Ex-NFL star Steve Young said he views gays and lesbians as his brothers and sisters.
The married father of four spoke this weekend at a presentation in Salt Lake City, Utah, to 400 people in attendance for the group Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.
According to the Affirmation website, the group serves to support ‘LGBT Mormons, their families, and allies by encouraging spirituality, providing information resources, and working for inclusiveness and equality’.
The former athlete spoke about how his faith helped him through his studies and his sports career, offering anecdotes of inspiration for the people in attendance.
‘[Faith is the] fundamental fuel for the human experience. If the experience is to return to our Heavenly Father, faith is the fuel from beginning to end,’ he said.
Football taught him to be faithful instead of fearful, Young added.
He concluded his presentation by saying: ‘I am a Mormon, and I want to build bridges of understanding with my gay brothers and sisters. I consider you my friends. Let’s seek to develop more love for each other wherever we can.’
According to the Associated Press, Young also introduced his wife, Barb, as an LGBT ally with a gay older brother who spoke out against California’s Proposition 8, the state’s measure banning equal marriage.
‘More and more people are opening their hearts every day,’ Barb said to the group.
‘You are teaching them about [gays] and Jesus and that his love is infinite.’
‘One of the most beautiful things about this church is that it can evolve. It may not go as fast as everyone wants, but it is evolving,’ she added.
Recent national debates about marriage equality in neighboring states have caused some LGBT-friendly Mormon groups in Utah to come forward to show their support.
This summer over 400 Mormon, also known as the Church of Latter Day Saints, joined tens of thousands of marchers at Salt Lake City’s gay pride .