Coverage of the “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign has generally focused on the new way the Mormon church was presenting itself to the outside world. But as someone who grew up Mormon and left the church in college, I am more intrigued by how the campaign presents Mormons to themselves. John Dehlin, a progressive Mormon who runs a podcast called Mormon Stories, suggested to ABC News that the videos in many ways present a more tolerant and inclusive picture of the church than many Mormons experience; that seems right to me. And some may see that as duplicitous—perhaps fairly so. But by allowing individuals to claim the identity of Mormons for themselves, and tell their own stories, the campaign could, one imagines, actually begin to alter ideas within the church about what it means to be Mormon. Among the hundreds of personal narratives that have been uploaded to mormon.org are several written by gay Mormons, and at least one by someone who is black, bisexual, and Mormon.
Now, given the church’s history on the subject of race and its policies regarding gay marriage, why would anyone who is both black and bisexual choose to be Mormon? I have no idea. But, thanks to this ad campaign, you can, on a website owned and operated by the Mormon church, read someone else’s explanation.