Short bios of conference participants
Lee Beckstead, Ph.D.
Lee is a licensed psychologist who provides individual and couples therapy for those struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse, career, body image/eating disorders, HIV/AIDS, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender issues, and grieving. He specializes in relationship issues such as intimacy, assertiveness, identity, gender, self–esteem, and sexuality. His research has focused on understanding how to resolve sexual, social, and religious conflicts. Dr. Beckstead is also a co–facilitator of weekend retreats for men who have been sexually abused (www.malesurvivor.org). He is a member of the International Academy of Sex Research. The American Psychological Association selected him to be part of a task force from 2007–2009 to evaluate interventions to change sexual orientation and make therapeutic recommendations for those desiring such a change. Much of his personal and professional life can be heard in Far Between.
While working on my undergraduate degree, I volunteered as a test site counselor at the Utah AIDS Foundation HIV testing sites. As a result of this volunteer work I came to realize that I wanted to focus my energy and training to becoming a professional therapist. During graduate school I worked in a variety of settings including the University of Phoenix Student Counseling Center and a residential treatment facility (Turning Point Residential Treatment) specializing in dual diagnosis of substance abuse, addiction, and mental illness. Shortly after beginning my doctoral program, I shifted gears and moved to private practice. As a private practitioner, I’ve had the opportunity to further develop my skills as a therapist as I work together with my patients to help them achieve their desired treatment goals.
In my spare time, I like to read, cook and bake, travel, and train for triathlons. My motto: "It doesn’t have to be pretty. I don’t have to be thin. I don’t have to win. I just want to finish!"
Education and Licensure
B.S. in Women’s Studies (Gender Studies), University of Utah, 2000
M.S. in Mental Health Counseling, University of Phoenix, 2009
License: Clinical Mental Health Counselor, 2012
Presently Doctoral Candidate in Counseling Psychology, Argosy University
I am a fifth–generation Mormon on my Dad’s side, and my mom is a convert who immigrated to the US from Finland. I acquired my own testimony of the gospel at age 8 and eventually served in the Swiss Geneva Mission and was a Kimball Scholar at BYU. I left BYU and the Church after nearly committing suicide after my junior year. After wrestling for some years coming to terms with my sexuality, I felt guided to explore the possibility of a committed, same–sex relationship. I met my husband Göran in 1992, and we recently celebrated our 20th anniversary as a couple. In 2005, the Spirit spoke clearly and undeniably to me, prompting me to return to activity in the Church, but also reaffirmed the goodness of my relationship with my husband. We married legally in California in July 2008. I love the Church with all my heart and continue to live gospel principles the best I can and to be active in my ward, despite remaining excommunicated. I teach American Religious History at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. I am grateful for the many opportunities for faithful service that the Lord gives me both outside and on the margins of the Church.
I am a college professor, currently teaching those who want to teach social studies, grades 6–12. I have had the privilege in graduating from several extraordinary universities, in teaching high schoolers in Miami, FL, college undergraduates at Boston U, BYU, UVU and now graduate students at Touro College (NYC).
I am also a Jewish convert, having joined the church at 31 in Cambridge, MA. From my first marriage to a wonderful RM, we were blessed with three amazing daughters. Now in my second marriage to a wonderful RM, I am blessed with a new life in Jackson, WY, in the "equality state," as I teach online, work in the local school district, and come to understand more about marriage, both to a woman and now to a man.
My interest in Circling the Wagons is to offer my best my perspective, in sharing insights and, when all is said and done, in securing wisdom for all of us to see. There has been one motto above all that has guided my professional life: "seek ye wisdom, not riches, and all else will follow." What has guided my personal life has been the rich mix of energy from my heritage, my faith and my works.
Randall Thacker grew up in Taylorsville, Utah, the youngest of three children. He recognized his attraction to the same sex when he was about 8 years old. He grew up focusing prayers, fasts, and birthday candle wishes on removing this attraction.
Not long after returning from a Spanish–speaking mission to North Carolina, he reached out for help to his BYU bishop who referred him to counseling. The counseling focused on changing Randall’s orientation because he longed to create an ideal Mormon family with many children.
After graduating from BYU with a B.A. in History, Randall moved to Salt Lake City, where after falling in love again with a straight male friend, he returned to reparative therapy and began attending group therapy as well. Luckily, one of the group therapists introduced Randall to the possibility of self–acceptance.
Randall’s journey of self–acceptance was a long one though, which included a moment of great despair shortly after moving to Washington, DC in 2002. Thanks to compassionate friends and family and a new understanding that he could separate God from emotionally harmful doctrine, Randall moved on. After almost ten years of studying and visiting other faiths and at times none at all, Randall returned to regular attendance at his Washington, DC LDS ward in 2011 as an openly gay man in a relationship. He was embraced by ward leaders who are welcoming and affirming and now serves as primary pianist and co–director of the ward’s inner–city tutoring program. "I know that God and spirituality are broader than just the LDS church, yet I also have a testimony of the Restoration and feel the Spirit guiding me to walk my journey of spiritual growth as a Latter–day Saint.–
Besides his work with Affirmation, Randall is passionate about improving education in Mexico and loves his work as a management consultant and leadership coach, helping individuals and organizations reach their potential. He enjoys rowing, bicycling, running, skiing, reading, and spending time with family and friends.