Brothers and Sisters, my name is George Cole, and I am called to serve you.
As a Mormon born in the covenant and as a Californian I have borne witness to the bigotry expressed toward LGBTQI Mormons and the convenient scapegoating of our Mormon allies, especially regarding Proposition
We have suffered the full weight of the LDS Church waging war against us. The collateral damage must stop. As a Mormon and as a Californian I have the unique political experiences and perspective that will help lead us into the next generation of Affirmation, as the liaison to both groups.
When I was excommunicated years ago, I was lost. I did not know where in the world to turn. Affirmation was there to comfort me, to nurture me, to help heal me. I became part of this community with the Portland Chapter. When the opportunity arose to become chapter co-director, I took it. I had been given so much, and so I too have given. Affirmation was my comfort and my refuge. I was well affirmed. I will not cease to give back aid and comfort.
Two years ago the LDS Church shined a spotlight on us within the LGBTQI movement. I spoke up for you on tv and radio and in newspapers, magazines and blogs across the country, calling the church to task for stuffing its “moral and religious” issues in the secular, political ballot box. I have stood with Mormons for Marriage, the Foundation for Reconciliation, and Family Fellowship, demonstrating to everyone that there are good, decent, active Mormons who believe in the full and equal worth of all people, and who risked their place in the church for saying so.
We had to pick up and move on to a new place, to stop reacting to the church’s persecution. I took Affirmation leaders to Creating Change , where we learned how to unite with the rest of the queer movement, where new links were forged and old ones renewed and strengthened. Our new position of not only healing the damage done to us, but stopping the damage at the source, required more resources and better training than we had before, and will require still more before the change is complete.
Thirty-three years ago at BYU, a group of angry students came together to put an end to their friends’ suicides and to create a safe space away from persecution. They laid for us a firm foundation on which to end the damage at the source. We are now renewed in our purpose; since our founding, things have gotten better, but we have a long way to go. The only way for things to get better from here is to take action. It will get better, and I believe that serving as your President and with your help, we can build on that foundation laid long ago for us. The darkest times are past, but the future will only get brighter as we work toward the day that we are all welcome in full fellowship.
Not all of us want to reconcile with the church. It rejected us, we no longer have faith in it, and we can never go back. Some of us come to Affirmation to learn how to live openly and honestly and to live as active and worthy church members. All are welcome in Affirmation, and all must be fully supported and fully affirmed. We need to do more to bring in the active and faithful queer Mormons into our fold and to keep them also in the fold of the church. We cannot succeed in creating change in the church—in making it a safe space for all, and ending the persecution and damage at the source—without them.
This is my vision: a strong and vibrant community that embraces everyone who comes to it, that protects and uplifts them, and that works to make a church that is finally ready to accept its responsibility to welcome all its members in full fellowship. I hope you share my vision, and that you will elect me to serve as your President.