Why I was wrong to march with Mormons Building Bridges

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Last year, I marched with and organized a group of local Mormons in the Lethbridge Pride Parade. We marched under the Mormons Building Bridges banner.

My reasons for marching were varied. Our daughter had publicly come out the previous summer. The LDS church had released their divisive and damaging policy update on marriage equality just months before. I thought it might be an act of solidarity to show the local LGBTQ community that some Mormons wanted to be supportive. I also considered that marching openly as a Mormon was an act of protest, co-opting “Mormon” from the church and redefining what it meant to be Mormon.

I realize now that marching was wrong.

Some background

I had planned to march this past June. I was even organizing a group of Mormons again. Then I had a discussion with some friends of mine (who have Mormon ties and are members of the local LGBTQ community). I learned that for them, seeing Mormons dressed in “official” attire and under the “Mormon” banner brought pain, reminding them of the hurt the church laid on them in previous years.

After some reflection, I cancelled the group’s organizing.

I admit that I took it personally. I felt hurt and sidelined. But after the hurt subsided, I realized that being called on my actions was an opportunity for me to reevaluate my role as an LGBTQ ally. I took the last 2–3 months to do some research and some introspection.

Why it was wrong

First, Pride is an act of protest. The first parades (if they can be called that) were held in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco on 28 June 1970, as a way to commemorate the Stonewall Riots the year before.

Anyone watching a Pride parade today would have trouble finding that connection. Pride today has been commercialized, overrun with floats from companies, politicians, political parties, and other non-queer organizations.

If you ask anyone attending Pride what Pride is about, you’ll invariably hear the word “inclusion”. But why must Pride include everyone? Why must the event include companies that used to fire employees for being queer? Why must it include the political parties that used to oppose marriage equality? Why must it include the same institution that used to arrest and imprison them for just being who they are? Why must it include the churches that used to (and often still does) excommunicate, ostracize, and even encourage violence toward their queer members?

Pride is an LGBTQ space

Pride is an LGBTQ space. It always has been, and it always should be.

Too many people are trying to co-opt it. I literally saw organizations handing out branded rainbow flags at this year’s parade. One longtime Liberal Party candidate had the gall to say that the Liberal-branded rainbow flag was a better flag than the generic flag we had already received from organizers.

I realize now that my marching under the Mormons Building Bridges banner took space away from the LGBTQ community. I was trying to appropriate Pride to make a political point. And that was wrong. And I am sorry for my ignorance and actions.

If Mormons (or anyone for that matter) want to show support to the LGBTQ community through Pride, they should do so in collaboration with the community. They should be willing to participate in the floats and marches of LGBTQ-specific organizations, arm in arm and hand in hand. Show them that they are willing to be supportive without being selfish.

I won’t be marching under Mormons Building Bridges anymore. But to be clear, this isn’t really about Mormons Building Bridges. I feel exactly the same regarding similar organizations, such as Mormons for Equality. It’s not the specific organization; it’s the message we’re sending when we want to be allies while still remaining in our comfort zone.

16 thoughts on “Why I was wrong to march with Mormons Building Bridges

  1. If you don’t believe in the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ LDS then don’t be a member. Go and join another church that fits your beliefs. We, who are members, choose to follow the commandments. I’ll stand up for my beliefs and church. You go and stand up for your beliefs and church?

    1. “Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us!” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf

    2. Good point, religious hate has historically created more problems than it has ever solved. There actually are other religions actually based on the love of Christ. For example:

      The 2014 Episcopal message from the National Cathedral.
      By Rev Jerry Hall
      “I’m old enough to remember a time when Christian churches, including our own Episcopal Church, segregated its churches and actively participated in racism. I’m old enough to remember the ordination of women movement, when many in our church found ingenious theological arguments to deny women leadership roles and so promoted sexism. In its wisdom, the church came to its senses and labeled both racism and sexism as sinful. And now we find ourselves at the last barrier—call that barrier homophobia, call it heterosexism. We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are. They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Shaming people because their gender identity doesn’t fit neatly into your sense of what it should be is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBTQ youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are.
      Fifteen years ago this month, Matthew Shepard was killed in Laramie, Wyoming. Three years ago last month, Tyler Clementi committed suicide in New York City. Matthew was 21 when he died, Tyler 18. Both young men were gay. “We here at the cathedral are taking this weekend both to remember and honor Matthew and Tyler and to commit ourselves to standing with and for LGBTQ youth.
      It’s more than tragic—in fact it’s shameful—that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting our children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation, and violence.”
      “Young LGBTQ men and young women will continue to be vulnerable to the sins of homophobia and heterosexism, to the violence of hate and fear until we in the church can say to homosexuals now what it has said to heterosexuals for 2,000 years. Your sexuality is good. The church not only accepts it. The church celebrates it and rejoices in it. God loves you as you are, and the church can do no less.”?

    3. Why the animosity Patricia ? I didn’t read anything that wasn’t true about the church. Inclusion is and always has been the problem and you just proved that point.

  2. I trust, Patricia, you are speaking about the marriage equality component of this article, as I used to be LDS and I know the doctrine. Let’s just be sure we are perfectly clear on one thing. Marriage as we know it wasn’t around until the 16th century. Prior to that, men just purchased women–regardless of their desire or lack of desire to be married. This happened long before Christ was on the earth and it was not tied to religion, but rather property. This fact considered, why Christians believe they have a monopoly on marriage is beyond me.

    Let’s also remember that Jesus was a hardcore badass who rebelled against those who persecuted others, he challenged religious authority, he stood behind the little guys—even if their lifestyles were different than his. Jesus was not a Christian, just like Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist and Muhammed wasn’t Muslim.

    Great article, Kim. Thank you for sharing it with me.

  3. Great article Kim. I was trying to explain something similar a couple of months ago of why I stopped going to the parade here after attending for many years. I attended with my cousins and we all felt it had completely changed from what it used to be.now it’s all about how outrageous your costume is, how outlandish your behaviour can be and two faced politicians who “supported” the gay community during the parade with their own logos in full view yet opposed equality during city council. No thanks. Keep doing what you are doing Kim. You are a great leader

    1. The apparel and behaviour of LGBTQ people aren’t the problem. That’s their space to be as authentic as they want.

      I agree with your point about the politicians.

      1. I disagree with you Kim on the apparel, and certain behavior. Whether you agree or not we are judged on how we project ourselves publically and personally in public. The goofiness in this sector of humanity is being judged and some of them are doing nothing to forward progress made, by people within who fit within a civilized society, who go to work everyday, contribute, come home and continue on like everyone else.

  4. Love your article.
    Never thought of it this way but I do understand and thank you for this article.

    Often we do the wrong things for the right reason
    You have helped me look at my support in a better way

    I am not LDS but what you said is for all.
    Your support could have been seen as a protest by some.

  5. This is fantastic. My littles didn’t notice their loot was branded with banks, political parties, and organizations capitalizing. They saw the rainbows. Honestly, I wish I didn’t see the branding either. Thank you Kim. Love, above all things.

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