As many already know, Barb and Steve Young were the keynote speakers at the Affirmation conference.
Affirmation is a group comprised of “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from every background and situation, united in the shared experience of a spiritual and/or cultural heritage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon).” (affirmation.org)
Why this is such big news is because of the place that the Youngs, especially former San Francisco 49er Quarterback, Steve Young, holds in the place of Mormonism. Steve has been instrumental in normalizing the LDS professional athletic experience. He has also been a role model for children and adults alike as he has conducted himself with proper decorum and was not subject to some of the pitfalls of fame and athleticism such as drugs and violence.
Steve spoke first, introduced by Carol Lynn Pearson. He mainly offered anecdotes relative to football and his struggles therein. He made it a specific point to emphasize basic Gospel principles such as charity, humility, and faith especially in the face of doubt. He quoted from Elder Holland’s talk given in General Conference this past April about leading with faith, and fanning those flames. He entertained the crowd with these stories while offering an important message that “faith is the fuel to return us to our Heavenly Father.” He ended by indicating that he was there to build understanding with his gay Brothers and Sisters in the gospel.
Barb Young spoke next, introduced by Steve Young. Before even reaching the podium the audience was warned (by Steve) that this issue is so near and dear to Barb’s heart that she may simply cry the entire length of her talk. Thankfully for all, she did not. She spoke strong words of Christ’s love, and her personal love for those of her LGBT brothers and sisters. She answered the criticism that she was only involved in this “love movement” (as she termed it) because she has a gay brother. Her answer to that was that “whether she had a gay brother or not she would’ve done the right thing.” She also indicated that even from a very young age she has always loved when love wins against bigotry and hatred. She honored her LGBT Brothers and Sisters because they are “here surviving and thriving like a phoenix from the flame.” She also offered the important message of what Christ termed to be the second greatest commandment—that we must love one another. In that love, she said that “we must raise each other up and glorify one another.”
She went on further to advocate as well for offering our loving “patience for those around us who don’t get it.” That we are all at different places in our journey and that while things sometimes move slowly we are getting to a place of greater love and understanding and that we will only get there together. She then closed with a beautiful story about a friend who had donated to the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign who came to be ashamed of that. She said she held the woman while she sobbed, and that “there was something so beautiful about watching her go through those labor pains to give birth to the most incredible heart—her evolution.”
The world would be a better place if we all could love in such a Christ-like fashion and move speedily toward Zion arm in arm with each other.