Perspective: I’m a devout Latter-day Saint gay man. I’m married to a woman. This is my story
The creator of the ‘Sit Down with Sky and Preston’ podcast talks about why he stands up for his faith and his family
One morning in May 2020, I woke up, picked up my phone and realized it was a little warmer than usual. It wasn’t because of the temperature in my house. It was because notifications had been pinging my phone throughout the night.
A tweet of mine had gone viral. It was about my mixed-orientation marriage: I’m a devout Latter-day Saint gay man married to a woman. Putting that out on Twitter garnered an obscene amount of attention, which ultimately propelled me in directions I never thought I’d go.
The experience has been not unlike riding on a float promoting traditional morality in a San Francisco pride parade — if the float had a sign that read “throw tomatoes at me,” and the float directly in front of me happened to be handing out free tomatoes.
As such, no one was as surprised as I was when I had the sudden urge to start a video podcast traversing the crossroads between faith and sexuality, with an emphasis on defending gospel-oriented principles. I graduated from Brigham Young University’s film program planning to be behind a camera, not in front of one.
As the saying goes, God had other plans.
While batting off deranged comments from internet trolls about my faith, marriage and family, I realized the breadth of the ideological divide that exists between the religiously orthodox and the increasingly secularized world.
Religious principles, especially traditional family values, continue to enter deeper into the realm of obscurity and contempt. I knew this to some extent beforehand, but enlisting in the ideological fight online has opened my eyes to how much deeply traditional understandings of Jesus Christ’s gospel are hated by outsiders.
After my personal “Twittergate” helped me to see this divide and renewed my desire to correct misunderstandings about my religion, I started a TikTok channel dedicated to my own brand of apologetics — a word I don’t care for because of its similarity to the word “apology,” but I lack a strong alternative.
On my TikTok account, which a friend recommended I name “We TikTok of Christ,” I initially posted one-minute videos. These short videos used a sometimes overly sarcastic voiceover and simple animations to explain a controversial topic relating to the church. Once I got to LGBTQ issues, it was clear I was going to need longer than one minute, so I separated the video into three parts.
It was around this time that I began to feel limited in my ability to expound on the complexities of being a gay Latter-day Saint using short-form videos. I’d never once wanted to start a podcast, but suddenly I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Within two weeks I purchased the cheapest equipment I could find, converted half of our overflowing storage room into a studio and started practicing being on camera.
The podcast began as a one-man show, with me bringing on a variety of wonderful and patient guests. I eventually convinced one of those guests, Preston Jenkins — another gay Latter-day Saint — to join me as co-host once it became clear that I am unbearably dull unless I have someone with whom I can bounce around ideas.
Since then, I’ve repurposed the TikTok channel as a place to post clips from the podcast, which is called “Sit Down with Sky and Preston.” I also post clips and quotes on our Instagram and Twitter accounts, and I’m working on a book about my personal experiences and philosophies of how to thrive as a covenant-keeping, gay Latter-day Saint.
Advocating for something unpopular — such as traditional values in a secular world —brings a fair share of criticism and even outright hatred. The vitriol directed toward me seems to be multiplied once people realize my sexuality. I’m either seen as a traitor to my church or regarded as someone with Stockholm syndrome because I don’t leave my faith, even though neither is true.
This animosity comes in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had hateful comments directed toward me in comment threads, private messages and TikTok “stitch” videos. Additionally, I’ve had two of my own TikTok videos removed for what the platform said was “hate speech.”
The first video was reinstated after TikTok admitted fault, but the most recent one remained offline after an official appeal, because it included content that the platform bizarrely claims “attacks, threatens, incites violence against, or otherwise dehumanizes an individual or a group on the basis of (sexual orientation).”
The video in question is still up on YouTube and uses empirical data to challenge a claim that Dan Reynolds of the music group Imagine Dragons made about Latter-day Saint LGTBQ youth.
On the flip side, both Preston and I receive an encouraging amount of positive messages from a variety of people who appreciate our efforts. We’ve heard positivity from members of the church, evangelical Christians, conservatives, progressives, LGBTQ people, heterosexual people and others.
It’s these messages that keep me motivated to continue what we’re doing.
I like to think I’m a fairly reasonable person who needs a good reason to do something. I like performing tasks in a way that takes the least amount of effort and does the most amount of good. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ — as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — is based primarily on personal experiences I can only describe as metaphysical dealings with the divine. While those experiences are the foundation of my beliefs, it’s largely logic that fuels my efforts to share the gospel.
If I truly believe the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses lives in a significant way, I have the moral obligation to share those beliefs in an effective, persuasive and loving manner. I also like to see my family and friends succeed, and I believe the gospel houses the principles required to be the most successful and happy in this life and the next.
I also feel an obligation to the teenage me — the me who was younger and more insecure, with a desire to live the gospel but lacking positive influence from others going through similar things. This line of thinking keeps me going when I’m faced with opposition.
Developing a personal relationship with deity is an ongoing process, but I have seen the fruits of living true to Jesus Christ’s teachings in my own life. These fruits include a tangible and blossoming relationship with God and our Savior, and a loving, fulfilling marriage with my incredible wife and two beautiful children (one now our guardian angel in heaven).
I hope to be able to continue my efforts for as long as possible, turning negativity into opportunities for good. Or, as Christ says, returning good for evil. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn how to use those tomatoes thrown my way to make some very good lasagna.
Skyler Sorensen is a video editor who graduated from Brigham Young University in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in media arts. He and his wife, Amanda, have a son who is deceased and a daughter who is almost 4 months old.