In June 2013, Affirmation launched the “Prepare” Facebook group, specifically for LGBT Mormons who want to be active in the LDS Church and who want support in that path and/or are looking to learn from the experience of others who share that path. The Prepare group is inclusive of all people who desire to become or remain active in the Church, regardless of their membership status (non-members, excommunicated, subject to various forms of discipline, temple-recommend-holding members) and regardless of their relationship status (in same-sex relationships/marriages, single, celibate, or in mixed-orientation marriages).
In November 2014, Affirmation launched the “Affirmation: Journeys” Facebook group, to provide a support community for LGBT Mormons who have left the LDS Church; for people who are trying to figure out what their relationship with the LDS Church should be; and for anyone who, for lack of a better word, might be described as “unorthodox Mormons.” Affirmation: Journeys exists in recognition of the fact that many individuals identify as Mormon as a cultural identity but not necessarily adhering to LDS doctrines or practices; and that many hold Mormon beliefs and/or values but no longer affiliate with the LDS Church. The group also exists in recognition that many individuals no longer identify as Mormon at all, but still need resources that Affirmation can provide when dealing with devout family members and friends, and in assisting with difficult transitions such as leaving the Church or ending a marriage.
Though the purposes of the two groups are quite different, there is some potential overlap between them, as it is possible to desire to be active in the Church, but also to want to explore other paths or hear other perspectives.
Both groups are inclusive of individuals with diverse perspectives, so long as they remain committed to the group purpose. Both groups have moderation policies that encourage honest, uncensored and respectful discussion. The Prepare group at present is for LGBT individuals only, and is a “secret” Facebook group (which means that only members of the group can see who is a member of the group). The Journeys group is for LGBT individuals and straight allies, and is a “closed” Facebook group (which means that only members of the group can see and participate in group discussion, but group membership will be visible to anyone with a Facebook account).
A statement of “shared leadership and organizational values” crafted by the Affirmation International Leadership Team in January 2013 included the value of “Supporting all affected by the nexus of homosexuality and Mormonism.” Toward that end Affirmation would “Avoid taking positions on church doctrine, avoid taking positions on how people choose to act on their sexuality or not, provide a sounding board for those who are hurting, and become a place of healing.” It would “honor each individual’s path and help them process through it.” The Prepare and Journeys groups were both founded to further this value.
Affirmation was founded in the belief that it is possible to reconcile being LGBT and LDS. It is not Affirmation’s purpose to tell people what to think or believe. Affirmation does not require as a condition for membership adherence to some particular notion of the right way to be LGBTQ/SSA and Mormon. Rather, Affirmation’s purpose is to provide resources and community to empower individuals to figure those things out for themselves.
John Gustav-Wrathall, one of the founders of the Prepare group, said, “In order to be doctrinally and politically neutral, Affirmation has to recognize that conservative options (like celibacy and mixed orientation marriages) are options that will appeal to members of the LGBTQ/SSA Mormon community. And we are committed to support people who choose that path. We are committed to the core principle that being LGBTQ/SSA does not require abandonment of our faith as Latter-day Saints – even when we feel prompted to make unconventional choices, such as entering a same-sex relationship or marriage. We also recognize that some will find it necessary to distance themselves from the Church. We support individuals, not positions. Our mission is to help people to believe in their own power of discernment and their own right to make choices that work best for them.”
Daniel Parkinson, one of the founders of the Journeys group, said, “We hope this group will be a positive space for people who have left Mormonism or who are contemplating whether their place is in or out of the church. We believe that people should be able to make that decision in a non-judgmental environment, and that they should be supported whether they decide to stay or leave. We will be patient with people who need to discuss their criticisms, concerns, and disappointments from their Mormon experience, but we also want to promote a positive engagement with our heritage/identity and our Mormon families and friends.”
Accessing the Facebook Groups:
You can join the Affirmation Prepare Group by messaging the Prepare Group Moderator at: https://www.facebook.com/prepare.groupmoderator
You can join the Affirmation Journeys Group by requesting to join this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/572382942892407/
If you prefer to join our general Facebook group that isn’t for a focused audience, request to join the Affirmation Gay & Lesbian Mormons Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/35272941983/ This group is where most events and other information is posted and shared.
You can also Like our Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends page to receive updates in your Facebook News Feed.