Friday, July 7, 2017

2017 Pioneer Day BBQ Potluck in Alexandria, Virginia

Join Affirmation LGBT Mormons Families & Friends for our Annual Pioneer Day Barbecue and Potluck on Sunday July 23, 2017!  We'll take time to celebrate our common heritage, faith journeys, and the arrival of the Pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley as they discovered and created a new Zion.   In our own ways, we are all pioneers.

Where: Fort Ward Park, Alexandria, Virginia.  4301 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304. This park is a great venue!  Shade, grass, historical Civil War history, family-friendly event!

When: Sunday July 23rd, 2017, 3:00-7:00 PM
What to bring:  The DC chapter of Affirmation will provide Hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns.  Please bring one of the following sides:  fruit/veggie trays, sides (salad, baked beans, potato salad, etc.) finger foods, drinks, or desserts. Contact for more info. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

 The LGBTQ+ community is inherently intersectional and
our struggle is shared and our resilience unrelenting.
DC Capital Pride and the 2017 Equality march on Washington  
DC Capital Pride may be more like a parade than a protest, but for many, visibility is still an act of protest. I started marching in the parade with Affirmation and Mormons Building Bridges. It was integral in my process of being honest and authentic about who I am.
In the past five years of making it out to Capital Pride, I have asked myself: Do I post these pictures on social media? Will people I work with see it? Do I post this vlog from Pride? My students could see it. What if someone from church sees it? Is it okay to share this picture of my friend at the parade? Will my family just assume that I'm there as an ally? Should I let them just assume that?
I went back to look at pictures from past years, and I noticed that I dodged several group pictures. This year, I didn’t ask myself so many questions. I wore a shirt with Cheer Bear in front of a bright, glittery rainbow. I bought the rainbow bandanna that I've wanted for the past 5 years. I put on a complete rainbow selection of beads during the parade and I headed back for the LGBT Equality March on Washington.

These were some of the phrases that struck me the most:
· Existence is resistance.
· A peaceful reminder
that we will not be silenced
in our faith communities.
· It's not just about bathrooms
just like it wasn't just about water fountains.
· We have stood in solidarity with you.
We ask you to stand in solidarity with us.
As a fairly feminine woman, no one would know I was bisexual unless I told them. My coworkers think my gender neutral pronouns are just a product of my liberal upbringing. Or, maybe they think I'm being funny. My friends at church assume I'm an ally. My family assumed I was always going to support a friend. I think that at times I have too often been complicit in my own bierasure. Though, I remind myself that it is not my fault that people see what they want to see. Also, everyone has their own journey.
It meant a lot to me to hear the brief but powerful comments of Sara Ramirez about visibility and bi-representation. She spoke directly to the bisexual experience: "Our experience makes people uncomfortable...[deemed by some] as not gay enough or not straight enough...having chosen a side [or] damaging to the cause. Our very existence threatens hetereonormativity and the gender binary."
Other speakers represented the varied experiences of the LGBTQ+ community: an African American trans woman who has overcome youth homelessness, a gay immigrant from Guatemala whose mother gave up her job and home to move to a country where her son could live a more authentic life, and a two spirit water defender from Standing Rock. The focus on intersectionality could have felt contrived, but it didn't. Because, the LGBTQ+ community is inherently intersectional. Like Sara Ramirez said, "[Our] stand for equality has never been about just one person, just one lived experience, or one identity. Our struggle is shared and our resilience unrelenting." The intersectionality was well thought out as well as thoughtful.
This Pride was a powerful commemoration of its roots, those we have lost, and the authenticity of who we are. It’s not enough that people are fine with us as long as they don't have to see us.  This pride was a powerful commemoration of its roots, those we have lost, and the authenticity of who we are.
~Guest post by MC

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pioneer Day Celebration BBQ Potluck, July 24, 2016, Alexandria, Virginia

Join Affirmation LGBT Mormons Families & Friends for our Annual Pioneer Day Barbecue and Potluck on Sunday July 24, 2016!  We'll take time to celebrate our common heritage, faith journeys, and the arrival of the Pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley as they discovered and created a new Zion.   In our own ways, we are all pioneers.

Where: Fort Ward Park, Alexandria, Virginia.  4301 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304. This park is a great venue!  Shade, grass, historical Civil War history, family-friendly event!
When: Sunday July 24th, 2016, 3:00-7:00 PM
What to bring:  The DC chapter of Affirmation will provide Hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns.  Please bring one of the following sides:  fruit/veggie trays,  sides (salad, baked beans, potato salad, etc.), finger foods, drinks, or desserts. Contact for more info. 

My People were Mormon Pioneers. Is the blood still good?  
Carol Lynn Pearson shares her poem:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Capital Pride 2016 and The Work of the Good Shepherd

Thank you to everyone who joined us 
to make Capital Pride 2016 a success!

  In our best and worst times, Christ invites us to look to Him and to follow him. 

We exist

Mothers & Fathers in the crowd.  Thank you for your advocacy.

A photo from the crowd

Jamie organized a sign making party, and invited people from his ward.  Not everyone is comfortable marching in a Parade, but can make signs expressing their heartfelt feelings.  It provided the chance to have authentic conversations about each person's individual journey on understanding our LGBTQ/SSA sisters and brothers, and how being gay can impact families and wards.  

Allies from Boston

All set up and ready to go!
 It is sad that we have to be vigilant for our safety this day as we mourn what happened in Orlando last night

Some commonly asked questions...answered honestly and openly
Amazing allies and friends who made the magic happen!

Make it fabulous!!

Not everything at Pride is loud and boisterous.  We had many heart to heart conversations to connect with others.  Unconditional love is never a threat to doctrine--it is a key piece of Christ's doctrine.   

We all have gifts to minister to others and can look to the Savior for different examples of service and ministry.  

We read about how Jesus read scriptures in the temple. 
Jesus sought out the lepers, the blind, and lame. 
Jesus gathered the children.
Jesus drove money changers out of the temple.
He broke bread with strangers whom religious leaders scorned.
Jesus invited people to follow him.
Jesus taught that in the kingdom of heaven, the first will be last, and the last will be first. 
Jesus taught in parables to meet people's understanding--to reach them.  
He commanded people to come one by one to touch him and be healed.
He gave his life to save his friends.

And He taught us that people would know us by our love.  

Elder Dieter F. Uchtorf, April 2016
The Parable of the Lost Sheep

"During the Savior's ministry, the religious leaders of His day disapproved of Jesus spending time with people they had labeled 'sinners.'

Perhaps to them it looked like He was tolerating or even condoning sinful behavior.  Perhaps they believed that the best way to help sinners repent was by condemning, ridiculing, and shaming them.

When the Savior perceived what the Pharisees and scribes were thinking, He told a story:

'What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.'

Over the centuries, this parable has traditionally been interpreted as a call to action for us to bring back the lost sheep and to reach out to those who are lost.  While this is certainly appropriate and good, I wonder if there is more to it.

Is it possible that Jesus's purpose, first and foremost, was to teach about the work of the Good Shepherd?"

This weekend we ministered and loved. We listened. We shared. We contributed to the work of the Good Shepherd. Thank you to everyone who joined us.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

You don’t have to push a handcart to be a pioneer: The many faces of being an LGBTQ Ally/friend in the church

As children growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), we learn about the rich pioneer heritage that our ancestors built as they crossed oceans and continents to follow their innermost convictions, live their faith, and build Zion in the Rocky Mountains.  In Sunday school, we sing this song about them:

To Be A Pioneer

You don't have to push a handcart, or leave your family dear,
or walk a thousand miles or more to be a pioneer!
You do need to have great courage, faith to conuquer fear,
and work with might for a cuase that's right to be a pioneer!
We are marching, ever marching, marching onward ever onward
We're pioneers; we're marching.

Different Perspectives and a community conversation
With my involvement with several Mormon groups’ discussion on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or same-sex attraction (LGBT/SSA) topics, I see many differing perspectives around a central core, the Mormon faith.  From the perspectives of the official (soon to be revamped) Mormon Church’s website and Northstar, to Affirmation LGBT Mormons Families & Friends,  and from Mormons Building Bridges, to the Mama DragonsLDS Family FellowshipI'll Walk With You Videos and The Family Acceptance Project, there are many perspectives to consider as we work together to continue to Build Zion. We will find many commonalities between our experiences and stories.  We will also find points of disagreement and differing interpretation. As President Gordon B. Hinckley taught us, we must learn that we can “disagree…without being disagreeable” in order to continue to perfect the saints and establish Zion where we are, in our stakes as well as online.
 we come from different experiences, thus differing beliefs and perspectives.  With such a sensitive topic in our community, we must learn to step outside of our own perspectives and truly listen to others while holding room for our own understanding.  

What is an “Ally” and do you have to march in a parade to be one? 
Last Sunday, I went to a sign making party for the upcoming Washington DC Capital Pride Parade, where Mormons will be marching under the banner of "LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends." There was a mixture of heterosexual couples, children, and same-sex attracted and gay identifying Mormons. It truly was a vibrant representation of the spectrum of our community!  We discussed, “what does it mean to be an ally?”   We collectively determined that to be an ally is really to be a friend to someone.  For many Mormons, it is a large sacrifice to march in a pride parade.  Some clearly feel called to minister to LGBT individuals, showing love at Mormon hugging booths and carrying messages of love in a parade, while others are not comfortable, or feel no need to minister to LGBT individuals in these ways. Some saints do not understand what good can come from it. To me, what is clear is that not only do people have different perspectives, but also have different ways of showing love to others. 

Author Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages) tells us that people can have different love languages; that we must learn to speak and show love in the way that others can recieve it, otherwise relationships will wither.  Could this be true for ways that we offer friendship and support in the sensitive discussion of Mormonism and LGBT issues?

Many Faces at the intersection of Mormonism and LGBT
Identity: I have friends across wide spectrum of belief in Mormonism and sexual identity.  Some are Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  Others identify as same-sex attracted.  Some are members of the Mormon church still, and others are out of the church. 

Participation: Likewise, I have gay friends and straight family members who will march in a parade with me to reach out in love to the crowd, and I have friends and family who quietly support me in other ways, who feel like marching in a parade is not a good thing.  I have friends who have come to a resolution in their understanding of LGBT and Mormonism as a whole; likewise, I have friends who still do not know how to wrap their head around such a difficult topic.  I love them all, and realized that they each love me, in their own unique way, according to the understanding and gifts that God has given to them. I see a great parallel among our diversity to the body of Christ, or church in general: 

Corinthians 12: 12, 18-22, 24-27, 31 (Contemporary English Version):
“The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does…God has put all parts of our body together in the way that He decided is best. A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part…That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands.  That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet. In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest…God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable.  He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others.  If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over.  If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy. Together you are the body of Christ.  Each one of you is part of His body…I want you to desire the best gifts. So I will show you a much better way.” 

What we see is the diversity of the body of Christ, with it’s many parts. All are needed. Below are some of the faces of friends/allies across this spectrum of belief and support.

In a moment of authentic connection, strangers become friends.  In conversation we discovered that "Pride" is learning to follow your heart honestly and lovingly before God.  
LDS Bishop, members--gay and straight--all coming together.
This sign was a heartfelt message made by a heterosexual sister.  She doesn't feel the need to march with us this year, but knows her expressions of love can change the world.  

One of my favorite friends.  After the LDS church's policy change regarding gays and lesbians in November 2015,  she saved a seat for me at church and sat with me as I wept profusely.  She feels no desire to march in a parade, but still is the truest kind of friend and showed love when I needed it most.  Thank you Amie.

Our Sacrament meeting pulpit after last year's Policy change announcement.  While local leaders have no say in top-down policies and announcements, our leaders responded with love, awareness, and open arms.  This can be very rare in Mormon congregations in regards to LGBT issues.  With continued conversation among church members, perhaps this will continue to change in a more welcoming direction.  

A church member in the McLean, VA stake doesn't want to march in a parade, but gives a gentle reminder that he and his family are safe people for LGBT youth in his ward via a bumper sticker at church!

Karl is one of many friends with whom I may not always see eye to eye, but love and respect abounds.  A true ally, friend and brother in the Gospel.  We've had some deep conversations about LGBT and Mormonism and through listening, have come to see each other's perspectives more clearly.  The gift we give each other is to listen openly to new ideas.

The Quezada family are great friends.  They don't feel a need to fly a rainbow flag on our behalf because we are having dinner together and playing with the kids.  There is beauty all around when there's love at home. Simple expressions of love and time together help us love one another.

A temple trip between members of Affirmation and Northstar.  When we get to know others, we realize how much more we have in common and how much we need to support each other in our spiritual paths.

Meg is one of my Mama Dragon Friends.  She has spoken with Apostles on behalf of her gay son and is an LGBT advocate in our faith community.  Thank you, Meg, for your hard work and honest heart--you tell it like it is.  You mourn with those who are mourning.

Friends within the church coming together to prepare messages of love for the DC Pride Parade in 2015. They hope to be a gentle reminder for others that all are beloved sons and daughters of God.  If you're not sure you'll have a friend at church, they will be there, no matter what your opinion or perspective on the issues.

Missionaries give LGBT Mormons a tour in Palmyra, NY.  We were whole-heartedly welcomed by the mission and stake president, truly a friendly gesture. Some church leaders are open to understanding that LGBT Mormons need fellowship and ministering to, just like straight members of the church. 

Some marchers hold messages of love, others political statements.  This group includes family members.  They feel the calling to march and minister to the LGBT who are watching the parade and may never step foot in a Mormon church.  This is their gift of love.  We understand that not everyone is able or comfortable marching, but look forward to learning about how you support others through the gifts you have. 

Why I march
As I have been present at the DC Pride festival and parades over the last 4 years, I have met many people who are impacted by our presence.  In 2013 I met an LDS mother with two gay sons.  During the Parade, one of our marchers came up to her along the parade route and embraced her in a big hug! The next day this mother wept as she recounted to me the faith journey of her family, and their departure/exile from their beloved faith community.  She expressed that she knew it was the Spirit that lead this LDS parade marcher to seek her out and provide a healing hug.  She knew that there were people at the Pride festival that may never step back into a Mormon meeting house, but needed to feel loved by their tribe, their faith family. These people yearn so badly to hear and understand that there is a place for them in our hearts.  The beautiful, diverse families in the documentary, Anyone and Everyone, illustrate why I participate.  The fierceness of a mother’s and father’s love at minutes 14:00 and 23:00 explain beautifully the impact that love, despite our understanding or perspective, can provide. This parallels the love I have felt from my Heavenly Father when I have turned to Him in prayer regarding my own life path.  It is my calling to pass that love on to others. 

Do you have to march in a Pride Parade to be a friend to your fellow Latter-day Saints who identify as LGBT or SSA?  Not at all!   We must each seek to know how to love and support each other in the body of the church. We are each challenged by the Savior to seek the best ways to learn how to love our neighbor as ourselves. To be an ally is to be a friend, and friendship can take many different forms.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Affirmation DC Pride 2016--Join DC Area Mormons for the 2016 Capital Pride Festival

The DC Chapter of Affirmation LGBT Mormons Families & Friends will be marching in the 2016 DC Capital Pride Parade and hosting a booth at the Pride Street Festival this year! Please come join Latter-day Saints in extending a message of love and support to our LGBT sisters and brothers for this year's festivities. Each step we take will be an outward demonstration of our commitment to make our communities a better place of understanding and continued dialogue.

Key Info:

Saturday Jun 11, 2016 Parade March.  Our parade contingent will be meeting in the ORANGE zone (see picture) between 4:00-4:30 PM on Saturday afternoon.  We have to enter 23rd Street from Q Street due to street barricades.  Backpacks and strollers are permitted, but glass containers are not. Metro: Metro Center (red line) is the closest subway stop and will be very crowded, so look at the map and find an alternate if appropriate. My family travels to Foggy Bottom (orange line) and walks north.  What to wear:  good walking shoes (parade length 1.5 miles total).  Dress can be casual for the heat, Fabulous, or Sunday Best to distinguish us as Mormons. The Pride 2016 theme is "MAKE THE MAGIC HAPPEN."  Signs:  if you wish, come with a sign that personalizes your love & support.  We will have a banner to carry.  Suggested donation for the march is $5-10 per marcher or $20 per family to help cover the registration costs.  Questions about the parade march?  Contact Spencer Clark (

Marchers enter 23rd Street from Q Street in NW DC to find our parade group between 4:00-4:30. Meet us on 23rd street between Q & P--it will be crowded with other groups, so keep an eye out for us.

2016 DC Pride Parade Meeting place--ORANGE Zone.  Enter 23rd Street from Q Street.  Look for us!

Picture time before the March last year

Parade attire with personalized signs--casual or Sunday Best!
Sunday June 12, 2016 Pride Street Festival Booth
Join us on Sunday for our booth at the pride street festival, where we provide a nice hangout space in the shade, resources for passers by (always the best part of the Pride weekend!), and we can talk with people, answer their questions, give hugs, and have a great time.  We are looking for LGBTQ Mormons, friends and Allies to be present to make our booth successful this year.  Stop by between 10AM and 5 PM.  Volunteer to staff the booth for a specific window of time, or stop by before or after catching one of the many performances on the Street festival main stage.  Help us clean up our booth at 5 PM if you can!  Questions?  Contact James Brinton (

Our booth with beautiful reading materials and welcoming info tables

There is always a fun crew to welcome people with questions and give hugs.  Come let your light shine with us at our Pride booth!