GLBTQI Mormons Hold National Conference
by Armand Raoul
Affirmation – Gay &Lesbian Mormons, founded in 1977, held its 33rd annual conference October 19th through 21st at Seattle’s Renaissance Hotel. The three day event drew participants from across the United States.
Under the direction of Affirmation president Joshua Behn of Salt Lake City and conference chairperson Fred Bowers of Arlington, Virginia the conference hosted workshops on a variety of topics including Working with Our Straight Allies for Marriage Equality; Dating and Building Healthy and Long Term Gay Relationships; and Healing the Relationships between Mormons and Gay Rights Supporters among others.
The conference began with a keynote presentation by documentary film maker Kendall Wilcox, whose current project "Far Between" (farbetweenmovie.com) deals with what it means to be Mormon and homosexual today.
The keynote address was "The Journey from Homophobia to Espousing Gay Rights," presented by nationally known blogger John Dehlin (mormonstories.org and mormonmatters.org), who is also a co-founder of Mormons For Marriage (a pro same sex marriage organization) and one of the developers of OpenCourseWare.
Among the other speakers and workshop leaders were poet and philosopher Dr. Robert A. Rees, professor of Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley CA, who is co-author of the San Francisco State University study Supportive Families, Healthy Children; Scott Holley, co-founder of Mormons For Marriage Equality of Mt Vernon WA; noted gay author Marty Beaudet of Damacus OR; marriage and family therapist Aimee Heffernan of Redmond WA; Michelle Beaver, award winning journalist and author of Romney’s Gay America, from Arizona State University; Adam White, a Brigham Young University theatre arts student from Washington DC and the vice president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction, a GSA type organization which now has over 80 students at its weekly meetings on campus at BYU; Tina Richardson, professional musician and member of the Tiptons Sax Quartet and Circus Amok of New York City.
A non-Mormon participant in the conference told this writer that he found a strong spirit of mutual support among participants who have faced homophobic upbringings and dealt with angst in confronting their sexuality. He came away with a sense of love and optimism and the knowledge that attitudes are beginning to change among traditional Mormons in their stance toward the gay and lesbian life style.
Next year’s national conference of Affirmation-Gay and Lesbian Mormons is scheduled to take place at the Fort Douglas campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. For further information about Affirmation go to the national website at affirmation.org or contact the local chapter at