Almost 600 people attended the 2015 Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends Conference in Provo, Utah last weekend. They came from as many as 12 countries, 4 continents and content was provided bilingually in English and Spanish. You can view photographs from the conference on our Affirmation Facebook Like Page. Videos are also available on our Affirmation LDS You Tube channel and links provided within to articles written about the conference.
View the video of Affirmation President, Randall Thacker’s, keynote speech from the 2015 Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends Conference. The theme of his talk is how we can “Grow Our Light Within” through Acceptance, Forgiveness, Service and Finding our Vision & Voice. A moving message that includes stories of LGBT Mormons from around the world.
I appreciated Elder Holland’s talk during the October 2015 General Conference. He spoke openly, over the pulpit, about a gay young man serving worthily in the church. He said clearly that in all the support extended to this young man, no one expected to change him. He spoke of the importance of parents offering love and support, especially when things don’t go as planned, or a child is not who they expected.
Conference Talks Deal with Doubt and Imperfection in the Church, the Search for Happiness, and Family Support
Dealing with doubt, and coming to terms with the fallibility of Church leaders and members was a major theme of the 185th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other talks featured individuals not in heterosexual marriage finding meaning and happiness through faith and service. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk sparked discussion among LGBT Mormons, their families and friends about family acceptance and the place of LGBT people in the Church.
While I’ve been able to experience a degree of sexual fluidity to fall in love with my husband John and to have a happy marriage both relationally and sexually with him, and also to never act on my sexual orientation towards women in any sexual way; the persistent reality of falling in love over the course of time with some of my closest female friends has been a repeated dynamic I’d never been able to fully avoid, without avoiding close relationships with women all together. But that too, I had eventually discovered, became problematic. Avoidance of close relationships with women leaves me feeling not only emotionally isolated, it forces me to live with incredibly powerful feelings of grief and sadness…
It is only then when we touch the pain that we are in a position to be able to mourn. To be able to enter that second covenant. To mourn with that person. It is only then that we can truly comfort. That we can be good friends… Only then, when we understand the pain, can we offer words of comfort that reach deeply. And only then can we take upon ourselves the name of Christ.
Within the principle of fostering love within the family, there may also be an opportunity to discuss the unique challenge of LGBT acceptance within the home.
It’s not enough to stand on the periphery and wait for God to come to you. Like Jared and the sacred stones, we have to show initiative, energy, and courage in fighting our way through the throngs to ensure our sacred encounter with God. We have to break down walls, some of which may be of our own creation.
A new podcast started last month, entitled OUT IN ZION. It attempts to deepen and enrich the conversation intersecting membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The podcast features weekly discussions, interviews, and stories exploring current events and perennial topics, from varied perspectives.
We started with a hymn and a prayer, during the meeting, we shared and discussed the mission, vision, values and principles of Affirmation. Little by little we began asking and sharing our personal experiences, which included some broken hearts that need healing and lives that need the restorative balm of love and peace of Christ. We felt a beautiful spirit of friendship and fellowship.