Last week, Joel McDonald was hired as Affirmation’s first English Online Content Manager. Earlier this year, Affirmation hired its first-ever full-time online content managers when it hired David Mansilla of Argentina to manage our Spanish-language website and social media, and shortly thereafter Luiz Correa of Brazil to manage our Portuguese web site and social media. With the hire on November 6, 2017, of Joel McDonald of Virginia Beach, Virginia as our English Online Content Manager, Affirmation’s online content management team is complete.
David has an entrepreneurial background, running many small businesses, studying business management, and working as a freelancer providing programming and web development services. He found that working from behind a computer was helpful as he transitioned.
David grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The church gave me the structure I needed as I grew up because the line between good and bad is clear. It gave me a place to mature, it gave me friends, and it gave me a goal in life,” David shared.
After getting married, having two daughters, and getting divorced, David said he had to, “stop the lie.”
“I felt sick because of my own hypocrisy. I left the church, cut my hair, threw out my clothes, and I contacted a doctor to help me begin my transition.”
“At this moment of my life, I am in the middle of my transition. People don’t know if I am a woman or a man. I’ve taken off the mask that hid my true self. I had to let go of many things, but my daughters are with me. Even though they don’t know what it means to be transgender, they love me and they show it by accepted me as I am.”
Luiz Correa is 50 years old. His academic background is in Physical Education with specialization in sports training, weight loss, and wellness and with the management of gymnastics and people, being responsible for contacting partners and sponsors and, doing all the dissemination in social networks.
Luiz also a theater actor and playwright with several written and staged pieces and is a published author with a book on the Brazilian military dictatorship and its consequences with the title of VENDETTA.
Luiz became a member of Affirmation in 2015 following the release of the November 2015 Policy. He is currently the Vice President of Affirmation Brazil. He has been a member of the church for 32 years, served a Brazil Brasilia mission, was married in the São Paulo temple, and has two daughters.
Today Luiz is a gay man who still has a great affection for the church and its principles.
Joel comes to Affirmation with an impressive background in web design, web and social media management, and with significant community organizing and fundraising experience under his belt. The hiring committee was very impressed with his technical expertise in the platforms that Affirmation relies on. From teaching himself HTML the summer before his freshman year of high school to launching his own web services business in 2012, Joel has worked with many businesses and organizations to improve their presence on the web and achieve their goals online. Much of Joel’s work has been in the realm of politics, where he’s helped candidates and political organizations sharpen their message, grow supporters, and raise money. He’s also won two elections of his own for a seat on the Virginia Beach School Board. Joel is a graduate of Old Dominion University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science.
Joel became active in Affirmation in 2015 after feeling led to reinvestigate the LDS Church. Joel originally joined the church in 2002 at the age of 17; however, as a missionary serving in the Colorado Colorado Springs Mission, he struggled to reconcile the teachings of the church with his increasing awareness of his being gay. He resigned from the church two years after his mission.
“I thought I was done with the LDS Church after I resigned. I didn’t think much of it for many years. A conversation with a friend about what Mormons believe reopened a door that I had closed, and I just couldn’t seem to close it again. I started to attend church again. I also found Affirmation online. I quickly felt connected to the stories and struggles shared by so many,” Joel shared. “I had felt very alone in my struggle between my faith and my sexual orientation. Being involved in Affirmation changed that, and I felt stronger as a part of the community. When the opportunity to become a part of the work of Affirmation opened up, I didn’t hesitate.”
Why this Team is Important
Tens of thousands of individuals worldwide turn to Affirmation’s online resources and community first, before connecting with any other aspect of the Affirmation community. The website is a critical resource, which is why Affirmation is making such a significant investment in its development. The Internet is the safest way for LGBT Mormons who are just coming out of the closet to access information that is literally life-saving. The stories of others like them help them to realize they are not alone, and to see diverse examples of other LGBT Mormons who are leading happy, healthy, productive, spiritual lives. Making sure that that content is accessible and easy to find and that it actually connects with our target audiences is crucial to our mission.
With a new team of full-time online web designers and content managers in three languages, Affirmation can better address design problems that are preventing the website from being used to its maximum potential and produce high quality, timely, culturally competent content.