It’s so refreshing when religious people actually ask themselves What Would Jesus Do. I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure he would walk with and not rally against people celebrating people’s right to be and love as they choose. So, I was thrilled to see that over 300 members of the Church of Latter Day Saints attended the Utah Gay Pride Parade on Sunday.
The group Mormons Building Bridges, started a few weeks ago by Erika Munson, a mom of five from Sandy, Utah, posted the following message on their Facebook event page.
Please come join Latter-day Saints in extending a message of love and support to our LGBT brothers and sisters by marching in the Utah pride parade. Each step we take will be an outward demonstration of our commitment to loving our neighbors. We are marching for the values of empathy and compassion that the Mormon faith teaches. Recognizing that silence (though coupled with good intentions) may leave some LGBT individuals to seriously question their self-worth in their homes, congregations, and before God, we are marching to save lives.
This march is not a political gesture, rather it is a simple statement that average Mormons do love their LGBT brothers and sisters and want to make that message clear. All who wish to march whether currently active LDS and/or former LDS are welcome. Please feel free to invite all like-minded friends to join the march. Thank you for being willing to stand up and build bridges of love and understanding.
Participants grounded their support for the LGBT community in Mormon values and teaching. One woman’s sign read: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Another marcher’s sign had words from a Mormon’s children song: ”I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you. That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Another participant lamented the number of gay suicides among Mormons: ”There have been too many LDS deaths… No doctrine is more important than God’s children.”
The LGBT non-Mormon participants were visibly touched. Parade grand marshal Dustin Lance Black, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter (Milk), tweeted: “In tears. Over 300 straight, active Mormons showed up to march with me at the Utah Pride parade in support of LGBT people.” Holly Nelson, a 38-year-old lesbian from Murray, also had tears in her eyes, and said ”I think it’s amazing… It’s been so hard to live in Utah knowing the Mormon church is against the gay community.”
Here is some video from the march.
This is an inspiring response, contrasting starkly with the bigotry dressed up as religion we see all too often in organized religion and politics.