by Joel McDonald
Updated May 29, 2020
Not since the 1918 flu pandemic has life been so turned upside down by a microscopic predator. This unseen foe has made us keenly aware of both our fragility as living organisms and our need to connect with one another. Connection is so important. We know that being connected to a community that understands and accepts who we are, our authentic selves, is vital to our well-being.
Connecting the LGBTQIA+ Mormon community has been a focus for Affirmation since it’s beginning over 40 years ago. In recent years, Affirmation has encouraged and supported the development of local community by establishing regions and chapters around the world to create more opportunities for community members to connect in person. The COVID-19 pandemic might have put a stop to gathering in person, but we are blessed with opportunities to stay connected to one another in ways that our ancestors could have never imagined.
As Affirmation’s director of operations, I’m fortunate to have a birds-eye view of all the amazing ways our community is staying connected and I wanted to take a moment and share some of them with you.
Affirmation Mexico, Chile, and Brazil host special virtual meetings
On May 19th, Affirmation Mexico and Affirmation Chile co-hosted a virtual Family Home Evening on Zoom. Their topic was, “Increasing our Faith.” Affirmation Board Member Randall Thacker attended and shared that the meeting was, “INSPIRING!” A few of the suggestions discussed to help increase our faith were to practice gratitude, seek wisdom from God, spend time in nature, meditate and seek peace, read from the best books, and love others unconditionally. Randall shares more here.
On May 17th, Affirmation Brazil hosted a special meeting to give community members an opportunity to connect and share with one another how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting them. They also heard from Affirmation President Nathan Kitchen and stories from Affirmation Senior Vice President Laurie Lee Hall and Judith Mehr. These stories sparked an inspiring discussion among those in attendance. In sharing her experience at the virtual event, Affirmation Board Member Cristina Moreas wrote, “Even in difficult times, the work of Affirmation continues to grow.” Affirmation President Nathan Kitchen shared how important it was for Affirmation to continue to stay connected and overcome language barriers to do so. “I have a great love for Affirmation Brazil. Thank you for hosting me,” wrote Nathan.
Affirmation Chicago invites all to weekly devotionals, hosts informative and inspirational virtual events
Affirmation Chicago was very quick to respond to the need to stay connected as a community in this time of social distancing as a result of COVID-19. Staring on March 18th, the chapter has been hosting weekly Wednesday devotionals, regular mental health task force meetings, and special virtual events on the chapter’s Facebook Live.
The regular mental health task force meetings hosted by Affirmation Chicago have covered some great topics with outstanding guests including surviving COVID-19, how the pandemic is impacting children, how COVID-19 and the resulting isolation impacting our mental health, and more.
On April 30th, the chapter hosted a special virtual event, “A Night of Musical Healing” featuring performances by Josh and Laurie Rodriguez, Ben Rodriguez, Nicholas Kaplan, and Jinnie Smalls.
Executive leadership hosts an evening for all to connect, learn more, and support Affirmation
Affirmation’s Executive Committee, Nathan Kitchen (President), Laurie Lee Hall (Senior Vice President), and Jairo Fernando González Díaz (Vice President) joined Joel McDonald (Director of Operations) in hosting a live discussion about Affirmation as a nonprofit organization supporting the LGBTQIA+ Mormon community, how we’re staying connected in this time of COVID-19, changes to this year’s Affirmation International Conference, and how members of the community can ensure Affirmation continues to connect, uplift, and empower LGBTQIA+ Mormons and allies around the world. Video and a summary of the event can be found here.
Affirmation Pacific’s virtual talent show
Featuring over a dozen talented performers, artists, and poets, the Pacific Region Virtual Talent show held on Saturday, May 23rd, was a smashing success! Many thanks to Sarah Bowers and the Affirmation Pacific leadership team, Affirmation Los Angeles President Victoria Hutchings, Vaughn Larsen, and all who participated in this successful online event. To date, video from the event has been viewed over 1,200 times! View the event here.
The first Affirmation LIVE monthly virtual fireside with Charlie Bird and Savannah Stevenson
Join us for the very first of our monthly virtual firesides on Sunday, May 31st at 7:00 PM MDT! This month, we’re thrilled to have former BYU Cosmo the Cougar Charlie Bird as our guest speaker with musical performances by West End leading lady Savannah Stevenson. Charlie will be sharing stories from his upcoming book Without the Mask: Coming Out and Coming Into God’s Light, which is set for publication by Deseret Book later this year. Savannah will be regaling us with a mixture of well-known hymns and musical numbers. More details on this event here.
This by no means an exhaustive list of virtual events hosted by Affirmation international or our chapters, regions, and Affinity Groups. Other events have included online game nights organized by Affirmation Portland and Affirmation Washington D.C., an interview series hosted by Affirmation Hawaii, a meditation session hosted by Affirmation Los Angeles, weekly gatherings of Fathers in Affirmation and Mixed Orientation Marriages in Affirmation, suicide awareness and prevention training hosted by Affirmation Pacific, and many more!
While Affirmation is no stranger to connecting with each other virtually across the world, and even across languages, the need to stay connected has never been more important than it has been amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. From our chapters to the international organization, the Affirmation community is doing so much to meet this need in new ways that are likely to become a part of Affirmation for many years to come.