My personal impression of the Arizona LDS LGBT, ALL Conference which I attended on April 27, 2013, held in Gilbert, AZ, was that it was a meaningful, enriching, and moving experience for all attendees, their families and friends, both gay and straight. A majority of my family were in attendance, one having flown into town especially for the event. Our gay son and brother, Adam, participated in the panel discussion. I was particularly proud of my son’s contribution to the panel and the continuing discussion and dialog on gays and Mormonism.
I was enriched with insights and the realities of being a gay member of the Church. Day-to-day, real-life experiences and personal points of view were expressed and discussed with candor and sensitivity. I frequently and actively felt the presence of the Holy Ghost during the prayers, talks presented, the panel discussion, and the open comments and personal testimonies at the end.
I disagreed with a few opinions expressed, but my sense of love, empathy, and respect for EVERY individual who attended or participated in some way was genuinely felt and amplified at the conference. Furthermore, a key purpose of the conference was to include ALL brothers and sisters in attendance in a truly family, inclusive, accepting, good-natured, and supportive setting and forum, in which being gay in a Mormon culture could be discussed freely, safely, and openly—family style, where both smooth and comfortable or rough and uncomfortable edges were ALL welcomed and appreciated.
In rich measure, the conference was a huge success. I was overcome with tears and emotion at the end, hugging many, realizing the impact it had made upon all present and the important forward step it had taken in my own home town and home stake towards advancing the open dialog and the greater sense of love and desire to assist, support, and serve my fellow gay brothers and sisters. I spoke with a mother of a gay son after the conference, who had been invited to attend by a friend of mine, and who had traveled from Snowflake. She was so grateful she had attended because she had gained a distinctly changed perspective, greater understanding, and greater desire to improve her relationship with her son. I spoke with a gay brother who had decided it was time to close the distance between himself and his cherished Mormon faith. These were just a few significant positives accomplished through the successful conference experience.
I look forward to future conferences to continue such steps and perpetuate this spirit of love, faith, respect, understanding, and conversation in our LDS community. I hope, too, that the success and atmosphere of this first conference will encourage more local LDS stake and ward leaders to attend in the future. I feel that many such leaders missed a valuable and enlightening opportunity.