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“Our Family Felt So Alone”: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends Describe their Journey to Community and Self-Empowerment

Affirmation for me filled the great big hole the church left when I made the decision to live my life true to my sexual orientation. I spent a couple years looking for a faith that I could be a part of but nothing ever felt right. Mormonism is my heritage and is branded deep in my soul. Having a community of love and support among people with my LDS roots where I can be truly authentic has been so healing for my heart and soul. As a bonus I have met the most amazing people. I finally feel like I’ve found a home again.

—Rene Frost

After coming out as gay and losing my sense of safety in the church, discovering Affirmation for me was like the moment the ugly duckling realizes he is really a swan. It became my new safe haven: a place where I always felt love and belonging, regardless of how I lived my life. As a teenager, having a community from which I always felt unconditional love was essential for me in order to grow and learn to love myself.

— Kayden Maxwell

Before the Affirmation conference, our family felt so alone in our journey of being LDS with gay family members.  At Affirmations, we met so many wonderful families like ours.  We talked, laughed, and cried together.  I consider the families we met to be some of our dearest friends.

—Chrisann Toelupe

I am a 53 year old bisexual woman, married to my amazing husband for twenty-seven years. My husband has always loved me but unfortunately I feared that others couldn’t love me. I often heard very hurtful things from others about people like me. So my husband and I held tightly to my secret.  I never thought there would ever be a place that I would feel nothing but love and acceptance for my authentic myself. That there would be a place where I wouldn’t feel any shame for who I am. Last year I walked into Affirmation taking in all the love, friendship and support from my fellow LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, their families and friends. My heart was filled and healed from years of hurt. Affirmation is a lifeline for those who never thought they were worthy of love. I am grateful for Affirmation and those involved in Affirmation for being a lifeline for me. 

— Lisa Lindsay Grimm

 

Before I knew about Affirmation, I felt like I could go one of two ways with my newly accepted sexuality: either I could silence myself at church when I was with my fiancee (not show her affection, not speak about our relationship) or I could leave the church entirely… When I found Affirmation, I discovered that I could be myself, fully, speak about and act upon my relationship without shame, and still talk about church topics and my own testimony without feeling like I was contradicting myself somehow. It’s been a source of such comfort to have connected with people all over America and the world who have experienced the same struggles that I have in reconciling my identity both as a queer woman and a Mormon. More than anything, knowing that I’m not alone, and having a place to safely grow, learn and explore myself and my testimony, has been nothing short of a Godsend and I will always be glad and grateful that I found Affirmation.

—Jillyan Adams

From my first Affirmation conference, it just felt like HOME. These are people who GET me, and people that I GET. Affirmation is a “big tent” place where we are each supported wherever we are in our faith journeys. A friend of my daughter was in crisis from having to hide her non-straightness because she was teaching at an LDS charter school. I literally dragged her to a conference, and from the first session we went to, her light went on as she met other queer Mormons who had had similar struggles. Affirmation has blessed so many lives.

—Lisa Glad

Affirmation has been a safe space, a family circle, a source of joy, and has given me a better sense of belonging in the world.

—Taylor Weatherston

Please support Affirmation’s continuing life-saving work of creating unconditionally loving community, and fostering dialog both in and beyond the LDS Church!

You can donate here, to support scholarships that make Affirmation conferences accessible regardless of ability to pay and leadership training, volunteer coordination and chapter organizing throughout the world!

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