Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Affirmation’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner. This is the highlight of Affirmation’s DC Chapter events. Normally I am not a big fan of Thanksgiving. It was never big in my house and we always spent it with family friends and not our own family. Christmas was the bigger holiday for us.
But this year was different for me. I don’t know if it is because I have changed or because the world has changed, but this Thanksgiving I was so grateful to be surrounded by so many people who are a part of my “family” of sorts. And I think that has a lot to do with the changes that have happened inside Affirmation in the past year.
My first foray into Affirmation was tense and brief as they seemed to me to be an organization for bitter men and women who weren’t seeking anything spiritual but instead a connection of friends who had gone through similar trauma. I saw this mindset last year at the Affirmation conference in Cleveland where I presented on a couple of panels where audience members thought I wasn’t being critical enough of the Church and that the Church should “be damned for what it did to us.”
I wasn’t shocked by that mentality as I had discovered it before, but it was juxtaposed with a beautiful spiritual moment and gathering at the Kirtland temple. That same spirituality and focus on faith AND sexuality and not just sexuality was a highlight that was again on display last night.
Affirmation has a ways to go before it shakes off the perception that many have of it as an organization for bitter men and women that is far too the left of the spirit and anti-church, but I believe that the groundwork for that shift into a new generation has been happening for some time and will continue to happen as Randall Thacker steps up as the new President of Affirmation.
Randall and his partner are strong members of the LGBT community and Randall has helped open the minds of leadership here in the DC Stake and in his ward. He wants to have a renewed focus on both spirituality and sexuality within Affirmation and not just a discussion of one or the other.
I hope that Randall will become the new president and that under his leadership there will be continuation of the changes made in recent years to work with the Church on improving the lives of LGBT LDS youth instead of working at ends with the Church. And for those of you unable to attend the event just watch this short clip and imagine a room with 55 more people in it and you have an inkling of the power I felt last night.