This weekend I had the privilege to march in the Utah Pride Festival's Pride Parade with a group called Mormons Building Bridges. MBB is a group of Mormons from all walks of life, all political affiliations, and all levels of active ness in the Church. But the one thing we all have in common, is love and acceptance for our LGBT family members, neighbors, and coworkers.
As I am still a believing Mormon, and an outspoken lesbian, I couldn't think of anyone better to march with, for my very first Pride Festival and Parade.
The experience was overwhelmingly positive, and loving. I marched so that people could see that one can be gay and Mormon. Or gay and religious in general. I marched so that I could help. But it was the people who lined the streets that helped me instead.
There were about 400-500 of us, which made us one of the largest participants (if not the largest). All dressed up in our Sunday best, and holding signs that have Family names, and Scripture passages, we held an opening prayer, and then we were off. I had barely walked for a half of a block, before I saw an older woman crying uncontrollably. As I got closer to her, I could see a CTR ring on her finger. I gave her the most heart-felt hug I could muster, as she choked back tears, and told me how thankful she was that we were there, and how much it meant to her.
That's when I knew that this wouldn't be a normal parade.
As we marched, the streets were lined with people cheering, and clapping for us. Many people expressed their thanks, and appreciation. I gave many high fives, handshakes, and more hugs. I also got to see friends along the route, which made the experience that much more special.
Close to the end of the route, a young woman around my age came up to me, weeping. She gave me a hug, and then asked me if she could still have a relationship with God, even though she was gay. In those 30 seconds or so, I was able to bear my testimony of the Savior's love for us, and I instinctively recited this quote, "No matter who you are, or what you may have done, you can always pray." I have her one last hug, and a smile and I ran to catch up to the group.
When I got home, I looked up the quote, as I didn't know who said it. I was unbelievably surprised when I saw that I had quoted Elder Boyd K. Packer. After all of the discouraging, and down right hurtful things Elder Packer has said concerning people who are gay, I was so pleased to be able to offer his words as a comfort for this wonderful lesbian. It sure was fitting, and blissfully ironic.
My testimony grew. My heart grew. This parade spiritually uplifted me more than any other event in my life with the exception of my baptism. I encourage anyone who wants to be involved for next years parade, to do it. It was unbelievable.