We always look forward to Pride but it seems like I was especially looking forward to it this year. We had a lot of people from work who wanted to go, and quite a few had never been before. We always like seeing the Imperial Rainbow Court in the parade. My girlfriend's brother and brother-in-law spiff up the Jeep and it always looks AMAZING.
Also this year, I was really looking forward to seeing Westminster College in the parade. They asked for ideas on Facebook about what to put on their t-shirts this year, and they chose my idea. It wasn't anything super fantastic, but I thought that was pretty sweet.
I was probably most excited about Dustin Lance Black as the Grand Marshall. I watched his Oscar acceptance speech from "Milk" probably at least a dozen times, because I found his words so comforting. I find him to be a very eloquent speaker, always inspirational.
What I was not expecting was that he would be followed by such a large group of active LDS Church members in their Sunday best, waving rainbow flags.
I was aware of this group's existence. I had been invited to the Facebook group for Mormons Building Bridges about three weeks before Pride. At that time, they were hoping to get 100 members to come walk with them. The purpose was to show the LGBT community, especially the LGBT youth, that not all Mormons were unsupportive and/or hateful (hateful is perhaps a strong word that doesn't accurately describe the struggle between the LDS and LGBT communities, but I think it adequately reflects the emotion that occurs when trying to reconcile to the two from an individual standpoint). One thing that both groups can agree on is that we've lost too many young people to suicide. They have been victims of the lines that divide us, and neither community wants to lose any more.
When I saw this group of clearly more than 100 come around the corner, behind Dustin Lance Black, I was pretty much immediately moved to tears.
Normally it's just the PFLAG group that makes me cry, but this was an especially moving sight. Both my girlfriend and I were in tears. Several members left the group for a moment to hug us and tell us we were loved. We thanked them. We told them we come from Mormon homes. They said,
"and we love you."
It was an amazing experience. We were so fortunate to be there. And while they may never know how much it meant to us, I hope they had a good experience as well. Everyone stood up and clapped for them. No one around us showed anger or distrust or frustration that they were the group leading the parade. It seemed to me that they were welcomed. I hope they felt that way.
We are also very fortunate that we have a lot of people in our lives who love us and support us. A lot of them were there with us at Pride. Those who couldn't be there asked us about it and were glad that we had a good time.
If you were there, I hope you had a great time. If your Pride festivities are upcoming still, I hope you go and have an amazing time! My favorite part of Pride is going as you are and knowing that you're okay, you're surrounded by family, you're accepted by family. Happy Pride!