You might think that gay pride parades and the Mormon Church would go together like, well, gay people and Mormons, but something unusual happened in Salt Lake City yesterday that proved otherwise. Almost 300 Mormons marched in the city's gay pride parade and showed their support with signs that said things like "God Loves His Children" and "LDS (loves) LGBT."
As you might imagine, the Mormons' conservative clothing helped them stand out from the rest of the participants, who wore slightly more risque outfits. They were even cheered on by supporters along the parade route, which was just blocks away from the Church's headquarters. The Mormon presence at the parade was organized by Erika Munson, a 52-year-old mother of five and a devout Mormon, who is the founder of Mormons Building Bridges. She says she's become uncomfortable with the church being painted as anti-gay:
I feel like this is the time to speak up. I've always felt like I was supportive in my own way of the LGBT community but I've had to keep that and my commitment for the church separate.
Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter who is both gay and from a Mormon upbringing, was the parade's grand marshal. He said of the Mormons' decision to appear: "They are fostering a level of acceptance that hasn't traditionally been there." While this is a positive step, let's not get too wild with excitement. Munson's group isn't directly affiliated with the Church, and the Mormons have never been shy about denouncing homosexuality. They've taught gay sex is a sin, they've opposed gay marriage, they've pushed dangerous conversion therapies, and they've even excommunicated some of their gay members. So, we're a long way from a full-fledged endorsement of homosexuality from the Church. Still, it's nice to see some members actively promoting love and acceptance rather than hatred and exclusion. After all, if any religion should be sympathetic to falling outside the accepted norms of a society, it'd be the Mormons. Now can we get an "amen" from America's most famous Mormon, Mitt Romney? Yeah, no, didn't think so.
Image via Becky Stares/Shutterstock.