Affinity – August 2013
Barbara and Steve Young
Steve and Barbara Young to Speak at Affirmation Conference
The Youngs Support The Family Acceptance Project, The Trevor Project
Keynoting the Saturday evening session of the 2013 Affirmation Conference will be Steve and Barb Young. Steve is well-known as a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he –along with Barb– are also known for their work with children’s charities both here and abroad.
Together they operate the Forever Young Foundation, a non-profit focused on passing on hope and resources for the development, strength, and education of children. One of their recent exciting projects was the opening of Sophie’s Place at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, a special room offering the healing power of music.
Another commitment that the Youngs have had for many years is that of bringing more understanding and love to the LGBT community, beginning with the many gay and lesbian friends and family members that have blessed their lives. Barb and Steve have been long time supporters of the Trevor Project, an organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth; the Family Acceptance Project, a research-based organization that uses a culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, socially and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBT children; and individuals doing great work in the area of teaching us all more what it means to “Love One Another.”
Both committed members of the LDS Church, Barb and Steve are happy to be part of Affirmation’s International Conference, where they hope to lend their voices to the healing work of making our families, our society and our church more welcoming places for our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Mormon Pride event in Las Vegas
2013 Conference Updates
Deadline for Scholarships Extended
The deadline for students and those with extremely limited financial resources to register for conference at the $50 price has been extended through September 6.
“We are offering students and those with extremely limited financial resources a $50 full ticket registration which includes admission to all sessions and events, along with heavy appetizers and desserts on Friday and Saturday evenings, and a full lunch on Saturday and Sunday,” says Affirmation President Randall Thacker. “The price of the meals alone is higher than the $50 registration! We hope many will take advantage of this amazing deal.”
Carpooling and sharing hotel rooms are also suggested ways to save money.
Conference Deadlines Are Here!
August 15 is the deadline to reserve a guaranteed room at the hotel. On August 16, the block of rooms reserved for Affirmation will be released and offered to the general public. If you act by August 15, you can take advantage of the special pricing: $99 for 2 people, $109 for 3 people, and $119 for 4 people per night. Don’t forget to mention that you’re attending the Affirmation conference. Use the Affirmation Roommate Finder to meet potential roommates.
Due to the receipt of a new generous donation to the conference fund, we have moved to August 20 the deadline to register for the Affirmation conference at the regular price of $99 per person ($115 if you’re also joining Affirmation or renewing your membership).
Program Posted Online
Attend Conference Events “A La Carte”
This year we are offering menu pricing for those who may wish to attend and pay for limited parts of the conference. This gives attendees total liberty to participate on a tight schedule and a tight budget:
- Friday Evening Only (Includes heavy appetizers and dessert): $15.00
- All Day Saturday (Includes luncheon, appetizers and dessert): $69
- Saturday Morning Only (No Luncheon): $29
If you can attend only limited events but your financial situation is not tight, we encourage you to consider making a tax-deductible donation to the conference fund, thus helping us defray conference costs. You can make a donation online (by typing a higher amount on the top section of the form) or by mail (by using the “TOTAL ENCLOSED” line at the bottom of Page 2) as you register for specific events.
The full list of Saturday morning workshops and presenters has just been updated. Recently added is a presentation by Dr. Anne E. Nicoll and Dr. Sharon Groves titled, “Growing Up LGBT and Mormon in America.” This workshop will provide data from more than 10,000 LGBT youth ages 13–17 who were surveyed between 2011 and 2012–including 72 youth who identified as Mormon. The data from this survey have important implications for parents, educators, religious leaders, and anyone else interested in the well-being of LGBT Mormon youth. Check the full list of workshops.
Join the Affirmation Choir!
The Affirmation Choir which will sing during the Saturday evening devotional. Whether you’re soprano, bass, anything in between, don’t miss this chance to be part of it. If possible, plan your flight so that you attend the first choir rehearsal on Friday, September 13, at 4:45 PM. For more information, visit this link.
When You Should Get There
- Please note that for this conference, the General Business Meeting has been moved to Friday. All Affirmation leaders and members are strongly encouraged to arrive in time for this meeting, which will be held on Friday at 6:00 PM in the Officers Club.
- If this is your first Affirmation Conference, you’re strongly encouraged to attend the First Timers Meeting, which will start on Friday at 4:00 PM in the Officers Club.
- If you’re a chapter or LGBT Mormon support group leader or are part of the international leadership team, please schedule your trip so that you can attend the leadership meeting to be held on Friday at 10:00 AM and the combined Board and Leadership Team Luncheon on Friday at Noon. Also, a Board of Directors meeting will be held from 1:30 – 3:30 on Friday.
Light Rail to the Airport
For the first time, we will be able to travel from the airport to the Univeristy Guesthouse using the recently expanded light rail system. Fare: $2.50 each way. Change from the Green Line to the Red Line at the Courthouse going to the U. Medical Center and use the Fort Douglas Station.
» Walking from Fort Douglas Station to the Guesthouse (.4 mile, 8 minutes)
Keith Trottier and Adam White: Why We’re Attending the Affirmation Conference
I am attending the Affirmation Conference this year due to my confidence in the direction that such an event could take the LDS LGBT community. I believe that when so many individuals and groups come together to discuss a topic, especially one of such importance as homosexuality, that true growth is possible. Specifically, I hope that my attendance as a gay college-aged Latter-day Saint will be able to help bring new ideas and perspectives to the table in how the LDS and non-LDS communities confront this topic.
Moreover, I also believe that the newer generation has much to learn. Adam White and I have done what we can to lead our own groups towards a brighter future, but in order to progress correctly we must arm ourselves with as much information as possible and that can only be done by learning from the experiences of those who have gone before.
An exciting future lays ahead of all LDS LGBT individuals and this conference is only the beginning. And I suppose I hope to one day say that right or wrong I was on the side of history working towards a brighter and more understanding future.
I am attending the Affirmation Conference this September because I believe that the conversations there will be influential to the future of LGBTQ Mormons and the way we practice Mormonism. Affirmation is the most inclusive group of LGBTQ Mormons generationally, so for younger LGBTQ Mormons like me and the students I lead at BYU, connecting with that life experience and that history of LGBTQ Mormonism is essential to moving forward wisely. This is especially true as the relationship between Mormonism and its gay practitioners is rapidly evolving. In today’s climate, it’s easy, I think, for my generation to forget where we’ve been and what sacrifices have been made. I want to honor that in my work and I’ll be more able to do so by attending Affirmation events.
Another reason that I believe in the influence of this conference on the future of LGBTQ Mormons is because Keith and I have the opportunity to bring USGA to the conference. It is exciting to be bringing USGA to Affirmation again. In the spirit of the conference’s theme, ‘New Frontiers,’ we will be exhibiting how LDS young adults are grappling with sexual identity, gender identity and their spirituality today. The kind of visibility and acceptance that we are demanding of our faith is, in essence, creating a new territory for LGBTQ Mormons. I hope that our presentations (USGA 101 and the Spirituality Panel) will demonstrate our determination to make this new territory a safe and viable space for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons.
See ya there!!!
Call for Nominations for Affirmation President
Candidates must submit a statement by September 13
By Olin Thomas
The annual Affirmation Conference is fast approaching and we are now accepting nominations for the position of President of Affirmation. The term of office is one year, running from January 1 to December 31. To be on the ballot, you must submit a statement of candidacy to the Editor of Affinity (Hugo Salinas) no later than the first day of the conference, which is September 13 this year. Candidates are introduced at the conference and will be given the opportunity to address the attendees, outlining their vision and goals and answering any questions. Ballots will be mailed to all current Affirmation members after the Conference and the election results announced no later than early December.
The position of President is the only elected position in Affirmation. The President appoints two vice presidents and these three people form an executive committee that conducts the business of Affirmation. Also appointed by the President are Board members, Vice Presidents, the treasurer, Affinity editor, webmaster, and a host of other volunteer positions. The person selected for President will greatly influence the performance and direction of Affirmation. The organization of Affirmation is being changed to help us face the challenges of changing times and needs. A Board of Directors model is being fully implemented and bylaws will be adapted to better position Affirmation to thrive in today’s society and non-profit environment. Bring your vision and passion to the effort!
Affirmation benefits when we can choose among a variety of candidates who care about moving Affirmation forward. Please do not be deterred by the responsibility of the office. Affirmation does not depend on one person alone; as many executive directors and presidents in the past have found, there are many who help. If you would like to be one of those who help Affirmation survive and flourish, consider offering yourself to help with a variety of volunteer opportunities in Affirmation. Many possible future presidents are out there, waiting for the moment they are ready to take the plunge. Grow into the role and learn about Affirmation from more experienced leaders by accepting the appointed positions first. If you are interested, talk to any member of the current Executive Committee.
If you do wish to nominate yourself for President, please send your statement as soon as possible, preferably via email to [email protected]. Only current dues-paying members can run for office. If you have questions about your membership status, please contact Olin Thomas at [email protected] or 703-864-5527. I will also be happy to answer any other questions about the election process. The candidate statements will be published in the October or November issue of Affinity.
Best Wishes to All —
Carol Lynn Pearson
Second Teleconference on Healing the Self Available Online
Focus: Healing the Self
Listen to Teleconference (MP3 file, 50 MB)
It is easy to think that taking care of yourself is somehow selfish. Scriptures, talks, and cultural messages can be interpreted in a distorted way causing one to feel that if one does not serve others first, that one is somehow being disobedient. One the other hand, it is possible to take this to the other extreme and indulge in a narcissistic focus, making the body more important than your spiritual connection with your higher self, and others. To achieve a healthy balance, it may be helpful to consider the difference between being selfish (ego centric, narcissistic) and self-FULL (congruent with your higher self/the Divine within).
The panelists shared their experience and wisdom about following inner guidance in the face of external challenges. This type of honoring the self was discussed at length as it relates to living in a self-Full way. Multiple examples of these challenges were shared by each of the panelists. The panelists also responded to a caller’s question about how to honor the self when it seems doing so might hurt or dishonor family or friends. The central themes of this teleconference focus upon honoring the self as a means to cultivate inner peace.
|FAMILIES ARE FOREVER from Family Acceptance Project on Vimeo.|
From Left to Right: Robert A. Rees, Wendy
Montgomery, and the Rev. Marian Edmunds Allen
Sunstone Symposium Features LGBT Mormons, Supportive Families
Wendy Montgomery: “Having a gay son has made me a better Christian, and taught me more how the Savior wants me to love.”
by Hugo Salinas
LGBT Mormons and their supportive families were featured in events related to the Sunstone Symposium held July 31 – August 4 in Salt Lake City. The week included the premiere of the documentary “Families Are Forever,” a social for LGBT Mormons, and presentations by Affirmation leaders and friends such as Wendy Montgomery, Robert A. Rees, Erika Munson, John Gustav-Wrathall, and Jerry Argetsinger. The all-inclusive One Voice Choir was featured during the Wednesday plenary session and during a special Community of Christ service held on August 4.
Wendy Montgomery received a standing ovation after the screening of Families are Forever, a documentary produced by the Family Acceptance project.
“Having a gay son has been an unexpected blessing in my life,” Montgomery told an audience of 300. “It has made me a better Christian, and taught me more how the Savior wants me to love.”
During the Q&A period, Meg Abhaus, another LDS mom, talked about her experiences raising her own gay teen son, Jon.
The 21-minute documentary will be also screened at the opening evening of the upcoming Affirmation conference. Meg and Jake Abhaus will participate in a Saturday morning workshop. The One Voice Choir will be featured during the Sunday closing luncheon.
Former LDS bishop and Affirmation friend Robert A. Rees made a connection between the documentary and the theme of the symposium, which was, “Mormon Bodies: Literal, Metaphorical, Doctrinal.”
“In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses an extended metaphor of the body to teach us about the body of Christ (the church and its constituent members),” Robert explained. “That image also applies to families, groups, organizations and nations—social structures in which we live and move and have our being. In reality, we belong to bodies of other bodies—individuals and groups to whom we are related or connected—biologically, socially, or spiritually.
“The documentary film Families are Forever is based on one such body, a faithful Mormon family, and its relationship to other bodies (their extended family, congregation, community and church). All of these bodies, to follow Paul’s metaphor, are interrelated and co-dependent—and the health of all is dependent on the health of each individual member. What Families are Forever illustrates is that the healthy functioning of each of these bodies is dependent on love and that when individual members of these bodies fail to love other members, fail to nourish and sustain any member within the body, both the individual bodies and the body as a whole suffer.”
During her remarks, Mormons Building Bridges Founder Erika Munson invited the audience to send emails to three members of the Quorum of the Twelve to thank them for the launching of the website MormonsAndGays.org. The apostles are: D. Todd Christofferson (ChristoffersonDT [at] LDSchurch.org), Dallin H. Oaks (OaksDH [at] LDSchruch.org), and Quentin L. Cook (CookQL [at] LDSchurch.org).
Affirmation Vice President John Gustav-Wrathall attended the Thursday LGBT social with his husband Göran and his parents. At the conclusion of the social, he shared with the 75 people in attendance some of the experiences that affirmed his faith in God and led him to return to the LDS Church. “Our lives are mixed up with good and bad, with pain and joy,” John concluded. “Consider letting go of anger. Consider making an experiment upon the word and seeing where it leads. It might be the hardest thing you have ever tried. As for me, it has brought forth fruit a hundredfold.”
On Thursday, Affirmation board member Gregory A. Prince delivered a “Pillars of My Faith” plenary speech. As an example of how scientific knowledge can help the Church change, Greg invited the audience to consider “the recent about-face that the Church laudably made in acknowledging, in the face of rapidly accumulating and overwhelming evidence from science, that homosexuality is not chosen.”
“Where science can inform, it eventually will inform,” Greg added, “and religionists will save themselves and their followers a lot of grief if they allow the process to occur naturally.”
The Salt Lake Tribune featured Affirmation friend Jerry Argetsinger, a gay Mormon man and stake high councilor who, along with his wife Gail, was for years involved in directing and designing the costumes for the Hill Cumorah pageant.
“Jerry is still my best friend,” Gail Argetsinger told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We have done so many church callings and produced so much art together.”
Latter-Gay Saints: An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction
Edited by Jerry Argetsinger, Jeff Laver, and Johnny Townsend
From a story by the Rochester Institute of Technology
It’s a subject many think is taboo in the Mormon church, but an associate professor at Rochester Institute of Technology is creating a stir with a book of 21 short stories and four plays depicting a variety of perspectives on what it means to be gay and Mormon.
Gerald Argetsinger co-edited and wrote the introduction for Latter-Gay Saints: An Anthology of Gay Mormon Fiction which was published this week and available on Amazon.com and at selected bookstores. He is scheduling book signings in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, New York City and Rochester.
Argetsinger, who sits on the high council of the Mormon’s Rochester stake, works in the Cultural & Creative Studies department at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He was asked several years ago if he would contribute to a book about how the Mormon church has been depicted in pop culture. His assignment: how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints handled homosexuality.
“No one wanted to approached the angle of gay literature. I researched it and found several works, but they shelved the book,” Argetsinger says. Fascinated about what he found, he uncovered more literature and plays with gay Mormons in conflict and used that research to speak at conferences around the country.
“I decided to put a book together with some of the stories and plays with this theme,” he says. “I thought this would be a self-published thing for a very limited audience.”
Lethe Press, a publisher specializing in gay and lesbian books, contracted to publish it. Two authors with stories in the book, Jeff Laver of Salt Lake City and Johnny Townsend of Seattle, co-edited the book with Argetsinger.
“It’s a gem of a collection,” Argetsinger says. “None of the stories are erotic. Some of them are hilariously funny.”
Argetsinger says the book will appeal to those who like good stories as well as families and friends of gay Mormons who want to understand their loved one better.
The book is already making splashes in the Washington Post and Buffalo News, in part, due to the traveling company of The Book of Mormon musical, which spoofs the Mormon missionary experience. And it was listed as one of the top 10 “hot sheet” newsmakers on Advocate.com.
See also stories in:
Posted on the Affirmation Website and Blog:
|Being a LGBT Mormon Pioneer||Roommate Finder Set Up on Facebook|
Posted on the No More Strangers Blog:
|The Evolution of Affirmation and What It Means for Gay Mormons and their Allies||History Supplement 1: The In-Laws|