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Commentary: What Provo has to teach Salt Lake

Two weeks in the past, a shiny flow festooned with American flags, gold stars and army insignias made historical past because it proceeded down Provo’s University Avenue.

“Utah Honors Our LGBTQ+ Veterans” learn the lettering at the facet. Riding atop have been a few of our state’s heroes: homosexual, bisexual and transgender contributors of the militia. This flow, subsidized by way of Mormons Building Bridges, and the two other LGBTQ entries within the parade proved to skeptics conservative neighborhood’s birthday party of American patriotism is deepened by way of together with those that were traditionally marginalized.

The crowds nonetheless cheered, the bands nonetheless performed, and the horses proudly clip-clopped down the road. But this yr, homosexual, bi and trans Utahns may proportion with their instantly and cisgender neighbors the essence of a parade enjoy: belonging to one thing more than self.

This virtually didn’t occur. It was once the results of hard-won compromise and generosity. While the ability of tax greenbacks to put into effect non-discrimination shouldn’t be underestimated, there was once additionally deep listening at paintings. Utah County’s LGBTQ electorate and their allies spent months sharing their tales with Freedom Festival organizers and with the city and county councils. They defined why their visibility issues, and the way it could make Provo a kinder, more secure position for everybody. They listened, even if it harm, to the Freedom Festival organizers’ appeals to custom, to the worry that LGBTQ reinforce would by hook or by crook detract from a birthday party of patriotism.

The LGBTQ coalition noticed how tricky it was once for the ones in energy to put themselves within the footwear of the marginalized. They requested the Freedom Festival to lean into their discomfort with a public dialog round sexual orientation and gender identification. The push and pull of this truthful, respectful dialog bore fruit. In the tip Provo hearts have been larger and the promise of American freedom slightly brighter on July four, 2018.

So as the point of interest shifts from a countrywide birthday party to a state match, is Salt Lake City’s Days of ‘47 parade in a position to settle for an LGBTQ-affirming access from Mormons Building Bridges? Can they display the neighborhood goodwill that the Freedom Festival had?

Sadly, the solution isn’t any. Once once more, MBB’s flow design, “Build Bridges of Understanding” has been rejected by the Days of ‘47. The organizing committee has constantly refused to even meet with Mormons Building Bridges.

Every yr (that is MBB’s 5th try) the rejection sounds increasingly more absurd. That Mormons Building Bridges is ineligible as a result of it’s an “advocacy group” rings hole. What parade entries, from humanitarian organizations to the 20-some floats from stakes of the LDS church, aren’t advocates for lots of just right reasons? It is a darkly comical enjoy to learn the challenge of the Days of ‘47 in mild of this exclusion:

“We believe the example of past and present pioneers’ courage creates a vision for the future that everyone can follow … Pioneers — Pushing toward our Future!”

The Days of ‘47 Inc. is unwilling to do the difficult paintings that pioneers have at all times completed. Pioneers are by way of definition on the leading edge of development, respectful of precedent however now not held again by way of outdated paradigms. In Provo we noticed some not possible electorate who would were satisfied to have issues keep as they have been include the pioneering spirit for the sake of equity towards all. Not so in Salt Lake.

The position of the Mormon church on this parade additional complicates the placement. While a personal non-profit, the Days of ‘47 Inc. is inextricably connected to the LDS hierarchy. The church is the most important donor, a member of the First Presidency at all times leads the parade, volunteers are known as by way of their stake presidents to construct floats. How can observers now not attach this LGBTQ exclusion to the ability the church wields in our neighborhood? Despite church leaders’ discernible exchange in tone round many facets of the LGBTQ enjoy, in spite of their reinforce for suicide prevention tasks, when it comes to this parade, homosexual and trans other folks aren’t sought after. Their pioneer tales — probably the most most provoking amongst us — don’t rely.

If that is solely a parade about LDS Doctrine — a non secular competition — then it belongs clear of public thoroughfares and on to temple grounds. But if the church needs workout their ethical management (as they did within the Utah Compromise of 2015) to lend a hand our various neighborhood in point of fact come in combination across the pioneer ethos, smartly — let’s be blunt — any individual at 47 East South Temple wishes to facilitate a dialog between their LGBTQ neighbors and the Days of ‘47.

Ritual is reassuring and alter is tricky. When the Mormon pioneers left the acquainted inexperienced of New England and the fertile plains of the Midwest they discovered themselves in a harsh western panorama. But what we adore about their tale is they have been ready to use their values of religion, paintings, and love to negotiate new realities. Treasured traditions are absolute best saved protected inside of an expansive neighborhood of belonging. Before the Days of ‘47 turns into inappropriate if now not downright hurtful to a good portion of our neighborhood, let’s do as Provo did. Let’s get started speaking.

Erika Munson | Mormons Building Bridges

Erika Munson is co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges.

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