The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.
The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.
"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.
"Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code," it continued.
The clarification to the Honor Code came after a section banning "all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings" was removed. LGBT students saw it as a signal that the university was softening its strict anti-LGBT policies. The removal inspired many to take photos of same-sex kisses in front of university landmarks and others to come out of the closet because they believed they were safe.
"That day felt like a betrayal for a lot of LGBTQ students," Bradley Talbot, a gay student who organized the event, said according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. "It was traumatic. So this was a day for us to reclaim that and try to turn it into something positive."
There are an estimated 4,357 LGBTQ+ students at BYU. Tonight is for all of them.❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🤎🖤 https://t.co/kkzuXkvC8L— calvin burke (@calvin burke) 1614916263.0
Grateful for the great work being done at BYU to help LGBTQ students feel loved, valued and welcome 🌈 https://t.co/cYG8UgpwlH— Papa Ostler (@Papa Ostler) 1614915263.0
Light 'em up, BYU. https://t.co/Mp5oz683Ct https://t.co/oOnb1v0ctC— Joshua Rush (@Joshua Rush) 1614927896.0
"If BYU won't show their love to us, we're going to make sure our love is visible to them," Danny Niemann, a senior and gay student at the school, said before climbing the hill to light up the "Y."
After the group of LGBT students turned off the lights and headed back down the mountain, they were met by police cars from the university, but no arrests were made. On the trailhead they were greeted by supporters who blasted "Born This Way" and "I Kissed a Girl" from their car speakers.
The university wasn't impressed by the display.
The Y is BYU property and any form of public expression on university property requires prior approval.— BYU (@BYU) 1614917647.0
The LDS Church has a long history of being anti-LGBT. All homosexual or same-sex sexual activity is forbidden by The Church and it believes that god doesn't approve of same-sex marriage.
Therefore, all homosexual members are presented with three unhealthy lifestyle options. They can either attempt to change their sexual orientation, marry someone of the opposite sexual orientation or live a celibate lifestyle.
The lighting of the "Y" was applauded by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, a former BYU student and member of the LDS Church. Reynolds has a long history of supporting pro-LGBT causes.
hey @BYU this is an opportunity for you to celebrate your LGBTQ students. they do make up ~13% of your student body… https://t.co/7SwUXIdyyW— Dan Reynolds (@Dan Reynolds) 1614919668.0
The church has softened some of its anti-LGBT positions over the last few years. In 2019, it reversed a 2015 decision that classified people in same-sex marriages as "apostates." It also allowed children from LGBT marriages to be baptized.
The LDS Church has a long history of bigotry, but LGBT members should find some solace that it has changed with the times, albeit decades too late. From the mid-1800s until 1978 it prevented most Black men from being ordained to the church's lay priesthood, barred Black men and women from participating in the ordinances of its temples, and opposed interracial marriage.
The priesthood is bestowed upon "worthy" males and allows them to perform the work of god.
In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball, received a "revelation" that allowed Black men to be part of the priesthood.
In 2013, the Church admitted its stances were motivated by bigotry.
Maybe the church can have a similar revelation that mirrors the times and will allow LGBT people the same rights as straight Mormons.
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