2014 Keynote Speaker FAQ

Q: Who are Lee Beckstead and David Matheson and why is it different to have a conference that keynotes both of them?

Lee Beckstead, Ph.D., is a former-Mormon psychologist who was a member of the APA task force that made the official recommendation that the appropriate therapeutic response to sexual orientation be LGBT-affirming. David Matheson, M.S., is a Mormon clinical mental health counselor who helps men who experience their same-sex attraction as unwanted diminish their homosexual feelings and change their self-perception.

To our knowledge this is the first time a professional who supports an LGBT-affirmative response to sexual orientation and a professional who helps individuals diminish homosexuality have peacefully keynoted side-by-side at one conference. Both therapists hope to model effective conflict resolution strategies and the value of coming together to listen, gain understanding and find common ground.

Q: Will David and Lee be debating at the conference?

No, Circling the Wagons conferences are not a place for debate or argumentation. Neither are they a place where any speaker or presenter seeks to convert, change or criticize any other speaker, presenter or audience member. They are safe spaces where Mormons of any belief, sexual orientation or attraction or life decision can safely share their own stories without fear of being excluded or retaliated against. We do our best to make sure the perspectives of Mormons of many different beliefs and life-decisions are represented. Please read our Statement of Purpose.

Q: If Lee and David don’t debate, what will they be talking about?

Over the past several months, Lee, David and other professionals in the Salt Lake City area have been meeting regularly in hopes of better understanding each other. They would like to keynote together at Circling the Wagons to communicate what they learned from this experience. They describe it as one of intently seeking to listen to gain understanding and of enjoyment and satisfaction in the discovery that they aren’t the enemies they had previously imagined themselves to be. What most surprised both Lee and David, as well as the other professionals, was the connection and love they developed for each other based, in many cases, on their shared experiences and their shared desire to serve the Mormon LGBTQ/SSA community and its families, friends, ward members and allies.

Q: What do David and Lee hope to gain by talking about their personal experiences and their commonalities? Aren’t their differences more important?

David and Lee both hope that great good can be accomplished for LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families, friends, ward members and allies through working together. They feel that people who have similar commendable objectives can cooperatively work towards reaching the goals they share despite the conflicting perspectives they also hold. Their hope and the hope of Circling the Wagons is that it will be possible to achieve more good through communication and collaboration than through debate, taking sides or trying to defeat others through argumentation.

Q: Does this mean that Lee and David agree about everything now?

Of course not. Lee, David and the other professionals have both commonalities and disagreements. Some of their life experiences are similar, many are different. They have met together over the last year to gain understanding and have found commonalities, but to them coming together does not mean that they must agree about everything. To them, coming together is about sharing experiences, discovering similarities, and finding connection, mutual love and respect. Coming together is not about denying or forsaking one’s own opinions, beliefs, or self-identity. Nor is it about trying to change others to make them like oneself.

Q: Has the Circling the Wagons Statement of Purpose changed?

No, it is the same. Please see excerpts below. Emphasis added.

“In convening this conference, we are inviting LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families and allies to step beyond historic divisions to establish a shared space where all who have ever self–identified as Mormon can speak truthfully and respectfully.

“We welcome all who wish to participate in a spirit of fellowship and openness, with condemnation for none and compassion for all, in the hopes that all will experience personal renewal and discover a basis for common ground in our shared heritage.”

We circle our wagons around Lee Beckstead, David Matheson, Randall Thacker, Marybeth Raynes and all others who wish to speak authentically and respectfully without trying to convince or change others.

Q: I’m concerned the presence of speakers I disagree with could hurt the children I bring.

Most of our attendees are adults and we don’t make any attempt to put together a program that is appropriate for children. Parents are responsible to decide whether or not to bring the children they love. Some children report having thoroughly enjoyed our conferences. We would like to put together conferences specifically geared towards teens at some point in the future.

Q: Will David try to teach or convince LGBTQ/SSA attendees to seek relationships with people of the opposite gender? Will Lee try to convince LGBTQ/SSA attendees to seek relationships with people of their own gender?

No. David, Lee and all other presenters will speak authentically about their own thoughts and life experiences addressing the theme Coming Together: Listening to Gain Understanding and Find Commonalities. Both Lee and David support self-determination, mutual respect and diversity. Circling the Wagons conferences are about creating safe spaces where all can express themselves authentically. They are not about trying to convert, teach or change others.

Q: Does having David Matheson on your program mean that Circling the Wagons supports reparative therapy?

No. We are keynoting David Matheson and Lee Beckstead next to each other because we believe that the Mormon LGBTQ/SSA community and their families and friends can find healing through listening to each another to gain understanding and find commonalities. The purpose of the conference is not to address different therapeutic techniques and no keynote speaker will be doing so. The purpose of the conference is to seek and find community healing through opening the circle to all Mormons regardless.

Q: Does Circling the Wagons support the APA standards for the treatment of LGBTQ/SSA individuals?

Absolutely. Please read our position on the appropriate therapeutic responses to sexual orientation.

Q: Do you make speaker decisions in order to demonstrate your loyalty to the Mormon church?

No. Circling the Wagons doesn’t have any relationship to the Mormon Church nor does it seek to impact the church. We do not make any of our program decisions based on what the church may or may not approve. Rather, we make our program decisions based on what we hope will create a safe sense of community and inclusion.

Q: What kinds of Mormons do you represent? Is Circling the Wagons a believing Mormon organization, a New Order Mormon organization or an ex-Mormon organization? Is it another kind of organization?

Circling the Wagons supports all Mormons and does not affiliate with any particular kind or group of Mormons. We believe in being inclusive of all who are now Mormon or who ever self-identified as Mormon in the past. We understand that many people have strong opinions about Mormonism and acknowledge that there are similarities and differences between these opinions. Our organization works to build safe spaces where people from many different persuasions can interact together respectfully and lovingly. We do not support any one kind of Mormon more than any other kind of Mormon and are not a believing Mormon organization, a New Order Mormon organization or an ex-Mormon organization. We are an inclusive organization. Please refer to our Shared Values.

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