2001 Affirmation Conference
"Ports of Call" - Long Beach, CA
September 14-16, 2001
Ports of Call
The 2001 Affirmation National Conference returned to the West coast for an entertaining weekend "cruise." The S.S. Affirmation set sail on Friday, September 14, 2001 at the WestCoast Long Beach Hotel located in beautiful downtown Long Beach, next to the Queen Mary, across from the Aquarium of the Pacific and Shoreline Village.
Despite the enormous transportation difficulties, the 2001 Affirmation
Conference was a success with over 130 members and friends in attendance.
Under the slogan "Ports of Call," some 130 people gathered in Long
Beach. Attendees arrived from California, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Hawaii,
Nevada, Washington, Maryland, Vancouver, District of Columbia, and
With so many delayed and canceled flights, some attendees arrived late or the day after the event began. Even so, the conference ran its course mostly unaffected. Executive Director Scott MacKay presented a short report on the year's events and announced that he would run for another term (he has since been re-elected). James Kent, of Hawaii, and Tia Owen, of Las Vegas, will help Scott as assistant directors.
On Saturday morning there was a light continental breakfast before we gathered for our morning speaker: Dan Baker, a member of the Long Beach City Council who serves as the City's Vice Mayor. Dan has a long, outstanding record of public service. He is an advocate for, and is a model member of, the Long Beach gay and lesbian community. He serves on the city's Hate Crime Response Team. He hopes to run for mayor of Long Beach in next year's elections.
The first set of workshops included the following topics: "The San Diego Temple is Ugly" (Robert Rees), "Family Fellowship" (Gary Watts), "Anchors Aweigh! Cruising Through Crisis" (Shirley Clukey), "Desire, Dating, and Divorce for the Delightfully Damned" (Walt Curtis & Rod Kempton), and an HIV Discussion Group (Dan and Robert). In the second set of workshops, the following issues were discussed: "Finding Spirituality Outside the Church" (Helen Bengtson), "Father and Son 'Outing'" (Joe & Ken Taylor), "HeartStrong" (Marc Adams), and "Activism 101" (Stuart Bechman-Besamo). Then Robert Rees, former LDS Singles Ward Bishop of Los Angeles gave a keynote address on finding spirituality through community worship, (but not necessarily the LDS community).
At noon there was a special luncheon for Gamofites (Gay Mormon Fathers). Of the 30 people present, there were 18 fathers, representing 56 children and 27 grandchildren. Ken Taylor was presented with this year's Michael Farr Award, the Gamofites highest award for service and leadership within its organization.
In the afternoon there were forums for Women of Affirmation and for Family Fellowship. Family Fellowship provides a "safe harbor" where people can go to meet and talk to others who have a homosexual sibling, parent, or child.
The evening banquet gave us an opportunity to make new friends and renew old friendships. The 2001 writing contest jury awarded essays by Hugo Salinas ("A Witness Sealed with Blood: Gay Mormon Suicides and the Politics of Silence"), H. Wayne Schow ("Assessing Committed Same-Sex Unions: Can a Theological Accommodation Be Made?"), and Mac Madsen ("Homosexuality and the Church: Perspectives of an LDS Father." Pieces by Lee Beckstead, Anthony Edmunds, Rebecca Joyce Lausch, and Braulio Ventura received special mention.
A special award for outstanding scholarly research and writing was given to D. Michael Quinn for his recent article, "Prelude to the National Defense of Marriage Campaign: Civil Discrimination against Feared or Despised Minorities" to be published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought in their upcoming issue (Volume 33:3).
The prestigious Mortensen Award, in recognition of outstanding leadership and service, was given this year to Scott MacKay.
During the banquet we also enjoyed a spectacular performance by
Coast Singers. Founded in 1983, the West Coast Singers provide
a safe place where gay and lesbian people can join together to sing.
They have more than 70 members, and are recognized as one of the premier
gay and lesbian chorus around the world. The West Coast Singers presented
a Broadway Review with plenty of gender twists. The whole congregation
sang "The Star Spangled Banner." The West Coast Singers followed with
the song, "Love Changes Everything," from the musical Aspects
of Love. Other songs included a South Pacific Medley, "I've Got
Rhythm," "The Circle of Life," and a solo by our very own Mark Packer.
On Sunday morning Ricky Gilbert conducted the Affirmation AIDS Quilt Presentation. Candles were lit in memory of those on the quilt. James Morris talked specifically about Jim Berg (a former mission companion) and Ron Kershaw (a founder of the SF Chapter of Affirmation). James Kent spoke about Doug Kolling, who passed away over 8 years ago from AIDS-related complications. Jim Cartwright spoke of Samuel Tacuban. Ricky did a great job in keeping things on time with the poetry, music, and the extinguishing and re-lighting of the candle's flame.
The Sunday Devotional opened with "The Spirit of God." Carlos Mitchell
offered the opening prayer. Larry Gates sang an arrangement of "Ordinary
Miracles" by Marvin Hamlish. Joan Atkinson was one of the guest speakers.
Rod Davis played a beautiful LDS Hymn Medley, including "Whenever
I See Your Smiling Face," "Love at Home," and "I Know That My Redeemer
Lives." Ernie Horstmanshoff was the next speaker. Ken Salzman and
his partner Chris Sands sang "God
Help The Outcasts," from the Disney animated film The Hunchback
of Notre Dame. Dan Cash offered the closing remarks. We sang
our traditional closing conference song, "God Be With You Till We
Thanks to the Organizing Committee--Ben Jarvis, Michelle Hardgrave, and Dan Cash--and an army of volunteers who helped them out. And to those who couldn't make it--we missed you. God be with you till we meet again on September 6-8, 2002, in Las Vegas!
View additional pictures in the 2001 Conference Photo Gallery