Affirmation: Where LGBTQ/SSA Mormons Unite

Kelsie Matheson
Tyler Glenn, lead singer for the band, Neon Trees, makes his appearance at Affirmation. (Kelsie Matheson)

The lead singer from Neon Trees addressed nearly 600 people from the LGBTQ/SSA community in downtown Provo last Friday for the annual Affirmation Convention kick off.

The Mormon singer Tyler Glenn publicly came out as gay in an interview with Rollingstone nearly two years ago, but he had never addressed the LGBTQ/SSA community during a conference before.

“I choose to be Mormon, but I didn’t choose to be gay,” Glenn said during the conference.

He learned on his mission to meet people and to “authentically” say what he believes, which he said has helped him in the process of coming out.

“(I) never saw myself being happy. I was going to go insane like this,” Glenn said

Glenn’s mother, Debbie Glenn, also shared her perspective of her son’s sexual orientation. She said her testimony of the Savior and the church callings that she has served in prepared her to be “non-judgemental and Christlike.”

“I was chosen to be his mom and I am grateful for that,” she said.

Affirmation is an organization for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons in the community. Its mission focuses on building spirituality and providing a supportive community that also provides a “forum for communication and education” for family, friends and church leaders.

The association was organized in mid-1977 and 1978 when a group of gay Mormons began meeting secretly at BYU.

Affirmation members elect a president who chooses a board of 18 people who volunteer to serve in a variety of capacities. The organization has grown throughout the world with groups in Latin America, Europe, Canada, Australia, Africa and Asia.

“I want them [LGBTQ/SSA community] to know they are not alone, there is a community of us worldwide,” said Affirmation President Randall Thacker.

Randall served an LDS mission and attended BYU where he received counseling to change his sexual orientation, but it wasn’t until after he graduated that a therapist in Salt Lake suggested the possibility of self-acceptance. Then, his process of coming out began.

Many members of Affirmation have had similar counseling. Affirmation Vice President Kathy Carlston, also received therapy while attending BYU. Her prayers changed from “take this away” to “how do you feel?” After feeling affirmed, Carlston came out publicly in June of 2012.

“Trust yourself, listen to your heart and make your own decisions because you know yourself,” Carlston said.

Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox also spoke during the convention. He apologized on behalf of all the people who don’t understand the LGBTQ/SSA community. Cox also asked for patience as communication and education continues to change perspectives of many.




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