By Doree Burt
Last Sunday was the third time I walked with Mormons Building Bridges in the Utah Pride parade. It is a Sunday I look forward to, and then I mourn its passing. This year I, along with other members of the MBB Steering Committee, were proud and honored to carry the MBB banner at the front of our group of hundreds of Mormons who took the day to act upon the vow in a beloved hymn: “I shall give love to those in need; I’ll show that love by word and deed”. Every year, I see weeping spectators as our group walks by. Weeping. It kills me. It also reinforces my resolve to try to make right what was done wrong in so many Mormon situations and families. After the parade many of our MBB family took more of their Sabbath to greet people at the Pride Festival…and hug them at our MBB Free Hugs booth. Usually these hugs are met with comments like these: “You are like real Mormons?” “Can I take a picture with you?” “I never thought I’d see the day.” “You don’t know what this means.” “Hey! I’m a Mormon too!” “Thank you.” But this year the most transformative hug, for me, was one where no one said anything. This is what I shared as my facebook status so those who weren’t there in that sacred moment might be able to share its purity and beauty.
Once again, the best Sabbath of my year! My face is sore from smiling so much…I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to. There were those brief periods, however, when my face got a rest. Like at the Festival when a young man told me he couldn’t stop crying as we (all 450+ of us) walked by in the Parade…so I hugged him (Hugging Booth, after all) and he stays there, sobbing. Deep body-shaking sobs. And I realize he might not know me, but he knew other Mormony-looking mom types who looked similar to me, who did not hug with their arms nor with their mouths. I know this because each story is unique, but also tragically and shamefully predictable. Face- rests like that? I’ll be happy when they no longer exist.