June 26th was the fifth year we've marched in San Francisco LGBT Pride. It's one of the world's largest celebrations, with usually well over 500,000 people attending. Over the years, I've learned to spot the Mormons in the crowd. It's easy once you know what to look for. Yesterday right in the middle of Market Street a young woman caught my eye--she was looking at me, jumping up and down and yelling, "Thank you!"
I looked back and mouthed the words, "Are you Mormon?" already knowing the answer. And then over the screaming crowd and music I actually *heard* her. "YES!" she yelled back to me.
I left my place at the start of the contingent and ran over, reached across the barricade and into the crowd. Her arms reached out for mine. We hugged, and I told her "You are loved, sister. By many Mormons and most certainly by your Savior." She started sobbing--her breath was actually heaving and she pushed out the words, "Thank you, thank you, I never thought I would see this, thank you and I love you, too!"
I broke away and she held my hand and I looked into her eyes for just a split second. I don't know the details of her history with our faith and I may never know, but her eyes told me it was a painful one. And she clearly misses the love she once felt in this faith that used to be her home.
All of that happened in under ten seconds. Yet it's a memory that for both of us, I am betting, will last forever.
So, why do Mormons march in LGBT Pride?
For the girl I hugged and who hugged me back.
For the millions like her.
For the healing it represents not only to those in the crowd--but to those who march.
For the fact that we belong together.
And because expressing unconditional love is never the wrong thing to do.
To view more of our contingent check out this quick and well done video.