Mormons March in Gay Pride Parades in the U.S., Chile
A large group of LGBT Mormons, families and allies marched in San Francisco
Tresa’s report about Mormons participating in San Francisco Pride
“We pray that all of us will be able to live in a world free from discrimination!”
by Hugo Salinas
Hundreds of LGBT Mormon allies marched during the month of June in different cities across the U.S.—and another group did the same in Santiago de Chile. By June 30 (dubbed by some “Super Sunday” because on that day five Mormon groups marched in different cities), the Supreme Court rulings regarding DOMA and Prop 8 had been announced, and a climate of celebration pervaded many of the Pride events. (The Salt Lake City and Washington DC events, which happened earlier, were covered in the June issue of Affinity).
In Boise, an LDS group, which included some local church members as well as BYU-Idaho students, participated in the local Pride festivities held on June 15, including a rally on the steps of the Idaho Capitol and a parade. The group carried several large banners which read: “Mormon Allies,” “Transgender Mormons and Allies,” and “Mormons for Equality.” The group, which started with 15 people, saw many join in over the course of the parade route, and by the end it had grown to 40.
Organizer LeRoy Fiscus was one of the faith leaders who was asked to pray during the rally. “We pray that we can work together in one body as allies, gay men, lesbian women, transgender and bisexual people to change our world, its societies and the cultures that try to stop us from progressing forward in being recognized by everyone as human,” LeRoy prayed. “We pray that all of us will be able to live in a world free from discrimination!”
In Chile, where it is winter, nearly two dozen Mormons toughed out the rain to participate in the Pride and Equality March (Marcha del Orgullo y la Igualdad) held on June 22 in downtown Santiago, the country’s capital. Two families, including parents and siblings, marched in support of LGBT loved ones.
In Portland, a large group of Mormon men, women, and children marched with a “Mormons for Marriage Equality” banner and many rainbow-colored signs. A young man carried a sign that read, “I (Heart) My Mormon Missionary”—a reference to his LDS boyfriend, who marched along with him. Other signs read: “Stubborn Pioneer Says Everyone’s Included,” “Jesus Said Love Everyone,” and “Choose the Right to Marry.”
Mormon ally Suzi Fei posted to Facebook a picture of her young daughter marching in her first Pride Parade. “She carried her ‘We Love You’ sign the whole way and got lots of love from the crowd,” Suzi wrote. “I am very proud.”
The Mormon marchers were briefly featured by local TV station KGW.
In Minneapolis, a group of 20 Latter-day Saints, most of them straight, marched wearing T-shirts that read: “Mormon Ally – Where Love Is, There God Is Also.” Mormon families, including children, walked with signs that read: “Christ Loved All—No Exceptions” and “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.”
“We started our contingent with a prayer,” John Gustav-Wrathall reported. “Then the Catholics came over and asked: ‘Can we pray together?’ So we all prayed together. After the Amen, there were cheers and tears. It was my best Pride moment ever!”
In Chicago, about a dozen Mormons, including straight allies and families, marched carrying a large “Mormon Allies” banner. Other signs read “I Am a Child of God,” “LDS LGBT Love,” “Mormons for Equality,” and “All Are Alike Unto God” (a quote from 2 Nephi 26:33). Some participants showed up dressed in Sunday best, but two chose instead to wear “Superman Pride” capes.
The night before, a group of LGBT Mormons and allies had a BBQ social in Hyde Park which included sharing their stories and making signs for the march.
Affirmation President Randall Thacker flew to Chicago to participate in these events. “The LGBT Mormons and allies I met in Chicago are doing amazing things,” says Randall. “They are building bridges and having productive dialogue with church leaders and members, and providing social support to each other in a very meaningful way. I was thrilled to hear their stories and march with them in the parade, where the crowds loudly cheered as they seemed amazed to see us there.”
“What a fantastic Pride!!” wrote Devan Hite on Facebook about the Chicago event. “I am so proud of my gay Mormon friends and allies!! I couldn’t ask for a better crowd!”
In San Francisco, dozens of Mormons, including children and teenagers, marched down Market Street with “Mormons for Marriage Equality” and “Transgender Mormons and Allies” banners. Some of the men wore rainbow ties. “We’re here to celebrate the fact that anybody can get married in California now, regardless of whom they love,” said Tresa Brown Edmunds, a Latter-day Saint who marched with her husband and their son. “So today is a special day.”
Diane Oviatt carried a sign that read, “Family First: I Love My Gay Brother and Son.” Other signs read: “Mormons Love All Flavors of Jello,” “The Linger-Longer Is Over—Thank You SCOUTS,” and “In My Family Tree, I’m the Fruit.”
“I marched in the SF Gay Pride parade today as Mormons for Marriage Equality,” Lisa Fahey wrote on Facebook . “I saw people crying when they figured out who we were, and that made me cry, too.”
» Video of Mormon group marching in San Francisco » Tresa’s video featuring the Mormon marchers » Blurb in the SF Chronicle » Reese Dixon blog entry » “Real Mormons Love Everyone!” (blog entry) » Mitch Mayne’s Op-ed in The Advocate
In New York City, over two dozen Mormons marched with a “Mormons for Marriage Equality” banner. The group included straight Mormon families, LGBT Mormons, and national Affirmation leaders. Affirmation president Randall Thacker traveled from Washington DC to march with the group. Some of the signs read: “I Am a Gay Child of God,” “All Are Alike Unto God,” and “I (Heart) Gay Mormons.”
“Marching with Affirmation New York City in the pride parade was a moving experience,” says Todd Richardson. “Several allies marched alongside us with signs held high. That, mixed with the swell of cheers as we passed through crowds, touched my heart.”
Lismarie Nyland marched with her 10-year-old daughter carrying a colorful baby stroller with several affirming messages, including “Jesus Said (Heart) Everyone” and “Love Makes a Family.” “I kept falling behind because so many people were stopping me to take pictures of it,” says Lismarie. “It was an amazing experience that I will not soon forget.”
In Cleveland, a group formed mostly by straight LDS families (grandparents, their children, and grandchildren) marched with “Mormons for Marriage Equality” banners. The group included Matthew, a young Mormon boy who delighted the audiences with his talent for walking on his hands.
“I want equal rights for all people in this country,” said Rosalind, a Mormon grandmother who marched with her lesbian daughter and her daughter’s young children. “This is very important for me. I want my grandchildren to be raised in a legal relationship that is recognized, and for them to be totally accepted.”
One week after marching in San Francisco in support of her 14-year-old gay brother, Susannah Montgomery, a teenager from Bakersfield, was attending a combined Young Women and Men class, taught by a visiting church leader who asked the class if any of them had done service this week.
Susannah raised her hand and said, “I did service this week when I marched in San Francisco’s gay parade with other Mormons as part of the group Mormons for Marriage Equality.” Susannah later reported that the church leader looked very uncomfortable, yet he followed up with the question, “And how did that make you feel?”
“The best I have felt in a long time,” Susannah replied. “The Spirit was really strong there. I know Heavenly Father loves his gay children, too.” She later reported that other girls in the class were smiling and nodding.
“I’m so proud of my daughter!” her mom Wendy wrote about the incident. “She was so bold and brave.”