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Workshops and Presenters for the Affirmation Conference!

Affirmation Brazil members share their "LGBT Mormon stories"
Affirmation Brazil members share their "LGBT Mormon stories"

September 5, 2016

Workshops at the Affirmation Annual Conference this year will be organized in several tracks. Here is a list of all the workshops that will be taking place, with bios of the presenters below that!

Are you a Boy or a Girl?: Exploring Trans and Non-binary Identities Frankie Lee and Jesse
Building Intersectional Awareness Averyl Dietering
The Problem of Patriarchy Kristen Cardon
Effective Communication in Relationships Lori Bolland Embree and Grayson Alexander Moore
Spirituality in Relationships (3 Couples) Berta Marquez & Kathy Carlston; Spencer Mickelson & Nick Einbender; Moudi Sbeity & Derek Kitchen
Dating and Sexuality for LGBTQ+ Mormons Marybeth Raynes and Lee Beckstead
Navigating Church Activity and Relationships Post-Policy Devin Bourne, Jena Lowry Peterson and Craig Watts
Theology and Doctrine Taylor Petrey
Personal Revelation and Spirituality James Brinton and Ann Pack
What Do I Believe?: Exploring Other Spiritual Paths Kyle and Reece Jacobsen
Managing Relationships with Active LDS Family, Friends and Church Members/Leaders Post-Policy Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen
Deciding Which Values and Beliefs to Keep Megan Savage-Johnson and James Kent
Self-Acceptance (LGBT Mormon 101) Tyler Lefevor and Alex Florence
Creating Wellness Plans in Response to LGBTQ Mormon Related Trauma Laura Dulin
Suicide Awareness & Prevention Training Marian Edmonds Allen, Rachel Peterson
Discussing sexual health and risks with your LGBTQ youth and young adults – a workshop for LDS parents. Bryan Hendrickson
Mama Dragon Story Project Kimberly Anderson

kimberly_andersonKIMBERLY ANDERSON

Kimberly Anderson has photographed nearly 70 Mama Dragons covering six western states since January 2015. She has been a professional photographer for 27 years and has focused her carreer on story telling through photography. She has used her photography to help the mothers of LGBT childen share their stories invisioning and creating the Mama Dragon Story Project.


Lee Beckstead, PhD, is a psychologist with a private practice in Salt Lake City. He specializes in relationship dynamics such as assertiveness, communication, intimacy, self-esteem, sexuality, and forgiveness. He provides individual and couples therapy for adults dealing with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual trauma, HIV/AIDS, and transgender issues. Overall, understanding how to resolve sexual, religious, and social conflicts has been his research and counseling focus. To participate in his current research, go to



Lori Bolland Embree is a feminist ginger and part-time professor at BYU-I. She teaches interpersonal communication, public speaking, and communication essentials. Lori owns a jewelry business, loves ComiCon conventions (where she sells nerdy jewelry), and is a Mama Dragon who works tirelessly for acceptance and assistance for LBGTQIA people.



Devin Bourne was born in Canada but has grown up primarily in Utah. He is a graduate of the University of Utah and is currently pursuing entrance to Medical School. He also currently leads the Millennials Group in Affirmation. The oldest of 6 in a strong Mormon family, Devin knew he was different form the age of 4. He came out to his parents after High School and then served a wonderful mission in San Jose, California. Upon returning home, Devin was forced to deal with the reality of his sexual identity. After a great deal of thought and prayer and many course corrections, Devin has found a balance he is comfortable with as he remains active in his ward and dates men. He hopes to find another active LDS gay man to one day marry. Devin has a strong testimony of the Savior, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. It is difficult to stay active sometimes, but it is where Devin feels the Lord wants and needs him. Devin feels that the best work he can do is at a very grassroots level in the Church. He feels that many church members do not understand the LGBT community because they have no experience with it. He feels the best thing he can do is to set an example and let people see what a gay man with a testimony looks like.



James Brinton is an Arizona native who lives in Arlington, Virginia, and is a leader of the DC Affirmation chapter.  He works as a geriatric speech-language pathologist in the DC Metropolitan area. While in Arizona, as a counselor at Mesa Community College’s Student Diversity and Leadership Retreat, James recognized a greater need for dialogue between diverse groups within his own conservative community, and has since helped plan interfaith service gatherings in Arizona and Washington DC.  After attending the DC Circling the Wagons Conference in 2012, he felt a growing desire to somehow be connected to his LDS ward in Virginia.  He lives with his partner of 6 years, and now attends a family ward as an openly gay Mormon. He is inspired by the many LGBTQ individuals and allies across a spectrum of spiritual belief and experience who contribute to constructive conversation around the intersection of Mormonism and LGBTQ issues.

Kristen Nicole Cardon


Kristen Cardon is a PhD student in English at UCLA, where she specializes in British and Empire literature of the twentieth century as well as queer theory and literature. She is a lifelong Mormon, married to Averyl Dietering, and mama to a neurotic dog. While earning a BA and MA at BYU, Kristen was an elected leader of the Women’s Studies Honor Society and co-managing editor of the campus’s only women’s studies journal.



Kathy Carlston grew up as a queer Mormon in Littleton, CO. She went on to received a degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development from BYU, and a second degree in Animation and Visual Effects from Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. She created visual effects for several feature films, including The Avengers, Super 8, and Oz: The Great and Powerful.  Kathy and her wife, Berta, life in Springville Utah, where they work to build resources for the LDS LGBT community through organizations like Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends, and LDS Walk With You.

Averyl Dietering


Averyl Dietering was born in South Jordan, UT and held many callings as a member in Young Women and in Relief Society. Averyl met her wife, Kristen, while attending BYU; they married in 2015 just a few days after the SCOTUS decision. Averyl currently lives in Los Angeles with her wife and their dog, Eliot, while both Averyl and Kristen finish their doctoral degrees in English literature. Through community involvement and graduate study, Averyl has educated herself about intersectionality and is eager to help Affirmation in its goals to become more intersectional.



Laura Skaggs Dulin is a member of the board of Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends, and is a regular contributor to the Out in Zion podcast, a co-producer on the Far Between documentary and a mental health professional.


Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen is the Executive Director of Parity, a national LGBTQ and faith organization based in New York City.  In 2013, Marian was named Person of the Year by Q Salt Lake for her visionary leadership in expanding services for LGBTQ youth in Utah, and in 2015 was named a Petra Fellow for her work with LGBTQ homeless youth.  She is co-founder of the LGBTQ Youth Continuum of Care, and was formerly Executive Director of the Utah Pride Center and OUTreach Resource Centers, and served as the National Program Director of the Family Acceptance Project. She lives in New York with her wife and children.



Nick Einbender and Spencer Mickelson met at the annual Affirmation Conference in 2014 and, as they say, the rest is history.  Nick is a dentist in the United States Air Force and Spencer works as a fitness instructor in addition to several creative pursuits.  Recently relocated from Hawaii to Washington DC, Nick and Spencer regularly attend church, are open about sharing their experiences as gay LDS, and are dedicated to the creation of a safe place for all to worship together.  They also serve in various platforms and capacities within Affirmation.

alex florence


Alex Florence currently lives in Farmington Utah and is a newly wed of 6 months to his wife Christy. He works at Hill AFB as a F-16 software configuration manager. Alex is a transgender man who started his transition journey Dec 2011. He has served as a co-president of a non profit organization in SLC and continues to help with events and functions for the organization. Alex grew up as a faithful member of the LDS church but has been excommunicated. This is his second Affirmation he has attended and has fallen in love with the feeling and community that Affirmation has given to him.


Bryan Hendrickson is a resident physician in family medicine from Gilbert, Arizona. He works with the I’ll Walk With You support group for new parents of LGBTQ in the Salt Lake City area and is a founder of the ALL Arizona support group for LGBTQ Mormons and their families in Arizona.


Kyle and Reece Jacobsen are both originally from St. George. Reece served an LDS mission in Ventura, California, worked at Disney World for a summer, and graduated with a teaching degree at Dixie State College in 2012. He has taught elementary school for four years, currently teaching 3rd grade. His passions are Disneyland, reality TV, music, theater, and reading. Kyle served an LDS mission in Moscow, Russia, is involved in LGBT projects like I’ll Walk With You, and is currently finishing the last year of his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Utah State with plans to apply for law school. His passions are videography, music, writing, science, and religion. Kyle and Reece were recently married and now reside in Logan, Utah.

james kent


James Kent says: “I am an Asian-Pacific Islander and reside on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. I am a 3rd Generation Latter-day Saint. I joined Affirmation in May of 1988. I have served as Executive Director of Affirmation in 2000, and as AFFNITY Newsletter Editor.”



Derek Kitchen & Moudi Sbeity are two of the plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, the lawsuit that overturned Utah’s ban on marriage equality. They operate two small businesses, with their restaurant opening this October. Derek also serves on the Salt Lake City Council, representing downtown & central city.



Derek Knox is an educator who recently joined the LDS Church after starting a masters program in biblical studies at Andover Newton Theological School. His research interests include queer hermeneutics, prejudice reduction, and creating change in homophobic spaces using traditional, faithful methods.

Frankie Lee


Frankie Lee works for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response. Frankie identifies as genderqueer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming, and uses “they/them” pronouns. They were raised Mormon and chairs the committee for trans/GNC inclusion in City employment. They are also a co-founder of a new non-profit called WeExist, where they co-chair the trans workgroup with their partner, Jesse. Jesse is a Jewish, transgender, psychodynamically-trained psychotherapist who is pursuing their/his sex-therapy certification.

Tyler Lefevor


If you’ve talked with Tyler Lefevor for more than 5 minutes, you’ve probably heard one of his life mantras: “Life’s a journey,” “It’s not ideal. And that’s okay,” and “We all matter”. Tyler is a psychologist whose research focuses on the impact of religious and sexual identities on mental health and finding healthy ways to integrate “conflicting” identities. He has worked with LGBTQ students in college counseling centers at the University of Miami, BYU, and currently at Stanford University. He loves being active, getting to know new people, and exploring new places.



Berta Marquez has worked for several years throughout Utah with organizations that specialize in bridging the gap between communities of faith and the LGBT community, including Affirmation, Mormons Building Bridges, Mama Dragons, Out in Zion, and LDS Walk With You. She has collaborated with Equality Utah and the ACLU on social justice work specific to LGBT rights and is working with Operation Shine America which works with and advocates for homeless youth, which is perhaps her greatest passion. She and her wife, Kathy, live in Springville, Utah, working with and ministering to LDS LGBT youth and young adults in crisis.



Grayson Alexander Moore (he/him/his) is a 21-year-old trans man and a lifelong member of the LDS church. His preferred orientation descriptors are ‘asexual’ and ‘polyqueer,’ and he currently has two partners whom he loves deeply. He also loves linguistics, half-marathons, the novel he’s writing, food, and all birds except starlings and seagulls.”



Ann Pack is a transgender woman who has been a member of the church since she was 8 years old. She came from a strong LDS family and has lived in Utah her whole life. After serving a mission in London, England, she met her wife Brigit and they were married in the Bountiful temple. They have been married for 17 years and have a 12 year old daughter. Ann attends church each week with her family. Together Ann and her wife seek to help make church more welcoming for LGBTQI+ individuals.


Rachel Peterson has two Master’s Degrees from Utah State University, one in counseling, one in statistics and research methods. She Chairs the Utah Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, and has been researching youth homelessness in Utah for six years. She is currently Director of the Continuum of Care for LGBTQ Youth, a Principal of the Spectrum Consulting Group and a consultant for the Family Acceptance Project. Before these positions, Rachel was Executive Director of OUTreach Resource Centers, a youth-serving non-profit and Director of Programs and Evaluation at the Utah Pride Center.



Taylor G. Petrey is the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Associate Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College. This academic year he is a research associate at the Women’s Studies in Religion Program and Visiting Associate Professor of Women, Sexuality, and Religion at Harvard Divinity School. He is teaching a class on “Gender, Sexuality, and Mormonism” at Harvard Divinity School this fall. He is the author of “Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology” and “Rethinking Mormonism’s Heavenly Mother.”



Marybeth Raynes is an LCSW and LMFT in private practice with 35 years of experience working with LGBTQ+ communities via therapy, community engagement, and co-editing the book, Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation. She especially enjoys working with women’s concerns and spiritual conflicts.


Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and member of the LGBTQ Affirmative Therapists Guild of Utah. She is a member of the Reconciliation and Growth Project team and serves as mental health adviser to the Encircle Center for LGBTQ youth.


Craig Watts grew up in Provo and came out as gay in 1988 following his mission and during his junior year at BYU. Four years later, Craig was excommunicated for being in a gay relationship and spent two decades living in Asia, far from all things Mormon. In 2012, through the miracle of in-vitro fertilization, Craig became a father to his first son Ezra, and then 17 months later had twin boys. Last Christmas Craig and his three boys moved from Beijing back to his parents’ house in Provo, where he actively attends the ward where he grew up. Craig’s parents, Gary and Millie Watts, have been pioneers in LGBT acceptance.”

This article was submitted by an Affirmation community member. The opinions expressed are wholly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Affirmation, our leadership, or our staff. Affirmation welcomes the submission of articles by community members in accordance with our mission, which includes promoting the understanding, acceptance, and self-determination of individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and our vision for Affirmation to be a refuge to land, heal, share, and be authentic.

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