400 LDS members greeted with cheers at Utah Pride Parade

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SALT LAKE CITY — Now one of the largest downtown festivals of the year, the Utah Pride festival started years ago as a way to educate people about gays and lesbians.

It has evolved to encompass anti-discrimination and anti-violence messages, and has also become a way to promote dignity and equal rights for members of the community.

In spite of protesters every year, the festival has grown to the point where this year's Pride festival was the largest ever in the state of Utah, according to the Salt lake City Police Department.

Not only that, this year there were more corporate sponsors and more parade participants than ever before. Organizers said it's a sign this community won't be ignored.

"It really emphasis the fact that we do need to include the LGBTQ community when we're making decisions and when we're making laws, and pushing toward equality for everyone," said Davey Stevenson of the Utah Pride Center.

The festival is also a big money maker for the Utah Pride center, which provides services to the community.

As big as the crowd was today, there are still many people who aren't supportive of gays and lesbians. For some, it's based around religious reasons. That's why one group in the parade stood out — more than 400 people who are LDS and actively reaching out to bridge that gap.

Deseret News

They were from a group called Mormons Building Bridges. Most of them are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and supporters of gay rights. Cheers came in waves along the parade route for the group.

"I'm a lot more than just my sexuality," said Keith Trottier, who is both gay and a member of the LDS church. "I mean it's a big part, but there's a lot more to me,"

Trottier said he still struggles with some aspects of being gay and being LDS. But he said that at Pride he doesn't feel alone.

Officially, the LDS church teaches that being gay isn't a sin, but acting on it is. That causes conflict for some. But Erika Munson, who is part of Mormons Building Bridges, is focusing on progress the LDS church has made with recent statements, as well as the website MormonsAndGays.org.

"A lot of membership still think that if you come out to your bishop, you're going to be excommunicated," Munson said. "Parents think that if their child comes out to them they're supposed to kick them out. And that's not church policy at all."

There was a also kind of reunion for one parade watcher; relatives from Utah County Lisa Brockback Webber. It's a surprise she said can happen for LDS families everywhere.

"I think the church can evolve and it can change," Webber said. "I'm so glad it's changing and to see so much support going out for the LGBT community is amazing."

It is what the church already offers that has affected the Allgood-Moore family: Support.

18-year-old Grayson is transgendered. It was a struggle mom, dad and two brothers went through together. The family is united, saying If they can do it, others can too.

"More than anything else, I just want other parents to have the chance to have the rich experience we've had to support our kid," said father Neca Allgood.

"Having a supportive family behind me all the way has made such a huge difference to me that I've had so much happier life because my family has been there every step of the way," Grayson said.

The LDS Church has also supported laws calling for equal housing and employment for gays and lesbians.


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