The Tree of Life Award was established in 2013 as an annual award to be presented for the best book, article, film, play or other creative/expressive material that presents authentic LGBT Mormon stories to the world. In 2013, the award was given to the Family Acceptance Project’s “Families Are Forever” film.
At the 2014 Conference in Salt Lake City it was with great pleasure that we presented this award to Transmormon, a documentary film about Eri Hayward, born and raised in a conservative LDS home. Torben Bernhard, the film’s director, documents Eri’s slow, painful journey to recognition of her transgender identity. The film gives voice to Eri and her family, telling a poignant story of self-discovery and family support. Transmormon was recognized as 2014 Best Utah Short Film of the Year at the Utah Arts Festival, and has reached over a million views on-line.
Randall Thacker, Affirmation President, presented the award following Kendall Wilcox’s interview of Eri, her father Ed, and the producer Torben Bernhard.
LGBT Mormons have far too often been forced to choose between our Church and our personal integrity, between our families of origin and our families of choice, between our bodies and our souls. We are people of faith, hope and love. We are whole human beings and our journeys have meaning and integrity. Far too often, our stories and our testimonies, told in our own words, have been ignored, silenced, or denied and denigrated. At the same time, others have told our stories through fragmented, distorted and dehumanizing language and images..
The Tree of Life award is presented for the best book, article, film, play or other creative/expressive material that presents authentic LGBT Mormon stories to the world, that gives us voice and portrays our lives in the complexity and totality of who we are as spiritual, moral, emotional, relational and physical beings. The Tree of Life is one of the archetypal images of human history. It stands not only for the primeval tree at the center of the garden of our beginning as a people of God, but also for the tree on which our Savior was crucified to bring us to redemption. In the visions of that tree portrayed in the Book of Mormon, these two archetypical narratives are unified in a powerful way. The white, luminous fruit on that tree symbolizes the love of God, which the angel tells Nephi is “most delicious to the soul.” In naming this award after that tree, it is our hope that the imaginative and thoughtful expressions of gay and lesbian Latter-day Saints and their allies will also bear fruit delicious to our souls.
View the film here: http://vimeo.com/82104871