Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
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|Founded||June 11, 1977|
|Formerly called||Affirmation: Gay Mormons United|
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. The original group struggled to survive until 1978, when Paul Mortensen formed the Los Angeles chapter and in 1980 the name was changed to Affirmation:Gay & Lesbian Mormons. Through the influence of the Los Angeles chapter, Affirmation groups appeared in many cities around the country.
Affirmation and the LDS Church
Affirmation has sometimes denounced the LDS Church. Affirmation members have come forward to describe the aversion therapy they were persuaded to undergo in the 1960s and 1970s at Brigham Young University, an LDS Church school. Gay students at Brigham Young University in 1977 widely distributed an anonymously published pamphlet called Prologue: An Examination of the Mormon Attitude Towards Homosexuality which described the aversion therapy, persecution of gays, and irregular behavior by the administration and faculty of Brigham Young University such as entrapment by the BYU security forces, recruiting student spies, and recruiting young Mormon women to attempt to sexually convert gays to heterosexuality by encouraging gay men to get married to these women in order to "cure" their homosexuality. The pamphlet said a significant percentage of the students at BYU were in fact gay and that psychologists had noted that it seemed that there was a larger percentage of Mormon gays than in any other religion. This pamphlet led directly to the formation of Affirmation in June 1977.
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.
The last decade has seen the formation of other gay Mormon organizations, some of which 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. 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.
Prominent LGBT Mormons
Prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Mormons who have been associated with Affirmation include gay activist Leonard Matlovich, artist Trevor Southey, and writer Patrick Califia.
- Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons: General Charter
- In The Beginning: A Brief History of Affirmation
- With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding
- "Prologue—An Examination of the Mormon Attitude Towards Homosexuality" by Cloy Jenkins et al—1977 Reproduction on the Internet of the content of the pamphlet which led to the founding of "Affirmation—Gay & Lesbian Mormons":
- Image of the cover of the pamphlet "Prologue: An Examination of the Mormon Attitude Towards Homosexuality" widely distributed at Brigham Young University in the spring of 1977:
- Steve Fidel, "Protesters Target Church Activism in California," Deseret News, 4 October 1999, A6.
- “Group Helps Meet Social Needs For Gay LDS Youth,” Sunstone 120:72 (November 2001).
- Carlos Peralta, “Affirmation Mexico Holds Its First Meeting,” August 2001.
- GALA: Gay And Lesbian Acceptance!
- Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons General Charter
- Leonard P. Matlovich (1943 - 1988)
- Affirmation Celebrates 30th Anniversary
- Affirmation 2002 Conference Report
- Affirmation.org (English site)
- "Same Sex Temple Sealings: Did the Early LDS Church Embrace Homosexual Relationships?", Salt Lake Metro, September 2004
- History of “Homosexuality and Mormonism 1840-1980” (1994) by Connell O’Donovan:
- "Private Pain, Public Purges: A History of Homosexuality at Brigham Young University (1940-1992)"—Address given by Connell O'Donovan on April 28, 1997 at UC Santa Cruz: