Mormons In Solidarity With Gays, Ctd

The Gay Pride march happened in Salt Lake City, with the straight LDS "Mormons Building Bridges" contingent right in the thick of things. You want to know how to overcome a culture war? Try this:

Some Bridges marchers worried how the crowds would react, especially given the history of LDS Church-backed opposition to same-sex marriage.

“But when we turned the first corner onto 200 South Street, the crowd just roared,” says Austin Hollinbaugh, a recent BYU graduate from Provo, Utah, who joined the Mormons Building Bridges group. “I thought to myself, ‘Why are you cheering for me? I am supposed to be here for you. People deserve to be loved, and all I am doing is standing up for that.’”

SLC Pride organizers were surprised by the size of the Mormons Building Bridges delegation. “You are three times as large as we thought you would be,” the parade master of ceremonies announced as the group approached her booth, her voice breaking up with emotion.

Emotion reverberated all along the parade route, as Pride attendees—many of them gay and from Mormon backgrounds—cheered and cried. Some crowd members sang the lyrics to hymns quoted on Mormons Building Bridges placards. Marcher Susan Dortsch walked over to hug a woman at the edge of the parade route. “She had tears rolling down her face,” says Dortsch. “She was sobbing and saying, ‘Thank you so much.’”

Adam Ford of Alpine, Utah marched in his Sunday best with his sons Parley and Willard, who are named for historic LDS Church leaders Parley P. Pratt and Willard Richards. “I saw about a dozen people openly weeping as they watched us walk by. One body builder guy in a tight tank top heaved with sobs,” said Ford. “I walked over and hugged him.” Clair Barrus witnessed the tears of parade-goers as evidence of deep wounds carried by gay Mormons and gay people with Mormon backgrounds. “Their soul has been torn in two pieces,” said Barrus, “their integral gay selves, and their Mormon selves.”