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Plenary with Matthew Gong and Samantha Allen, 2020 Affirmation International Conference

Plenary with Matthew Gong and Samantha Allen

October 14, 2020

Plenary session featuring artist Matthew Gong and journalist and author Samantha Allen from the 2020 Affirmation International Conference, a conference hosted annually by Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends for the entire LGBTQIA+ Latter-day Saint community. This year’s conference was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matthew Gong grew up in northern Virginia until he moved with his family to Provo. He came out at the end of his sophomore year at college. He served a Mandarin-speaking mission in the England London South Mission before returning to BYU. At BYU, he cofounded the Spoken Word Storytelling Collective. After meandering through various programs, he ultimately graduated with a degree in Mathematics.

Matt is an artist, free-lance consultant, and writer. With a passion for blending technology and art, he sculpts in origami and other physical media and builds experiential digital art in virtual reality. He currently works making mixed reality educational tools. When he has free time he writes about his experiences as a queer man in the LGBTQ Mormon diaspora.

Samantha Allen is the author of the award-winning travel memoir Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States (Little, Brown, 2019) and of Love & Estrogen Amazon Original Stories, 2018). She is a GLAAD Award-winning journalist whose work has been published by The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and more. Previously, Samantha worked as a senior reporter for The Daily Beast and as a staff writer at Fusion. She has a Ph.D. from Emory University.

The recording of this session and the entire 2020 Affirmation International Conference was made possible by those who financially supported the conference through registration fees. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Affirmation relies on the support of donors to create communities of safety, love, and hope for the LGBTQIA+ Latter-day Saint Community. To support the critical work of Affirmation, please consider donating at

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