Despite the ongoing confusion following recent changes to BYU’s Honor Code, a campus-wide celebration happened to show support for LGBT students. It’s the second one this school year.
It began with a tweet from @colorthecampus, that promoted “rainbow day” on Sept. 20th. Weeks before, the account encouraged followers to “wear Rainbow to let the LGBTQT+ community at BYU know you will Support, Protect, Befriend, and Love them.”
Two days leading up to this year’s rainbow day, a woman named Jerilyn Hassellpool visited campus with various paraphernalia to give away. “Call me #SisterPigeon and I’ll hook you up,” she tweeted. In an interview, she said she goes by that name because she has adopted three pigeons with disabilities. “I’m obsessed with pigeons,” she said. She explained that biblically, doves are a symbol of the divine and pigeons are in the same family as doves. So pigeons could also be divine.
In 2016, after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new policy barring children of gay couples from baptism, Hassellpool and her husband moved from Oregon to Utah. “We wanted to get involved in the queer community,” she said.
Together the Hassellpools started a nonprofit in 2018 called “Queer Meals,” a resource center run out of a private home. Hassellpool said they refer students for jobs, provide food and direct them to therapy.
Hassellpool had flags, pins, pencils, bandanas and bracelets to give to students on Feb. 26. She had created an Amazon wishlist that her friends on Facebook contributed to, allowing her to give away the gear for free. When students offered to pay, she told them: “Your money’s no good here!”
Joining her was Anne F., a woman who preferred to not have her last name used. She came with handmade flyers. Some read “Love is spoken here,” “You are not alone” and “We love our queer students.”
Anne wore a shirt that read “I’ll Walk With You,” the title of a Primary song that was written by Carol Lynn Pearson, a woman who, last year, was awarded the “Impact Award” from Equality Utah, for being an ally to the LGBT community.
Hassellpool said she didn’t really know Anne at all, but has found in Anne a partner whenever she visits campus.
Word got out to campus at BYU-Idaho, where students there also wore rainbow paraphernalia to show support. BYU-Idaho students also showed off their rainbows on social media.
At 5 PM that day, there was a demonstration to counter Rainbow Day, but Hassellpool had already left campus by 4 PM. She said she had no problems while she was there besides a few strange messages to her social media accounts.
“The assistant dean of students came out and told me he appreciated what I was doing,” she said. She also observed many faculty and staff come up to her for rainbow gear. “I thought it was very powerful for students to see (them).”