The 2006 Mortensen Award
2006 Affirmation Conference, Portland, Oregon
The Mortensen Award was established, under the direction of Ron Kershaw, in 1987. It was decided the award would be given annually to the one individual who had given outstanding service and leadership to Affirmation. It is the only continuing award Affirmation presents and it tries to recognize the best people in the organization. The past recipients are:
The selection committee for the award is composed of past recipients. Each year, around July, a call is sent out to all Affirmation leaders, chapters and groups asking for nominations. Anyone may nominate any individual or you may even nominate yourself. The receipt of nomination letters constitutes the only people considered for the award.
The award was established and intended to always be an award for service to Affirmation. This is the only consideration in the selection of the recipient. We greatly applaud those wonderful souls in our midst who also make great contributions to the gay and lesbian community at large. We especially applaud those people who have made outstanding efforts in the Mormon community through related groups such as Family Fellowship, Gamofites and others in increasing the understanding of the gay and lesbian Mormon community.
But because the Mortensen Award is intended to honor only service and leadership to Affirmation, the winner is decided totally on the merits of the nomination letters received and the contributions to Affirmation as spelled out in those letters.
2006 Mortensen Award Presentation
Brus Leguás Contreras
The Mortensen Award, Affirmation's highest honor, is presented each year at our annual conference to an individual who has served Affirmation in outstanding leadership and service. This year's nominees were Alyson Bolles, Brus Leguás Contreras, Jason Giles, Aaron Vinck, and James Morris. The award went to Brus Leguás Contreras, founder and president of Affirmation Chile. Here's the remarks made by Hugo Salinas as he presented the award:
This year's award is unusual in that it honors someone who has
established Affirmation not in a city, but in a whole country. Three
and a half years ago Brus Leguás Contreras launched Affirmation
Chile. He was completely alone, he didn't speak English, and he
had limited financial resources. Today Affirmation Chile is a national
organization with chapters and contacts extending from Iquique in
the north to Futaleufú in the south. Brus Leguás Contreras is the
Paul Mortensen of Chile.
Though Brus was unable to attend the conference, a phone hookup allowed him to follow the ceremony and say a few words when the award was announced. "To all of us living in this remote corner of the world, all of you are an example,” said Brus speaking from his home in Quilpué, Chile. "We are grateful for your support. We are a fellowship, and we cannot make it alone. Affirmation is here to save lives. Wherever Affirmation is established, it's helping save lives.”
In building up Affirmation Chile, Brus has been the architect, the
contractor, and the brick layer. Because of his efforts, stories
about Affirmation have appeared in Chile's newspapers, websites,
and magazines. Brus has created websites, mailing lists, and newsletters.
He has produced materials in Spanish and in Portuguese. He has promoted
Affirmation at suicide vigils, gay pride events, and interfaith
services. He has set up booths, marched carrying the Affirmation
banner, started a program of family home evenings, and launched
"Institute classes" for gay Mormons. Despite living 60 miles away
from Santiago and depending on public transportation, he has organized
Affirmation conferences and events in Santiago, the capital of Chile.
The last two years have been very hard for Brus: In December 2004
he was excommunicated because of his high profile in Affirmation. Last February his home burned to the ground, a loss that he and
his partner faced with incredible resolve. Five days after the fire,
his local Affirmation chapter had its family home evening in the
new home Brus and his partner had just rented.
Chile is today a model of what can happen when gays and lesbians
from around the world take a look at their Mormon background and
decide to celebrate what they have in common. Affirmation Chile
is flourishing in its own language and culture, using their own
resources, led by their own leaders, and Brus Leguás Contreras is
the person who has enabled all this to happen.
It is an honor to present the 2006 Mortensen Award to Brus Leguás
Contreras, "father" of Affirmation in the land of Chile.