A few years ago, we NEVER would have entertained the idea of walking in a Pride Parade. Like many LDS people, we felt that would be “condoning sin” and supporting the wrongful choices of others. So, why would we change our minds? Well, this is just one way we are trying to follow the Lord’s command to show love to our brothers and sisters, especially those in our society who feel so very little.
Is it possible that concerning our LGBTQI brothers and sisters we have put the 2nd great commandment to “Love One Another” aside and put judging our fellowman above loving them?
Over the past several years, as we have tried our best to follow the feelings and impressions we have received, our hearts have been greatly softened. We would like to help provide understanding and encourage compassion because we now see both sides clearly, not just one side. We have gone through a lot to have those softened hearts. We have prayed, attended the temple, studied and fasted about this very issue. We hope for more kindness, and sensitivity in the way LGBTQI issues are discussed. It seems some of the harshest comments come from those who have no comprehension at all about these issues, and they do not wish to understand at all. People are more apt to be kinder when they try to see where another person is coming from or have heard their story.
As a religious community, we have shown that we “hate the sin” but where are we showing we “love the sinner?”…I’m using this horrible statement since it has been used a lot lately towards LGBTQI people. The phrase is based in judgment, which we have no business doing towards other people. You can judge righteously for yourself, but you can never judge another person’s life without error. Never. If anyone tells me I can, no matter who it is, I remember the words of our Savior as told to us by Mormon, “Behold what the scripture says-man shall not smite neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord…” He never gave us the right to judge other people. That right is only His. We should be so grateful that He will be our judge.
One of the ways we follow the Savior is when those in prison are visited. Usually it is leaders in our wards and stakes that will go. They go to share God’s love for those that are incarcerated and to provide hope and uplift to those that are some of the “least” among us. One of the things the Savior said was, “I was in prison, and ye came unto me…. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Are those that are visiting condoning the sins of those men/women by going to the prison to visit them? Are they supporting the horrible things some of these people have done when they show love and compassion for them? No, they are following the Savior’s example…the example we all should be trying to follow. Love your brothers and sisters…the Lord will be the judge.
There is one group in society that we have made the “least of these.” People that have been horribly marginalized, judged harshly, dehumanized and made to feel they are the cause of the destruction of families and the bringing about the end of the world (this issue has been a HUGE distraction from the things that are truly destroying our families such as: porn addiction, drug addiction, child abuse, sexual abuse, verbal, physical, and even spiritual abuse, pride, materialism, inappropriate media, etc…but that is for another post) Can you imagine what that must be like being told all of the time that YOU are destroying other people’s families? How many days can you go before you hear a negative comment about anyone LGBTQI? Right now, I don’t go one day without hearing or seeing a comment like that and unfortunately it is from those who are religious. So many of the LGBTQI are good people and yet we treat them as if they are the enemy. Many LGBTQI in Utah are returned missionaries. They served the Lord giving up 2 years of their lives. They come home and try as hard as they can to live a life of being alone and celibate. Eventually, many give up because they just can’t live that way. They know their only choice to remain in good standing is being celibate or living a lie in a marriage with a partner of the opposite sex that usually ends in divorce. Some have been able to live these lives, but the percentage is very small. No matter your personal views, can you at least try and think of how you would feel? Try to see from another person’s viewpoint? We have made people our enemy that are not our enemy.
So, this is why we walked in the Pride Parade….to say, “We love you!” We walked with the group, Mormons Building Bridges. This is a group that’s only purpose is to show love to the LGBTQI community from the LDS community. They keep their views in line with current Church doctrine. As a group, we wore our Sunday clothes and only held signs with messages of love from the prophets, scriptures, primary songs and hymns. The sign we made said, Love One Another. As we gathered, there was a sound system that was reverently playing beautiful hymns. Before the parade began, there was an opening song, an opening prayer, and a short talk on loving our brothers and sisters. The Spirit was there! I know the feeling of the Spirit and it was there!!
As we began to walk, the streets were lined with tons of people! I had no idea that there would be that many people there. We were #47 in the parade. At the front of our group (about 200 people in our group), a few members were holding the Mormons Building Bridges sign. We all followed behind. As we would walk by, the crowd would erupt in cheering and clapping!! Our little family walked on the edge close to the people. As we walked, we could see people with tears in their eyes. Some had tears running down their faces, and one woman was so overcome she was weeping. Ben went over and asked if he could give her a hug and she threw her arms around him. People came up to us over and over again shaking our hands and saying, “Thank you” and “Thank you so much!” This was not just a few times, but over and over again all through the parade route people were expressing their gratitude that we would come and show our love. It was such an amazing and spiritual experience. Yes, the Pride Parade was a spiritual experience. We had so many people coming up to us while we were in the middle of walking in the parade to shake our hands, or high five as we walked by and saying thank you, that we were overcome with such love for them. Afterwards though, there was something that made us very sad. The crowd seemed to cheer louder for us than most of the other groups. Why was that? Because we were “Mormons who loved them.” We thought to ourselves, shouldn’t they look at our banner and think, “There are the Mormons. They love everybody.”
We say we love everyone, but they aren’t hearing it. Maybe it is because they aren’t seeing it?? Do our words reflect our actions? Do they only hear the condemnation and see no love? I am afraid that is the truth. We need to do better. We must do better. I look forward to the day when Mormons Building Bridges isn’t such a big deal to the people that are watching the parade. There go the Mormons…they love everybody.