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Support Groups

I've been involved with several queer-oriented groups over the years. To be honest, it has been a little confusing (and sometimes frustrating) trying to figure out what they all do. Why there are so many and why is there so much overlap? Here is a list of the groups I've been involved with and why I think they are important.

Pride is wonderful for those who are out and want to celebrate their uniqueness. I currently serve on the board of directors of Pride of Southern Utah and we sponsor an amazing Pride week each September here in St George.

Northstar, was founded by author, therapist and friend, Ty Mansfield. It was a byproduct of his book "Voices of Hope" and is intended to support those who prefer not to act on their feelings as an LGBTQ+ person. This fit me well when my kids were younger and I presented a couple workshops at their annual conference.

Loveloud was started by Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, to ignite the conversation between LDS church leaders and the queer community. My first time attending the Loveloud music festival was a life-changing experience and I've gone every year since.

Encircle House began in Provo, Utah to help LGBTQ+ youth survive the homophobia that they inevitably experience in a predominantly conservative community. It has the support of some very prominent individuals such as Steve Young and Utah's Governor, Spencer Cox. They opened a home here in St George in 2020. It is an honor to support them and my speech there last June is featured in an earlier blog post.

The Utah LGBTQ Chamber is organized to support queer-owned businesses (like mine). They maintain a directory for anyone looking to do business within the queer community or just looking for a friendly and supportive venue to do their shopping. Led by the amazing Liz Pitts, they only recently started a group here in St George and I look forward to seeing it grow.

Equality Utah is a lobbying organization headed up by my new friend Troy Williams. I first became acquainted with their mission in 2019 when they were promoting a law that made the horrible practice of "conversion therapy" illegal in the State of Utah. As a survivor of this type of therapy, I strongly supported their efforts.

Lift & Love is a group I only recently became acquainted with when I met the founder, Allison Dayton. Like many allies, she came to the space on behalf of loved ones - Both her brother and later her son, who are gay. She has assembled a powerful team of supporters who work tirelessly to show love to everyone within the sound of their voice. In addition to support groups, they sponsor an annual meeting called the Gather Conference, which I will be attending this fall.

Each of these groups serves a slightly different population and for a slightly different reason. I haven't even listed the ones that I'm not part of such as Mama Dragons or Affirmation.

Despite so many groups doing so many different things, there are still needs that go unfulfilled such as: counseling, healthcare, legal representation and housing. Even as privileged as I am, I still feel it. I have to drive 350 miles each way to Salt Lake twice-a-year to get hormone therapy. (When the zombie apocalypse hits, I'll be among the first to die because I can't live without that support!)

I want to acknowledge publicly that I stand on the shoulders of giants who have paved the way for me. The goal is to pass that support on to the next generation. It's not a fight or a war and no one is trying to groom kids to be gay! Members of the queer community ONLY want to be treated the same as anyone else. For now at least, that requires organizations such as these to make that happen. Someday it will be automatic that everyone is treated equally regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation and, as the Elvis song says, "There will be peace in the valley!"

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