DUANE E. JENNINGS {UtahSoulForce@aol.com} was born in Mount Pleasant, Utah, and raised in Salt Lake City in a devout LDS family. His parents stressed scripture study, prayer, and meditation as the source of revelation and personal growth. This active mind-and-spirit approach to religion may be attributed to living in an LDS community situated between the University of Utah and Westminster College. As a teenager, Duane participated in the LDS seminary program and was active on scripture chase teams and Seminary Choir in addition to other Church callings.

He graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor of arts (BA) degree in English and history, and a secondary education teaching certificate (junior high and high school), as well as graduating from the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah. He served his mission in South Africa.

Duane has been aware of his sexual orientation since about age fourteen and, after confronting what seemed to be the contradictions between being a devoted Latter-day Saint and his sexuality, embraced these contradictions and has transferred his energies into harmonizing the two. He has held leadership positions in the Salt Lake Chapter of Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons and in 1996 received the Mortensen Award, Affirmation’s highest award for excellence in continual service.

Duane has also represented Affirmation at the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, which supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals in religion. In addition, he edited and published the Salt Lake Affirmation chapter’s newsletter for over 10 years, and was religion/spirituality editor and writer (1994-1996) for The Pillar magazine (Utah’s LGBT Magazine (published from 1993-2007)).  In 2000 Duane worked with an Episcopal minister and Metropolitan Community Church ministers and together started what has become the annual Pride Interfaith Service that kicks off the annual Utah Pride events each June.

A sixth-generation Mormon, Duane proudly claims his spiritual place in creation and his relationship with God, in spite of limitations in religious traditions, including Mormonism.

*The author can be reached at UtahSoulForce@aol.com

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