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Randall Thacker grew up in Taylorsville, Utah, the youngest of three children. He recognized his attraction to the same sex when he was about 8 years old. He grew up focusing prayers, fasts, and birthday candle wishes on removing this attraction.
Not long after returning from a Spanish-Speaking mission to North Carolina, he reached out for help to his BYU bishop who referred him to counseling. The counseling focused on changing Randall’s orientation.
Todd was raised in a loving Mormon home in Western Colorado. He served a mission in Alaska, an experience that he considers to be the best two years of his life. Upon returning home, Todd graduated from BYU and joined the Americorps, which brought him to Harlem to teach special education. He is currently a full time Master’s Degree student and consults for charter schools in New York City. Todd is an active member of the LDS church.
Through the support of friends and family, Todd was able to come out as a gay Mormon. He counts living authentically as a true blessing, remembering all too well the feelings of confusion, pain, and self-hatred during his formative years in the closet. He is grateful to volunteer for an organization that promotes spirituality, continues dialogue with the church, shares resources, and creates safe spaces for his LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Kathy grew up in the Denver area in a strong LDS home. She reveled in the gospel and was continually inspired to become a better person by her family and the members of the church around her. After graduating with a degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development from BYU, she went back to school to study Animation & Visual Effects in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With the help of many friends and family, Kathy has walked a long journey to accept her sexual orientation and has recently married the love of her life, Berta Marquez. Together, they work towards making the world a better place and celebrating their Mormon heritage. She served as the 2014 Annual International Conference Co-Chair with Justin Keyes, has been a co-host of the Affirmation Podcast with Peter van der Walt, and helped in the filming process of the video campaign, ldswalkwithyou.org.
Leadership Team Members
He was born in 1977 and raised in Tampico, Tamaulipas. He’s been a member of the church since May 9th, 1997 and he is the eighth boy in his family. With a Major in Economy, he ies part of an energy industry, where he works with the directors of Human Development. After finishing his studies, he served a mission in Oaxaca, he has also served as Sunday School president and teacher, counselor and president of the Young Men, Institute teacher, stake clerk, among others. He is openly gay to his family, church leaders and co-workers. He is coordinator of the Equality and Gender department at work, and has been for two years now. He is also interested in reiki and buddhism.
Ellen Koester grew up in Defiance, Ohio, and currently lives in downtown Salt Lake City. Ellen grew up dreaming of changing the world, and is currently studying constitutional law, and government policy, with the goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer.
Growing up Catholic in a small town, it didn’t take much for her to realize that she was different from other girls. This internal contention caused rifts between her and her family that were made permanent[…]
Olin Thomas, from the Washington DC Chapter of Affirmation, has broad experience in the leadership of Affirmation, having served for many years in his local chapter, one year as associate director (2003), and five years as executive director (2004-2008). During 2012, he served as Affirmation’s executive secretary. He currently serves in the bylaws commissioned role of Corresponding Secretary, overseeing the annual elections, proposals and changes to the bylaws, and membership management.
In 2002 Olin received the Mortensen Award for outstanding service and leadership in Affirmation.
Frederick “Fred” Bowers has been a part of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons for over 20 years. Fred has served in leadership roles at the chapter and national levels for many years including: Washington DC Chapter Director; Chapter-at-Large Director; Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Development; Affirmation National Board of Directors; Conference Director; and founder and current Director of the Affirmation People of Color and Allies Group.
Born and raised in Tlalnepantla, Mexico, in a catholic family. He gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel while attending Benemerito de las Américas, a church owned high-school. He was baptized in 2006 when he was 17, with the support of his family, who joined him into the Gospel shortly after. He graduated in Medicine at UNAM and spent his last year of school working on his social service on a community near Teotihuacan, where he served as a rural doctor for a year. Aware of his sexual orientation from a young age, he struggled to control or change his feelings for almost 20 years. Today, after a spiritual journey through several though experiences, he recognizes that our Heavenly Parents show unconditional love for each of their children, not caring for gender identity or sexual orientation.
Suzi Fei lives in Portland, Oregon, and is a wife, a mother of one young daughter, and an active and devout Latter-day Saint. She has a Ph.D. in computational biology and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon Health & Science University studying cancer genomics. Over the years, she has served in many callings in the church including Relief Society presidencies and Oregon State University Latter-day Saint Student Association president.
Suzi has a deep love for LGBTQ Mormons[…]
Melanie Carbine moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan from Salt Lake City when she was 10. Fortunate to have grown up in a self-selected Mormon community of liberals and intellectuals, she has always been able to appreciate her religion for its spiritual benefits and community. At the University of Michigan, she studied English Literature and Asian American Studies, also studying with performance artist Holly Hughes. It was among discussions with her straight and gay friends in college that she realized sexuality was more complicated than social norms.
Mike and I met in 1995 while attending BYU in Provo, UT. We were married in 1997 and graduated together in 1998, Mike with a BA in Geography and Lismarie with a BFA in Design and Photography. We currently live in Bremerton, WA (a ferry ride away from Seattle) and stay busy raising two girls and two boys.
2012 was an eventful and busy year for our family as we became involved with Mormons for Marriage Equality[…]
Justin hails from Fairfax, Virginia, and before that, Texas. He served an LDS mission from 2006-2008 in Seoul, Korea. He’s currently in medical school in Cork, Ireland.
Justin came out to his family on Christmas day in 2004, when he was a freshman at BYU. It was his Christmas present to himself. Since then, his family and friends have learned a lot about what it means to be gay and are now quite accepting[…]
He was raised in Tepeji del Río, Hidalgo, in a catholic family. He was baptized LDS in 2004 while attending collage in Pachuca de Soto, where he graduated with a Major in Computational Systems at the Instituto de Ciencias Básicas e Ingeniería in the UAEH. He served a full time mission in Veracruz. He participated in the organization comittee for the “All are alike unto God” conference for the LDS LGBT community in Mexico and Affirmation. He currently works as a teacher in the Tula ICATHI, and fully engages against discrimination of the LGBT community in the LDS church and in other institutions.
Born in Puebla, Mexico, in 1984, the only boy in his family, he was raised in a home in which religion didn’t play a major role, and he didn’t belong to any particular church though he always believed in a Supreme being. He knew the restored gospel Turing the summer of 2005, converting to the LDS church on that same year, living start to a spiritual development that has marked his life. He has served as ward clerk, ward missionary leader and auditor, he is currently responsible for the finances in his home stake.
He was born in the covenant as a third-generation mormon, and a family of pioneers of the church in Mexico. Baptized at 8, he is a dentist, and has served in callings as Sunday School president of the Chalco Stake, teacher for married members. He attended the first Affirmation meeting in Mexico, more than 12 years ago. He has also been to International Affirmation conferences. He is fully accepted and integrated among his family members.
Alasdair Ekpenyong is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University. He is the first to admit that he does not have all the answers, and it is this sense of awareness that leads him to so value the work of creating safe spaces for spiritual growth and exploration.
He believes that everyone can stand to benefit in some way from such practices as prayer, study, conversation, and introspection–everyone can stand to benefit from reflecting on past and present truths and discovering new truths.
Trevor grew up in Mesa, Arizona, served a mission in Calgary, Canada, and graduated from BYU in International Relations and Linguistics. He used the time he saved not going on dates or having much of a social life to learn Chinese and continues to be fascinated by things China. He spent a year between Nanjing and Hong Kong after graduation and now is living a dream working at the US consulate in scenic Shenyang, Liaoning.
Colby Goddard, (26) from Utah. Currently a senior at Southern Virginia University studying family and child development. Colby served a mission in Rome Italy from 2006-2008. Colby came out to himself, friends and family 3 years ago. “I realized that this was something I couldn’t change about myself” he says “although coming out at the time was extremely nerve wreaking and scary, my life has improved so much. I have come to know that God still loves me and has a place for me in his kingdom.” Colby hopes to be a helping hand and support for future LGBT Mormons as they come out to themselves and others.
Duane Andersen is a film producer, writer, and director. His films have been released theatrically throughout the world and have played at major festivals such as Sundance and South by Southwest. Films he has produced include White on Rice, Surrogate Valentine, Last Kind Words, Congratulations, Daylight Savings, Crazy Beats Strong Every Time, and others. He is also CEO of the start-up company Brainwave Accounting Systems which is developing accounting software for independent media[…]
Peter van der Walt lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He grew up in various small towns in a relatively staunch Calvinist family. He realized he was different at age four… and at age fourteen, in a conservative, Afrikaans high school, came out. After reading the Book of Mormon, pondering about its relevance to him as an out gay South African man and praying (for the first time in years), he had to come out again… but this time as a Mormon.
Sam Noble grew up in Muncie, Indiana, served a mission in Taiwan, studied business strategy at BYU, and has recently worked in Minneapolis for two years. Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Sam has found that to ring true in his life as he’s successfully sought out opportunities to travel the globe since his mission, including working at the Beijing and London Olympics.
Mark Schneider grew up in western Pennsylvania as a 2nd generation Mormon, the third of four siblings. An idealist at heart, Mark took his faith seriously and sought to please all the right people by doing all the right things, sometimes at the expense of being true to himself. At nineteen, he went on an LDS mission to Florida where he learned valuable lessons from the Haitian community there: levity in the face of hardship, faith in God’s ability to communicate with His children according to individual need, and how to eat enormous amounts of rice in one sitting.
Prince Winbush III, 19, was born in Plano, Texas and grew up in suburban Chicago. He’s currently in his first year at Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois, studying Business Administration and Economics. Prince joined the LDS Church in 2008 with the full support of his Catholic family.
Prince came out to himself in late 2008 and struggled to tell his family for 4 years, but finally made the announcement in December of 2012. “I knew who I was and I knew my family still loved me, so I took the plunge,” Prince says.
Robert grew up in Oregon and is 7th generation Mormon. When his family found out that he was gay, he was kicked out and disowned. He took what little money and clothing he had and bought a Greyhound bus ticket to Portland, Oregon.
“My first night sleeping on the street was very cold and rainy. On my second night in an effort to try to sleep indoors out of the cold put me in a situation that ended with me being raped.” A few days later he was able to find a shelter for homeless youth. In the following months he found a paid internship and permanent housing.
I currently work as a data entry specialist for a non-profit organization in Salem, Oregon, while residing in McMinnville, Oregon. I have attended Affirmation conferences since 2009, which is shortly after I became honest with myself and acknowledged that I am gay.
My spiritual journey continues to evolve. I am currently inactive in the LDS Church, but still (as far as I know) on the Church membership rolls. My path has led back to the Episcopal Church, which was the church my parents attended while I was growing up.
Bryan is a recent graduate from Brigham Young University, with a BS in Exercise Science. He spent his childhood in Upstate New York with his 8 siblings, two of them being his triplet sisters. While he remembers vividly in his childhood being attracted to the same sex, it wasn’t till relentless attempts after his mission of dating woman, that he fully realized his sexuality. He believes that as hard as the experience has been in coming out, that it’s made him a more loving, Christlike person[…]
Devin was born in Calgary, Canada but has grown up in Utah for the most part. The oldest of 6 children in a very Mormon family, he became aware that he had different feelings from the age of 4. As a teenager, he finally started to understand what these different feelings were, but tried his hardest to ignore and suppress them hoping that they would go away[…]
Jordan Fish was born and raised in Las Vegas. He is currently attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He first realized that he was attracted to the same sex at the age of 13. This was painful for him and it took him years to love and accept himself for who he is. He comes from a very loving and compassionate home where they accepted and loved him from day one. Jordan was the one who had a hard time accepting his sexual orientation, not his family. He feels so blessed especially that his mother Pilar and family has stood by him through all the years.
Derek was raised in northern Utah county and is the oldest of 4 children. After serving a mission in the south of France he furthered his education going from USU to UVU. Graduating in Biology with a minor in Music.
He’s met with several church leaders in trying to understand his purpose and the origin of homosexual/heterosexual feelings.
While finding there are many opinions out in the world. He feels very strongly that God loves him and his fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true[…]
John Rodriguez was born and raised in San Francisco de Macoris, Northeast of the Dominican Republic. He joined the LDS Church when he was 15 years old, he was the first one to join the church in his family, they all followed him and were baptized later. He served a regular mission for the LDS Church in the southern part of the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola Island.served a brief period of time in Central America, in Guatemala. (1992-1994) He was a leader in his mission and his stake as well. as a child he recognized his attraction to same sex and accepted his identity during his mission recognizing that he was […]
Natalie Darling is a wife, and mother of 3 wonderful children residing in Murray, UT. She has studied natural healing, color, and personality traits for the past 15 years and gives private consultations through email. Natalie has also been active in the theater community for the past several years, serving on the Draper Arts council, performing in many shows, as well as working as production manager, choreographer, costumer, and music director. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family and friends.