3 Reasons to Register for the Affirmation International Conference
We’re a little over a month away from the start of the 2021 Affirmation International Conference. This year’s theme is Lighting the World Together, and programming for the conference is being finalized. This conference is for the entire LGBTQIA+ Latter-day Saint community, including current and former members of the Church, family members, friends, and church leaders. You won’t want to miss it. Here are three reasons you should register for the conference!
1. Incredible Featured Speakers
We’re super excited about our featured speakers for the conference, and we hope you will be too! Represented in them is a diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, faith, and life experience. Be sure to register for the conference to hear from these incredible speakers.
Emmett Preciado is an American transgender actor and singer-songwriter of Spanish, Mexican, and European descent.
He served as a sister missionary for 18 months in The Salt Lake City, Utah Mission. When Emmett returned from his mission, he attended a semester at Brigham Young University, Idaho. In the late summer of 2015, Emmett dropped out of college and moved to Utah to pursue his physical transition from female to male. He remained as active in the Church as possible for a couple of years and has spoken at and participated in conferences and events for LGBTQ Mormons.
In the Spring of 2020, Emmett was cast as Rowan, a recurring character on Freeform’s Good Trouble. At the end of 2020, he shot his first Guest Star role as Rio Gutierrez which can be seen on an episode of the ABC hit drama, The Good Doctor. In the spring of 2021, Emmett guest-starred as Mateo Cruz on ABC’s Rebel.
Blaire Ostler is a philosopher who is specialized in queer studies and is a leading voice at the intersection of queer, Mormon, and transhumanist thought. She is an author who recently published her first book, “Queer Mormon Theology: An Introduction.” She is a board member of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the Christian Transhumanist Association, and Sunstone.
Blaire is no stranger to Affirmation or the International Conference. She was the Master of Ceremonies for the 2019 conference held in Provo, Utah, and interviewed award-winning filmmaker, writer, and social activist Dustin Lance Black for the 2020 conference. This year, she’ll moderate a panel discussion featuring BYU LGBTQIA+ student leaders.
Hao Lee is the president of Affirmation Hawaii, which was started by BYU-Hawaii students in 2020. During her time as a BYU-Hawaii student, she has advocated for LGBTQ+ students through effective communication with the BYUH Administration including both the President and Vice President of BYUH.
Carolyn Gassert is the president of USGA BYU Provo. is a cisgender demisexual lesbian woman who grew up in the Mormon church in South Carolina. Her academic and professional goal is to become a therapist working with marginalized groups, especially LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, in Utah.
TJ Thomas is an active Latter-day Saint therapist and bisexual. He served a mission in Benin and Togo (West Africa) and attended BYU for his undergraduate degree, and went on to receive his Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California. He now works as a therapist for a wide variety of clients, with a focus on youth in the LGBTQ+ and LDS intersection.
He is passionate about making mental health resources more accessible to all and provides free resources on his Instagram page (@tjcounseling) and his weekly podcast, Therapy Thursday. He has also been a guest on many podcasts to discuss mental health and the LGBTQ population, including Questions from the Closet, Listen Learn and Love, and Oh My Health There is Hope.
Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen is the executive director of Parity, a NYC-based national nonprofit that works at the intersection of faith and LGBTQ+ concerns and the director of Blessed by Difference, a project that seeks to promote curious and collaborative bridging across the LGBTQ+ and faith divide.
In 2013, Marian was named Person of the Year by Q Salt Lake for her visionary leadership, and in 2015 was named a Petra Fellow for her work with LGBTQ+ homeless youth. She is formerly Executive Director of OUTreach Resource Centers, the National Program Director of the Family Acceptance Project and Executive Director of the Utah Pride Center.
2. The Conference is Virtual
Yes, we’d much rather be together in person for the conference, but being virtual does have some advantages. We had LGBTQIA+ Latter-day Saints attend last year’s conference virtually who had never been able to attend an Affirmation conference in person before. With a virtual conference, you can attend from anywhere you have a good Internet connection. Additionally, when you register for the conference, you’ll be able to access all recorded sessions.
3. There is No Cost to Register
Did someone say free? Yes! There is no cost to register for this year’s International Conference thanks to our being able to deliver sessions in a cost-effective way and thanks to a generous grant Affirmation received to support this year’s conference. It is our hope that, with there being no cost to register and with the conference being virtual, this year’s conference will be the most accessible conference ever.
Yes, we said we were going to give you three reasons you should register for the conference, but here’s a bonus reason! While there is no cost to register, there is a suggested donation of at least $35 to attend the conference. You don’t have to donate to attend, but if you do, you can receive a limited edition (only 250 available) enamel pin featuring this year’s conference logo and theme! And that’s not all! Those who donate at least $65 can receive the pin and a conference t-shirt!
As you can see, there are some great reasons for registering for this year’s conference, and there are even more great things that haven’t been announced yet! You won’t want to miss this. Register today!