Best-selling Author Dennis Schleicher on Changing from Protester to Active Member of the LDS Church
By Space Coast Daily // May 2, 2022
Dennis Schleicher, the Connecticut-born best-selling author, public speaker, human rights advocate, and president of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association, received bullying and persecution from a young age. All for his attraction to people of the same sex. His parent’s distaste and bullying at school led him to become a protestor, speaking up on national and international talk shows on television and radio.
He found out that in 1988, the year before he came out to his parents and felt their religious distaste and before his physical assault at school for being different, 58% of violence in public schools and 33% of suicides were because of sexual identity issues.
From the age of 17, finding no support from his school and after turning down an interview with Sally Jessy Raphael, Dennis Schleicher vowed to turn over a new page and become the voice of the silent. Someone who would speak up for anyone facing discrimination. Since then, he has appeared on Larry King Live and Sally Jessy Raphael.
It is vital to Dennis to reconcile sexuality with religious beliefs because he believes God’s love spans the universe and everyone in it, regardless of anything else. Today, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of a book about his conversion, Is He Nuts?
Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ, in the past, Dennis played an active role as a ward mission leader in the Elders Quorum First Counselor. Now he serves as the Communications Director for the Hartford Stake.
Dennis Schleicher offers insights into how he finally came to join a church known for its adversity to same-sex activities.
You have said that faith was always important to you, but what made you decide on the LDS?
“During the dedication of the LDS Hartford Temple of Connecticut in 2016, I saw the queues of people lining up to get in, and I was angered. Inside me, I think I must start an LGBTQ protest against this cult with its uninformed views on everything.”
Dennis continues, “It was in 2017 when someone invited me on a trip to Palmyra, the important city for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember not wanting to go, and I was desperately praying for a solution to get out of the trip. As I ended my prayer, I couldn’t turn on iTunes because I was in an area with no internet connection and tuned into a Christian radio station. They were playing “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe, the song my born-again Christian parents played at my younger brother’s funeral, who passed away from a drug overdose in 2004. When I realized that my brother was talking to me again through the Holy Ghost, I decided I had to delve a bit deeper into the Church.”
Your views are that people have misconceptions about the LDS Church. Were you accepted with open arms?
Much to my surprise, my first calling as a ward missionary came very soon after my baptism, despite my lack of experience. It wasn’t long before I got called to teaching appointments nationally, thanks to my missionary tutors praising me after transferring elsewhere.
People who want to join the LDS Church want guidance because they fear they won’t find acceptance; this was the same perception I had because of all the negative stuff written about the Church. However, I was accepted right from the start, and the message I received every time I came out to someone was that Jesus loves everyone, no matter what.
What about your friends and family? Did they accept your conversion?
At first, they thought I was nuts. They kept telling me that the Church would force me to marry a woman or to have conversion therapy. So, they were as astonished as I was when a member of the 70 asked me to write a book about my conversion. It did take me some time to decide to write it, but thanks to their publishing house, it was published quickly.
As a result, I feel privileged to have a forward by the Church’s #1 speaker and author of More Than a Tattooed Mormon, a book I had been putting off reading since 2017.
Dennis Schleicher continues to mentor people in the Church and take up other public engagements as an advocate and voice for anyone facing wrongs and bullying. He admires people who stand up for themselves, including Ellen DeGeneres and those that say we should never give up, like Oprah Winfrey. His friendships with Marie Osmond, Lisa Barlow, and Al Caraway offer him purpose and meaning as he continues his work. Dennis always says; there is no such thing as celebrities within our Church. For all are equal in God’s eyes; I am just Dennis.