Nathan Kitchen, 2022 Affirmation International Conference
Affirmation President Nathan Kitchen speaking on Queer Spirituality at the Sunday plenary of the 2022 Affirmation International Conference on October 9th, 2022, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
About Nathan Kitchen
Elected as Affirmation President in 2018, Nathan Kitchen (he/him) grew up in Orem, Utah. When he was 15, his family moved to Illinois where he finished high school. He served a full-time mission for the Church in Alabama, graduated with a B.S. in Zoology from BYU Provo, earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Southern Illinois University, and completed a general practice residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is currently in private practice in Mesa, Arizona. He is the proud father of five children and three grandchildren and lives in Gilbert, Arizona with his husband Matthew Rivera.
Text of Nathan’s Talk
This is Sunday! This is Affirmation!
Let’s talk Queer spiritually.
Spirituality is a human right.
Spiritual health sits with its siblings of physical, mental, and emotional health that makes a healthy you. Wellness within these components means different things to different people, but the key is self-determining what wellness means to you and then be an active participant in navigating to places that feel safe and healthy for you, your soul—your body and your spirit.
You do not have to surrender your spirituality, your spiritual wellness, when you encounter prejudice, harassment, or discrimination in your spiritual home. You do not need to abandon your spirituality when your Church abandons you, sets you aside for claiming the same opportunities and privileges your straight/cisgender peers do.
As a Queer person, you do not have to abandon your FAITH when your spiritual home no longer judges you faithful.
Jesus asks us for a broken heart. But a broken heart does not mean a broken you.
Others may struggle to define your broken heart, and even attempt to give it away on your behalf—but that is not their gift to give. It is not their heart to control. The gift of a broken heart is yours, and yours alone to give in the beautiful, personal way, time and place you chose. This privilege of gifting is spiritually empowering.
You are the steward of your own spiritual wellness and remember, as a Queer person of faith, your spirituality is yours, and yours alone—your link to your heavenly parents—and it is portable!
It goes with you as you navigate to spaces and communities that feel safe and healthy for you, in places that you want to exist, be it in the Church, out of the Church, on top of a mountain top, wherever you find Queer joy.
But ultimately, you are responsible for your own spiritual wellness.
You have the full support from your Affirmation community in your self-determined faith-based decisions. We are here to experience Queer joy with you!
For most of human history we as Queer people have not had the ability to make such faith-based choices about ourselves as visible LGBTQ people alongside our straight/cisgender peers. Sometimes this ability upsets other people and they may say and do things that are hurtful, judgmental, and even exclusionary.
Sometimes those voices seem loud and overwhelming. Your self-determination deserves all the affirming voices possible. Affirmation is here for you. You have some pretty amazing peers.
The opposite of fear is love.
Love YOU! Love your path, love your neighbor, and love God who leads by kindly light.
In a world of day and night binaries, Queer people are God’s children of the dawn and dusk, infinite combinations of two binaries—day and night—God spoke into existence.
Yet within all this, God still sees our light and calls us good.
About the Affirmation International Conference
The Affirmation International Conference is an annual conference hosted by Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends for the worldwide LGBTQIA+ Latter-day Saint community.
About Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends
Affirmation creates worldwide communities of safety, love, and hope and promotes understanding, acceptance, and self-determination of individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. We affirm the inherent self-worth of LGBTQIA+ individuals as complete, equal, and valuable persons and support them as they define their individual spirituality and intersection with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Affirmation’s vision is to be a refuge to land, heal, share, and be authentic.