Affirmation Conference to Feature Husbands Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones
Jones: "No omnipotent God, I became convinced, would deny any of us the opportunity to lead a life that is fully lived, fully shared, or fully loved"
Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones, a married couple of Mormon background, will help lead one of the action groups planned for the Affirmation Conference to be held October 8-10 in San Francisco. Tyler and Spencer became celebrities last June with the release of 8: The Mormon Proposition, which features their wedding story as a counterpoint to the LDS Church's involvement in California's Proposition 8.
"As a former Mormon missionary…, I struggled a long time to reconcile being gay with being Mormon," Spencer recently wrote in The Huffington Post. "Sadly, many Mormon gays and lesbians don't prevail in that struggle. But thankfully, in large part because I'd found Tyler and was feeling for the first time the joy and wholeness that comes with allowing oneself to love and be loved, my personal convictions and relationship with God evolved. No omnipotent God, I became convinced, would deny any of us the opportunity to lead a life that is fully lived, fully shared, or fully loved."
Last October, Affirmation members met Tyler's mom Linda Stay, who, along with her husband Steve, is a strong supporter of marriage equality. Linda has recently begun to share her family's story, including pictures of her son and her son-in-law, at www.lindastay.com.
In an October 2008 blog entry, Tyler thanked his mom "for the love and support she has always given me." "She has never ever made me feel like less of human being or a second class citizen for being gay," Tyler added. "She has always loved me and cherished me and nurtured my spirit when times were hard. It breaks my heart to read the stories of families breaking up over this non-threatening issue of equality."
Shane Snowdon to Be Keynote Speaker at Conference
Snowdon Is a Leading Voice for LGBT Equality
We are delighted to announce that Shane Snowdon, a well known LGBT leader, will be the keynote speaker for the 2010 Affirmation Conference to be held next month in San Francisco.
Shane Snowdon has been the Director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) for 11 years. In that role, she has been a leading voice for LGBT workplace equality, winning domestic partner health and retirement benefits, securing health insurance coverage for transgender employees, and providing training in challenging employment situations. She has also become a national spokesperson on LGBT health concerns, teaching health professionals throughout the country how to approach LGBT patients with knowledge, comfort, and sensitivity. Her groundbreaking work has earned her the UCSF Chancellor's Award for Exceptional University Service, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association and other honors.
Before joining the University of California, Shane headed a national women's cancer group, Oakland's domestic violence agency, a multi-state environmental center, and San Francisco's employment program for ex-prisoners. She is also a widely published writer, and served as Editor/Publisher of the national women's newspaper "Sojourner." As the principal of EdgeWork Consulting, Shane provides support to individuals and organizations on the edge of major transitions--work that she particularly enjoys. She is also the proud co-parent of a 19-year-old son.
Caitlin Ryan to Speak at Conference
Dr. Caitlin Ryan
The Family Acceptance Project Supports LGBT Youth, Parents
Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project, will address the Affirmation Conference on Friday evening. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker who has worked on LGBT health and mental health since the 1970s, and AIDS since 1982. Ryan pioneered community-based AIDS services at the beginning of the epidemic, initiated the first major study to identify lesbian health needs in the early 1980s, and has worked to implement quality care for LGBT youth since the early 1990s.
In 2002 Dr. Ryan developed the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) with Rafael Diaz to promote family support, decrease risk and improve well-being for LGBT youth. She recently told 365 Gay News that preparing the first papers and resources to come out of the FAP is "incredibly exciting."
"We're able now to write about promoting positive coping among LGBT young people to foster well being in adulthood... all of the kinds of positive things that are absent from the literature," Ryan said. "We also can write about the health benefits of coming out during adolescence as well as the impact of reparative therapy on health and mental health outcomes, the long-term impact of anti-LGBT school victimization, and how do we use school environments to promote well being for these young people in adulthood."
In 2009 former LDS bishop Robert A. Rees brought Dr. Ryan to Utah, where she met with the staff of the Utah Pride Center and made a presentation at the Sunstone Symposium. To read and view an interview with Dr. Ryan, visit www.365gay.com/video/behind-the-research-caitlin-ryan. For more information about the Family Acceptance Project, visit www.familyproject.sfsu.edu.
Matt Foreman to Speak at Conference
Matt Foreman, whom we met in 2007 at the Washington, D.C. Conference, will address us this coming weekend in San Francisco.
Matt is director of Gay and Immigrant Rights Programs at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in San Francisco. The Haas, Jr. Fund is one of the largest supporters of the movement for gay and lesbian equality and has made grants totaling nearly $50 million over the last decade. Before coming to the Fund, he led a national, a statewide and a local gay organization - the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2003 - 2008), the Empire State Pride Agenda (1997-2003), and the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (1990-1996).
During his tenure at the Task Force, the agency's budget and staff more than doubled to $10 million and 60, respectively. While at the Pride Agenda, the organization led campaigns that delivered a statewide nondiscrimination law, a hate crimes law, over $15 million for LGBT health and human services, and several laws extending equal benefits to the surviving partners of those killed on 9/11.
At the Anti-Violence project, Matt focused the city's attention on anti-gay violence and won important changes in police training, deployment and responsiveness. A graduate of NYU School of Law, he is a founder of Heritage of Pride, the organizers of New York City's annual LGBT pride events, and a former member of the New York City Human Rights Commission.
Matt has been with his partner, Francisco De Leon, for 20 years and they were married in California in 2008.