We had talked to him the day before about where we were going and why. We explained that we were going there to show people that we loved them- even though people could be mean, hurtful, or say they're not as good as other people, we would show them that we loved them and wanted to support them. That night he prayed that the "parade people" would feel our love and not feel bad anymore. It probably shouldn't have surprised me then, when he woke, and seeing the signs I made to take to Seattle's Pride Parade with us, he took to his craft table and returned with a sign he had made, all on his own: "I [love} u."
That was the message our family went to Seattle to share- that while we know that people of our faith have hurt people in the LGBTQ community, our family will not do so- and we will speak up when others do. Though we were nervous about the reception we would receive our presence was greeted with a mix of cheers, surprise, and at worst, silence. When people expressed their gratitude to us, it was very emotional- we were here to try to mend hurt feelings, and I was grateful for their welcoming attitude- but I found myself crying twice while walking- once, when meeting a friend who was moved beyond words to see us there. The other time, a woman watching the parade saw Stinky's sign said to me "This will be a strong man someday. You're doing it right, Mom."
The LDS involvement in Pride Parades across the country has brought up a lot of discussion in our home. We talked about whether or not we would go, whether we would bring the kids, what our signs would say. We prayed, a lot. Last Sunday at church, we sang the hymn "Lord, I would Follow Thee" These lyrics in particular stuck out to me, as we were making our decision:
I would be my brothers' keeper,
I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary,
I would show a Gentle heart...
During this hymn, I remembered being a child singing the words of the Carol Lynn Pearson's Primary song "If you don't talk as most people do, some people talk and laugh at you, but I won't! I wont! I'll walk with you, I'll talk with you, that's how I'll show my love for you." I remembered standing in Young Women's, saying that I would strive to live the value of Integrity. I thought about our reasons for not going, and I felt like a coward. Then, the hymn continued "Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly?" and I knew that our family would be walking in the parade.
It was an incredible experience- and one that I am so grateful we had as a family. Thank you to those who organized our group, and those who welcomed us. This is a day we'll remember (if you'll pardon the pun) with pride.