Speakers and Performers

 

FRIDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 12
CONFERENCE KICK-OFF

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Darius Gray
Darius Gray joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the mid-1960s and is one of the first Black men to receive the priesthood. Gray is a speaker on African-American genealogy, blacks in the Bible, and blacks in the LDS Church. He empathizes with the LDS/LGBT predicament and sees parallels in the black civil rights struggle. We are excited to have Brother Gray open our conference!

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Spencer Day
Spencer Day is a modern jazz singer and songwriter who has released five albums: Introducing Spencer Day (2004), Movie of Your Life (2005), Vagabond (2009), The Mystery of You (2013), and Daybreak (2014). Spencer, who was raised Mormon and is gay, will take us on a musical journey about what it was like growing up in Mormon culture but not fitting in.

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
EVENING OF AFFIRMATION

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Spencer Stout & Dustin Reeser
You may know them as “The Home Depot Couple.” Spencer and Dustin achieved internet fame when video of Spencer’s flashmob proposal at a Home Depot in Salt Lake City went viral on YouTube. To-date, their video has over 12 million views. Their story has been featured in Out Magazine and on the Ellen Show. We’re thrilled to hear from Spencer and Dustin about their life as a married gay Mormon couple!

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Clark Johnsen & Jeff Benedict
Clark Johnsen went from being a Mormon missionary in Mexico to playing one on Broadway in the hit musical The Book of Mormon. As the only Mormon in The Book of Mormon musical, Clark drew the attention of NBC’s Brian Williams and was featured in a one-hour NBC special on Mormonism, where he spoke about being a gay ex-mormon.

NBC also interviewed Jeff Benedict, a straight Mormon, for the same special. Jeff is an author and contributor for Sports Illustrated and SI.com, and has written several highly acclaimed books on a wide range of topics. Jeff was touched by Clark’s segment on the NBC special, reached out through the shows producers, and a natural friendship emerged. Jeff’s viral blog post “Maybe I’ll Meet a Girl” highlights his friendship with Clark and his sympathy and compassion for LGBT Mormons.

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Eri Hayward, Ed Hayward, & Torben Bernhard
Eri Hayward was born and raised in Utah County, comes from a conservative Mormon background, was raised in the LDS Church and even went to a Mormon private school. She is featured in the short documentary Transmormon where she talks about the gender dysphoria she experienced as an adolescent and her decision to transition from male to female. Transmormon was featured on upworthy.com, earned a Vimeo Staff Pick, was recognized as 2014 Best Utah Short Film of the Year at the Utah Arts Festival, and has reached well over 1,000,000 views. Eri will be joined by her father Ed, and the film’s producer Torben Bernhard.

Torben Bernhard is an American documentary filmmaker and rap artist originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and currently residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bernhard has written and directed documentary films and has additionally worked as a producer and cinematographer. He is part of the OHO Media film collective with his wife Marissa Bernhard and frequent collaborator Travis Low.

Transmormon will be the recipient of The Tree of Life Award. The Tree of Life Award an award presented by Affirmation for the best book, article, film, play or other creative/expressive material that presents authentic LGBT Mormon stories to the world, that gives us voice and portrays our lives in the complexity and totality of who we are as spiritual, moral, emotional, relational and physical beings.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
CLOSING LUNCHEON

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Marge and Bill Bradshaw

Marge and Dr. William Bradshaw have been long-time supporters of LGBT Mormons. Dr. Bradshaw is a professor in BYU’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology and is a former mission president, and former member of a stake presidency. In 2010 he delivered a lecture entitled “The Evidence For A Biological Origin For Homosexuality” at Brigham Young University and has written about the biology of homosexuality elsewhere, and was covered by BYU’s Daily Universe. He is also the host on a short video entitled, “Embracing our Homosexual Children.” Marge and Bill have presented periodically to university student groups in an effort to raise awareness of a variety of issues relevant to LGBT individuals, and Bill is currently publishing the results of studies on these topics which he has conducted with colleagues at Utah State University.

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Julie de Azevedo Hanks
Julie de Azevedo Hanks is an award-winning performing songwriter, author, speaker, media contributor, blogger, and licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist with 20 years experience counseling individuals, couples and families in Utah. Hanks’ down-to-earth advice has been featured nationally in top-tier media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and Cosmopolitan. As a musician, she has written dozens of songs and produced 10 solo CD’s over the past 25 years. Some of her best-loved songs include “Window to His Love” and “Mercy’s Arms.” We’re thrilled to have Julie perform and conclude our program!

 

For a list of the speakers selected to give TED-talks on Saturday morning – visit the Affinity Groups/Workshops/TEDs page