John Gustav-Wrathall is Executive Director of Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends. Though excommunicated from the LDS Church, John has a testimony, and has been active in his south Minneapolis ward since 2005.
John became an activist for greater understanding of LGBT people at the University of Minnesota in the late 1980s, and was instrumental in the establishment of one of the first university-based LGBT programs offices in the U.S. For three years he was a member of the Board of Lutherans Concerned Twin Cities (now Reconciling Works), coordinating their “Reconciled in Christ” project for the state of Minnesota, helping to build a movement of LGBT-friendly Lutheran congregations. He pioneered the establishment of an inter-faith LGBT ministry at the University of Minnesota. Over the years he has spoken in churches and community forums, on university campuses and in religious assemblies and conferences (including at the Sunstone Symposium and at Affirmation conferences) about the issues affecting LGBT people in communities of faith. He is the author of Take the Young Stranger by the Hand: Same-Sex Dynamics and the Young Men’s Christian Association (University of Chicago Press, 1998). He has also published numerous articles in Sunstone and Dialogue on being gay and Mormon, and is the author of the Young Stranger blog. He was actively involved as a volunteer, trainer, and faith community leader in the campaign that successfully defeated Minnesota’s Amendment 1, which would have constitutionally banned same-sex marriage in his home state. He organized Minnesota Mormons United for All Families, and the “Mormon Allies” contingent of the Twin Cities Pride parade in 2012 and 2013.
John served as the Minnesota contact for Affirmation starting in the fall of 2005, spoke at Affirmation conferences in 2006 and 2011, and was part of the conference planning committee for the 2012 Affirmation conference in Seattle. He served as Senior Vice President of Affirmation, 2013-2014, served on the Affirmation Board in 2015, and then served as President of Affirmation in 2016 and the first half of 2017, during the tumultuous months following the promulgation of the November 2015 LDS policy on gay families. In June of that year, he resigned as president in order to apply for the position of Executive Director, and has been working in that role since August 2017.
He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his husband of over twenty-five years, to whom he was legally married in Riverside, California in July 2008.
Joel McDonald has a long history of political and social activism. Much of his work has been focused on digital communications and data management to help political organizations, campaigns, and nonprofits improve their outreach efforts to increase subscriptions, donations, volunteer signups, and memberships. In 2012, he launched what is now McDonald Web Works, a small digital agency providing quality, affordable, and dependable web design, development, hosting, maintenance, and support services tailored for small to medium-sized businesses, political organizations, and nonprofits. He joined Affirmation in November 2017 as our Online Content and Data Manager.
Joel converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2002 when he was 17 years old while living in Okinawa, Japan. His conversion was the outcome of a backfired attempt to convert his Mormon friends to Protestantism. He served a full-time mission in Colorado and Kansas from 2004 to 2006 as a missionary in the Colorado Colorado Springs Mission. It was while on his mission that he began to come to terms with being gay. He resigned his membership in the church in 2008 after being inactive for two years following his return from his mission. In 2015, he began to attend church again but stopped following the leak of the November 2015 policy on same-sex marriage and children of same-sex couples in the church.
Joel earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Old Dominion University. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA.
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.
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.