SALT LAKE CITY -- Erika Munson has never been to a gay pride parade.
But this weekend, she will participate in one, along with at least 100 other active Mormons who -- decked out in their Sunday best -- will march at the head of the Utah Pride Parade to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"There have been so many years of heartbreak and strife between the LDS and LGBT community," said Munson, organizer of Mormons Building Bridges, which supports the gay community. "We just want to send out a message of love to the LGBT community that God loves them because of who they are."
Munson is not gay, and she's not someone who became involved because of a gay family member or friend. She started Mormons Building Bridges a few weeks ago to show other Latter-day Saints that it's all right to embrace the LGBT community. And she wants to reach out to LGBT teens in hopes of stemming suicide rates.
"We're going to be marching in our church clothes," Munson said, "and we want other LDS people to see us and say, 'Oh, they're just like me. Maybe I can reach out to a gay person in my congregation or not be afraid to discuss this issue.' "
Mormons Building Bridges is just one of a number of LDS groups planning to march in pride parades across the country in June, though Munson said her group is not connected to the others. Groups also plan to march in San Francisco, Memphis, Boise, Cleveland, Portland, Seattle, New York and Washington, D.C., according to Mormons for Marriage Equality, an advocacy group.
Munson got involved after seeing her own children, as young adults, question their Mormon faith because of its stand on homosexuality, which seemed at odds with their own attitudes toward LGBT teachers, friends and neighbors.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that it is no sin to have same-sex attraction, but it condones sexual relations only within the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. The Utah-based faith also helped pass California's Proposition 8, which limited marriages to unions between only men and women.
Munson's group is not affiliated with the LDS Church or any political party, and though it started just a few weeks ago, it's been gaining steam through social media. As of Wednesday, the group had more than 900 members on Facebook, with more than 100 committed to Sunday's march in downtown Salt Lake City.
The group will likely march at the front of the parade directly behind grand marshal Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Milk," a film about openly gay politician Harvey Milk, said Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center.
Lisa Schencker can be reached at lschenckersltrib.com. For more information, contact scrippsnews.com