Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons—Serving LGBT Mormons and Their Family and Friends Since 1977
Steve and Barbara Young to Speak at Affirmation Conference
Barbara and Steve Young
Peter van der Walt
The Youngs Support The Family Acceptance Project, The Trevor Project
Keynoting the Saturday evening session of the 2013 Affirmation Conference will be Steve and Barb Young. Steve is well-known as a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he –along with Barb– are also known for their work with children's charities both here and abroad.
Together they operate the Forever Young Foundation, a non-profit focused on passing on hope and resources for the development, strength, and education of children. One of their recent exciting projects was the opening of Sophie’s Place at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, a special room offering the healing power of music.
Another commitment that the Youngs have had for many years is that of bringing more understanding and love to the LGBT community, beginning with the many gay and lesbian friends and family members that have blessed their lives. Barb and Steve have been long time supporters of the Trevor Project, an organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth; the Family Acceptance Project, a research-based organization that uses a culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, socially and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBT children; and individuals doing great work in the area of teaching us all more what it means to “Love One Another.”
Both committed members of the LDS Church, Barb and Steve are happy to be part of Affirmation’s International Conference, where they hope to lend their voices to the healing work of making our families, our society and our church more welcoming places for our LGBT brothers and sisters.
New Frontiers = Broader Horizons
Travel from South Africa for the Affirmation Conference in Salt Lake? You bet!
by Peter van der Walt
Peter is a member of Affirmation's Communications and Spirituality teams
There are many different types of Mormons. I’m the weird kind. To me, Affirmation is the closest thing I have to a church. It is where I fellowship, where I learn and grow, where I act out my faith and how my faith is, in turn, affirmed.
To understand why I will attend the New Frontiers Conference in the middle of a busy work calendar, at a time when the Rand Dollar exchange is at historic lows and when I have a couple of degree assignments due that very week, you have to know what the Conference means to me.
New Frontiers, to me, is a pilgrimage. I will visit Salt Lake for the first time. Meet several of my heroes, old friends and new friends. I will get to sing and pray and fellowship with others who are just like me (not such a biggie if you live in the States, I guess, but Africa is a looooong trip away).
New Frontiers is evidence that by small means the Lord brings about great things. That He has, in fact, consecrated my afflictions for my gain. That we are, to have joy. That He has not forsaken me – that He invites me to a feast.
New Frontiers is an opportunity… to solidify links, build networks, make connections. Nurture old friendships and start new ones. Talk business, talk life, talk love – and learn from the stories of others. Maybe get my partner to dance with Benji Schwimmer.
New Frontiers is an affirmation… that I am not alone. That God is everybody’s God – even mine. That men and women from all over the world and of all ages have much more in common than they have differences.
Plus, Trevor Cook is going – all the way from China! How would it look if I miss it? ;)
Come As You Are
Affirmation Belongs to Queer Mormons of All Stripes
by Sam Wolfe
Sam Wolfe is on Affirmation's Board of Directors and works for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Exploring queer spirituality of most any kind is a favorite pursuit of mine which recently led to a remote mountain retreat with a group that touts providing space for radical freedom from societal norms and restrictions. But I was disappointed to see that the group had developed its own norms and aesthetic; and to be accepted, significant conformity seemed required.
Yet part of the fun and gift of being queer is getting to be different -- not only from our un-queer friends, but from others among LGBTQ communities and even within our Affirmation family. In nature, variance trumps singularity. Queer people should be the model of honoring variance and differences, without condescension no matter age, gender conformity, marriage or church status, or hair thickness.
Today some in Affirmation have drawn closer alliances with sister organizations, engaged with "ex-gay" individuals, encouraged greater church activity for self-affirming queer saints who are so inclined, or unabashedly staked claims to their faith. And the Affirmation family also includes those who want to confront religious oppression, enjoy a peaceful distance from the church, or simply get together to socialize with other LGBT Mormons.
Whatever your personal preference, the Affirmation conference coming up in just 8 weeks is likely to have something for you. Affirmation belongs to queer Mormons of all stripes. Join us as you are. Practice some flexibility. There are opportunities to volunteer and to help lead or to simply be. I hope I'll see you at our conference in Salt Lake City.
Affirmation Conference: All You Need to Know
Register by August 13--Before the Registration Cost Goes Up!
Registration prices for the Affirmation conference will go up after the August 13 deadline. That means that you must register soon to take advantage of the $99 registration special. If you’re registering online, you may use this link (not available on mobile devices). For more information, click on the registration tab of the conference website.
Scholarships Still Available
If you’re a student or are experiencing financial hardship, we encourage you to ask for a scholarship, which will include a 50% reduction of conference registration, but you must act by September 6. For more information, visit this link.
Join the Affirmation Choir!
Just as she has done for the last two years, Judy is organizing a choir which will sing during the Saturday evening devotional. Whether you’re soprano, bass, anything in between, or unsure, don’t miss this chance to be part of it. If possible, plan your flight so that you attend the first choir rehearsal on Friday, September 13, at 4:45 PM. For more information, visit this link.
When You Should Get There
Light Rail to the Airport
Please note that for this conference, the General Business Meeting has been moved to Friday. All Affirmation leaders and members are strongly encouraged to arrive in time for this meeting, which will be held on Friday at 6:00 PM in the Officers Club.
If this is your first Affirmation Conference, you’re strongly encouraged to attend the First Timers Meeting, which will start on Friday at 4:00 PM in the Officers Club.
- If you’re a chapter or LGBT Mormon support group leader or are part of the international leadership team, please schedule your trip so that you can attend the leadership meeting to be held on Friday at 10:00 AM and the combined Board and Leadership Team Luncheon on Friday at Noon. Also, a Board of Directors meeting will be held from 1:30 - 3:30 on Friday.
For the first time, we will be able to travel from the airport to the Univeristy Guesthouse using the recently expanded light rail system. Fare: $2.50 each way. Change from the Green Line to the Red Line at the Courthouse going to the U. Medical Center and use the Fort Douglas Station.
Walking from Fort Douglas Station to the Guesthouse (.4 mile, 8 minutes)
Note: The light rail does not run 24/7, and weekend hours are limited. Check the schedules for the Green Line and the Red Line before buying your plane ticket.
Hotel Information & Roommate Finder
Make your hotel reservation by August 13 to take advantage of the special pricing we negotiated: $99 for 2 people, $109 for 3 people, and $119 for 4 people per night. Be sure to tell them you are with the Affirmation Conference. Click here to read about the hotel and for contact information.
We have created a Roommate Finder to help you find conference roommates and split the hotel costs.
Conference Scholarships Available
You Can Attend the September Conference for Just $50!
by Trevor Cook
We hope that everyone who wants to will be able to attend the conference. To this end, we are again offering the Irwin Phelps scholarship to help reduce the cost of attendance. Scholarship recipients will receive a 50% discount on conference attendance, bringing the price of registration to $50 as well as a year of Affirmation membership!
We particularly encourage students to apply for the scholarship. Just go to the conference registration page and select “Full Registration with Scholarship & Membership.” After completion of a short application we send you, you will receive notification within a week. Applications will be accepted through August 9. Email any questions to trevorcook (at) affirmation (dot) org.
Affirmation 2013 Conference Workshops Announced
Rich, diverse, and in tune with our times
The conference planning committee is putting together a program that is rich, diverse, and in tune with our times. What follows is the preliminary list of Saturday morning workshops. Please join us September 13-15 in Salt Lake City as we explore New Frontiers and celebrate being LGBT and Mormon!
See Preliminary Program
Learn more about the conference
Being a Fearless Lesbian Mormon
Living Trans in the Latter Days
Restoring Our Relationship with the Church
USGA 101: New Frontiers at BYU
Healing our Spiritual Selves
Circles of Empathy
LDS Family Fellowship Panel
Building Local Communities
Growing Up LGBT and Mormon
|Follow Your Heart: Breaking Through Stereotypes and Confronting Shame, A Guide in Being a Fearless Lesbian Mormon
Tina Richerson, Hollie Hancock, Berta Marquez, Kim Mack, Anna Empey, and Amy Larsen
Learn from and speak with 4 fearless Mormon lesbians who are courageously changing the face of their communities. A discussion on identifying our discomfort being Lesbian in a culture that doesn’t have room for us. How to move past our feelings which keep us from expressing our truth, following our heart and finding courage to create the change we seek. Explore approaches/define for yourself how to be a fearless Lesbian.
|Living Trans in the Latter Days |
Sara Jade Woodhouse, Neca Allgood, and Grayson Moore
Living a faithful and authentic life as a trans-latter-day-saint.
|Restoring Our Relationship with the Restored Church and Gospel |
John Gustav-Wrathall and Robert A. Rees; other presenters to be announced.
Explore how, far from being an obstacle or hindrance, our LDS heritage and theology, and participating in the LDS church and broader Mormon community, can empower lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people.
|USGA 101: New Frontiers at BYU |
Adam White, Keith Trottier, and other BYU USGA members from Provo and Idaho campuses
USGA 101: New Frontiers at BYU - USGA at BYU presents a question and answer session to introduce you to Brigham Young University's LGBTQ/SSA community. A panel of BYU students and guests will share their varying spiritual beliefs and experiences as Mormons who interact with the LGBTQ/SSA experience. Be enlightened by the diverse ways in which Latter-day Saints reconcile belief, sexual identity and gender identity.
Healing our Spiritual Selves: Connecting to Our Inner Truth |
Tawnya Smith, Karin Hendricks, and Alaina Hendricks
Get in touch with the truth you hold in your heart. Join Tawnya (host of the Affirmation Teleconferences on Healing), Karin (Affirmation Spiritual Director), and Alaina (member of BYU USGA) for a reflective and interactive workshop. Together we will use journaling, guided imagery, meditation, and various art forms to create a safe space for personal exploration, forgiveness, and healing.
|Circles of Empathy
You’re Mormon and you’re attracted to others of the same sex (or you care about an LGBTQ/SSA Mormon), what are you going to do about it? That is the common question. But to find the answer, it can be helpful to address more introspective and pivotal questions, at the heart of the matter. A Circle of Empathy is a small-group contemplative practice for LGBTQ/SSA and straight Mormons that helps participants become more aware of their experiences, feelings, and beliefs about the intersection of their religion and sexuality by focusing on seven fundamental questions with answers grounded in personal experience and self-knowledge.
|Spiritual Partnerships and Long-Term Commitment
Karin Hendricks and Tawnya Smith
Is it possible for LGBTQ couples to have long-term, spiritual, and emotionally fulfilling relationships? Of course it is! Karin and Tawnya have traveled across the country interviewing gay and lesbian couples in long-term committed relationships. Now they share these endearing stories with members of Affirmation, and offer strategies for deepening spiritual and emotional intimacy with your current or future beloved.
|LDS Family Fellowship Panel: Family Values… Valuing ALL Families!|
Kathryn Steffensen, Meg and Jake Abhau, Diane and Tom Oviatt, Pamela, Brian, and Tim Weymann
A panel of LDS families including LGBT children and straight siblings discusses love and acceptance, the vast blessings of having an LGBT child, and the incredible journey that has unfolded as a result.
Building Local Communities for LDS LGBT/SSA, Family, and Friends
Bryan Hendrickson, Bryce Cook, and other presenters
This workshop will outline best practices for creating and sustaining supportive local groups for LDS LGBT/SSA people, their families, and other supportive LDS members. The workshop will draw on the experience of successful groups created in recent years in cities across the United States. Attendees will find this workshop helpful at any level of effort to create these spaces, ranging from a simple dinner group to building a well-established community of LDS LGBT/SSA and their families in a local area.
Growing Up LGBT and Mormon in America |
Dr. Anne E. Nicoll, Dr. Sharon Groves
The Human Rights Campaign’s report “Growing Up LGBT in America,” provides data from more than 10,000 LGBT youth ages 13–17 who were surveyed between 2011 and 2012. This workshop will present the findings from the 72 youth who participated in the survey and identified as Mormon.
While LGBT Mormon youth are relatively optimistic about their future ambitions including family life, education and work, that optimism plummets when they think about trying to achieve those goals in the towns and cities where they currently live.
Based on the results of this survey we will engage in a conversation about what the data can teach us about how to engage with Mormon youth and the role Affirmation can play as a leader advocating for the voices of LGBT Mormons.
Affirmation 2013 Conference Program
Learn more about the conference
| Friday, September 13
| 6:00 - 8:15 AM
|| Salt Lake Temple Trip: 6:00 AM Session
||Salt Lake Temple|
| 7:30 AM - 8:15 AM
||Salt Lake Temple Trip: Time in the Lobby
||Salt Lake Temple |
| 3:00 PM - 9:00 PM
||Conference Registration Open
||Officers Club |
| 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
||First Timers Meeting
||Officers Club - East Room|
| 4:45 PM - 6:00 PM
||Officers Club - South Room
|6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
|| General Business Meeting
||Officers Club - South Room
| 7:15 PM - 8:00 PM
||Welcoming Reception (Heavy Appetizers)
|8:15 PM - 9:30 PM
| 9:30 PM - 11:30 PM
||Dancing with Benji Schwimmer (Desserts will be served)
| Saturday, September 14
| 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
||Conference Registration Open
||Hotel Lobby |
| 6:00 AM - 10:00 AM
||Complimentary Breakfast for Hotel Guests
|| Hotel Lobby
| 8:30 AM - 9:15 AM
|9:30 AM - 10:20 AM
||Workshop Sessions #1
|10:30 AM - 11:20 AM
|| Workshop Sessions #2
| 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
||Workshop Sessions #3
|12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
||Luncheon & Plenary
|2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
|| Service Projects
|| Officers Club and University of Utah LGBT Resource Center
| 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
|6:15 PM - 7:15 PM
||Social Reception (Heavy appetizers)
||Douglas Ballroom and Outdoor Patio
|7:15 PM - 8:00 PM
||Music Performance, Testimony & Spiritual Story Sharing Meeting
|8:15 PM - 9:45 PM
||Evening of Affirmation
| 9:45 PM - 11:00 PM
||Socializing and Desserts
| Sunday, September 15
| 6:00 AM - 10:00 AM
||Complimentary Breakfast for Hotel Guests
|| Hotel Lobby
| 7:45 AM
||Pickup at University Guesthouse
|| University Guesthouse
| 8:00 AM
||Depart to Temple Square
| 8:30 AM – 10:00 PM
||Music & The Spoken Word
|10:20 AM - 11:00 AM
||Group Picture at Temple Square
|| Temple Square
||Borad Bus heading back to University Guesthouse
|| Temple Square
|11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
We Can Stand in Strength Despite Static Noise
by Peter van der Walt
To survive is not enough. To constantly just cope, to aim to get by, to try to reach ‘being okay,’ as if that was something worth aspiring to, not only robs us of our full potential, but is a denial of the power and promise of a God-given life.
And yet, just as I am about to make progress, just as I’m about to feel good or be happy, some self-righteous moral celebrity says something that bursts my bubble. They do it well —they practice all the time— and they always speak with a great deal of conviction.
As many celebrated the repeal of DOMA, others whined about how it would spell the end of civilization. When Prop 8 was overturned, thousands cried tears of joy. Others piled on the wrathful rhetoric. You post a happy picture on your Facebook wall… and one of your contacts feels the need to bring you right back down to earth with a nice cynical ramble or crude comments. It must needs be that there is opposition in all things, it seems (2 Ne. 2:27).
For many of us, both LGBT and straight, our religious walk can feel like a constant battle. We’ve been put through so much, and some of us were actually hurt. The result is that we always seem to be in the healing stage: Trying to cope; trying to get better; trying to achieve okay.
Those who always remind us of how bad we are don’t seem to have the same problem. They seem positively fabulous… always there to chirp or demean or denounce or attack, with such self-assurance, and their worlds are all supportive. They are, after all, the majority. The status quo affirms them.
Now, healing is important. If you’ve been very hurt, I want to encourage you to do whatever you need to, to heal and get better. But there also comes a point when “okay” is just not enough: We want to walk in strength. Live life fully, blasting away at our pursuits of happiness with vigor and passion. A point where we are no longer on the defensive and have some self-assurance of our own. When we don’t just survive but thrive.
There’s a lot of static noise in the world. Sometimes from people we care about. Sometimes from church leadership. In my own experience, the thing to do with static is to tune it out.
When it comes to my own religious walk, I found that the irritation and hurt caused by those who constantly oppose me diminishes in direct proportion to how spiritually nourished I am. It’s hard to feel confident when I seldom pray, never sing a hymn, live from crisis to crisis and forget to bring myself deliberately closer to Heavenly Father.
When I know my scripture like the back of my hand, empower myself with regular activity, uplift my spirit with the closeness I get from prayer, sing my hymns, do my fasting, then the words of the unjust are revealed to be exactly what they are. Ridiculous. Those who spread prejudice have been so consistently wrong throughout all of human history.
I’m extremely proud of Mormons. Over the past year I have seen Latter -day Saints, gay and straight, male and female, black and white, young and old, walk in Pride marches all over the US. I have seen resources and groups supporting and helping and promoting and accommodating--ordinary people working for a more just dispensation.
Surely there are those who do not support the growing arc in its bend towards justice. But actually, really, seriously: who cares?
It is time for good people to stop being so apologetic about themselves and those they love. It is time for us to walk upright, spread the love and make the world a better place. Yes, some will cry moral outrage (as they did once about interracial marriage). Tune out the nay-sayers like you would the annoying uncle at the family BBQ.
Some stiff-necked people will insist that God has forsaken you or that He is as bigoted as some of those who claim to be following him. The notion that he disapproves of you is just wrong.
God has NOT put you away. He has NOT cast you off forever. Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement? To whom has He put you away, to whom has He sold you? (2 Nephi 7:11).
Go ahead. Have some fun. Make some waves. Live a little.
Sunstone Symposium to Include LGBT-related Sessions
New Video “Families Are Forever” to Be Screened during July 31 Free Lecture
by Hugo Salinas
The 2013 Sunstone Symposium, to be held in Salt Lake City July 31 - August 3, will include several sessions related to LGBT Mormon experience, plus a screening of the new documentary Families Are Forever. Produced by the Family Acceptance Project, Families Are Forever chronicles the life and challenges of the Montgomerys, a Mormon family from California with a 14-year-old gay son.
On Wednesday, July 31, at 8:00 PM, a free lecture will feature Dr. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project, along with Mormon allies Robert Rees and Erika Munson, blogger Mitch Mayne, Ogden’s OUTReach Center director Marian Edmunds, and Tom and Wendy Montgomery, who are the parents of Jordan, a 14-year old gay boy. The Wednesday lecture will include the screening of Families Are Forever. The One Voice Choir will provide some of the music.
On Thursday, August 1st, Utah LGBT/SSA Mormons, Family, and Friends will hold a BBQ Social in downtown Salt Lake.
On Friday, August 2, Affirmation Vice President John Gustav-Wrathall, Mormon Building Bridges founder Erika Munson, and psychotherapist Hollie Hancock will participate in a panel about the new blog No More Strangers: LGBT Mormon Forum. The panel will be moderated by longtime Affirmation friend Dr. Robert A. Rees (Session 252). In a 5 to 6:30 session titled "Circles of Empathy," Kendall Wilcox, Berta Marquez, and Marie Worsham will discuss a small-group conflict mitigation practice for LGBTQ/SSA and straight Mormons.
Also on Friday, Affirmation Board Member Greg Prince will be one of the two speakers at the “Pillars of My Faith” plenary (Session 281). Throughout the Symposium, some 13 sessions will deal with women’s and gender issues, including a Friday paper about the Heavenly Mother by Affirmation member Edward Jones (session 254).
On Saturday, August 3, a panel of LDS lawyers will discuss the Supreme Court case involving the legality of Proposition 8 (Session 334) . Also on Saturday, Dr. Gerald S. Argetsinger, along with authors Jeff Laver and Johnny Townsend, will discuss their new anthology Latter-Gay Saints: An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction (Session 355). In a the first part of a two-part panel, Connell O'Donovan will present "Redefining Marriage: 2,500 Years of Social History" (Session 354, concurrent with 355).
Throughout the Symposium, LGBT Mormons and supporters will help staff an Affirmation table and hand out educational resources. A social for LGBT LDS Mormons, families, and allies is scheduled for Thursday, August 1, in downtown Salt Lake.
All sessions will be held at the University of Utah's Student Union. Student registration is only $20 when you use the coupon code STUDENT13. For more information about the Symposium, including discounts for students and first-time attendees, please visit the Sunstone website.
Affirmation co-founder Paul
Mortensen (right) with husband Robert Jacob in 2008
Call for Nominations for the 2013 Mortensen Award
The Deadline is August 1
It is time once again to call for nominations for Affirmation's highest honor, the Mortensen Award. The award is presented each year at our annual conference to a member of Affirmation who has served the organization in outstanding leadership and service during the past year.
The criteria for selecting a nominee should be:
We ask that you look all around in Affirmation to find that one
outstanding individual and then submit a nomination to the
selection committee. The nomination should be in the form of a letter
describing the individual and listing all the reasons this individual is
qualified and should be selected. All members of Affirmation are
eligible for the Mortensen Award, including past recipients of the award.
Someone who is dedicated to the goals of Affirmation and has worked toward achieving them.
Someone who has shown outstanding leadership and service.
Someone who is a self-starter and a motivator of others.
Someone who is making a difference in the lives of others.
Do not submit just a name. We need to know something about the
individual since the committee may not know her/him well.
The nominations must be received by August 1, 2013--no exceptions!
Email them to Ricky Gilbert EdithHead (at) aol.com, chair of Mortensen Awards Committee. Please do not send copies to anyone else.
The award recipient will be announced at the Affirmation Conference in Salt Lake City. The selection committee is made up of past recipients of the award. Be sure to show
this letter to everyone in your area. You may be the one who should be
nominated and you may not want to nominate yourself.
If you have any questions, contact Ricky Gilbert at EdithHead (at) aol.com. We look forward to seeing you at the Salt Lake City conference, which is certainly going to be a great event. Please start thinking about this award today and get your nomination in tomorrow.
Recent Stories and Articles
Posted on the Affirmation Website and Blog
Posted on the No More Strangers Blog
Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons
P.O. Box 898
Anoka, MN 55303
To see a directory of current Affirmation chapters, visit www.affirmation.org/chapters
President: Randall Thacker
Senior Vice President: John Gustav-Wrathall
Vice President: Tina Richerson
Affinity Editor: Hugo Salinas
Send Us Your Submission!
AFFIRMATION GAY & LESBIAN MORMONS is a non-profit support group serving Gay and Lesbian Mormons, their families and friends since 1977. AFFINITY is the official publication of the Affirmation National Executive Committee.
Submissions are welcome and should be limited to 250 words. To contact us, visit www.affirmation.org/contact/affinity. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the editors, national committee or publisher, but rather
the individual writers. The Editor reserves the right to edit any material
deemed offensive, libelous, grammatically incorrect or lengthy.
AFFINITY is available both as an email text and as a web-based document.
Although both versions are free of charge, we encourage you to become
a dues-paying member and thus help us advance Affirmation's important
mission. If you wish to receive a text version of AFFINITY by email, simply send a request to Hugo Salinas.