Almost 600 people attended the 2015 Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends Conference in Provo, Utah last weekend. They came from as many as 12 countries, 4 continents and content was provided bilingually in English and Spanish.
PHOTOS: You can view photographs from the conference on our Affirmation Facebook Like Page: https://www.facebook.com/AffirmationLGBTMormonsFamiliesFriends .
VIDEOS: Many of the videos from our 2015 Affirmation Conference are now on youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/AffirmationLDS We’ll be adding more as they are available, so subscribe to our channel to be among the first to know!
ARTICLES/BLOGS: A number of articles and blogs were written about the conference and links are included below:
God Love Every Single Person in the Deseret News
LGBT Individuals Find Hope & Love at Affirmation in the Provo Herald
Affirmation: Where LGBTQ/SSA Mormons Unite in the BYU Daily Universe
Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn Sings Beautiful Rendition of LDS Hymn in the Herald Extra
When Religion Does Right by Kate Kendell in the Advocate
Neon Trees’ Tyler Glen Sings at LGBT Mormon Convention in the Advocate
Provo Pride Fest Boost LGBT Visibility in the Salt Lake Tribune
Going to the Affirmation Conference by Lynette
SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media following the conference was full of comments from people who shared how wonderful the experience had been for them. Below are comments made from a variety of attendees.
“What an incredible weekend!! My heart and soul have been replenished. What a gift to see good friends again, to meet online friends in person, and to make new friends. I feel enlivened with purpose and my potential for happiness. Thank you everyone who attended for your wonderful spirits and all the LOVE!! I already can’t wait for the next conference.”
“Thank you, Affirmation family. The past few days have been life changing, and I can’t wait to see you all again next year. May your lights continue to shine brightly as you go back into the world, and may we continue to build a beloved community with space enough for all.”
“It was great to meet all my friends in person at Affirmation this past weekend and to see old friends again!”
“I had a seriously amazing time and made some wonderful friends.” “Honestly, even just this opening night for Affirmation was amazing. So much emotion, solidarity and camaraderie all in one building is a bit overwhelming at times. “
“I went to the Affirmation conference for the first time this year, and I truly felt like it has changed my life and helped me so much! It even gave me the courage to come out to my parents, and I was able to give them a couple resources I got there to look at too. They did not react well at all, and it really hurt. However I have hope that with patience and the support of my friends and the knowledge that I’m not going through this alone, I will make it through this and my parents will eventually come around!”
“You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love. I feel like for the first time I understand and accept this concept. The Affirmation conference this past weekend was truly a turning point for me.”
Karen Heath Penman: “Things I LOVED about the Affirmation Conference this weekend:
- The Youth made great friends, even those who were very anxious to be “the new kid.” They were running around in a pack, which is as it should be…and they probably haven’t had those experiences in their wards.
- TYLER GLENN’s rendition of “Where Can I Turn For Peace.”
- Tyler Glenn’s MOM. She’s just like me and my LDS friends who are moms of LGBTQ kids. We love our kids. END OF STORY.
- 1/2) Kendall Wilcox is the Mormon Phil Donahue.
- Seeing Old Friends. Hugs. Meeting New Friends. More Hugs.
- The wide array of LGBTQ/SSA Mormons who were at the conference and ALL felt welcome. Yes. There were SSA Mormons there who had never been to Affirmation and they LOVED it. They felt very welcome and loved.
- Sara Jade Woodhouse is a Goddess. I really have a girl crush on her. Her testimony gives me hope.
- Hearing the stories of healing and hope from LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, former Mormons, and ex-Mormons. Your experiences strengthen me.
- So many, many, many other things. So many times I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” I noticed the Fruits of the Spirit throughout the WHOLE conference. Peace. Long Suffering. Gentleness. Goodness. Faith. Meekness. Temperance. Against such THERE IS NO LAW. I love you all. Thanks”
“I had a wonderful time at the conference seeing so many of you. The Prepare session was really really good on Saturday and there were many other good sessions and meals and so much to enjoy.”
“I want to thank everyone who made the conference possible. You created a space and time where many people were touched, healed and inspired. Thank you all for your time, hard work and compassion. As for me, I only attended the first day of the conference. Being an introvert makes it really draining for me to be around a lot of people, even if they’re awesome. I actually needed a break from the crowds smile emoticon It was a good feeling, though, to be with ‘my people’, however brief. I’d like to thank my friends for hanging with me, and sharing some great moments at the conference.”
“The one profound thing that I got from the conference that stands out for me was when Tyler Glenn talked about his faith and his sexuality. He said something to the effect that he doesn’t have all of the answers, and that that is ok, and that he believes it will work out with faith, love and time. He said that he tried to have an answer for everything at one time, but that he learned to let go. I love that. I don’t have all of the answers, and that’s ok. It feels good to not have that pressure. I think we as LDS people, or former LDS people, feel the need to have all of the answers. It’s ok to not have the answers. It’s ok to trust in God, in love, in time. Thanks, Tyler, for sharing!”
“Conference was a very uplifting experience for me this year. In addition to learning a lot in the workshops and affinity sessions, I was blown away by the diversity of thought and experiences expressed by the keynote speakers. It is always nice to have a safe place where I can reconnect with old friends and make new friends, all while exploring the opportunities for growth presented by the annual Conference.”
“I found the conference to be spiritual and uplifting. As usual the Sunday morning program was great. Todd Richardson gave a great talk, and the testimony meeting was a highlight as usual. The program at Sunday lunch was just right, especially the quartet singing songs from Les Mes.”
“This weekend has definitely been a highlight of the year.” “[It was] such a great weekend meeting new friends.”
“I felt the spirit of love.”
“Just wanted to take this moment and thank all of you who were instrumental in putting together Affirmation’s Annual Conference. It was great to meet with old friends and new! I was thoroughly humbled by the opportunity to share a stage with the likes of Kate Kendall, Samuel Wolfe, Laura Skaggs Dulin, and Michael McLean. It was an honor! My only regrets are that due to my new job I had to miss much of what happened on Thursday and Friday (so sorry Randall) and that, due to an unforeseen episode of some kind of stomach bug, I was forced to leave early and I missed so much. I’m sorry Michael that I wasn’t there to hear the song dedication! If anyone has a recording of that I would love to hear it. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to hang out with so many of you after the event. Thank you all so much for your kindness and your love. I look forward to seeing you all at sometime in the future.”
“Thank you to everyone who prepared for and participated in the conference this weekend. I enjoyed watching from afar, and had many points where I was inspired and illuminated by what was shared.”
By John Gustav-Wrathall: “Conference high points for me, in no particular order:
- Being the official tour guide for Carmen Paz, Joaquín Bustamante, and Augustín in Salt Lake.
- Tyler Glenn’s renditions of “Where Shall I Turn for Peace,” “I Need Thee Every Hour,” and “Because I Have Been Given Much.”
- Hearing Tyler Glenn’s active LDS, former Relief Society President mom, in response to a question on what she thinks of official Church teaching about homosexuality, explaining eloquently how the heart of the Gospel is love.
- Feeling reassured, as Kathy Carlston, Fred Bowers and I gave our candidacy speeches, that we’re all in this together.
- Hugs, kisses, tears! All throughout the conference!
- Prayers in Spanish and in English.
- In my small group discussion in the Prepare affinity group, hearing fellow gay Mormons talk about their love for God and their testimonies of the Gospel and of God’s love for them. One told heart-breaking stories of dealing with this in the Church in the 1950s. One of the younger men talked about how, though it felt right to him to be at Church, it also felt incredibly vulnerable. I asked the others if any of them had gotten to the point of not feeling vulnerable anymore to raise their hand, and not a hand went up. In that moment, I felt such a deep, deep love for every single one of them.
- Getting a much needed nap on Saturday afternoon.
- Hearing the Spanish translators tell us that it can’t have been a coincidence that they were assigned to this conference, because being with us was opening their minds and feeding their souls.
- Laura Skaggs Dulin’s incredibly vulnerable, inspiring account of the personal journey that led her to a profound understanding of friendship, and the power of friendship to inspire compassion and activism.
- Ezequiel Rojas conducting our devotional and testimony meeting.
- Hearing Sister Fiona Givens bear witness that every word of the entire Harry Potter series is inspired by God.
- Every word spoken in our testimony meeting.
- Sitting at the end of the testimony line, knowing the line was way too long for me to have a chance to bear my testimony, but feeling it burning in my heart nonetheless.
- The testimony of a woman who, as a teenager, had been homeless for seven years, describing how she finally understood the love of God because she had been to Affirmation. Hugging her and weeping together afterwards.
- Holding hands with Ellen Koester with tears running down my face, while Vaughn Curtis Larsen, Ron Raynes, Nathan Kitchen and others sang a beautiful medley of songs from Les Miserables.
- After presenting Adryán Sán Román with this year’s Mortensen Award, hearing him tell how he knew he had a responsibility to reach out to others — one soul at a time — because he knew the depth of God’s love for him.
- Making time. Not wanting to leave.
- Bobbee’s make-up smeared on the shoulder of my Sunday suit after the last, heartfelt goodbye hug of conference.”
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). Thank you, Affirmation family. The past few days have been life changing, and I can’t wait to see you all again next year. May your lights continue to shine brightly as you go back into the world, and may we continue to build a beloved community with space enough for all.”