BYU ‘Rainbow Day’ participants show support for LGBT community while others protest

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By Veronica Maciel and Cassidy Wixom

Students, faculty and alumni across the BYU campus wore rainbow makeup, shirts, hats, scarfs, bandanas, skirts, masks and more on March 4 for Rainbow Day in support of the LGBT community.

Rainbow Day is an event put on by Color the Campus, an organization founded by BYU student Bradley Talbot in 2019.

According to the Color the Campus Instagram, this event is to “show love and support for LGBTQ+ students and faculty at all CES schools.”

“Some people think of this as a protest, but it is not. It is just a day to wear rainbow around the campus and to pass out different little rainbow things to show our support for queer students on campus,” student Madi Hawes said.

Hawes runs an Instagram account called BYUQ24, which originally targeted freshmen in need of support, but now focuses on helping everyone.

A year ago on March 4, 2020, a letter from the Church Education System clarified previous changes in the Honor Code to say homosexual actions are still against the Honor Code.

“This Rainbow Day is especially important because it’s on the one year anniversary of the Honor Code changing back after the letter from CES,” Hawes said.

Rainbow Day participants gathered in Brigham Square outside the Wilkinson Student Center. They passed out rainbow stickers, bracelets, pins, temporary tattoos and masks.

Throughout the day the crowd varied in size with about 45 people at its peak. Hawes and a BYU official kept everyone socially distanced to ensure the gathering was safe and would not get shut down.

At 1 p.m. a counter-protest occurred where a group of individuals dressed in BYU gear and holding umbrellas read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” on the opposite side of the quad. Promoters of the counter-protest are part of a culture clash within the BYU community over how LGBT issues are being promoted.

One lady, dressed in all black and holding a black umbrella, stood near the quad for over five hours.

“I’m here to show my support of The Family Proclamation,” Katherine said. She would not give the Daily Universe her last name.

“(We’re) holding an umbrella to show that support that we are safe under the shield of Christ and the teachings the Church has given us as well as the foundation of all scripture,” she said.

No one else holding an umbrella was willing to talk to The Daily Universe. “I think the Family Proclamation says everything we need to say,” Katherine said.

When asked if she and the other umbrella participants were students or connected to BYU, Katherine hesitated before saying, “Yeah. I’ve seen some alumni too.”

Right after the reading of the proclamation, BYU student Deanna McHardy sang “Rainbow Connection” from the bench where she was sitting.

BYU student Deanna McHardy sings “Rainbow Connection” by The Muppets while supporting “Rainbow Day” on March 4, 2021. Rainbow Day is held to show support for LGBT BYU students. A handful of people also showed up to defend The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

The individuals holding umbrellas stayed nearby and interacted with several students who approached them throughout the day.

Emma Ramirez is a BYU alumna and is a part of the OUT Foundation, which helps connect LGBT BYU alumni with current LGBT students. “We want to give the support that we wish we had,” she said.

Ramirez said Rainbow Day is important to help spread awareness of the LGBT community and help them feel loved and supported. “If you think you don’t know a queer person, you are wrong. You never know what people may be going through.”

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