BYU students mark Rainbow Day after setting Y aglow

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By Megan Spencer and Andrew Nieves

BYU students celebrated Rainbow Day Friday on BYU campus to commemorate the beginning of LGBTQ History Month after lighting BYU’s “Y” in rainbow colors Thursday night.

Emma Moore
BYU’s “Y” was lit in rainbow colors Thursday, Sept. 30, one day before Rainbow Day at BYU and LGBTQ history month. (Emma Moore)

Color the Campus promoted Rainbow Day. The group, founded by BYU graduate Bradley Talbot, encouraged students to wear rainbow colors to “show their support for the LGBTQ+ community at all Church Education System schools” as explained on the group’s Instagram account. It was also meant to coincide with the beginning of LGBTQ History Month.

Color the Campus, with the help of other LGBTQ community groups, lit the Y in rainbow colors Thursday from 8-9 p.m. as a way to celebrate Rainbow Day. The same group organized the lighting of the Y in rainbow colors last March, which sparked the attention of the BYU community then as well as Thursday night.

Leah Karren, a freshman studying history, was outside, taking pictures of the rainbow Y Thursday night.

“I think that the lighting of the Y is really important because it shows those who are members of the LGBTQ+ community and also allies that they’re welcome,” she said.

An influx of support came from social media as well. One of these posts came from the “RaYnbow Collective” on Instagram, shared the rainbow Y with the caption, “We love you, we see you.”

This “RaYnbow Collective” Instagram post shared the rainbow Y with the caption, “We love you, we see you.” (@raynbow.collective on Instagram)

The “RaYnbow Collective” is a community support group for BYU’s LGBTQ students and allies where they can share their stories.

Maddison Tenney, the founder of the “RaYnbow Collective,” said events like Rainbow Day facilitate conversations and allow people to have a safe space to ask questions. “If we have a second to touch your life, we want to make you feel loved and wanted here,” Tenney said.

These events also allow students at different stages of life to feel connected, whether they are coming to BYU, leaving BYU or are anywhere in between, Tenney said.

Other students helped to spread the word about Rainbow Day on campus. Aaron Rodriguez, a sophomore at BYU, handed out rainbow ribbons Friday afternoon at the BYU quad to students wanting to participate in Rainbow Day.

“Last semester, I didn’t have a community and I felt like I was alone, and I didn’t feel safe in my own apartment,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez,who uses they/them pronouns, said they volunteered to help because it reminds other people they’re not alone and that everyone has a community at BYU.

Aaron Rodriguez passes out ribbons at the BYU quad. Rodriguez said they volunteered to help because the event reminds other people they’re not alone and everyone has a community at BYU. (Megan Spencer)

David Shill, a co-founder of BYU Pride, said he hopes the event will help students thrive and belong at BYU regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Megan Spencer
David Shill passes out Pride flags at the BYU quad. Shill hopes the event will help students feel that regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they can thrive and belong at BYU. (Megan Spencer)

“It just gives such a message of hope, things like [Rainbow Day] or lighting the Y, that is keeping people at BYU or telling them that they can stay if they want to,” Shill said. “It could even be saving lives.”

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