Most of my community is feeling all warm and fuzzy because today was SLC's LGBT Pride Parade. I went because the parade route passed quite close to my apartment, and because I had friends who were marching, and I wanted to be supportive, even though I'm not all that fond of parades. (Being in marching band and having to march--not just walk, but really truly MARCH, in rhythm, on the same foot as everyone else--for miles in a wool band uniform in September in Arizona will do that to a person.)
Nonetheless, this was awesome, and I'm totally glad I went, mostly because a group called Mormons Building Bridges arranged for active, straight Latter-day Saints to miss church in order march in the parade in their Sunday best. Some carried signs that said "LDS Loves LGBT" and other such positive messages, some carried their scriptures, some handed out candy. The SL Trib reports that over 300 people marched in the group; someone in the group reported in a facebook conversation that he counted close to 500.
Parade organizers were excited enough about the group that they arranged for it to march second, right after parade marshal Dustin Lance Black. I knew that a lot of my friends planned to march in this group and I hoped to see some, but there were so many people in such a large mass that I didn't actually recognize anyone in this particular entry.
Instead, I just cried. It surprised me, frankly, because I've seen Mormons do good things before, and I've been to Pride parades before. But this was still special. It was brave, and generous, and good. It deserves nothing but praise.
The communal good feelings started immediately on facebook, as people uploaded photos from their phones. And the shocked, horrified comments started immediately as well. Stuff along the lines of "How dare these gay people claim their Mormonness and their gayness at the same time in public! I surely hope they weren't agitating to have their lifestyles accepted when we all know that while God loves all his children, he condemns homosexual behavior as a sin!"
And so began the patient explanations of what this group was and what its stated goal was: to show love and acceptance for anyone and everyone in the LGBT community. As their Facebook page states,
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.
Isn't that GREAT? Isn't it? I'm pretty sure they succeeded.
I wasn't the only one who cried. Lots of people in the audience cried. And the people who marched seemed to have been more moved than the people who watched them, which I guess is a manifestation of the old religious truism that good works do more for the doer than the receiver of them.
My only regret from the event is that my pictures didn't turn out--most of them were terribly blurry, which I guess is what happens when you take pictures of someone who's moving while you're moving too. It's hard to snap a good photo when you're walking out of the crowd toward a friend who's walking out of the parade to hug you.
I did get one good photo, though, of a motorcycle cop's boots. I had never before noticed up close how awesome they are! They have zippers up the back and a cool snap in the back too and laces in front and a really sensible heel in case you have to chase somebody or, you know, ride a motorcycle. The cop in charge of blocking the intersection where I stood graciously allowed me to photograph his boots. I want at least three pair just like these: one in black, one in brown, and one in teal.