The 2nd annual Affirmation Conference was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina last month. People came from as far away as 18 hours by bus. The full range of LGBT were represented and parents, family members and friends also came to support those attending. Adrian Sanchez Roman – Affirmation Vice President, Randall Thacker – Affirmation Board Member, and Diane Oviatt – Affirmation International Team members and her husband Tom traveled from the United States to support and participate in the conference.
Prior to the conference, Roxana Lopez, Affirmation Argentina’s Senior Vice President had organized meetings with the national organization for LGBT rights and the main organization that supports transgender individuals. Affirmation presented these organizations with certificates of appreciation for their work in helping LGBT people in Argentina. We discussed ways in which they can help us get our message to other LGBT Mormons and how we can provide them as references of support to those with whom we work.
The conference began Friday night with a sharing of individual stories by all those attending. A creative workshop on how to effectively come out of the closet was role-played by Roxana and David, followed by an Argentine supper with lots of yummy desserts!
Saturday morning included talks and workshops by a variety of presenters, addressing the subjects of being the architect of your happiness, God’s love for us, how to help yourself or others dealing with depression, and perspectives from parents on good and negative experiences with church leaders, etc. Randall Thacker provided a overview of Affirmation’s goals, values and principles and also shared it’s history from the time of its founding by Matt Price and Paul Mortensen in the late 1970’s.
A leadership training and team building session were held after the conference on Saturday in which priorities for the next year were identified and challenges were discussed. Affirmation Argentina is led by Ezequiel Rojas – President, Roxana Lopez – Senior Vice President, and Sixto Flores – Vice President along with an advisory committee composed of a transgender (F-M) individual, a same-sex married member, the father of a gay child and psychologist, and two other gay men.
David, who is the transgender member of the team, recorded his moving story which can be viewed from the Spanish-speaking Facebook Like page (scroll down a few publications to find it).
Sunday morning, those interested attended a LDS Sacrament Meeting in downtown Buenos Aires together. Afterwards a devotional and testimony/story sharing meeting were held in the conference hotel where moving talks were given, hymns sung, and individual stories of faith, difficulty and resilience shared. Those attending said the weekend recharged them to move forward with their lives, knowing God loves them and understands them individually.