Pro-Gay In Salt Lake City: The Protest
October 8, 2010
Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend the silent protest in Temple Square, located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. It was in opposition to comments made by a Mormon official during a General Conference about homosexuality, but really to show gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered teens in Utah and beyond that they are not alone, and that there is a large community of support rooting for them.
With the rise in suicides linked to homosexual teens, and a wider problem related to bullying in schools that seems to have become an epidemic, it is more important than ever that we stand up to provide a safe haven of tolerance and love for our youth. The comments made by Boyd K Packer, who is believed to be next in line for the Church presidency, just reaffirmed the same position that the Church has always had: we “love” you, but you are choosing to be a homosexual, and we will not support you.
“Some suppose that they were pre- set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that do anyone? Remember He is our Father,” he said in his address.
Last night, thousands gathered in Temple Square to protest these words, and to stand up to say that not only is bigotry not a family value, but it is not a moral one. The casting out of homosexuals in the LDS community has long since been a controversial matter that has led to excommunication, and even broken families.
That message came across last night. There were literally thousands of us, dressed in black, half of us sitting or laying clear around blocks to signify the teens who had committed suicide in the wake of the lack of acceptance for an orientation they never asked for, and cannot – and shouldn’t have to – change. The rest marched in circles around the block, while others held up signs.
A memorable moment came when an old couple walked by on our side of the street. They smiled, bemused but friendly, to the gathered people….until they saw the signs. The look of horrified disgust on their face was extreme, and they attempted to hurry through as the husband pulled his wife close to him, as though one of us would attack. They tried to cross the street while green, so eager to get away that they were nearly hit by a car, forcing them back to wait on the corner.
They refused to look at anyone, looking terrified. Yet, no one spoke to them. No one threatened them. A few people laughed at their obvious discomfort, but only once they had shown such a strong aversion to something that they had been smiling at only a few moments before. Is hatred and misunderstanding so great that they would change their opinion in the blink of an eye, purely on threat that some of those gathered were gay?
To that couple: shame on you. No one said a word to you, and many of us smiled when you walked by. There was not a moment of aggression or violence. There were no shouted slogans, no offensive calls against heterosexuals. The cars honking were in support, and the atmosphere was a positive one. Your baseless bigotry showed that night, and acted as a perfect example of the fear that infects a community, stemming from little more than disapproval without cause.
To those who supported us last night: thank you. Not everyone there was gay; I myself am not a lesbian. But this is more than a personal quest or small movement. This is about providing a community with the ability to come together and live their lives with who they choose. This is about acceptance and love, not hate and fear.
Support our GLBT youth. Support our GLBT community. Support acceptance, whether you are gay, straight, bi, trans or pan. Help us to make this world a world without hate.