Safe spaces for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, their families, friends and allies.
"Seeking Authenticity and Understanding" – SALT LAKE CITY – Nov. 2nd to 4th
Circling the Wagons would like to thank all who supported our vision through participating in our November conference. We were well rewarded for the effort it took to establish a space where LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, their families and allies were able to safely and authentically share their life–stories despite the misunderstandings, judgement, hurt and divisiveness that often surround issues of sexual orientation within Mormon communities. The success of our endeavor again reminded us that personal renewal occurs when we strive together to authentically share ourselves in a spirit of fellowship and openness with condemnation for none and compassion for all.
Special thanks go out to Lee Beckstead and the LGBTQ–Affirmitive Therapist Guild of Utah for the constancy of their support and their comprehension of the importance of our vision and its potential to heal both individuals and communities. Benji Schwimmer’s heroic last–minute drive from California to defend the idea of a conference where all are allowed to participate equally left him with a speeding ticket and, at one point, a car in a ditch with a flat tire. Our gratitude cannot be sufficiently expressed. We would also be remiss if we forgot to thank all those whose commitment to the vision of a place of peace for healthy, positive discussion necessitated tolerating well–meaning criticism including the ironic assertion that Circling the Wagons supports reparative therapy when, in fact, our LGBTQ–affirmative philosophy seeks to support LGBTQ/SSA Mormons unconditionally. Thank you all!
What does it take to make all this happen? Glad you asked!
Circling the Wagons is run by volunteers who care deeply about gay Mormons and are working hard to share love and encourage safe, authentic discussion. The great amount of pain and divisiveness in our communities and the difficulties inherent in opening discussion surrounding highly emotional topics has made our pioneering journey demanding. We need funds to pay for recording equipment, audio and media software, web hosting fees, web development, insurance, venue rental fees, speaker airfare, publicity, conference food and more. Please consider contributing to this cause by making a donation today. The burden of supporting safe conversations will be lighter if it is shared by many instead of few. And at this point we are in great need of any and all help we can get. Please donate now.
Circling the Wagons was incorporated on October 16, 2012 and is currently in the process of securing 501(c)3 nonprofit status. All donations made today will be retroactively tax–deductible once nonprofit status is achieved.
Previous conference speakers
Previous speakers have included Jimmy Creech, Jeannine Gramick, Lee Beckstead, Caitlin Ryan, Carol Lynn Pearson, Mitch Mayne, and Julia Hunter. Content from their talks and others will be added to this site in the near future.
Watch Bishop Kevin Kloosterman’s groundbreaking speech at last year’s SLC conference:
Circling the Wagons Statement of Purpose
The goal of Circling the Wagons conferences is to create spaces where LGBTQ or SSA individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences. No issues strike more deeply than whom we love and how we understand and honor God. These issues carry an especially profound weight in Mormon communities and have been the source of a great deal of misunderstanding, judgment and hurt. Consequently, gay Mormons are deeply divided over how to address same-sex attraction and negotiate the choices they face.
In convening this conference, we are inviting LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families and allies to step beyond historic divisions to establish a shared space where all who have ever self-identified as Mormon can speak truthfully and respectfully. "Circling the Wagons" conferences are hosted as an expression of our longstanding commitment to LGBTQ issues and in the spirit of our shared values:
- We acknowledge the richness of Mormon heritage, teachings, and community in all of its diversity.
- We believe that one can self–identify as Mormon based on one’s genealogy, upbringing, beliefs, relationships, and other life experiences, regardless of one’s adherence or non–adherence to the teachings or doctrines of any religious organization.
- We seek spaces where we as Mormons can live lives of intellectual and spiritual integrity, individual conscience, and personal dignity.
- We acknowledge and honor different spiritual paths and modes of religious or non–religious truth–seeking. We respect the convictions of those who subscribe to ideas and beliefs that differ from our own.
- We recognize the confusion, distress, emotional trauma, and social ostracism that people on faith journeys often experience. We seek constructive ways of helping and supporting people, regardless of their ultimate decisions regarding church affiliation or activity.
- We affirm the inherent and equal worth of all human beings. We seek spaces where Mormons (and all people) can interact as equals regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. In this spirit of egalitarianism, we prefer non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical means of organization and affiliation.
We welcome all who wish to participate in a spirit of fellowship and openness, with condemnation for none and compassion for all, in the hopes that all will experience personal renewal and discover a basis for common ground in our shared heritage.
Contact Us: Conferences@circlingthewagons.org