On Friday, February 20, leaders of Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends and North Star held a historic meeting. Randall Thacker, Affirmation President, and Ty Mansfield, Northstar President, each led a delegation of six women and men for serious discussion about ways to improve understanding. While it is obvious that each organization has its own mission, and that there are significant areas where we see things very differently, the consensus was that we can be more connected with and respectful of each other and recognize good intentions to serve the needs of our LGBTIA/SSA LDS/Mormon community.
The group began a discussion of areas where there may be opportunities for collaboration, such as giving service, crisis intervention, increasing family acceptance, the respecting of individual’s life choices and journeys, and a willingness to guide people to the organization and conferences that best reflect their desired support. Examples were mentioned in the meeting where leaders of each organization have referred individuals whose life goals were better aligned to the other organization.
Affirmation and Northstar leaders participating in the meeting committed to setting a tone of personal respect for each other, acknowledging that people of good will have personal experiences leading them to see different solutions to similar challenges. We do not have to agree with specific aspects of each other’s mission or practices in order to acknowledge the goodwill with which we each approach our purposes. We do not expect that those who are finding a safe and helpful home in one organization must agree with the other’s manner of supporting members in order to speak with respect for each other.
We hope to continue this conversation and that the tone — of being able to clearly articulate our views without personally demeaning anyone who has a different experience or opinion — will be present in our conversations online, in Facebook groups, and in-person.