Modern Genealogy Podcast

Ep 23: A Gay Convert's Testimony of Family History Work with Dennis Schleicher

Episode Summary

Dennis Schleicher is the author of, "Is He Nuts?: Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ." He is also passionate about doing temple and family history work! Listen as he shares his testimony of the power of this great work and personal revelation that has helped him understand God's love for him.

Episode Notes

Dennis Schleicher is the author of, "Is He Nuts?: Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ." He is also passionate about doing temple and family history work! Listen as he shares his testimony of the power of this great work and personal revelation that has helped him understand God's love for him.

Get Dennis' book here on Amazon.com

Follow Dennis on Instagram

Dennis' website

 

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Get my FREE 5 Steps Before You Search - Using FamilySearch, online course

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Connect with me:

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Episode Transcription

Before we get started with the podcast with Dennis today. I just wanted to talk to you a bit about Rootstech. So that was this past weekend. I hope that you at least went to the website and checked some things on there. I know it was a bit overwhelming. There was a lot of classes, a lot of information. 

But it is all free and it is all going to be there for the whole year. So, you can go to Rootstech.org and watch any of the classes whenever. So go take advantage of that. 

The second thing I wanted to talk to you about was my new free online class that you can get sent right to your inbox. It is five steps before you search where I teach you what to look at before you start searching for information for your ancestor. There's a printable worksheet that can really help you to get organized before you start diving in and looking for records. 

And then the last thing I want to talk about is the Modern Genealogy Academy. So Rootstech is great. There's lots of good free classes and so much content on there. But that might still feel a little overwhelming and maybe a little advanced in some areas for you. So, if you are looking for a beginner online course, where I take you, step-by-step from choosing an ancestor research, all the way through finding all their records. Connecting it all together and then writing their story at the end go to modern genealogy.ca/join to sign up for that and learn more about that. We have new classes every month, a live Q&A every month. It's a lot of fun. So now we're going to get into my talk with Dennis on here. 

I met him on Instagram and I was just very impressed with his testimony and his willingness to share that with the world. And I really think you'll enjoy this chat with him. 

Megan: Welcome to the podcast today. I am sitting here with Dennis Schleicher. Hopefully I said that, right? Yes, I did. Great. Oh, good. I practiced. So, okay. He's someone that I recently met on Instagram and just after seeing his posts and testimony that he shares there, of family history work and temple work, I knew I wanted to get him on here and talk to him some more about that. So first to get started, Dennis, can you just introduce, introduce yourself? 

Dennis: Yes. So my name is Dennis Schleicher and I'm from Connecticut. And I serve my first calling was ward missionary, and I was like going "Oh gosh, I never served a mission."

Why me? When I should have been saying, Oh God, what do I need to be learning from this? And so I'm a convert to the church. I'm probably one of the last people in the world you would have ever expected joining this church. I was very much against it. And it just goes to show you never to judge a book by its cover.

I'm known for actually stealing the Book of Mormon and cause I was, and almost starting a protest at the dedication of the Connecticut temple. And a few months later I was plunged. 

Megan: That's good. So can you give us, I know probably some of my listeners aren't familiar with you or your book or Can you just give us a little bit of that background?

Dennis: Yeah. So shortly after I was, I was doing my first convert baptism. I had the opportunity to meet with the general authority and at the time I was going, what's the general authority, or am I losing my limited temple recommend? And I was, I was feeling like, Holy cows, what have I done? And he said, son, you have a bigger calling than you ever know.

And I want to find out what your gay friends say when you joined the church as a gay man. And let me preface this, that Megan is that even though I identify as gay, it doesn't mean I'm acting on it. It means that I'm following the temp. I'm following the ordinance and the commandments, just like all of our single brothers and sisters.

That are single. And I wear the CTR ring on my wedding band. Not only to remind me to choose the right, but choose to remember God just remember him. And also current temple recommend holder, which I keep in my wallet. At all times because I just on the outside. So I'm reminded constantly that I can bring honor to my ancestors.

So the general authority had said what are your, your gay LGBT friends say when you joined the church? And he said, I said, are you nuts? They're going to have you married off to a woman in no time. They're going to put you in conversion therapy. And he leaned, put his hand on my shoulder, pulled me in closer and said, son, that's what I want your next book to be about.

Is he nuts? Why would a gay man become Mormon? That's what we were allowed to call it at the time. And I, and it's now called, "Is He Nuts?. Why would a gay man become a member of the church of Jesus Christ?" And I just was, I looked at him, I took my glasses down and I got really close to him. And I said, you're nuts.

I didn't join the church to write a book. So my whole message is never judge a book by its cover because I discriminated against members of our church. And I felt the persecution of what the pioneers went through and what members go through now. And what I face from people who have left our church on Instagram, when I get blasted with hate mail and death threats and negativity, that I, I can relate that to.

If anybody can understand what I'm going through. It's members of the church. And I spent nine and a half months last year doing devotionals and book signings for the church all over Utah. I drove across country, never once had to pay for a place to stay because I stayed with returning missionaries and their parents.

And I stayed with their grandparents. If they had an in-law apartment. And you just can't find that in any other church. 

Megan: Oh, beautiful. Yeah. I love that. And I actually just finished your book yesterday, listening to it and I loved it. And you talk about not judging a book by its cover. It was not anything I expected.

And you have so much, so much to your story that I enjoyed hearing about in your perspective of what you've, what you've been through and everything. So. I know that you do a lot of temple work and as, the only member in your family, you are obviously doing a lot of family history work as well. So.

How did you get started doing that? 

Dennis: So it was, you probably remember reading about this, but the sister missionaries encouraged me on when they prayed for a walk in. And I was that walkin. They they told me to sign up for FamilySearch and they said, but don't pay for it because once you're a member, you'll have a recommend number and it'll be free.

And I said, okay, Heavens. I stole the Book of Mormon. They gave me a free Bible, the King James version. You know, we have these new driver's license with social security cards, once you get baptized, I said, this church gives everything away for free. So I immediately went home and started doing FamilySearch and, and I.

And I just love, love, love to you know, bring honor to my ancestors. I block out times cause I'm very goal oriented. So I block out segments throughout the day to spend 20 minutes, twice a day on FamilySearch doing, and that's why I have over 600 names. 

Megan: Oh wow. That's great. And I know in your book, you talk a bit about your perspective of.

Or your understanding of eternal families and how that all works. Can you just kind of talk about that here?

Dennis: So this actually came through revelation and it's the first time I've shared this on a podcast or an interview, but I'm feeling compelled to share. It was, I was asked by our state presidency just before I received first presidential approval to have my endowment early.

And I had to Google that. It reminds me, God knows all of us by name and he knows. And the first presidency, he knows us by name, but the kids were getting ridiculed. And because in Connecticut, you know, we're not as open as Idaho or in Utah or so they were being ridiculed. And I was asked by the presidency to go around and speak to young men.

And I said, well, introduce them to meet. And they asked me to wear a rainbow bow tie. And I was like, and actually my temple president bought me this rainbow Apple wristband for pride month. And I was just shocked, like to be given a rainbow bow tie from a mission president saying our sisters and elders are complaining you're not dressing gay enough to go on teachings. And it's like, okay. So but I embrace it. You can't say anything that offends me. Well, so this revelation came when I was at going through the temple to pray before I ended up speaking to the, the young men. And I said just, we don't know all the answers.

We don't know everything. And I don't know what. And this goes back to my patriarchal blessing. I did not receive my patriarchal blessing until a year and a half after I was baptized because I was afraid he was going to say, you're going to be sealed to a woman in the temple. And I felt that was going to cause me to have a faith crisis.

And I, the missionaries felt compelled when I was working at serving as a ward mission leader. And now I'm an eldest quorum president overseeing missionaries and I am learning from my calling every day and I have an unofficial calling set apart by general authorities that I can serve with missionaries all over the world.

And I do I just did a zone conference on Monday morning with the Georgia mission.  And so there's something and I do devotionals and firesides everywhere, and I love it, but so my personal, so the missionaries felt compelled to bring up in a coordination meeting. We were praying. And we want to ask you if you received your patriarchal blessing.

And my jaw dropped and I'm like no. And they're like, well, we feel you need to. So the coordination meeting shifted, we no longer were doing the coordination meeting. They were now teaching me scripture as to why I needed to get my patriarchal blessing. And they challenged me to. And that was scary. And I said, yes, I would, but I don't know if I wanted to, but then I ended up calling my friends in Utah and I'm saying, I'm having a faith crisis.

I don't want to do this. And they said Dennis, you don't know if that patriarchal blessing is talking about your blessings on this side of the veil or the other side of the veil. And you just have to have faith. We may not know everything when the prophet and apostles are speaking at the podium, but we have to trust.

Megan: Wow. Yeah. And on that faith is, is hard. I'm sure that's a hard thing for you to do, to have that faith that we don't know. You know, our existence here on this earth is just a little blip of eternity and we don't know. You don't know. I love that. And I loved in your book, how you said I don't know if I'm going to have a wife in, in, in heaven or after this life.

I don't know what it's going to be like, but I know that heavenly father loves me that God loves me. 

Dennis: I also want to say that I have received zero negativity from members of the church. I have received nothing, but if anything, it's been naive. I had a sister missionary right in the beginning of my book that she was extremely homophobic before she served her mission and started doing dozens of home teachings with Dennis, with their investigators, or we call them friends now.

And I made her change that because I said, I don't want your son or daughter reading this 10, 20 years from now that their mother was homophobic. You grew up in St. Paolo Brazil. You've never been around gay people. So let's change it to innocent and naive. And she's so grateful for that because I didn't want it to be in a book sold by our church in Deseret Book, that it one of my former missionary returning missionaries was homophobic because she's not, she was just naive.

Megan: Right? Well, that's true. And a lot of us are, are gaining that understanding and through your, your work that's, that's coming forth as well. Yeah. Okay, well, let's get back to talking about family history. I could talk to you for hours, I'm sure about your life and experiences. But as you started learning about your ancestors and finding your family, did you come across any obstacles or, or what were the hard things that, that came up for you? 

Dennis: The biggest obstacle, I guess, would be when my parents said, when my younger brother passed away in 04 from a drug overdose and he was one of my revelations to joining the church. They forbid me from doing his ordinance work and they're Christian, but they don't believe our Christian entity is the same as theirs. And so that was a huge, and then again, you know, getting my personal endowment, my personal blessings, you know, the adversary, I guess, knew all the good I was going to do, sharing the gospel that he sent out all of his angels. And I do find that, you know, when I go to the, when I was going to the temple weekly and bringing honor to my ancestors, that, you know, only Dennis would get a flat tire when he's one block from the temple.

Or would something would a pen explode in his garment bag. And, but, you know, you just. You you, we, we go on, we continue to go and do and serve. And I just went to the temple anyway and explained to the front desk what had happened. They're like, Oh Dennis, we'll loan you clothes come with you know, or would call the temple and say, I broke down one block away and it's, Oh, we're going to come get you.

You're going to do a session because everybody knows me in our temple. And they're all the temple ordinance worker site. But to say that's an obstacle, but it reminds me of a story. Of, I believe the Logan temple there was somebody that felt that the adversary was going to come down strong when they were building that.

And there were things that was happening when, when people were trying to get to the temple and they couldn't, and they were running so fast to get there. And the end they would have, their carriages would break down or their horses would, would get sick. And we have to persevere just like our pioneers did or look at what happened at the Manti temple.

When I went to the Manti temple, I am petrified of snakes. And when I found out they were raw, that this was built on a rattlesnake preserve I'm going, Oh my gosh, how am I going to go into the Manti temple? Or as a convert, I used to call it the manatees, like the dolphins. And, you know, I had no fear of rattlesnakes when I was there.

Actually I feel felt it was my way of overcoming my fear of snakes being in that temple. And I felt. Safe. And, and even just going back to the temple on the 10th of this month, I was invited only six people were invited in this living endowment. And I was so blessed by a missionary who's now serving at MTC this week to prepare for his mission to serve in the Mandarin Chinese speaking mission of Arcadia, California.

He invited me to be a part of his living endowment. And the last time I was at the temple was the Friday before they announced closure. And, and man, that was in actually the Mount Timpanogas temple. Cause I was stranded in Utah because I was doing devotionals and firesides when we all got locked down.

Oh really? And I was staying with the stake relief society president in West Jordan and her and her husband said to me, my husband and I don't feel comfortable with you going home. We have 20 years with the food rations. You can stay with us and this is perfect. And that's exactly what I needed because if I was home alone, dealing with COVID, I would have gone crazy. So God knew I needed to be stranded in Utah. And so I just, so the obstacles, I turn into learning experiences and I say, what do I need to learn from this? 

Megan: I love that. I think a lot of people have the obstacle of, of setting aside the time. And I like how you said you, you have just decided 20 minutes, twice a day.

I work on my family history. So why do you, why have you set up so much priority to family history work? Why do you, why do you do it? 

Dennis: It started with my younger brother and being able to perform his proxy baptism and confirmation a few months after I was baptized in Connecticut to fly to the Provo city center and perform his ordinance.

I just knew that he was a major revelation for joining the church and he was the one that said, if I was in the physical earth with you right now, I would bring honor to, I would be doing this with you. And I have that a lot of people don't know this, but I did a a reel on Instagram. This is the plan of salvation.

And when the missionaries taught it to me, as you read in my book is that they drew a diagram and they asked if I'd connect the dots. And when you connect the dots, it spells love L O V E. And I just think of the celestial kingdom is part of the E the upper E. And that that's what our gospel is all about.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is about loving all. We may not accept or understand everyone or everyone's decisions or, or their or things that they do, but we just need to love and say, What would Christ do? 

Megan: And family history is. Is love. It really is doing that work for our ancestors. Do you have any experiences or stories with temple and family history that you'd like to share?

You've shared some already, but do you have any, any other stories you wanted to share with us? 

Dennis: Well, so I can re I can tell that we all have certain gifts and when I get the goosebumps on the back of my neck, which so coming now, I know that the Holy Ghost is present so that when I do be. When I, when I do the confirmation proxies and I feel the goosebumps they, I know that they are accepting it on the other side. There was one person I was doing it for and I made them stop. And I'm there with my arms folded in my head bound, like, wait a minute, where are those goosebumps? Hold it. Stop, stop. Don't do the next confirmation. Like, and it was from my grandfather who passed away in 2000. Hmm. And I knew that he didn't accept it.

So I said, well, I'm going to hold onto his card. I'm not doing his endowment and initiatory until he's ready to accept it. And just this past year, my grandmother passed away. She would was one week from our few days from being 97 and she passed away and I was able to explain the plan of salvation to her.

And she said, that sounds nice. And I can't wait for you to seal me to your gramps. Oh, wow. And so, but I have so my grampa, I was able to just before the temples closed in March and I was at Mount Timpanogos, I was with a bunch of other gay LGBT same-sex attraction friends. And we went together and we were supposed to meet some general authorities, wives, but they had to cancel.

And they said, don't stop going with your friends because I'm going to tell you something off the record. They're going to announce later tonight that the temples are closing. Oh, wow. And so I just felt compelled pull up on my iPhone, my Gramps card. And I did as initiatory. And I did his initiatory and endowment. And I could feel I had personal revelation that he accepted that. Oh, wow. And so I just it's, it's relying on the Holy spirit. And those promptings and not to ignore those promptings. Hmm. 

Megan: That's beautiful. No, I have those standing up hairs on the back of my neck.

Dennis: Isn't that cool?

Megan: It is. No, that's great. Well, Dennis, we are nearing the end of our interview here and I have loved chatting with you. Before we go. I just want to have you let us know what the name of your book is again and how people can connect with you? 

Dennis: Okay. So the best way is, is Instagram obviously, but they can go to Dennis Schleicher it's D E N N I S S C H L E I C H E r.net.

And they can request a fireside or devotional. The title of my book is called"Is He Nuts? Why would a gay man become a member of the church of Jesus Christ?" And I am trying so desperately, I average a hundred to 200 DMS a day on Instagram, and I try to get back to each and every one 

of them. 

Megan: Well, I'm glad you got back to me and I will make sure to put links to all of those, to your website and your Instagram in the show notes so that people can connect with you.

Well, Dennis was there. 

Dennis: Yeah. I just wanted to say, remember Megan, we are not a church organization, we're family. So anytime you need anything, please reach out to me. 

Megan: I love that. Well, thank you, Dennis. I have loved this chat with you and I feel like, I feel like we've been friends forever. So thank you for coming today, Dennis.

And we will see you next time.