Circling the Wagons 2014: A Mormon LGBT Conference and Coalition to Encourage Understanding and Conflict Resolution

For Immediate Release
Contact Anne Peffer

This weekend Circling the Wagons will be hosting the inaugural meeting of a Coalition of mental health professionals and community leaders whose work influences the lives of LGBT and same-sex attracted Mormons. Coalition members hold a variety of religious beliefs and political ideologies and have a history of contentious interactions. During the meeting they will begin drafting written standards of ethical communication and conflict resolution in hopes that the documents will make it possible for them and the diverse organizations they represent to collaborate for the benefit of all LGBT and same-sex attracted Mormons despite their many differences.

The Coalition has been made possible by the bridge building efforts of Circling the Wagons, Mormons Building Bridges and therapists such as Lee Beckstead and David Matheson who will both keynote at the Circling the Wagons Conference Saturday. Beckstead is a former-Mormon psychologist who was a member of the APA task force that, in 2009, made the official recommendation that the appropriate therapeutic response to same-sex attraction be LGBT affirming. Matheson is a Mormon clinical mental health counselor who helps men who experience their same-sex attraction as unwanted diminish their feelings and change their self-perceptions.

Beckstead, Matheson, and other therapists who have had disagreements about how to respond to same-sex attraction have met together on several occasions during the last year in hopes that constructive communication will make it possible for them to work together for the benefit of all LGBT and same-sex attracted Mormons. This is the first time an LGBT-affirming therapist and a therapist who helps men diminish homosexuality have worked together to establish a Coalition or have spoken peacefully side-by-side at a conference in Utah. The Saturday conference will be open to the public and is intended to support all LGBT and same-sex attracted Mormons and their families and friends regardless of differences in beliefs, relationships and political persuasions.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to co-facilitate the inaugural meeting of the Circling the Wagons Coalition and to speak alongside Lee at the conference the next day. Lee, myself and the other therapists have great hope that LGBT and same-sex attracted Mormons and their families and friends can work together to help the people we all care about,” said Matheson. “Too many families experience too much conflict regarding same-sex attraction. I want to work towards healing those families and relationships. Sure, Lee and I have differences, but we’ve been genuinely surprised at how much we have in common and how much we genuinely care about each other. We want to demonstrate that we can work together for the good of everyone.”

The temporary legalization of same-sex marriage in Utah, the Supreme Court stay pending appeal and the decision of the Utah Senate to not allow debate that would amend legislation to protect sexual minorities from housing and employment discrimination have intensified the public conversation surrounding LGBT issues among Mormons. “It’s a confusing time,” said Anne Peffer, founder of the Circling the Wagons Conferences and Coalition. “Our purpose is not to bring Mormons together to stir up more conflict. Instead, we’re hoping to begin having discussions that will allow us to gain greater understanding of each other’s perspectives so that we can do a better job of working together to take care of the LGBT and same-sex attracted Mormons we all care about.”

The conference will be held Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake City. More information can be found at

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