Gay Mormon teens Jon Abhau (left) and Jordan Montgomery (right), who attended the Affirmation conference with their parents, share a moment of sheer joy with keynote speakers Barb and Steve Young.
Meg Abhau: “It means everything to have an ally such as the Youngs–Someone that says ‘I’m here with you and I fight for your son.’”
Over 400 LGBT Mormons, families, and friends gathered in Salt Lake City this past weekend for one of the best-attended conferences in Affirmation history. With a program that combined powerful spiritual messages and inspiring music with great entertainment and opportunities for social interaction, we celebrated in all its splendor and diversity what it means to be LGBT and Mormon.
This year we’re especially grateful to so many allies (friends, church leaders, parents, siblings) who not only attended the event, but also sang in the choir, participated in the workshops, and made donations to help pay the bills. Affirmation no longer feels as “gay and lesbian Mormons,” but rather as a large network of LGBT Mormons, families and friends, all working with unity of purpose.
“BEST TIME EVER!!!!!!!” commented Jordan Montgomery, a 15-year-old gay Mormon who attended the event with his LDS parents. “I got to meet Steve Young and his wife Barb Young. Now I seriously don’t want to go back to reality.”
“The second the closing prayer finished, (my gay son) Jon was out of his seat and sprinted across the aisle to hug (Barb Young),” commented Meg Hendrix Abhau about the Saturday evening program. “He said his heart was exploding with love and he needed a hug that second. It means everything to have an ally such as the Youngs–Someone that says ‘I’m here with you and I fight for your son.’”
The media coverage was unprecedented; over 400 people attended the Saturday evening program; and we were recognized for the first time in the Tabernacle when “Affirmation” was asked to stand up at the end of Music and Spoken Word. But it was really a Spirit of healing and renewal what made this a historic weekend.
“Affirmation experienced a kind of rebirth this weekend” reflected Senior Vice President John Gustav-Wrathall. “ We’ve gone back to Affirmation’s roots, to the hopes and dreams of Affirmation’s founders in the 1970s that LGBT Mormons might find faith, hope, and love against all odds in a Church that denied the possibility of gay Mormon virtue.”
“We’ve gone back to the roots of our faith as Latter-day Saints, blossomed from the yearning of a 14-year-old farm boy for wisdom greater than that he possessed, who dared to ‘ask of God.’”