Affirmation’s Mission is Not Complete
by Randall Thacker
In the summer of 2005, I reached a point where I needed to meet other LGBTQ Mormons who were accepting themselves instead of struggling with their sexual orientation. I did an internet search and found Affirmation. I looked at the calendar and saw there was a social that very afternoon. I drove to the home in Maryland and was nervous as I approached the front door, but within minutes, I felt welcome by a group of very friendly LGBTQ Mormons.
At that first social, I created friendships that have continued to this very day, and through them connections were made to others who also became dear friends. I started to attend regular meetings, conferences and social activities and began to feel more and more whole – able to bring together the gay and Mormon in me so they were no longer in conflict with each other.
This is the great blessing of Affirmation. It’s a place where one feels safety, love, and hope, and is no longer judged within the rigid frameworks of the Church but finds a community that supports you wherever you are in your process of self-acceptance and faith. A refuge where you can share your feelings, thoughts, and experiences with vulnerability as you define your individual spirituality and intersection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I began serving in Affirmation a few years later and got heavily involved in 2011, supporting the preparation of an LGBTQ Mormon conference in the historic Kirtland Temple. Several individuals who attended this conference 10 years ago said they felt there were angels in our midst and that God’s love for LGBTQ Mormons was strongly affirmed from above. This spiritual experience inspired many to serve and because of that, Affirmation eventually reached 100,000s of LGBTQ Mormons, their families and friends and church leaders throughout the world over this past decade.
When I occasionally scroll social media, I see thousands of LGBTQ Mormons from all over the world who are living the full measure of their creation as they were inspired to do by their experience in Affirmation. My heart experiences a fullness of joy when I see LGBTQ Mormons I met over the years now falling in love, getting married, having children, sharing the joy of their relationships, the acceptance of their families and friends, their personal faith journey and spirituality, their accomplishments in work and school, and increased hope they feel in their lives!!! ❤️❤️❤️
Many of these individuals came to Affirmation when they were in despair and at a crossroads. Affirmation gave them a new paradigm, opened new doors for them, giving them the support and tools to explore their own self-acceptance, wholeness and ability to have joy in this life.
Over this past week, after learning of the passing of Paul Mortensen, one of Affirmation’s founders in the 1970s, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for him and the others who had so much courage and vision to start an organization that has literally blessed the lives of 100s of thousands of LGBTQ Mormons, families, and friends over the past 40+ years! Affirmation’s mission is not complete. Until there is full acceptance of LGBTQ+ Mormons, their marriages, and families within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Affirmation will be there to provide a place of refuge and support.
I may have retired from active service in Affirmation, but I continue to give a substantial financial donation monthly like those early Mormon pioneers did to the Perpetual Immigration Fund. I invite you to do the same and ensure the support is there for those LGBTQ+ Mormons of today and the future who will seek the same support we obtained that helped us feel whole, gave us the dear friends we have today, and provided us hope and helped us find joy!
Board Member & Former President
Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends
P.S. I miss so much all of you that I met through Affirmation and especially all those with whom I served! I wish you all the best!
This article was submitted by an Affirmation community member. The opinions expressed are wholly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Affirmation, our leadership, or our staff. Affirmation welcomes the submission of articles by community members in accordance with our mission, which includes promoting the understanding, acceptance, and self-determination of individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and our vision for Affirmation to be a refuge to land, heal, share, and be authentic.