SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from across the country are in Salt Lake City this weekend for the 32nd Annual Affirmation Conference.
Scheduled to speak Saturday is former NFL great and Brigham Young University alumnus Steve Young.
For many people, LGBT and Mormonism are like oil and water; the two don’t mix well. However, that notion is starting to change. The Affirmation Conference focuses on issues surrounding those in the LGBT community who are also of the LDS faith and navigating that dynamic.
John Gustav-Wrathall is the senior vice president of Affirmation, and he said the conference helps bring people together.
“Even in a world of social media where people are chatting online all the time, you still need that face to face contact,” he said. “You still need to be able to shake hands, hug, sit in a room with somebody, sing hymns together, pray together.”
That’s exactly what this conference provides to the hundreds of LGBT Mormons attending this year.
Conference attendee and speaker Keith Trotteir said, “This conference isn’t so much about just talking about the issues as much as it is about healing over the issue.”
Some attendees think conferences like this one help to advance education, tolerance, and equality for everyone.
First time conference attendee James Brinton said: “We each may have a different idea of what our motive for coming is, whether it be to soften hearts of people in our families or to change church policy, but I think meeting like this will be enough. I think change happens one person at a time, one story at a time.”
Part of the weekend’s lineup of speakers is Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and his wife Barb, both active members of the LDS Church. According to Affirmation leaders, the Youngs said they are happy to be part of the conference and, “lend their voices to the healing work of making our families, our society and our Church more welcoming places for our LGBT brothers and sisters.”
Conference organizers expect about 300 attendees, and even more Saturday night when Young speaks.