- September 17, 2013
Post submitted by Sharon Groves, HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program
This weekend data analyst Anne Nicholl and I were privileged to present two workshops on HRC’s groundbreaking survey “Growing Up LGBT in America” to over 100 attendees of the Affirmation Annual Conference “New Frontiers” in Salt Lake City. Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons is a group dedicated to LGBT individuals from every background and situation, united in the shared experience of a spiritual and/or cultural heritage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon). HRC has been engaged with Affirmation for years now. We have held strategic planning meetings with their leadership at HRC headquarters, partnered around Prop 8 protests, and have attended many of their gatherings and promoted their work to our faith networks.
This year I saw something I hadn't seen before among the Mormons who attended -- an unapologetic desire for reconciliation with their LDS roots. Everyone who attends Affirmation is not a practicing Mormon and many have had deeply painful experiences inside the church including being excommunicated for being LGBT or LGBT supportive. Yet despite these experiences, the Mormons I met share a desire for reconciliation. Their faith is a critical part of their identity and they are not about to give it up. As John Gustov-Wrathall, a Mormon theologian and leader in Affirmation explained, there is "a desire on the part of gay Mormons to come to terms with their past. . . . We [have] dared to insist that we did not have to choose between being gay and Mormon. We dared to believe that the integrity of our souls allowed that 'we, through our faith, may begin to inherit the visions and blessings and glories of God.'”
These Mormons were ready for reengagement and their meeting in Salt Lake City demonstrated such a commitment. They worshipped at Temple Square, they held testimony meetings, and they brought some of the most prominent Mormon leaders in the LDS community, including football legend Steve Young and his wife Barb Young to the conference.
Please watch the videos of Steve and Barb’s keynote addresses.