Salt Lake PRIDE
Yesterday, over 300 active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints marched directly behind the grand marshal during the Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City. With all the animosity between these two groups (the battle over proposition 8 in California, constant refusal of the mostly LDS legislature to include LGBT people in any anti-discrimination legislation, etc), it is incredibly heart warming to see this sort of thing taking place.
Reading this story, several moments brought me to tears. The willingness of individuals to set aside any anger, fear or animosity, to show support and love for each other is a huge step in a very good direction.
It was very easy for me as a younger person to vilify and despise people for their differences and because of that, I think I can understand some of the fear many LDS people have when it comes to issues of sexuality and gender identification. It is much harder to be full of bile, full of hate and anger when you love and care for someone who is LGBT. Once it was MY friends, MY family, MY co-workers who were gay, I saw how foolish my feelings were, how they were grounded in misunderstanding and fear and while my words and anger surely hurt others, they were very detrimental to me. I am still very embarrassed of the way I used to feel and act, even though I know all of that came from a place of ignorance. That doesn’t justify anything or make it easier to deal with.
When I see people who are willing to take chances, reach across fences and truly love the members of their community, I feel very hopeful for the future. I am inspired not only by the group of LDS members willing to put themselves up for scrutiny and criticism by living what they believe (love and acceptance being at the heart of it), but by those in the LGBT community of Utah who welcomed and embraced the effort. That is the essence of forgiveness, that is the beauty of hope.
Some will be critical, saying this is an empty gesture, that this is not a message of acceptance. That this is just posturing. I choose to see it in a more positive light. They came out-on a Sunday morning! Baby steps, people. Change will come.