Adam White’s It Gets Better video
|Affirmation Conference Report|
|Affirmation Calendar 2012
I felt edified for having been in the presence of pioneers
by Adam White, vice president of Understanding Same-gender Attraction
On October 19-21 I had the opportunity to attend Affirmation’s conference in Seattle. I was invited, along with my fellow leadership at Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA), to go and “Celebrate the Journey” with other LGBT Mormons. What a wonderful trip it was! I felt love, I felt community, and I felt the Spirit of God.
I’ll be honest. My interactions with Affirmation were few and awkward before this conference. I never quite knew what to think of Affirmation as a young gay man, a student at BYU who is loved and supported by his fellow students. I’d been told by friends that it was just a group of angry old men. I was led to think that all those who were excommunicated or left the church years ago for being gay congregated at Affirmation to gripe, moan and generally be angry at life.
That wasn’t my experience in Seattle. The people I met there were extraordinary people. I found people that loved each other, that sought earnestly to live well, that honored their spirituality. No one was particularly angry and vile towards the LDS Church. If anyone had a shade of those emotions, it was because they were tired of the hurt and the pain they suffered at the hands of those Church members and leaders who meant to be Christlike, but got lost in ignorance and the fear of the unknown. I saw people who love Mormonism, love their culture and their families, and who lost everything when their communities shut the proverbial door in their face.
It’s a different world now. It is a world that is getting better. At our last gathering at the conference, a closing luncheon, I was able to share my experience leading Understanding Same-Gender Attraction with people who were kicked out or shunned at BYU because of their sexual orientation. I came away feeling so blessed that others before me had paved the way for me to be an openly gay man on BYU campus. As I shared the openness, the love, and the progress that I see every day on my university’s campus I saw hope in the eyes of all those who attended. At the Affirmation conference, I found that Affirmation, like me and so many others, has the goals of providing a haven for LGBT Mormons and providing another voice to the cause of unconditional love. I came to the conference with a message of encouragement and hope, and I felt edified for having been in the presence of pioneers.
Affirmation has a lot growing to do, as do we all. There are wounds to heal, apologies to vocalize, and there is forgiveness that needs to be given and received between the LGBT Mormon community and the LDS Church at large. Affirmation is actively creating and improving the space for LGBT Mormons in our communities, and it is my opinion that all who vocalize their experience with homosexuality and the LDS Church will be crucial to making this world a better place for LGBT people of faith. Thank you, Affirmation, for an eye-opening experience and a whole lot of love.