This year’s Pride Parade to feature even more Mormon marchers

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

Published: May 25, 2013 10:57AM
Updated: May 24, 2013 08:21PM

The sight of 350 Mormons dressed in their Sunday best marching in Utah’s 2012 Pride Parade was, well, stunning. It made national and even international news, playing against the presumption that members of the Utah-based faith were at odds with their gays members and friends.

This year, the group Mormons Building Bridges plans to do it all again at next weekend’s parade — and is expecting even more marchers, perhaps up to 500.

“All year long our organization has been listening to and learning from those who have been working for decades for the LGBT cause,” Bridges organizer Erika Munson says in a release. “We are very pleased to have the Pride Center welcome us again to the parade, and are looking forward to another uplifting and joyful experience.”

Mormons Building Bridges continues to attract participants, with about 2,600 joining the Facebook group at a rate of about seven a day, says Kendall Wilcox, another organizer.

It is a nonpolitical group, created to show solidarity with the gay community. The Bridges marchers will be joined June 2 by Mormons for Equality, which favors state-recognized gay marriage.

That means Latter-day Saints will have a group to march with, “wherever they are on political spectrum,” Wilcox says, “and that’s a good thing.”

This year, Bridges has chosen the theme “Family Reunion” for its entry, he adds, as a way to emphasize the importance of supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender loved ones, “helping them stay healthy, happy and optimistic about the future.”

A Mormon family reunion is “such an iconic event,” Munson says, “but for LGBT people it is often fraught: Can you come out to everyone? Is your partner welcome? Are you even invited? We want to remind church members that our arms should be open to everyone at these happy occasions. We are affirming the preciousness of everyone in the family unit.”

Once again, Bridges is asking its marchers to wear dresses or skirts for women, shirts and ties for men.

“It has become a Mormons Building Bridges’ trademark,” the Facebook instructions say. “It gives us a certain authenticity: What do Mormons do when they are taking something seriously? They put on their church clothes.”

They also plan to sing LDS hymns and carry signs — with family names or quotes from scriptures or Mormon leaders.

LDS marchers, they say, “can make a powerful statement this way.”

Peggy Fletcher Stack