Affirmation 1990 Conference Report
From the August and November 1990 issues of Affinity.
Nearly 200 members of Affirmation gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona, the weekend of September 7-9, 1990, to meet together, be spiritually recharged, and enjoy Affirmation's General Conference. With its theme of "Let Our Light So Shine," the conference boasted workshops such as "Coming Home--Spiritual Return," and "God, Gays, and Families," a story of how God helped one of the nation's first lesbian couples win custody of their children.
Held at the Scottsdale Clarion Resort, the conference was attended by 175 Affirmation members, some from as far away as Canada and Florida. Hosted by the Phoenix Chapter, and under the direction of co-chairman Irwin and Keith, the conference attracted fifty people of Arizona alone. There were 28 women in attendance including lesbians, female speakers, and mothers of gay children.
Helping Irwin and Keith were members of the Conference Committee: Robert, Ron, Rick, Rob, Henry, Richard, Bob, Fred, Lynn, and Ti. "We just want to thank eveyrone who helped in any way with the conference," said Keith. "The conference was successful beyond our wildest expectations," said Irwin. "Not only in attendance, but in the caliber of speakers. He added that conference organizers were hoping that perhaps one or two of the invited guests would be able to come, "but to have all four - Carol Lynn Pearson, Wayne and Sandra Schow, Carl and Muriel McGrath, and Reverend Troy Perry - was thrilling!
There was a welcome and get acquainted reception, followed by a Reader's Theater presentation of a play written by Irwin Phelps. Brother Phelps play, Where Do the Mermaids Stand?, was an affirmation of being gay and Mormon.
The Top Hat Entertainers performed a musical review Alive With Music which included dancing, singing and comedy.
Saturday's keynote speaker, the Reverend Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches, told conference goers his inspiring story.
Earlier, Muriel McGrath, who along with her husband is a co-director of Affirmation Family Services, shared the results of her graduate research project, Homophobia among the Mormons.
Conference workshops included Maintaining Spirituality While Living as a Gay Person, Developing Successful Gay Relationships, Dealing With Our Straight Siblings, Homosexuality and the Church, and Child Custody Issues for Gay People.
There was a Saturday evening banquet.
Carol Lynn Pearson has been delighting audiences throughout the West with her one-woman play, Mother Wove the Morning. Members of Affirmation had a chance to be enlightened when Sister Pearson presented the play to an appreciative audience in a special Saturday evening performance.
On Sunday, Wayne and Sandra Schow spoke. Both expressed their views on reconciling homosexuality with the teachings and true spirit of the Gospel. Conference goers also heard form Carl McGrath on Sunday. The father of a gay son, he spoke of his fear, and how confronting it led to his resignation from the Church.
In addition to keynote speakers, several workshops were held. In addition to those already mentioned, other titles included Religious Abuse, Spirituality, and Self Esteem, Building and Maintaining Successful Intimate Relationships, and Getting What You Want: Dealing Effectively with Church Leaders. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG) also met in a workshop format.
This year's Mortensen Award recipient, for outstanding leadership and service to Affirmation, was presented to Irwin Phelps. Irwin is one of those people whose great love and commitment truly embody the spirit of Affirmation. He is know as the "heart" of the Phoenix Chapter. Everywhere one looks, the guiding hand and love of Irwin are visible. He has served continuously in both national and local offices since joining Affirmaiton, despite problematic heath, demands of family and employment.