We need safe spaces to discuss and work through the pain that has just been inflicted upon our fellow humans, upon members of our community. Let’s do everything within our power to create communities of safety and refuge. It’s always the time to offer our love and care to those in pain.
The senseless violence that occurred this morning in Orlando increased the particular sense of vulnerability that LGBTQ+ people live with every day. It is a reminder to all of us of the vital importance of the entire world community standing together against all forms of hatred and intolerance, to build a beloved community where none need fear being singled out because of who they are, because of how they worship, or because of whom they love.
Jesus turned everything upside down. No sorting of people into social bins. Jesus ignored the social norms that spell out the who, when and what of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is full of surprises. The first shall be last. All are invited, the clean and the unclean. All are loved. All persons are of worth: free and slave, women and men. Everything is upside down and no one is excluded from the Kingdom as unworthy.
A lesbian couple who stopped by were delighted to learn that Affirmation had a place for them even though they had left the Church long ago, while it also had a place for their devout, believing family and friends. Another lesbian woman I spoke to shared her faith and her testimony with me, as she also shared the intense conflict she experienced, and was grateful to learn about Affirmation’s Prepare group, for church-active LGBT Mormons.
We strongly encourage fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives and leaders to protect their loved ones, especially LGBT youth who are exposed to ridicule which has caused suicides. We advocate avoidance of public discourse that undermines human dignity, instead promoting fruits of the Spirit such as love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, temperance, and meekness.
To be born queer is to be born into a second family which is only discovered later in life. Just as we don’t choose our siblings but hopefully learn to love them and take pride in our family identity, we don’t choose our queerness but hopefully learn to love it, love our queer family, and take pride in our queer identity.
The 2nd annual Affirmation Conference was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina last month. People came from as far away as 18 hours by bus. The full range of LGBT were represented and parents, family members and friends also came to support those attending. Those attending said the weekend recharged them to move forward with their lives, knowing God loves them and understands them individually.
I marveled at the strength of conviction these friends have in the face of cultural and religious discrimination in so many of their communities and even from their loved ones in many cases. While affirming my admiration for their faithfulness, I voiced my belief that the only real testimony I currently can state with conviction, is my testimony of them.
LGBT Mormons in Brazil began reaching out to Affirmation a couple years ago. They grabbed the attention of Affirmation’s international leadership team last summer when they posted a picture of the word “Affirmation” in Portuguese written in the sand and said “we are waiting for you!” We had been praying to find leadership in Brazil and they were the answer to our prayers. The conferences held these past two weeks in Brazil are the realization of a dream for many. One participant said, “It was like spending 3 days in the celestial room of the temple.”