Mormon Feminists at the Phoenix Gay Pride Parade

_MG_4778Saturday was the Phoenix Gay Pride parade.  Although I was pretty much along for the ride, I was thrilled to march with my two sons holding signs we made that said, “LDS Heart LBGT” or “Scouts for Equality” (I wore my cub scout mom shirt) and “Mormons for Marriage Equality.”_MG_5324


Thanks to all of the people who organized the Mormons for Marriage Equality, we had a great turnout. The signs, banners, and rainbows made me so proud to be a Mormon and supporter of gay rights. It felt good to be speaking up for something that I care about, like feminism, but am not directly affected by.    But, even though I’m not gay, I am invested in the fight for gay rights.  In addition to friends and acquaintances, I have a sister who is bisexual. I want to make sure that she knows I support her and want her to have the right to marry whomever she chooses.

I’m well aware that many M_MG_4868ormons don’t favor marriage equality.


In fact, one of my friends confided that she didn’t think that the Mormon church should get the credit for the support o_MG_4886ur group was giving through the Pride Parade. I could see her point, I mean we weren’t an official LDS endorsement sandwiched between the roller derby girls and the Chipotle guy riding the bucking burrito.  But on the other hand, by surprising everyone on the parade route (some were very surprised) that Mormons could love and support them despite what seems to be vast social differences, we were giving everyone hope.  We are giving the gay community hope that even conservative Christians can embrace gay rights and giving the LDS members hope of a future of understanding and love for the gay community within our walls.

So many people don’t think abo_MG_4997ut the gay members of our wards and branches. How many are there in our young men’s and young women’s organizations?

My favorite sign was made by my friend Stephanie, who helped organized the event. It said, “Gay Kids Grow up Mormon. I’m Here to Keep them Safe.”

DSC_0058 (1)

At the end of the parade, a young man chased down our group and choked back tears as he told us he was raised Mormon.  He didn’t know a group like ours even existed. I showed him Stephanie’s sign and he said, “Can you take a photo of me with the sign?” Stephanie jumped in the photo and put her arm around him as I snapped the picture.

That moment was full of healing and hope._MG_5196


Pride Parade

*Thanks to Micah Nickolaisen for the amazing photos!


Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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10 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    It was an honor to walk with my sisters and brothers from the Mormon LGBT community. A true honor.

    I’m proud of our kids walking on that hot day and my earnest 8 year old handing out pass-along cards about the ALL conference to any parade spectator who wanted one (and some who didn’t).

    So many parade spectators thanked us and were happy to see us. It was awesome. Thanks for the thoughtful report, Jess–you helped me feel those feelings all over again.

  2. Stefanie says:

    Great post Jess, wish I could have been there with all of you. What a great cause to support!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for that. My customers might not thank you for the now scary mascara smudged face that will present itself to them this morning. On a weekend filled with General conference talks that talked about love it was great to see some action in the area of love and tolerance.

    Press on!

  4. Jessawhy says:

    Thank you, Jennifer. I’m glad you feel the same love.

    We missed you, Stef!

    EmilyCC, I’m glad that our kids could walk as well. I forgot to mention the discussion our boys had in the car about how boys can’t kiss other boys. That was when I jumped in and talked about all of the different kinds of families we know, like their Aunt’s. Hopefully, this kind of conversation is happening everywhere and it won’t be “gross!” to think of happy homosexual couples, just like it won’t be “gross!” to think of a boy wearing pink or playing with a doll.

  5. Olive says:

    “At the end of the parade, a young man chased down our group and choked back tears as he told us he was raised Mormon. He didn’t know a group like ours even existed. I showed him Stephanie’s sign and he said, “Can you take a photo of me with the sign?” Stephanie jumped in the photo and put her arm around him as I snapped the picture.

    That moment was full of healing and hope.”

    My favorite part! I didn’t hear about that at the parade so I’m glad you wrote about it! It was so much fun marching with all of you. I’m so glad you’re “my people”!

    For any Mormons thinking about going to a Pride Parade in your area, DO IT!!! Its is amazing. My heart was full all weekend from the experience. Its all love.

  6. Stephanie says:

    What a beautiful post, Jess! Like EmilyCC, it brought back a rush of all those feelings from marching! It was incredible to have so many fellow LGBT Mormons, friends and allies marching together. I could not believe the turnout – we were a contingent to be noticed. Like your kids, I am so proud of mine for marching so earnestly on a long, hot route. This was their second Pride marching as Mormons for Marriage Equality and I am certain it will shape their hearts and lives.
    The young lesbian woman who organized us at the beginning thanked us for representing her and her wife, especially in a state where they have little hope of change for gay rights any time soon. The message and our mere presence were so healing to many along the parade, myself not the least of which! The ovation and cheers along the last stretch were evidence of that. And putting my arm around that kid at the end of the parade made it all worth it, tears very welcomed!

  7. Mike W says:

    It was great being a part of it and representing the church and the gay community

  8. Em says:

    I liked the part about “gay kids grow up Mormon.” I think our dialogue in the church glosses over how hard this is for youth. We act as though this is all about adults who are fully developed and self-aware making choices, while ignoring what it would be like to be a teenager in that situation. As a youth leader I have received no training or discussion of any kind on how to respond. I think it is so important to remember that you don’t have to think of yourself as a bully to be a bully. You might be thinking of yourself as righteous or loving or kind while at the same time tearing another person down through ignorance, ineptitude or misguided priorities.

    I admire your courage.

  9. Aimee says:

    I’m so proud to know you wonderful, women. Thank you for being examples of love, and mourning with those who mourn, and rejoicing with those who rejoice. This post and these photos have lifted my spirits.

  10. Suzette Smith says:

    These pictures make me cry. What a wonderful day. Love you guys.

    Reminds me of the day I walked up to the gay man raising money on the street to support gays in the workplace. I said, “I’m going to sign your form and give you a donation and I want you to know that I’m a Mormon …. and I’m on your side.” He burst into tears and hugged me. It was a good day.


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