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2020 International Conference

Embracing All We Are

Affirmation Worldwide

Sponsored in part by

An Affirmation International Conference like we've never held before.

Not sure how to navigate the conference? Watch this video walkthrough to help you make the most of your conference experience.

Like so much in our lives, we've had to adapt this year's Affirmation International Conference to the realities of COVID-19 and ongoing social distancing efforts and requirements. The health and safety of Affirmation communities are of paramount importance.

In times such as this, coming together and maintaining our connections to one another is also extremely important. That's why this year's Affirmation International Conference will go on; not in Provo as originally planned, but virtually with local gatherings and activities around the world where coming together in-person is possible.

We envision this conference to be a mixture of live and recorded workshops, speakers, and discussions held over four weekends from September 12th to October 4th, with breakout sessions occurring on Saturday, September 12th, 19th, and 26th, and plenary sessions on September 20th and October 4th.

Featured Speakers & Guests

Conference Tracks

General

Most conference sessions are open to all attendees. Please check session descriptions for any requirements for participation, as some sessions are intended for those in specific situations or with specific identities.

Church Leaders

Church leaders attending the conference are invited to attend the Church Leaders and QPR Suicide Prevention sessions. These sessions are provided to church leaders at no cost to aid in ministering to LGBTQIA+ church members.

Youth

Youth attendees aged 11-18 are invited to participate in the Youth Track of conference. Session information will be provided to youth attendees after registration.

Conference Schedule

All times are Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
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Opening Session with Alphonso David

10:30 AM - 10:55 AM

This session will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Church Leaders

Church Leaders

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

A panel discussion to explore effective ways of counseling, supporting and including LGBTQ church members and their families. Panelists include an openly gay man currently serving as a high councilor in Provo, a transgender woman who is actively engaged in her Relief Society in St. Louis, a lesbian woman from Hawaii who strives to amplify marginalized voices, a former bishop/stake presidency counselor in Massachusetts who is the father of an adult gay son, and a former YSA bishop in Utah who has ministered to hundreds of LGBTQ church members. All panelists have written about and/or are engaged in, LGBTQ advocacy, understanding and inclusion efforts. They will share their personal stories/advice and answer questions.

This session will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Languages: English

Men

The Joy of Gay Sex

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This session is for men only. Learn about the art of self-discovery of one’s body, soul, and mind in a world filled with pushes and pulls. Identify ways to protect oneself physically. Learn to bypass limits put upon us as men by outside sources so that we can live free of constrictions and enjoy love more fully.

Languages: English

Non-binary

Navigating a Gendered World

11:00 AM - 12:00 AM

This is a space for discussion about non-binary gender identities and experiences. Topics may include discovering and labeling our gender, coming out, transitioning, gender presentation, etc.

Languages: English

Affirmation Trans* Mormons, Families & Friends

Just One Part of Our Journey: Embracing All We Are

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Being trans or gender-nonconforming can at times seem to consume our entire identity, but we’re also parents, children, friends, partners, students, artists, entrepreneurs, etc. How does this one puzzle piece fit into the bigger picture? Come prepared for a group discussion of what it means to be trans or gender-nonconforming in the greater context of our lives. This group is open to trans and gender-nonconforming individuals only.

Languages: English

Women

Rightful Messages: Owning Our Space & Stories as LGBTQIA Women

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This Affinity Group seeks to support women in the LGBTQIA community and offer a space of support and sharing milestones. In Chieko Okazaki’s words: “Part of our spiritual independence is simply shaking off wrongful messages about who we are. We get them from people who don’t know us but who judge us, from people who restrict us from being who we are.” Connecting this to the conference theme of Embracing All We Are, we will consider how our personal and community’s history can provide strength, as well as ways to foster our spiritual independence (within or outside a church context) particularly in this time of sheltering in place.

Languages: English

Social Track

11:00 AM - 4:10 PM

An unmoderated space for conference attendees to connect and socialize.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Incidence of the LGBTQ Teacher in the Diverse Social Transformations of the School

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

LGBTQ teachers can have a visible and transformative role in school settings, breaking down walls of social inequality while providing sexual education to children and adolescents. They also can serve to shift bullying scenarios into educational opportunities for students to increase their understanding of the diversity within sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Languages: Spanish

Fathers in Affirmation

Balancing Responsibilities as Fathers with Desires to Find New Love/Live Authentically

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

We will discuss how we can work through our paradigm shift that may present challenges for our children as we begin to live a life different than what we may have taught them. We will also focus on developing ways to live authentically, while exploring the victim mentality and other thought processes that impede our personal growth. Lastly, in an effort to live authentically, we may choose to develop new relationships, including romantic ones, that at times cause conflict with our children.

Languages: English

LBTQ+ Mothers

AUTHENTICALLY YOU: “In” or “Out” – Holding On To Your Truth

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

Languages: English

Affirmation Prepare

A View of Participation in Community through the Lens of Servant-Leadership

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

We’ll discuss Hymn #109 (“The Lord My Pasture Will Prepare”), and how its lyrics can provide a foundation for our spiritual practices. As we choose what participation in our spiritual community looks like, let’s examine it through the lens of servant-leadership to see what hidden strengths can make our communities more welcoming and authentic.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Film Screening: Same-Sex Attracted

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

What is it like to be LGBTQ at The Lord’s University? A documentary made by LGBTQ students and alumni of BYU. In “Same-Sex Attracted”, we follow a handful of LGBT & SSA students over the course of an academic year at LDS-owned Brigham Young University.

Languages: English

Q&A with “Same-Sex Attracted” Filmmakers

3:10 PM - 4:10 PM

Live Q&A with the filmmakers of Same-Sex Attracted, a film that follows a handful of LGBT & SSA students over the course of an academic year at LDS-owned Brigham Young University.

Languages: English

Youth Track

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Ages 11 – 18 only. For more information about the youth track or assistance, please contact Shauna Jones at [email protected].

Languages: English

QPR Suicide Prevention (English)

8:30 AM - 10:25 AM

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Each year thousands of Americans, like you, are saying “Yes” to saving the life of a friend, colleague, sibling, or neighbor.

Languages: English

Youth Track

10:30 AM - 9:00 PM

Ages 11 – 18 only. For more information about the youth track or assistance, please contact Shauna Jones at [email protected].

Languages: English

Opening Session with Carlos Castillo Casas

10:30 AM - 10:55 AM

This session will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Keeping What Works for You: Hearing the Lord’s Voice to YOU!

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This workshop is about learning to take what works for you from the scriptures, general conference and other church talks and materials, and hearing the Lord’s voice for you as a LGBTQ person. Sometimes, we think what is said has nothing to do with us or we interpret the message as being against us. This workshop will share some tools for seeing the great “Affirmations” for LGBTQ people that exist in the scriptures, church talks, and other readings.

Languages: English, Spanish

Social Track

11:00 AM - 3:00 PM

An unmoderated space for conference attendees to connect and socialize.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Affirmation Pioneers

Pioneers of Affirmation Family Reunion

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Join the Pioneers of Affirmation for a family reunion and to discuss plans to keep in touch with old friends and keep the history and traditions of Affirmation alive. Those over age 50 might feel comfortable in this affinity group, as most of us will be your peers in that regard. Bring news of other Affirmation members and ideas on how to build connections.

Languages: English

Straight Talk for Straight Spouses

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

A panel of straight-identified spouses will discuss common issues in mixed-orientation families. Story sharing and judgment-free support will be encouraged in this session, which needs to be a safe and private space for straight spouses only.

Languages: English

Affirmation Crossroads

Exploring our Independence

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The CrossRoads group is for LGBTQ+ or questioning people aged 18-25. We will be exploring topics like coming out, exploring identities, finding community, and more in the context of the newfound independence that is acquired during this age range. Led by a 25-year-old queer, bisexual person, this workshop will primarily be discussion-based to facilitate opportunities for people to connect with each other and find the wisdom in others’ experiences. Emphasis will be placed on intentionally creating a safe space for folks of all genders, orientations, and for POC.

Languages: English

Bi Pan Queer

Bi Pan Queer

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Join a panel of bi, pan, queer folks as we discuss their experiences as queer Mormons. We will explore challenges in coming out, sexual assault, terminology, parenting, biphobia, and intersectionality. Led by queer philosopher, author, and podcaster, Blaire Ostler, this panel will be both intellectually informative and moving.

Languages: English

Asexual/Aromatic

The Ace/Aro Experience

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Group discussion on navigating and living life on the asexual/aromantic spectrum in a sex-saturated world. This session aims to help others understand what being ace truly means and increasing visibility. Family members and allies are welcome!

Languages: English

Affirmation People of Color and Allies

Affirmation People of Color (POC) Group

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

This session will provide a safe space for people of color to embrace their whole identities free of shame and with intense pride. This gathering is open to all people of color (POC): Black, Latinx, AAPI, Indigenous, multi and biracial folks. The Unitarian Universalist Association tells us “the purpose of gathering in racial affinity groups is not to force segregation, but rather to create safe and brave space where people can express their fears, pain, and hopes without bystanders, so when they re-enter mixed identity spaces it will be with greater self-awareness, less self-judgment, and stronger confidence.” To honor this principle, we ask that our non-POC siblings understand that this affinity group meeting is reserved for POC only so that we might create our “safe and brave” space.

Languages: English

LatinX

LatinX

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

This session has been postponed to Saturday, September 26.

Languages: Portuguese, Spanish

Affirmation Journeys

Finding Our Queerness in the Divine

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

Affinity Group for those orientated toward LGBTQIA, their families, and allies who are transitioning out of Mormon orthodoxy, as well as former Mormons. From the time of our prehistoric ancestors, humans have looked to find themselves reflected in the Divine. For those of us who come from non-affirming traditions, this can be especially challenging. In this session, we will explore queer representations of the Divine, as well as how each of us has seen queerness in our own sacred experiences.

Languages: English

Growing in Faith, Hope & Charity

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

The quest for spiritual growth continues for many LGBTQ+ Mormons, including a desire to become more like the Savior through the development of greater faith, hope, and charity. This workshop will discuss ways to continue this growth in our personal lives.

Languages: English

Life 2.0: How to Love Your New Normal

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

We all go through transitions in our lives. Sometimes we stumble our way through them. If we’re lucky, we get by with ease. But what if we took full advantage of this “in limbo” time of our lives and used them to create years of fulfillment? Can we hack the transition phase? Absolutely.

In this talk, you’ll learn the benefits of solidifying your identity, exercises on how to do that, how to identify the risks and rewards of your transition, relate them back to your identity, and how to create a strategy for navigating your transition”

Languages: English

QPR Suicide Prevention (English)

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Each year thousands of Americans, like you, are saying “Yes” to saving the life of a friend, colleague, sibling, or neighbor.

Languages: English

QPR Suicide Prevention (Spanish)

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Each year thousands of Americans, like you, are saying “Yes” to saving the life of a friend, colleague, sibling, or neighbor.

Languages: Spanish

Affirmation People of Color and Allies

Black Lives Matter Roundtable Dialogue (Replay)

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

A replay of the special Affirmation LIVE event, a roundtable discussion on Black Lives Matter. An enlightening and motivating discussion highlighting the important intersectionality of the LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter movements and the responsibility we all have to work for equality, justice, and liberation.

Languages: English

Youth Track

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Ages 11 – 18 only. For more information about the youth track or assistance, please contact Shauna Jones at [email protected].

Languages: English

Plenary with Matthew Gong and Samantha Allen

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

The first plenary session of the conference featuring artist Matthew Gong and author/journalist Samantha Allen as keynote speakers. This session will include several musical numbers, including a performance by Lauren Neaves. The Affirmation Mortensen Award will be given during this session.

This session will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Opening Session with Dustin Lance Black and Blaire Ostler

10:30 AM - 10:55 AM

Blaire Ostler hosts a Q&A with filmmaker, writer, and activist Dustin Lance Black.

This session will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Affirmation Journeys

Spirituality as a Personal Practice

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

A reprisal of content offered previously in the Journeys group and at the 2019 Affirmation Mexico Conference, this workshop will address how participants might remain rooted in a shifting world. While this space is open to people of all spiritual backgrounds, the planned format and activities might be more beneficial to those who are actively questioning the teachings of the Church. Come prepared to engage in introspection and interaction with fellow participants.

Languages: English

Social Track

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

An unmoderated space for conference attendees to connect and socialize.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Coping in 2020

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

This session will explore ways of coping socially and spiritually during these months of relative isolation. We’ll divide into small therapist-run groups to explore strategies for dealing with the stress and finding ways to meet our needs for connection and acceptance.

Languages: English

All Alike Unto God: Advocacy and Organizing for the Image of God

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Public advocacy and community organizing are powerful means for transforming systems, communities, and organizations into just, safe, inclusive, and loving environments. Faith-based advocacy and organizing allows for reimagining religious systems, and those influenced by them, and moving them to reflect an ethic of equity, justice, and radical love.

This workshop will serve as a primer on faith-based public advocacy and community organizing in order to provide participants with the tools they need to transform LDS communities into inclusive spaces for LGBTQ Mormons. Participants will walk away with the skills necessary to begin or continue the work of justice and transforming communities into environments that acknowledge and celebrate the Image of God in every LGBTQ person.

Languages: English

Mormons Building Bridges

Risks and Rewards of Leaving vs. Staying in the Church: Results from Research

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

We present the results of the 4 Options Survey (www.4optionssurvey.com) to answer several questions such as: is there a single/relationship option that is best for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons? How can I navigate my relationship with my sexuality/gender or LDS church membership to be the healthiest I can be? Are there particular things I can do as an LGBTQ/SSA Mormon to be happy and satisfied?

This session is co-sponsored by Mormons Building Bridges as part of its annual academic forum featuring the most recent scholarship on the intersection of the LDS and LGBTQ+ experience.

Languages: English

Mixed Orientation Families In Affirmation

Reclaiming and Redefining Intimacy in Marriage

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

When couples face changes in sexual attraction due to coming out or other relationship events, expression of desire and intimacy are often impacted. Natasha Helfer, a licensed sex therapist, will lead this two-hour workshop that will include an initial presentation to set context and expectations, break-outs into smaller groups based on relationship status, and then a regrouping for general Q&A. Let’s talk honestly about sex!

Languages: English

Mormons Building Bridges

Examining Suicide Risk among LDS LGBTQ Saints: What we know and still don’t know

11:00 AM - 1:10 PM

Historical, Doctrinal, and Empirical Insights into Latter-day Saint Sexual Minorities’ Psychological and Interpersonal Functioning

Despite a great deal of public debate and conversation about LDS LGBTQ suicide, very little empirical research has been conducted that actually explores the prevalence and predictors of suicide risk among this community. During this presentation, I will report on what we know and don’t know about LGBTQ status, religion, and suicide, as well as present findings from recent published and unpublished findings regarding suicide risk among LGBTQ youth and adults living in Utah and those who are current or formerly Latter-day Saints.

This session is co-sponsored by Mormons Building Bridges as part of its annual academic forum featuring the most recent scholarship on the intersection of the LDS and LGBTQ+ experience.

Languages: English

Paving Pathways of Resilience for LGBTQ+ Youth

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

Raising and mentoring LGBTQ+ youth is a rewarding and important responsibility. While LGBTQ+ youth are placed at risk for poor life outcomes, they can and do live healthy and happy lives. The messages parents and leaders communicate to their youth can make a life-long impact. This session will combine research with gospel teachings to provide specific ways to increase resilience in LGBTQ+ youth. Participants will leave feeling empowered to help their LGBTQ+ youth share their light with the world.

Languages: English

The Evolution of LGBTQ Latter-day Saint Theology

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

To the extent that Latter-day Saints can be said to have a theology in relation to LGBTQ individuals, that theology had a slow, uncertain and at times painful development, one influenced by the history of attitudes and behaviors toward those whose gender identity and sexual orientation did not conform to the heterosexual norm. As scientific research and psychotherapeutic practice emerged at mid-twentieth century, social, cultural and political understanding of and attitudes toward homosexual, transgender, and other gender and sexual orientation variants began to liberalize, although conservative religions like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been slower to accommodate to these new understandings. In the current century, scholars have begun to examine the Church’s policies and practices toward LGBTQ individuals through the lens of Latter-day Saint theology and cosmology.

Languages: English

Embracing Gender Diversity in Our Communities and Congregations

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

For many, coming out as transgender leads to social — and far too often literal — suicide as we are rejected and even shunned by our communities. How can we learn to overcome our fears and biases to embrace some of the most vulnerable among us? How can we stop using our misconceptions cloaked as doctrine to justify intolerance and indifference?

Join Samantha as she shares a series of anecdotes from her journey and from others in the community. Learn how she reconciles her identity with her faith, and how it was the people, not the gospel who ultimately drove her away.

A Q&A session will follow the main presentation. Feel free to come prepared with questions for discussion. Samantha has heard it all and will address any respectful question.

Trigger Warning: This topic involves discussions of traumatic events, rejection, and overt transphobia. While these issues will be discussed with utmost sensitivity, certain individuals may wish not to attend.

Languages: English

LatinX

LatinX

12:10 PM - 1:10 PM

Understand the miracle of self-forgiveness. Recognize their origin and divine rights. We understand our history. We will talk about the impacts and gains by recognizing our essence.

Languages: Portuguese, Spanish

Plenary with Carol Lynn Pearson

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

The final plenary session of the conference featuring author and activist Carol Lynn Pearson as the keynote speaker. This session also includes the first giving of the Affirmation Lifetime Achievement award, musical numbers from the conference youth choir and Luke Belnap, and a time to remember those no longer with us.

This session will be recorded and available for later viewing.

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Story Sharing & Conference Closing

6:05 PM - 7:30 PM

Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish

Registration

Registration will be required to participate in the conference. Registration is $39 per attendee to help cover the costs of hosting the conference. A discounted registration of $15 is available to students and others as well. Register Now.

How Registration is Different this Year

Because we've pivoted to a virtual conference, all participating in the conference must create an account on Affirmation.org prior to registering for the conference. Signing in to this account during the conference will allow you to access conference materials, links to sessions, and more. Every conference attendee must have their own account and be registered for the conference to participate. Register Now.

Scholarships

The cost of registration should not prevent anyone from participating in this year's conference. Those not able to afford conference registration may apply for a scholarship.

As with registration, you must be signed in to apply for a scholarship.

Workshops

Instead of one day packed with conference workshops, this year's conference will include workshops over three Saturdays: September 12th, September 19th, and September 26th.

Interested in being a presenter?

Applications are now open for anyone to apply to be a workshop presenter.

Technology

Currently, it is anticipated that all conference content will be available on the Affirmation website to those who have registered. All attendees will be required to create a password to log into the website to access this content. For plenary sessions or others that do not require attendee participation, the session may be viewed on our website. Sessions inviting participation by attendees are likely to be held using Zoom, a web conferencing platform that Affirmation uses for meetings and virtual events.

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