Listen, Learn & Love Hosted by Richard Ostler
Summary: Welcome to our podcast! My name is Richard Ostler (twitter: twitter.com/Papa_Ostler; FB: facebook.com/richard.ostler.5; IG: instagram.com/papa_ostler/) and am a native of Salt Lake City. I am the author of "Listen Learn and Love: Embracing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints at Amazon (amazon.com/dp/1462135773) and Deseret Book (deseretbook.com/p/listen-learn-and-love-embracing-lgbtq-latter-day-saints) I am the author of two recent Ensign articles on ‘How the Savior’s Healing Power Applies to Repenting from Sexual Sin’ (August 2020/YSA Digital Only) www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/08/young-adults/how-the-saviors-healing-power-applies-to-repenting-from-sexual-sin and ‘7 Tips for Overcoming Pornography Use’ (October, page 72) www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/10/young-adults/7-tips-for-overcoming-pornography-use I have degrees from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University (business). I married my best friend and eternal companion Sheila Juergens of Houston, Texas in 1990 and we are the parents of six children and several grandchildren and live near Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. I believe in and am deeply committed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and want it to work for a wider group. The name ‘Papa Ostler’ resulting from being introduced to Twitter by my High School age son Matt in 2010. I wanted the high school age youth to know I wasn’t their age as I interacted with them … hence the name Papa Ostler. I served as a YSA Bishop in the West Valley City/Magna area of Salt Lake (released in 2016) and met some of the finest people I will ever know. In addition to meeting with wonderful active members of my Ward, I reached out and connected via social media (mostly via the private messaging features of FB and Twitter) with many of our inactive members and their non-member friends. Over time, many felt comfortable meeting with me and sharing their stories. Through hundreds of interviews and ‘listening to understand’, I was able to ‘see’ the church from the eyes of those on the outside. Many feel the church is their ‘spiritual home’ but feel uncomfortable attending for a variety of reasons such as work-in-progress testimonies, concerns about church history, feeling unworthy because of past or current sin, don't fit the cultural mold, role of women, are LGBTQ and/or feel God's LGBTQ childen should be more welcomed in our congregations, etc. This podcast is designed to 'Have a Conversation' about some of the more complicated issues in our church to help all of us 'listen, learn and love' so we can minister in a more effective way to all of Heavenly Father’s children. Most podcasts will be from our LDS LGBTQ friends to give them voice so we can better understand their road, touch their cross, learn from them, and minister to them as directed by President M. Russell Ballard when he said "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(Nov 2017 BYU Devotional)." Some podcasts will be from LGBTQ allies sharing their experiences and how to be helpful. Other podcasts will be from guests talking about other complicated topics such as mental health, returning from a mission early, overcoming sin, and faith challenges. Are podcast are indexed by category at listenlearnandlove.org/podcasts Thank you for joining us. You can't donate to this podcast. There are no sponsors. But you can leave a review/rate the podcast on the platform you are listening. With love, Richard 'Papa' Ostler ❤ email@example.com *I will respond to your e-mails*
My friend Patrick Risk joins me to update us on his journey (earlier podcast is episode 45). Patrick, who is a survivor of sexual abuse (age 6-12) from male cousin, bravely shares his journey of his marriage (fall of 2018) being annulled, coming to terms with his same-sex attraction and moving forward in this life. Patrick talks about trying to end the ‘what if’ cycle on how his life would be different without the sexual abuse and moving forward with a ‘what now’ framework. Patrick works for the Church (meetinghouse facilities), volunteers with suicide crisis text line, and is working with elected official to get more funding for global poverty initiatives. Patrick is a hero to me for having the courage to share his story. He is strong, vulnerable, and courageous. Patrick knows the ‘desert’ of pain that comes from the trauma that occurs in our life, often outside of our control (and 100% not our fault), and how to use the Atonement and doctrine of Jesus Christ to heal and move forward. Patrick now has a unique life mission to lead others out of their ‘deserts’ with his ability to give hope and point them to Christ. Thanks for having the guts and courage to be on the podcast, Patrick. It was deeply spiritual experience for me and will be for our listeners. You are a great man, one of my heroes and have a wonderful future.
My friend Amber Richardson, BYU graduate in theater, bravely shares her journey as a survivor of childhood sexual assault. Amber started a podcast called ‘On Sovereign Wings,’ so that other women could share their stories of reclaiming their power after sexual assault. Amber has great insights into the difficulty our members on this road encounter, and how to help them heal and have more hope. Amber knows this desert and hopes to help others find their way out as she makes her own journey into wholeness. Amber is working on a book called ‘Woman, Crowned’ (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1000901601/woman-crowned) dedicated to the queens in our scriptures. Amber talks about one of these queens, Bathsheba, with thoughtful and remarkable insights in this episode.
My friends Kirk Richard and Allison Dayton (both active LDS) join me to talk about Kirk’s painting and its message for our LGBTQ members. Allison gave this painting to her gay son Jake for Christmas in 2018 and shares how their family is navigating this road. It’s a beautiful family love story. Allison also talks about her new organization called Lift and Love (check it out on IG at @liftandloveorg). Kirk talks about why he did this painting including the 7 perfect sides. Kirk also shares the doctrine of Christ behind this painting and helpful insights about our LGBTQ members as Kirk has friends on this road. We also talk about the ‘signal’ the painting sends to our LGBTQ members that you are safe person. Sister Alyssa Edwards, a High School Seminary Teacher, has this painting hanging in her seminary office (see Episode 165). Thanks for being on the podcast. The two of you are awesome.
My friend RJ joins me to share his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. RJ served a mission in Bolivia, graduated from Utah State and served as an EQ President. RJ then stepped away from the church for about 8 months. RJ received a scholarship to ASU (Speech-Language Pathology) and decided to give his new Tempe YSA Ward a chance in the Fall of 2018. RJ shares the two things that needed to happen (which did occur) that week for him to become active in the Ward. RJ shares meeting Bishop and Sister Steele during the mingle, coming out as gay, and then meeting with Bishop Steele later that day. RJ loves this good couple and their ability to help RJ feel needed and welcome. RJ shares about Bishop Steele’s prayer for someone with music talents to join the Ward and extending a call to RJ to serve as the Ward Music Chair in answer to that prayer. RJ gave a powerful talk in his YSA ward about the doctrine of Christ to love everyone and shared some of his journey as a gay Latter-day Saint. Link to talk: https://www.dropbox.com/s/55zqjvvp7ppo9xx/RJ%20Risueno%20Talk.pdf?dl=0 RJ finishes the podcast performing on the piano ‘Beautiful Savior’ arranged by Jason Tonoili.
My friend Michael Secrist joins us to share his 20 + year journey as a gay Latter-day Saint. Michael starts with the Stake Conference talk he gave in the Long Beach East Stake on Saturday, January 19th 2019 where he came out as gay to the whole Stake. I was at this Stake Conference and it was a deeply moving experience. After the meeting, there was an hour long line to greet him. Michael then shares more of his journey including some wonderful experiences and some very difficult experiences. Currently, Michael serves on the Stake Public Affairs Committee in his Stake and shares the work of many to help everyone in the Stake feel welcome and included. The Stake vision is ‘Creating Zion’. Michael mentions church counseling resources available to local leaders at (sign with your LDS account to see if you have access): counselingresources.churchofjesuschrist.org. Thanks for being on the podcast my dear friend Michael. You are a great man and friend. It is an honor for me to facilitate thousands hearing your story. You are healing many people (both professionally and by sharing your journey as a gay Latter-day Saint).
My brother David Ostler joins us to talk about this new book ‘Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question’ (available at Deseret Book, Gregg Kofford Books and Amazon). Dave shares why her wrote the book, findings, implications and what we can do differently. Please see Dave’s page at https://www.bridgeslds.com/. Dave shares how members who question need three key things: 1) Trust 2) Belonging and 3) Meaning. This book (currently #1 in Mormonism at Amazon) gives better pastoral tools for parents and local leaders to meet the spiritual needs of their members with honest questions. This book also helps those with questions and desire to stay members of our Church. I encourage everyone to read his book (search ‘David Ostler’) at Deseret Book, Amazon or Kofford Books and share it with family members and local leaders. Thank you Dave for being on the podcast and helping our Church better minister to our members who have sincere questions.
My friends Marsha and Aiden Aizumi share their 20 year journey with Aiden being a transgender man. It is a beautiful love story of learning, growing, listening and now sharing their story. Marsha and Aiden (who are not LDS) spoke at the CCEJ interfaith breakfast in 2018 that was sponsored by President and Sister Fersch (Stake President of the Long Beach East Stake). It was here the Fersch’s first heard the Aizumi’s story. President and Sister Fersch were so moved that they invited them to speak to the leadership of their Stake to help better meet the needs of the Stake’s LGBTQ members. This is a great podcast to better understand and support our transgender friends and the unique road this walk as we keep our families together. Marsha and Aiden received great support from PFLAG (https://pflag.org/) and wrote a book called “Two Spirits, One Heart’ https://www.amazon.com/Two-Spirits-One-Heart-Transgender/dp/1936833182/ref=asc_df_1936833182 Thanks for being on the podcast Aiden and Marsha. You two are awesome. It is a beautiful love story of how we better love and support each other.
My friend Sister Alyssa Edwards joins us to talk about issues facing our High School LDS members and her deep testimony of our Restored Church. Alyssa shares her journey as an early release missionary (which gives her added skills to connect with her students), discussions with her students about LGBTQ, role of women, overcoming sin and faith crisis. Alyssa gives wonderful insights in how to meet these students where they are and point them towards the hope and healing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To show she is safe for her LGBTQ students (and really all her students) to open up if needed, she has a copy of J. Kirk Richard’s painting ‘Jesus Said Love Everyone’ hanging in her office. This painting was originally commissioned by our family friend Allison Dayton as a Christmas gift for her gay son Jake. Thanks for being on the podcast Alyssa. You are awesome. Thanks for sharing your voice and all you are doing to bring the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of others
Elder Callister joins us to talk about his book ‘A Case For The Book of Mormon’. See: https://deseretbook.com/p/a-case-for-the-book-of-mormon?variant_id=171322-hardcover. Elder Callister shares wonderful insights about the truthfulness of this book, answers to critics and the restored doctrine it teaches. I’m grateful to my wife Sheila who gave me a copy of the book which I enjoyed reading. This book is a key part of my testimony of the truthfulness of our Restored Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith and its ability to bring me to Christ. Thank you Elder Callister for being on the podcast and your decades of ministry to bring people to Christ through our Restored Church.
My longtime friend Ryan Kelly (active LDS, married, mid-30’s) shares the story of receiving deep promptings following Elder Cook’s Oct 2011 talk about those who died in the Titanic (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2011/10/the-songs-they-could-not-sing?lang=eng) to find and then tell the story of his great-uncle Jerry Kelly who died in World War II age 20. Jerry (who was Senior Class President at Granite High in 1942) left no posterity to share his story. Ryan accepted this ‘calling’ and has spent hundreds of hours piecing together Jerry’s story which was clearly led by Jerry on the other side of the veil. It is a deeply spiritual story. Jerry’s story was published in this Ensign article https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2015/02/young-adults/loving-those-who-have-gone-before-us?lang=eng and is part of this book published by Ken Evans who is the son of Don Evans one of Jerry’s fellow LDS pilots. This remarkable book can be found at https://www.amazon.com/MISSING-World-Friendships-Courage-Survival/dp/1732370206. Thank you Ryan for bring Jerry’s story to life. It’s almost like he was there as we recorded the podcast. Thanks for your example of the importance of Temple and Family History and the resulting blessings in our lives as our hearts turn to those who have left.
My friend Scott Osmond bravely shares his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. Scott, who lives in Long Beach and has his own financial systems consulting business, shares growing up as a gay Latter-day Saint and staying active until his early 30’s. It was a difficult road and Scott courageously did the best he could. For the last 18 years, Scott has not been active in the Church until his Stake President Emerson Fersch and his Bishop Jeff Perry knocked on his door one Sunday morning in January 2019. Scott shares how President Fersch wanted to hear his full story including the pain of being gay and LDS. President Fersch invited Scott to speak in the Long Beach East Stake Conference in June 2019 and share his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. Scott and another gay member of the Stake, Michael Secrist, have conducted leadership trainings and also started LGBTQ FHE and LGBTQ Allies night. This is all part of President Fersch’s vision to create ‘Zion’ in his Stake. Thank you to Jonna Feeman Comstock who connected me with your story and many others who love and support Scott. You are a great man, Scott. It was an honor to hear your story. Thanks for being alive. Thanks for keeping the door open that maybe there is a place for you in our Church and that your voice is needed to help us become the Body of Christ we need to become. You are one of my heroes.
My friend Trey shares his story as a gay Latter-day Saint. We start with growing up in San Diego and coming out to his family (good experience), church leaders and friends. Like all my LGBTQ friends, it’s a difficult road. Trey shares going to BYU Idaho and coming out to his five roommates (good experience and they sincerely wanted to understand Trey’s experience). Trey is transferring to the University of Utah. Trey shares thoughts on ending stereotypes about our LGBTQ friends. Trey shares his belief in the Church, positive experience at EFY, his desire to stay close to God and also to find a husband to share his life with. Thanks Trey for sharing your journey. You are a good man with a wonderful life ahead of you.
My friend Shelby Hintze shares her insights into a number of topics including being disabled, how to better value women’s voices at church, what she tried to accomplish as a YSA RS President and her role as a producer at KSL (Doug Wright show at 9 am Sunday). There are so many incredible nuggets of ‘Shelby Wisdom’ shared to help us better meet the needs of all of God’s children. I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast and connect with Shelby on Twitter @ShelbyHintze. Thanks for being on the podcast Shelby. You are awesome.
My friend Luke Warnock bravely shares his journey of coming to terms with his sexual orientation during his time at Corner Canyon (High School in Salt Lake City area) while serving as SBO President and a starting member of the State Championship Basketball team. Luke shares coming out to close friends, his family and eventually broadly at Corner Canyon. It’s a remarkable and courageous story. Luke talks about the great support he is receiving from the Corner Canyon community and his hopes for the future including becoming a therapist so he can help people. Luke first shared his story on Jill Hazard Rowe’s podcast called Human Stories (see https://www.spreaker.com/show/human-stories-with-jill-hazard-rowe). Check out this great podcast. Luke can be found on IG at luke.war Thank you Luke for the courage to share your story. You are a great man. Your story will help so many as you give vision and hope. You have a great life ahead of you. Thanks for being on the podcast.
Our family friend Carlos Barbagelata shares his journey moving forward in life as a gay man. Carlos came out at age 14 to friends and family and has received amazing support. Carlos went on to the University of Utah where he earned an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree (Health Promotion and Education). He now works for IHC. Carlos also was at concert during the Las Vegas mass shooting and shares that horrible experience. You are a good man and friend, Carlos. Thanks for having the courage to share some of your journey. Our society is better off with you in it and all the contributions you are making. Thanks for being on the podcast.