IMG_0138EDITPC300006EDITMike Woodruff knew that he was attracted to men by age 14. After consulting with his LDS bishop, he was told that his “same-sex attraction” would “resolve itself” once he served an LDS mission. His LDS patriarchal blessing also assured him that he would serve a complete LDS mission.

After being called to the Leeds, England mission, Mike was physically and emotionally abused by his first companion, suffering severe PTSD symptoms.

Listen to Mike’s story here.





  1. William Covington August 11, 2016 at 7:24 am - Reply

    In 1988 I worked for LDS Social Services as a qualified social worker. I attended a two week workshop/seminar in Provo, Utah. I attended a workshop given by a social worker who presented LDS material that purported to ‘cure’ gay men of same sex attraction. As the presentation progressed, myself and another LDS social worker became increasingly perplexed by the so called ‘scriptural curative method for gay LDS men’. I could discern that the LDS presenter of the workshop did not believe in the LDS ‘Scriptural’ method of intervention as a cure for gay men. I left the workshop thinking to myself, ‘I can’t support an organization that criminalizes same sex attraction, and the LDS authorities do literally criminalize same sex attraction. When I returned home after the two week LDS workshop/seminar in Provo I left LDS employment.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      I am so glad that you were able to realize what was going on and were able to leave. Realization is often a vital but ignored step for the realization that you are being manipulated by a cult. I’m glad that you followed your values and you are obviously a much better person for it. Thanks for listening to my story and Godspeed, William.

      • William Covington May 25, 2019 at 5:29 pm - Reply

        Hello Mike, the LDS Church is based on a lie and the greatest self harm is to live a lie. If we can’t be true to self, there’s no point in being truthful to anyone or anything. Being true to self is the most important quality a human being should strive for because when the individual accepts truth about self life is meaningful and the individual is fulfilled. I leave you with this maxim – ‘Truth is not want you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie’ ( Miyamoto Musashi ).

  2. Yobispo August 11, 2016 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Looking at Mike’s now/then pics reminds me of how young we all were when we went out to teach the world. We had such small experience to draw on, all we had was faith in the message and in our leaders, as did Mike. When the message and the leaders failed us, it has been heartbreaking. God speed, Mike.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your validation, and for taking the time to listen to my story. I’ve grown so much because of all of this that I feel like I have a much better lease on life. Leaving the cult was hard for me, but not as hard as living my life as I did in the cult. I was never happy, even though I did what I was supposed to. I’m just glad that I can see clearly now and am no longer being fooled.

      • John Taffer April 5, 2018 at 7:15 am - Reply

        Hey Mike! Good meeting you at Woody’s last night. You can really throw it back, Ill give you a call soon;)

  3. Carla Zwackhalen August 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Dear Mike ,
    Listening to your story made me so sad, I can’t imagine what you have been going through.
    I salute you for being so brave to share your story.
    You are truly a wonderful person and very much loved by God.
    I wish you all the best for your future and hope you will find your true love.
    Thank you again, sending you lots of love from Holland / Europe.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      Carla, thank you so much for your wonderful message and for listening to my story! I hope that my story can help people and that they can know that things are never hopeless. Everyone deserves to feel the true love of God, and know that it isn’t dependent on anything. Even if you are different. Sending you love back from the States.

  4. Samuel D Dye MD August 11, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mike and John for this interview. I was a physician in the Area headquarters in Frankfurt and my associate and I talked to missionaries daily about their medical problems. There were two PhD psychologists that did the psychotherapy. I talked with gay missionaries and their problems and their struggles had a deep effect on me. I have since left the church. My experience with the gay missionaries was instrumental for me being able to face the fact that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and in fact as BH Roberts put it when commmenting that if the church was not what it claimed to be “he is a false prophet of false prophets; and all he taught and all his claims to inspiration and divine authority, are not only vain but wicked;” (page 12 Studies of the Book of Mormon by BH Roberts ed. Brigham D Madsen; Signature Books Second Edition 1992).

    • John Dehlin August 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      Sam – Would love to interview you about your experiences.

      • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

        I would love to hear what your experience was like! Thank you for listening and I hope to hear about your journey soon. :)

    • Draperville August 13, 2016 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Sam, I suspect there are thousands of Mormons and former Mormons who would love to hear you expand on that.

  5. CC August 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Mike, your story is moving. You express it in such clarity. In listening, I was happy that eventually my tears turned to a smile. I am happy for you-that you now know yourself, and what’s right for you. Thank you for sharing, and for second chances.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      I’m so happy that it moved you that way. Thank you so much for listening and I hope that my experiences will continue to help you in your life. There is always hope, and you are always loved. Thanks again, CC.

  6. Draperville August 11, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Mike, thanks for sharing your story. I’m curious about the nature of the abuse that was so traumatic that it caused you to have ongoing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Were you beaten, verbally tortured or what? No gory details but a more specific explanation than “abuse” would be helpful. Regardless, this is a mission horror story.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      Maybe at some point in my life, I will be comfortable with disclosing that. However, I don’t want to go into more detail except with trusted friends. As a result of me being open to my church leaders with what happened to me on my mission, it ended up being used against me in ways I would never think any decent person would try. So, for right now, let’s just leave it at: because of my companions abuse against me, I was hurt physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

  7. UVU August 11, 2016 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your story Mike. Heartbreaking.

    Great advise to leadership.

    Thanks for serving and willing to be a social worker.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      Thank you for listening! I’m glad that people are talking more about how to help people that were similar to my situation and I’m glad that we are realizing that these people are in need of help. Becoming a social worker was a goal of mine ever since I wanted to help people that feel powerless, just like I did. I’m so glad that I finally figured out my own way. Thanks again for your support. :)

  8. Aaron August 11, 2016 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    Love the idea of interviewing newly returned missionaries. I’ve long thought this a good idea for some of the mormon podcasts, to see how missionary work has changed/evolved since my mid-90’s stateside experience. Items I’d like to see explored (some of which have already been broached in the three podcasts thus-far):

    – charity vs. proselytizing (ie in my mission we were told to get 6 hrs charity a week. Has that changed?)
    – tracting/street contacting: this varies mission to mission I’m sure, but has tracting truly been phased out? If yes…
    – what do you do when there’s nothing to do? This was the final straw for us… that or get together with other missionaries and play cards all day. But with the increase in missionaries and no tracting, I always wonder what the missionaries do all day
    – what is a typical day? What is the ideal vs. practical?
    – do investigators come at you with items they learn on mormonthink type websites? Are missionaries blindsided by this stuff or are they somewhat prepared here or there? Do they learn about (for example) polyandry from innoculation sources (ie church via MTC or pre-mission prep courses), underground missionary chatter, or get the occasional blindside?
    – how are missionaries tought to deal with such issues? Bare testimony and leave? Refer to essays?
    – is there a noticeable increase in missionaries coming home (now vs. times past)? If yes, any speculation from the missionaries on why? Church policies dictating quicker send home? Younger less prepared missionaries? Emotional vs. spiritual issues? (Noting that in my area I’ve heard speculation that there is a general increase in this across the board)
    – How many baptisms? How many of those were children? Did you baptize an entire family (always the answer will be no, but still)? Where are the non-children baptisms coming from?
    – What are the most typical mission rules that are broken? Ie non-approved phone calls, chatting/texting, etc. has to be more common now than in my day (and phone calls were relatively common then I think). What else? Is it common to hit some unauthorized internet time (cafe, willing member/investigator, etc) if you have a willing companion? What are the penalties? Etc etc. Fascinating topic to me.
    – IPads/facebook… blows my mind thinking about it compared to my mission, I don’t get how that’s policed. Would love to hear thoughts about it, if missionaries found it beneficial to the work, how often it was abused, etc.

    Understood all answers would be anecdotal, but taken as a whole maybe some trends emerge.

    Also, in addition to the types of missionaries you’re interviewing (faith crisis, etc) I’d like to hear from missionaries that had good experiences. I understand the latter are more difficult for you to find and maybe less interesting. If I care so much I should interview them and report, right?

    I do appreciate the time and am finding these interesting. I have some specific thoughts on this particular interview (with Mike), will write them out shortly…

  9. Aaron August 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    It’s probably not looked on favorably to be critical here, but this episode was cringe-worthy for a few reasons (noting I’m guessing John won’t publish this comment, but maybe he’ll read it):

    – a lot happened in such a short time in the mission! (abuse, weird dictates and non-action by the mission president, missionaries working out in the nude?)
    – non-disclosure of the abuse suffered by his companion adds a bit of unknown to the story. It strains credulity that a mission president in this day and age (spare me quoting BKPacker advocating punching his companion) would just overlook physical abuse. Especially if it was continual and disclosed. It was hard to listen past this point as not much made sense. You could tell it didn’t make much sense to John either. The mission president just moves on, tries to help out the abuser, and concurrently tries to send Mike home? I’m not trying to pry so much as understand if I should “believe” (for lack of a better term) that Mike’s experiences are as he remembers them and can be learned from.
    – naked workouts?

    I suppose John did a pre-interview and can perhaps vouch for Mike, that understanding everything makes things more believable. Reading something like that from John would be helpful. John, do you have a pre-screening process for people that don’t have a public story? Ie how do you deem a story worthy of being published?

    Also, and I’m sorry to be critical John, but the leading questions with vulnerable early 20-ish interviewees is also a bit much. I feel like you desperately want him to, for example, say that the LDS church caused his anxiety in HS by asking that question progressively more pointedly like three times. At times it hears like you want your interviewees to answer questions the way you want them answered by giving them yes/no questions like that. The younger/more vulnerable they are, the less validity I put in their answers.


    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Aaron, you are welcome to be as critical as you want to be. I know that everything I said happened, and a lot of it doesn’t make sense because a lot of things that happen within the church don’t make sense because of how awful it is that some things are swept under the rug. I have no idea why my mission president kept my abusive companion on the mission, and asked me if I wanted to go home, but that’s what happened. I don’t know why I had to deal with a zone leader working out in the nude, but I did. If people don’t believe my story, that’s fine. I don’t need the approval of others in able to know what I went through and know that I overcame it regardless. However, I chose to disclose what I did because I have been able to help people that had a similar story to mine.
      Also, it does no good for me to go into detail about what my companion did because that is still really painful to talk about, and even what I disclosed was hard enough for me to do anyways. So, I hope that my experiences help others.

      In the meantime, if people choose to believe that I’m lying, I don’t care. I know that what I said happened, and that I was able to overcome all of that regardless. I also know that my story won’t help everybody, but, even if it helps just one person, then it wasn’t in vain. I’ll let John speak for himself, but I will say that everything I said happened. If you choose to not believe it, then that’s your loss. But I’m not going to disclose information about how the abuse happened, because it only adds entertainment value and not actual moral value. I am also going to stick with my experiences that I happened to choose to disclose, and be confident in the person I am now.

      • Aaron August 11, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

        Nice of you to reply.

        I suppose truth is stranger than fiction at times. You’ve put your face and name to the story, I’ve put a fake name in (spoiler… my name’s not Aaron)… so you win this round and I apologize for being mean if indeed I was.

        I still find it highly irregular that a mission president would so blatantly overlook abuse like that. I guess I’ll let it go and look forward to John’s next interview.

        • lois August 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply


          Well, mission presidents are “human” too and some are capable of grave “misdeeds”–such as overlooking/ignoring
          baseball or soccer baptisms of young people in South America, or the case of the mission president who told female missionaries they were going to be his spiritual wives.

          • Aaron August 16, 2016 at 10:57 am

            Thanks Lois.

            While good examples of bad behavior, your examples are at least 20 years old (“baseball baptisms” come from the ’60’s/’70’s if I’m not mistaken) and I imagine things have dramatically changed since. For example, for legal liability alone I have to believe Mission Presidents have tons of abuse training, or at least enough to know that they are to make a phone call immediately. That’s how it is for bishops at least. Certainly nothing you mentioned is the norm, I think you’d agree with that.

            It only takes one rogue mission president though, which is a good point if it’s the point you’re making.

      • Margaret August 17, 2016 at 3:11 pm - Reply

        Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Horst August 11, 2016 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      Aaron, buddy, you sound like you’ve been eating nothing but sugar-coated correlated LDS Sunday School lessons for breakfast . This toxic, telestial world in which we live is full of human beings doing unkind things to one another, including people that profess to be LDS. Affinity fraud, sexual promiscuity, abuse of family members for beliefs outside of LDS traditions—all this and more can be yours among temple-recommend-holding LDS members.

      If you take the Book of Mormon seriously, consider 3 Nephi 10:16. While Jesus Christ is almost universally positive and hopeful, look what God commands Jesus to tell us Gentiles :

      “And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”

      If the LDS church isn’t robbing the poor of their tithes to build $5 billion shopping malls, changing the ordinances of the temple in 1990, exercising coercion and unrighteous dominion in throwing believing members out of the church and rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ by condemning the children of gay marriages—what are they doing? From that perspective, Mike’s experiences, sadly, are consistent with a group that God himself condemns.

      The good news is, we all can repent and turn to God. The good news is we all can forgive one another. The good news is we have folks like Mike that, despite being abused, speak with clarity, mildness and thoughtfulness. I would welcome Mike in my home any time.

      • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 11:18 pm - Reply

        Thank you for your wonderfully written defense, Horst. You sound like a wonderful person and a very thoughtful person as well. I hope my experiences were able to help you in some way. Godspeed.

    • Rude Dog August 14, 2016 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      I agree. Many yellow flags went up as I was listening to this podcast. Don’t get me wrong, there have been other interviews that left me unsatisfied. However this one, lots of pauses where I really thought that I’d love to hear the other side of the story.

  10. Bonnie August 11, 2016 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    In spite of all of his suffering & abuse he’s an amazing person & has love & compassion in his heart! Thanks John for helping him share his journey!

  11. James Muir August 11, 2016 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Ya know, gays are not always the victims in missionary tales. I was sent into a companionship with a predatory gay Elder. More than just looking up wantonly from his breakfast cereal to critique my shaving skills, this fella would feign sleep walking when caught between out single beds in the fiddle of the night, so to speak. I have no idea if I caught him approaching or after waking me up pleasuring himself coping a feel on my genitals. The panty hose I found in the car trunk might have been used by someone against the extreme cold winters. Maybe. The real kicker was not my indefatigable patience but with the mission president after once we had to sleep in the same bed and he tested to see if I was asleep by exclaiming “time to get up Elder” which I ignored. So when he made his move to glaum onto my stuff after further testing me by resting his arm against my back, I grab his arm and announced we would be heading for the mission home the next day now that I had caught him in the act.

    Stupid me I did not insist that we both pack our bags but drove a great distance to the mission home where I did not rat him out to any of the Elder but only to the mission president. Possibly because we had a large family of Catholics about to get baptized the president did not want to risk it and simply asked if I could forgive him and return with him until after the baptism.

    We lived with a single mom and a gorgeous daughter who always wore mini skirts back in the day 1971 and perhaps the mission knew this was a gay elder and hoped that living with such a dish might cure him. RIGHT! Now I think that the set up was for me to over react to the gay companion and ruin my mission by putting the moves on the cutie to purge the thought of a gay companion. Only because one guy in the district presidency was a teacher at my High School back home and he hated me viciously for putting a nick name on him that stuck. He actually scolded me in front of the entire class telling them I would always be a failure in life for not going to his concerts. I flipped him off in front of everyone and he kicked me out of class and school but had to apologize to the entire class for what he said. That was back in the Sixties when kids had no rights. RIGHT! He should have lost his job and credentials but went on to glory conducting a famous choir.

    I never did tell another elder about my gay companion and had to endure weeks of this fella thanking me endlessly for helping him with his problem. I probably suffer the opprobrium of snickering know mission home elders gossip. But I never gave him up to his just deserts. Far as I know he finished his mission.

  12. Felicity August 11, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    A big hug to you, Mike. Your story is poignant and useful to me. Already you sound like a professional I would seek out and confide in. Have you considered forgiving those who have wronged you? It doesn’t have to be today but take it as a challenge to forgive them at some point. Just for an experiment try pleading with God for their happiness, fulfillment and forgiveness, for so did our Lord. Ask him and he’ll be glad to help you try something so counter intuitive. It’s a higher, better way.

    The story of the stud muffin zone leader working out in the buff is one of the funniest things I’ve heard on Mormon Stories and I’ve listened to nearly every episode. It’s a pity you were in such a state of internal conflict when he decided to go all Playgirl on the household.

    • Mike Woodruff August 11, 2016 at 11:29 pm - Reply

      LOL I know, right? A buff football player and I missed it! I’m actually not bitter against the people anymore, I have been able to forgive them. I would still have to be cautious should I meet them again, but I am no longer angry about what they did. I honestly do hope that they learned from their experiences as well and were able to become better for having them. In fact, part of the reason I don’t talk about the abuse is because my companion was young as well and I have the hope that he has since learned from his mistakes, so I don’t talk about what he did specifically.
      I still hurt sometimes from my past, but the good news is that my present is so much better than my past that I can’t help but to feel thankful. Thank you so much for your kind comments. You sound like a really fun, great person, Felicity. Godspeed.

  13. Mark August 12, 2016 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Heartbreaking to hear these stories and yours especially Mike. Good on you for finally finding healing. The naked exerciser did make me laugh though.

    I am in the UK and a friend of mine was mission president in Leeds from the middle of 2013 onwards, if he was your guy, I am glad he was good, and doesn’t supprise me.

  14. Brenda Nelson August 12, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Mike- You put yourself in an extremely vulnerable situation by being interviewed. It is one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen! I hope that anyone who has been, or is being, victimized will see your message and take from it courage to stand up and speak out for themselves. I know I have drawn courage from your example! Thank you!!! Keep on your journey! The world is brighter because your light now shines.

    • Mike Woodruff August 14, 2016 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      I’m glad my story is helping others. Thank you for listening and your very nice comments. :) God bless.

  15. JJ August 12, 2016 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience publicly. Few would have the courage to do so. In some ways I suppose I can relate, although not for the same reasons. My mission was, unfortunately, one the shelf items that led me to my disillusionment with the church. I served in a foreign-speaking mission, and since I was able to speak the language to a near-native ability I was the recipient of verbal abuse and “unrighteous dominion” from APs. I think it was also because I was a convert, and a lot of the other missionaries came from Mormon royalty and felt entitled to have it easier on their missions. However, I’m sure my experience pales in comparison to yours. I was neither gay nor suffering physical abuse on my mission, and I was able to finish (which made it easier for me to face my home ward). But like you, I was a square peg in a round hole, and I cried myself to sleep many nights, while asking why I was so ostracized by others in the mission. For what it’s worth, it would’ve been great to have you as a comp. We could have done a lot of good for people. Cheers!

    • Mike Woodruff August 14, 2016 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      You sound like the perfect companion! I’m so blessed that I got to have a perfect companion before I went home, that way I could experience what it was like. (I had a total of three perfect companions before I went back home.) I’m sorry you had to deal with that on your mission, but it speaks to your character, and shows a lot of greatness. Let your light shine brightly, JJ!

  16. Danny Crandall August 12, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Mike,
    There is no doubt the church is not built to deal with people or situations that are not “cookie cutter”. An organization made up of mostly untrained volunteers, sad and unwanted situations will happen, frequently. Mike’s story is just another example of one of “Christ’s children” unfit for the “one true church”… Seems like a bad setup for people needing covenants to get back to heaven.

    • Mike Woodruff August 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      It certainly doesn’t make sense to me. I prefer to think of God as someone that guides us and doesn’t condemn us. It makes me feel better as I go through my day to day life. I have also found that not worrying about my life after I die has given me a lot of peace. :)

      • Danny Crandall August 16, 2016 at 11:18 am - Reply

        I agree, Mike. There are so many people that are worried about their status in the afterlife, they step on and over people right now. This is our only provable life; I would hope we could focus on being the best person now by contributing to society in a positive way. Taking a step back from the church, it is so apparent how silly this all is. I would hope God and Christ is more than temples, churches, and memberships and there is even more to this.

  17. James Crane August 12, 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    John, this was a leading interview. It was unprofessional to declare that therapy wasn’wasn’t working because the the therapist was incompetent. There are a lot of reasons that therapy might not result in the desired outcome.

  18. James Crane August 12, 2016 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    This is only part of the story. Is there possibility of interviewing the bishops and drake presidents that are screening the missionaries?

  19. Duck August 12, 2016 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    I served a mission in Europe with a mission president who was a General Authority. Years later when I found myself struggling with how to be gay in the Church, I reached out to my further MP for advice.

    He told me I should live a gay life, to find someone and settle down with her, and to live a quiet life in the Church without telling anyone I was gay. He told me that if I wanted to keep my temple recommend, to give them the answers they wanted. I was rather surprised to receive such instruction from him. He told me to do what I wanted to do…

    • JJ August 13, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      Oh….wow! Just wow! Was he a GA while being a mission president, or was it later on? But honestly, I’m absolutely floored!

      • Duck August 15, 2016 at 10:02 am - Reply

        He was a General Authority while I was on my mission. He was an outstanding mission president, a man for whom I had much respect and trust. But that all pretty well changed- after our two hour conversation about my being gay, etc., he told me he had to be careful with whom he shared his thoughts, and that he did not want me being “a traitor”. A traitor, if you can believe it. Wow. That while experience sure set up other experiences with my Bishop and Stake President. Those stories are much too long to, however, be included in a comment. Sheesh. Some people!!

      • Duck August 15, 2016 at 10:17 am - Reply

        And, among things he told me was that “Elder Nelson does not know the Savior and does not know how to love.” If John’s statements on FB that Elder Nelson was behind the November policy regarding LGBT people and their children, then I also have to believe that my former mission president knew things from working on committees with Elder Nelson.

  20. Suzanne Hanna August 14, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Mike, as I listened to your story, I was so thankful that you did not succeed with suicide. You have so much to offer. I consider you to be on an important mission that sows seeds of patience, understanding, and compassion along your path. Thank you for being a beacon of love, hope, and wisdom to others. Your spirit is contagious! I was especially impressed with how you take a broad perspective in acknowledging that everyone has their own journey and that what works for one person may not work for another. Everyone needs a path that is unique to their circumstances. As a marriage and family therapist, I’m always interested in how families respond to these developments with their children. I hope you are finding acceptance and love within your family.

    If I may, I’d like to call attention to some resources of which many may be unaware. At the Miller-Eccles Study Group in the Los Angeles area, we had two great speakers a couple of years ago who highlighted a federally funded program to prevent LGBT suicide. Its called the Family Acceptance Project. It is an empirically-supported program to help families stem the tide of suicide. Here is a link to the dialogue podcast that is a recording of our study group:

    Here is something about the presenters:
    Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW is a clinical social worker who has worked on LGBT health issues for more than 35 years. She is the director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. Her work has been recognized by many groups, including the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychological Association. She receive the latter organizations Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. Dr. Ryan is also a member of the Committee on LGBT Health appointed by the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.

    Robert A. Rees, Ph.D, is a life-long member of the Church. For the past thirty years he has fostered dialogue between LDS families and Church leaders on issues relating to sexual orientation and same-gender identity and attraction. A scholar whose work has been published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Rees has taught at UCLA and UC Santa Cruz and currently teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He has held a number of positions in the Church, including bishop, high counselor, Institute instructor and a member of the Baltic States Mission Presidency, where he and his wife served as education and humanitarian representatives of the Church for nearly four years.

    The program actually targets people of faith and they have an LDS manual and video. Here is another link to those materials:

    As I listened to your story and your description of the substandard counseling help you received while on the mission, I longed for better resources all through the process. I’m grateful you were able to find some better help when you returned. I do have one point of disagreement with something John kept emphasizing. He spoke about finding empirically supported treatments. While I share his view that these can be helpful, I don’t believe they have a corner on the market.

    After 20 years, Trauma treatment is still in its infancy. I have received 3 years of advanced trauma training as a Ph.D. and some of the most effective models are not yet empirically supported. Also, people in rural and underserved areas don’t have the luxury of access to some of these programs. However, they shouldn’t lose hope that there is help available. Even in Salt Lake City, I’ve noticed that there are only a couple of therapists who are doing some of the advanced trauma interventions that are emerging nationwide. However, gaining a support group is vitally important to any healing process, so watching your interview can be a lifeline for many who don’t have good services nearby. Also, for those who don’t know how to find good services, there is now a lot of online education that can help them to shop around and find good therapy through professional directories, etc.

    Thank you for your courage and commitment to helping others through this interview. I will be sharing this often with those I work with. My best wishes to you as you continue your journey. Your gifts will help many!

    • Mike Woodruff August 14, 2016 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      I am so happy to hear that my story can help even more people! Everyone deserves a chance to see their greatness. Thank you for taking the time to listen and find ways that my story could help others. I really appreciate it. God bless.

  21. Nancy August 16, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    A big mama dragon hug for you Mike❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️💜💜💜💜💜💚💚💚💚💚💚

  22. MormonX August 18, 2016 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Mike, sorry to hear what you went through while trying to complete the best two years of your life. You are proof that the Church can not, nor will not, adequately handle members with mental illness and other issues members are facing today. I hated to hear that your abusive companion was not disciplined in anyway. I’m going to guess he is probably abusing his wife and children and the brethren in his ward and/or stake are turning a blind eye. I also had the opportunity to be called to serve in a British mission that is a bit south of Leeds. One European companion walked around in the nude before and after he showered (yes, we actually had a shower in this particular flat) and made for awkward situations in such a small living space. One of my other companions, who is a truly great friend, removed his name from the Church’s records because of his same-sex attraction that he hid for years. Also, the Church’s treatment of homosexuals also pushed him to resign his membership. I believe, in part at least, that mental abuse exists in missions and that the mission leaders actually loved to exert their phony authority to push for baptismal numbers. We were constantly being told that we are not going to be blessed in this life or the next because you are not being obedient enough to find investigators to convert. Even my nudist companion was becoming depressed because he had been out almost a year and he had not a single baptism. His sad demeanor was the result of getting hammered into our minds that were never going to be good enough, never doing enough, and we are always falling short. I have found this kind of mentality is used on us as members: “you’re not doing enough brethren” seems to be the theme in priesthood. The only regret I have for you, besides the abuse you had to endure, was that you were not able to complete your mission. I do not mean you missed out on the whole finding converts thing, but that you would have made some of the best friends among the British people. Despite my own faith crisis, I still cherish the friends I made during my mission in Britain. It’s too bad missions are driven by baptism numbers and not service hours because you look like you would have done a lot of good performing acts of service among the British people then trying to convert them. I wish you well.

    Mormon X (name has been changed to protect my innocent family from any humiliating experiences that may occur because of my faith crisis)

  23. Kyle August 19, 2016 at 1:25 am - Reply

    Hi! I want to thank Mike so much for this podcast! He is very articulate, down to the point, and wise. I admire the way he can separate his own spiritual path, his own individuality, and still respect that others might have differing needs and paths. That is so awesome! I loved this podcast. Thank you Mike and John!

  24. Kim August 23, 2016 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness. I thought things were bad 30 years ago on a mission. I’m not sleeping tonight, so thought I’d listen to these podcasts as to why people left the church. I didn’t have a good experience on my mission. I was a new member of just over a year. When I heard your story like a mother hen I just wanted to give you a big hug. Very well-spoken, mature. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Randy August 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    All I can say is I’m proud of what you have become and done and the direction you are headed. Thanks for sharing your story. It makes me more compassionate toward homosexuals, which says a lot considering my Mormon upbringing.

  26. Deborah Richardson August 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. Any so-called religion that teaches hate and self loathing has nothing to do with the true God! I hope your story helps many more people come to terms with the doubts they must surely have.

  27. Gary September 1, 2016 at 7:51 am - Reply

    To all those who doubt the abuse Mike shared with such vulnerability; despite sparing the nature of it, let me add what I know about this mission at roughly the same time period.

    While I was serving as bishop, a foreign young man moved into our ward. He desperately wanted to serve a mission. After working with Elder Hilbig and him working with the 12, the young man received a call to Leeds.

    5 months later he is home on a medical release. Turns out, he had the living hell beat out of him repeatedly, and his kidneys were damaged from these beatings.

    Same asshole, different one, who knows? I am quite certain it was the same president based on the time frame, and perhaps that is where the bigger problem was.

    Best wishes Mike.

  28. Kristine September 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I am so sorry you had to endure your experiences. I’m an exmo and I also had my name removed from the rolls shortly after Prop 8. I am straight but the outrageous hypocrisy was the final straw.
    You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

  29. Vickie Duncan May 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    I am really late on this podcast. But I have to say…how much do counselors in LDS services get paid…Crap….Just about anyone can tell someone to read scriptures and pray harder…what kind of help is that?? I am so sorry Mike……you have more worth as a human being as anyone I know. You are worthy of being loved. I hope life is full and happy now for you…yes, you deserve it…happiness and being loved. I love you!!

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