President M. Russell Ballard counselled, “We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord” (BYU Devotional, November 14, 2017). A Walk in My Shoes: Questions I’m Often Asked as a Gay Latter-day Saint invites readers to act upon that counsel by following the journey of Ben Schilaty, a licensed therapist and BYU Honor Code administrator, as he works to reconcile his faith with his sexual orientation.
Each chapter in the book focuses on a question that the author is often asked which he answers using stories from his life and gospel principles. Questions include: Were you born gay? Why do you stay in the Church? Why don’t you marry a woman if marriage is about more than sex? Readers are invited to experience various steps of Ben’s journey with him. A Walk in My Shoes allows readers a glimpse into the life of a single, gay, active Latter-day Saint and provides examples of how they can support and minister to their LGBTQ loved ones.
Charlie Bird—the viral face of BYU during his years as Cosmo the Cougar—made waves across the nation when he came out and revealed to BYU fans that he is gay. Now, in Without the Mask, Bird reflects on how his identity has strengthened his testimony and how he views his sexual orientation in conjunction with his faith in Jesus Christ.
Alternating between memoir and teaching chapters, Bird's touching and authentic prose chronicles his decision to openly share that he is gay and to remain active in the faith. Highlighting the challenges Bird has faced along the way, the book also shares the blessings he's learned to recognize through his sexual orientation. Charlie feels deeply the importance of maintaining a relationship with God and hopes this message will "spark healing, bridge gaps of understanding and inspire hope" for other LGBTQ readers and those who love them.