Anyway, the reason we went to Utah was to be on a panel for AMCAP. AMCAP stands for the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapist and they had an event last Saturday. I was surprised to see various people on my last post get all concerned about me participating in this event which was specifically about homosexuality, Mormons and counselors. Um, just what panels do you think I should be sharing my voice, story and perceptions in as a Mormon counselor who is homosexual?
I'm starting to accept the fact that...
it doesn't matter where I decide to speak or share, there will be people who--for one reason or another--find my participation surprising or uncomfortable. So far in the last four months Lolly or I have participated in presentations put on by: Evergreen, Affirmation, AMCAP, Circling the Wagons and Compassionate Cause. Each one has elicited some fear response or another, yet our message remains the same and will continue to remain the same wherever we share. And, (everyone brace yourself!) we plan to continue sharing whenever we are invited to do so by organizations like these, unless we can't for whatever scheduling or life-reason. Our participation with any group whose aim is to support gay Mormons does not signal our allegiance to said group (and, conversely, if we were to say "no" to a group it would not signal our disapproval of the group). It's really quite simple: any discussions, any panels, any meetings that address the issues of gay Mormons are events that, if invited, Lolly and I will happily participate in. Dialogue is better than silence. Sharing is better than drawing lines in the sand. Openness is more productive than "image." Plan on this being our modus operandi, just as it has been up to this point.
It was a wonderful, wonderful trip. The conference on Saturday ended up being a really positive event. Even though I was worried there might be some contention--especially regarding change of sexual orientation--among the therapists on the first panel, things ended up remaining very personalized ("I believe this..." kinds of statements) and the overall effect was actually quite cohesive and really wonderful.
The second panel was nice, too. 16 LDS individuals on stage talking about homosexuality. Actual faces. Actual stories. People talking, some for the first time, publicly about their own experiences with this issue. It was a beautiful thing, and something a long time in coming.
We also met up with some really wonderful family and friends (so sorry if we didn't get a chance to see you this time around), and had some important conversations. One in particular with my writing-bff and former professor Zina Petersen--that meeting has seriously changed the course of my memoir in some really, really important and awesome ways.
Oh, also. One of the best parts of the event on Saturday was meeting so many of you guys afterwards. Here are some pictures that people took (if you post yours on my Facebook page I'll add it to this post--just click on the Facebook icon above). It was seriously such a pleasure to meet you, and--as always--I'm sorry if I was really distracted or unable to form coherent sentences or whatever. That happens to me sometimes.
This is a picture with blog-reader Rebekah Lindsley, who, if you click on that link, gave a really really thorough and detailed account of the entire event with lots of great quotes in a really funny post that made me LOL.
Here we are meeting her:
My blind eye is only partially squinty!
And here she is being a creeper:
I'm not sure which is more creepy--Rebekah photo-bombing what was obviously a serene and intimate photo between me and Lolly, or the fact that my hair is doing something color-wise that I can't even begin to explain...
Thanks Rebekah. You rock.
Also, here's this one of us with some awesome peeps I just lifted off Facebook, because I'm a creeper:
Photo by John Sergeant.
An entire panel of gay people who are Mormon (or spouses). This felt kind of huge and really moving to be a part of. Also, at this point I had to take a leak so bad I ended up walking off stage to relieve myself at the nearest bathroom. Sometimes you've gotta take drastic measures and actually walk off stage in the middle of a panel to micturate is all I'm sayin'.
Finally, here are a couple of pictures from our Voices of Hope shoot the day before:
The house (Wendy Ulrich's) we shot this in was UNREAL. I wanted to move in.
Our friends the Randalls serving as point, plus Ty, plus Reo. Plus the awkward ridge at the back of my head.
All right. It's late. This post took me hours for some reason. Probably all the pictures? But yeah, it was a really good weekend, and it was awesome to be a part of some wonderful things.
Upcoming: a check-in post! A gratitude post! I might finally answer the FFAQ from like four years ago! And other stuff!