Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched the Rainbow Mormon Initiative on Sunday.
LDS Member Jen Blair came down from Twin Falls Idaho to the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City to hand out rainbow ribbon.
“I cut six spools of ribbon to make it so people wouldn’t have to go out and buy a whole spool of rainbow ribbon to get a little six to seven inch strip to be able to wear to church,” Blair says.
Blair’s son came out as gay more than three years ago. She says the ribbon is meant to serve as a signal for fearful LGBT kids to know they are accepted. She says the recent policy change by the Church making same-sex marriage grounds for apostasy has left the LGBT people she knows feeling excluded and unwelcome. “It’s been a really traumatic six months for the community.”
Gwen Hutchings of Medford, Oregon says no one in her ward said anything about her triangle rainbow button, but when she posted a picture on Facebook, a friend complained that she was bringing politics into church.
“I don’t think what I was doing was a political statement,” Hutchings says. “To me it was more a statement of love, saying maybe to the closeted individual, hey I’m a safe person. Even if you feel rejected at church, I still love you and I won’t reject you.”
Sammie Anderson of Eagle Mountain wore a rainbow ribbon. She says people in ward know about her transgender daughter.
“I received nothing but love,” Anderson says. “I got a few hugs, I got a few you know, I’m so grateful that you show love, that you stand up for what you believe is right.”
Anderson says her husband asked Church officials to remove his name from membership rolls after the recent policy change on same-sex marriage, but she says her response is to keep showing up at church with her rainbow ribbon.
An LDS Church spokesperson had no comment on the initiative.