on the books, only 150 were appearing in the pews.For Fletcher, making members of the LGBT community feel comfortable enough to walk through his congregation's doors is personal.
Fletcher has a gay family member with AIDS and says he has seen firsthand how isolating that can be in the Mormon world.
"I love my church and have a lot of faith, but culturally we haven't done a good job in dealing with people who are gay when they face life challenges," whether that be coming out, depression or struggles with suicide or illness, Fletcher said. "I wanted to address it in the ward I live in."
The response in his ward, and from other Mormons he has heard from, has been nothing but positive, "uniformly, no exception," the bishop said. And, he added with a laugh, in the past month he's broadened his own knowledge – or, rather, his lingo base - learning about "the 'Moho community,' Mormons who are homosexual. That was a new one to me."
The LDS Church's top leadership, and by extension many Mormons sitting in pews, heavily supported the campaign behind Proposition 8, the 2008 California initiative to ban same-sex marriage, which is currently tied up in the state's high court.
"It's been hard to be a gay Mormon," Mayne said. In the course of his life, he said he came out "no less than three times to bishops and stake presidents, and each time I was pushed back into the closet. … This is an opportunity to take my own pain and challenges and make it an opportunity to help. How can I not do that?"
He and Fletcher have already seen dividends from Mayne's calling. On a recent Sunday, Fletcher said he looked out to see seven formerly absent members take their seats in the pews because Mayne is there.
"I talked to a couple that hadn't been to church in 20 years," Fletcher said. "I'm not reinventing doctrine. I'm just trying to put in place what Jesus Christ would have us doing. … Even if you're in a gay relationship and have no interest in living all the commandments, you're still welcome in church, by all means."
The development has stirred up discussion far beyond California. In one week, Mayne said, his personal website, which links to a blog in which he writes openly about who he is, received 30,000 views from 67 countries.
"I'm conflicted about this," said Eric Ethington of Salt Lake City, the founder of the LGBT blog PRIDEinUtah.
"On the one hand, I view this as a positive step forward for the church, a church that has a history of extreme persecutions against the LGBT community," he said. "But on the other hand, I worry about LGBT people … because the church teaches you that you cannot reach your full potential and have full acceptance in the church unless you marry someone of the opposite sex."
Ethington was raised in the LDS Church and says he was kicked out of the house when he came out at 17. He later closeted himself and married a woman in an LDS temple, only to divorce a couple of years later after realizing he was kidding himself.
"I can't share (Mitch's) optimism, but I share his hope," he said.
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