Definitions

affirmation

Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons is an international organization for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and intersex people who identify as members or ex-members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Affirmation holds that "homosexuality and homosexual relationships can be consistent with and supported by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Under the name Affirmation: Gay Mormons United, the first Affirmation group was organized in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 11, 1977 by Stephan Zakharias and a group of other Mormon and ex-Mormons Gays and Lesbians. It was started after two friends of Zakharias (a gay Brigham Young University student) committed suicide after participating in electric shock therapy experiments administered by BYU's Psychology Department, spearheaded by Dr. D. Eugene Thorne and PhD candidate Max Ford McBride in 1976. The original group struggled to survive until 1978, when Paul Mortensen formed the Los Angeles chapter. Through the influence of the Los Angeles chapter, Affirmation groups appeared in many cities around the country.

Over the decades, Affirmation's consistent goal has been to provide a safe haven for LGBTI people to discuss their sexuality and to make friends. Affirmation has never intended to be a new religion. However in 1985 some members of Affirmation did decide to form a Mormon church for gays and lesbians. Today that church is known as the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ.

Affirmation and the LDS Church

Because of the many actions carried out by Mormon leaders against homosexual behavior, Affirmation has sometimes denounced the LDS Church. Affirmation members have come forward to describe the aversion therapy they were persuaded to undergo in the 1960’s and 1970’s at Brigham Young University, an LDS Church school. In October 1999, some Affirmation members in Salt Lake City protested the LDS Church’s lobbying and funding of initiatives in California and other states to keep the traditional definition of marriage.

In February of 2000, the LDS Church spent millions of dollars of church funds and successfully lobbied for passage of a California law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. When gay Mormons committed suicide after February 2000, Affirmation members began to hold suicide vigils around the country to raise awareness about suicide prevention and the destructive consequences of homophobia.

Related organizations

The last decade has seen the formation of other gay Mormon organizations, some are close allies. Gamofites, an organization for gay Mormon fathers, began in 1991. Family Fellowship, an organization for parents of gay and lesbian Mormons, was formed in 1993. LDS Reconciliation() a group of Gay and Lesbian Mormons that was originally started in conjunction with Family Fellowship serves a similar purpose but is focused on gay and lesbian Mormons in the Utah and Idaho areas, rather than worldwide as is Affirmation. The first group for gay Mormon youth, Gay LDS Young Adults, was launched in Salt Lake City in 2001.

With the advent of the Internet, many gay and lesbian Mormons began to participate in Affirmation from overseas, especially in Latin America. In 2001 the first non-English chapter was formed in Mexico City, and later chapters appeared in Santiago (Chile), Valparaíso (Chile), and Puebla (Mexico).

In addition, GALA (Gay and Lesbian Acceptance), the support group for GLBT members of the Independence, Missouri -based Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), was a break off from the Affirmation Chapter in Kansas City, Missouri in the mid-1980s.

Membership and Presence

Affirmation functions through local chapters established mostly in the Inter-mountain West, Chile, and Australia. Approximately 1,000 people are associated with the organization, 300 of whom are dues-paying members. At the head of the organization is an executive committee composed of three members. Annual conferences, held in a different city each year, attract hundreds of members and friends from around the United States and abroad. Affirmation publishes a monthly newsletter, Affinity.

Renowned Gay Mormons

Prominent gay and lesbian Mormons who have been associated with Affirmation include gay activists such as Leonard Matlovich, renowned artists such as Trevor Southey, and popular writers such as Pat Califia.

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External links

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