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Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends is like a big and beautiful tree with branches representing a wide range of people who are all at very different places in their journey at the intersection of LGBT and Mormonism. We all share the roots and trunk: our common faith heritage—Mormonism, and a common cause—LGBT issues.
We are also a very diverse group. We are straight friends, we are parents/grandparents, we are gay couples raising kids, we are active or inactive Mormons, we are former Mormons, or people who are questioning their faith and/or their sexuality; we are trans people, lesbians, bisexuals, teens, elderly, people of color, or gay and married to the opposite sex, etc.
We share a lot of commonality and a lot of diversity – both of which we will celebrate all weekend at our upcoming This is The Place Annual International Affirmation Conference in Salt Lake City on September 12-14.
Saturday Morning of conference will begin with Affinity groups. This is a great opportunity to meet with a group of people who share commonality with your situation or place in your journey. This is a chance for the trans people to meet the other trans people, for women to meet the other women, for parents to meet the other parents. This was placed first thing Saturday morning so that connections can be made early on, and hopefully developed during the conference weekend.
The goals of the Affinity group meetings are to:
1) help people meet others in similar situations
2) provide a supportive experience….discuss pertinent topics…get to know each other
3) see if there is energy or interest in having more activities or expanding existing activities of support
4) See if there are ideas on how to reach more people who need the support that your particular Affinity group offers.
You will notice that Affirmation’s tree has been growing some new branches. We have many new people coming to Affirmation from diverse directions. For example, recent groups have formed for LGBT people and spouses in mixed-orientation marriages and for LGBT Mormons seeking a celibate path (temporarily or permanently) who feel more at home in a fully affirming space.
There is also the Prepare Facebook group which consists of LGBT active Mormons who are in or seeking a same-sex relationship. These above groups are more oriented toward those who are active or desiring activity in the LDS church. We see more and more LGBT Mormons living or seeking to live boldly as active members or participants in the LDS Church, with a growing number being supported by their local leaders.
In another direction we have a group for those who are either in faith transitions or consider themselves former Mormons. There are many Affirmation participants in this space, and this group will provide a positive space to discuss spirituality, community, family, and sexuality from the perspective of former Mormons who are either LGBT or friends and family of LGBT.
In yet another direction, we have LGBT married couples with families interested in becoming more involved in Affirmation and having a place where their children and LGBT youth can have an affirming EFY-like experience. We will have specific activities during conference “especially for the youth.”
We are also extending a special invitation to LDS Church leaders. There will be a specific Affinity group session for bishops, stake presidents, counselors, high councilmen, women auxiliary leaders, and any other church leader in attendance. Please invite your bishops, auxiliary leaders and other leaders to attend. We will be offering them a complimentary pass to the Saturday morning activities, one of which will include a talk by former bishop Don Fletcher of the San Francisco Stake who wrote an affirming article in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Most of you will have to choose which Affinity group to attend, because many of you have more than one affinity. If you have to choose, consider attending one that might have a smaller crowd. That way you might find that your presence and your ideas will have a heightened value. Below is a list of the groups. You will be asked to choose one when you register online for the conference. A few weeks before the conference we will publish the list of those who will be leading each affinity session. If you want to get involved in helping shape the topics to be discussed, you can contact the leader of that group.
- Parents, Families & Friends
- Church Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders
- LGBT/SSA Youth
- Faith Transition/Former Mormon
- Celibate LGBT/SSA
- Millennials and University Students
- LGBT People of Color
- Affirmation Elders
- Married/Partnered LGBT couples and their families
- Mixed Orientation Marriages and Straight Spouses
- LGBT Active Mormons (includes Prepare Facebook Group)
Our commonalities AND diversity are what make us an effective organization for the thousands of people worldwide who are looking for support in their journeys as LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends. For details about conference and to register online visit: www.thisistheplace.affirmation.org