Dennis Schleicher loves Jesus Christ. Dennis is gay. He has been attempting to reconcile these two things for most of his life. As a fairly new convert to a church who only a few months ago rescinded a policy that would name him an "Apostate," I was very curious to talk to him about his conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Even if you only watch headlines in the news about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you likely witnessed the headlines this April when the church rescinded its 2015 policy against baptizing children of the LGBTQIA+ community. What you may not know or understand is that Dennis, a gay adult man, was baptized and received permission from the Presidency of The Church to receive further instruction in The Church's Temples during the active policy.
On August 19, 2017, Dennis was Baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His baptism was remarkable for many reasons, but not as miraculous as the next year would be. Dennis would receive First Presidency Approval to attend and receive his Temple blessings on August 11, 2018.
Dennis's love of Jesus Christ drew him closer and closer to a family of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world and within the company he worked with. Network marketing is a popular occupation of many members of The Church, and Dennis was drawn to the people who embraced him with open arms.
His friends who were members asked him to pray for a personal revelation. He did and was impressed that he should be baptized and become a member as well.
Dennis is called in his Ward as a Ward Mission Leader, and it is his job to organize and assist missionary efforts in his Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he receives phone calls and emails daily from members and leaders across the country asking for his help when teaching members of the LGBTQAI+ community and their friends who are seeking Gospel answers.
A General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remarked to Dennis, after his conversion, "Son, we need more LGBT children in the House of the Lord and in this church." It was that same gentleman who gave Dennis the title for his book. He asked Dennis what his LGBT+ friends say when he tells them he converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dennis answered, "They say 'Is he NUTS?! Why would a gay man become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?!" The General Authority answered that was the title, and it has since become so.
Is He Nuts?: Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ comes out on Cedar Fort books in a few weeks and is available for pre-release ordering now from Amazon. Dennis is traveling to Utah and Arizona for the book launch and to meet Al Carraway, who also wrote a forward for his book.
During his travels, Dennis will be filmed by a crew for a docuseries, bringing even more attention to the subject of LGBTQIA+ members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dennis hopes to share more of what he loves about his chosen religion with that opportunity.
I asked Dennis about the controversy involved with being a member of a church whose policy in regard to the LGBTQIA+ community is continuing to evolve, and if he had any message for other members who are struggling with the long process of acceptance and understanding. This is what he wanted me to share: "I bear your burden with you. You are still a fellow brother or sister to me. This is my story, my journey, it is what is working for me. Please don't judge me--know that I love and care for all of you. We are all loving Children of God."