Gay Pride Weekend Draws Mormon Allies and Equality Supporters

This weekend, organized contingents of Mormons marched in LGBT pride parades in 8 cities, from New York to Santiago de Chile, marking the high point in an historic season in LDS LGBT history that began with the Mormons Building Bridges Parade in Salt Lake City on June 3.

In Seattle, the Mormons for Marriage Equality contingent counted 55 marchers at the beginning of the Pride parade. As the group made its way down the parade path, an additional 20 Mormons left the sidelines to join, repeating scenes witnessed in Washington, DC, when the parade route became a site for reunions between active Mormons and gay Mormons long estranged from the faith community.

In New York City, 50 gay Mormons and allies marched behind the banner of Affirmation, the nation’s oldest Mormon LGBT group. Some held signs quoting a verse from the Book of Mormon: “All are alike unto God.” Nineteen LDS marchers held the Affirmation banner in Houston, as did an estimated 100 LDS LGBT and allied marchers in Santiago de Chile.

The largest contingent of the weekend gathered in San Francisco, where more than 100 LDS people gathered to march behind the Mormons for Marriage Equality banner, winning the parade’s award for “Absolutely Outrageous” contingent. Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay and holds a leadership position in his San Francisco LDS congregation, offered an opening prayer for the group. “I felt prompted to ask our Father to bless us with the capacity to be ambassadors of His unconditional love,” said Mayne.

“Each step we took was a step toward reconciliation between two communities that both long for healing. Today made me proud to be a Mormon, and proud to be a gay man. This Pride celebration not only honored our LGBT brothers and sisters, but also honored the spirit of Mormonism at its very best.”

Tresa Edmunds, a straight LDS ally and mother, made a 3-hour drive into the city to march with her sign: “Gay kids grow up Mormon, I’m here to keep them safe.” As in Seattle, San Francisco marchers reported tearful parade-route meetings with gay Mormons estranged from the community.

In Chicago, a contingent of 15 LDS marchers, organized just days before the event by former LDS bishop Kevin Kloosterman, marched as “Mormon Allies” with signs reading “God is Love,” “Love thy Neighbor,” and “All are Alike Unto God.” Marcher Mayra Diaz, who carried a sign that declared her support for marriage equality, expressed amazement at the “thank yous” the Mormon Allies received from the crowd. “I was so moved by them thanking us,” Diaz said, “when we had made such mistakes and rejections. They taught us a great lesson on love and forgiveness.”

At the Twin Cities Pride parade, 30 LDS people—5 gay Mormons and 25 straight LDS supporters—also marched as Mormon Allies, behind a banner reading, “Where love is, there God is also.” Twin Cities Mormon Allies organizer John Gustav-Wrathall reported that an older gay man came forward to take a picture of an LDS marcher with a “Sorry we’re late” sign. He approached the marcher, explained that he was gay, and that he had been Mormon. “I was excommunicated 3 days after my lover died,” he said. “I love you people. But get the —- out.” The Mormon Allies convened after the parade. “As wonderful as it was to receive the cheers and the accolades,” Wrathall wrote, “it was this heartbreaking story that reminded us most why we were there. We were late. Far too late. And ‘sorry’ just doesn’t cut it. Though we still felt we had no choice but to start doing the work.”

The final Mormons for Marriage Equality Pride parade delegation this summer will take place in San Diego on July 21.

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Joanna Brooks is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press / Simon & Schuster, 2012) and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches.