This morning I marched in a parade. Yes, that parade.
I was seventeen the last time I was in a parade. I carried a tenor sax and became dehydrated because I was in full band uniform.
I got dehydrated this time around as well, because I was wearing a suit.
I don’t like parades. I don’t like going to them, let alone marching in them. The heat, the crowds, the . . . social interaction. Give me a dusty bike trail or a small boardgame night with friends and family any day of the week.
But today I stepped way out of my comfort zone, and marched in a pride parade. I marched with a group of Mormons who went to share a simple message, “We love you.”
Although I marched in a group I drove to the parade alone. This almost made me turn back about a dozen times. I knew no one. There I was, walking down the street in a suit and tie, asking a woman in a leotard if she knew which way to the pride parade. I’m sure she wondered if I suffered from heat stroke.
But I found my people. I didn’t count, but wouldn’t be surprised if there was over 400 of us. Brothers and sisters and children, decked out in their “Sunday best”, carrying rainbow flags and signs. I think my favorite sign quoted a primary song.
I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you, that’s how I’ll show my love for you.
We were right behind the grand marshall, so second in line. As we marched, the crowed cheered, clapped, and at times even roared. I can only hope the love we were trying so desperately to show matched the love they showed us. A few images I will never forget:
A middle-aged woman in a tank top, stood on the sidelines, crying. She kept saying over and over, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” A woman marching next to me went over and embraced her.
A five-year-old girl, marched in front of me with a sign that said, “Free Hugs.” Many people took her up on the offer.
A man rode in a wheelchair with a walker on wheels attched to it. The walker was empty the entire time because the woman who supposedly needed it was bouncing back and forth to each side of the parade, waving and waving and waving.
I can’t explain why I felt compelled to go and march. I’m not gay. None of my immediate familiy members are gay, at least not that I know of. I’m told that the social, political, and religious issues surrounding homosexuality are complex. I won’t profess to be an expert on any of them. In fact, I’m pretty slow. I like things simple. One of my favorite parts of the bible is when Jesus boils everything down to two commandments. Only two.
Love your neighbor.
On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.
That I can understand.
With apologies to Thomas S. Monson: Miles were walked. Tears were shed. Bridges were built.