|Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Affirmation LGBT Mormons march during the 2016 Pride Parade|
From The Salt Lake City Tribune by Peggy Fletcher Stack and Jennifer Dobner
Affirmation, a support group for gay Mormons, was born in 1977, at a time when admission of same-sex attraction among the [the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder-day Saints] LDS faithful was a matter of inner turmoil, deep shame and religious rejection — even a cause for suicide.
At the time, the LDS Church viewed their sexuality as perverse and sinful, and their love as unholy. Any acceptance of gays had to be whispered.
Now 40 years later, hundreds in the church’s LGBTQ community, their families and friends, are celebrating Affirmation’s anniversary openly and with gusto at a three-day conference at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo — many embracing their gayness and their Mormonness.
The group has a full-time paid executive director, John Gustav-Wrathall, members in more than a dozen countries and, by the end of 2017, will have hosted 19 events including regional conferences and this annual national gathering.
At this meeting, which began Friday, there were sessions for youths, mothers, fathers, allies, advocates, people of color, spouses and LDS lay leaders. Attendees could find presentations that best suit their situations, whether active Mormons, post-Mormons, never Mormons, Christian, spiritual but not religious, secular or atheist. On Sunday, the conference’s final day, participants can join a choir, practice yoga or attend a spiritual devotional.
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