Though this year’s theme of the Days of ’47 Parade is “Pioneers-Pushing Toward Our Future,” that future apparently does not include gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally pioneers. Parade organizers have rejected an application for Mormons Building Bridges, which has marched in the Utah Pride Parade since 2012 and has grown to 5,000 Facebook members, to join in the festivities.
The group proposed an entry titled “Mormons Building Bridges Celebrates Utah’s LGBT/SSA Pioneers” to include a car with eight leaders from areas of public service, business, the arts, and the faith community, who also happen to be LGBT.
MBB was notified by Days of ’47 co-chair Jodene Smith that, “due to the subject matter and under [the parade’s] general standards, [the parade’s co-chairs] will not be able to permit your application at this time,” according to a statement on MBB’s web site.
“MBB’s proposed entry titled ‘Mormons Building Bridges Celebrates Utah’s LGBT/SSA Pioneers’ was to include a car with eight leaders from areas of public service, business, the arts, and the faith community, who also happen to be LGBT. The entry would have aligned with current LDS church messaging of love and acceptance around LGBT/SSA issues,” MBB leaders wrote.
Parade rules say that “The Days of ’47 remembers Utah’s early and current pioneers with a variety of events [including] an all-day extravaganza with a Sunrise Service and Parade in downtown Salt Lake City … Entry applications will be rejected if the Parade Committee, in its sole discretion and judgment, determines an entry to be political, controversial, unlawful or otherwise inconsistent with the standards, theme or purpose of the Parade. Examples of unacceptable entries include, but are not limited to, the following: advocacy by political parties or candidates for public office, advocacy for legislative or other public policy initiatives, subject matters relating to sexuality, including polygamy and abortion, controversial religious matters and gun rights.”
MBB leaders hoped that parade officials would agree that “The entry would have aligned with current LDS church messaging of love and acceptance around LGBT/SSA issues.”
“Although the MBB steering committee is disappointed in this decision, we hope that this can provide an opportunity to engage in a constructive and open dialogue with parade organizers about the goals and mission of the event, in the hopes of eventually being granted entry in the parade. While we understand that historically LGBT organizations have been turned down by the Days of ’47 parade, we had hoped that our Latter-day Saint identity and the way in which we consistently support our church’s principles of love and inclusion, as well as our desire to adhere to parade standards, would have led parade organizers to welcome Mormons Building Bridges into this beloved Utah tradition. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Days of ’47 and hope to continue further dialogue about both participation in the parade and the value of LGBT pioneers to the state of Utah,” MBB leaders said.
MBB leaders called today for supporters to contact the parade committee and sponsors to tell them what it would mean to them to have MBB in the prade. They gave links to contact pages for the sponsors on their web page.
Leaders appealed to those who contact the groups to be compassionate and loving in their response.
“Threats and anger don’t move us forward. Sharing your feelings and experience, engaging in empathetic dialogue, and genuine listening will lead to better understanding and a stronger community,” they wrote.
“As we engage our community in conversation about the Days of ’47 Parade we hope to do two things: support the beloved tradition of the parade AND communicate why we feel that a Mormons Building Bridges entry would work so harmoniously with that tradition,” the group wrote. “We encourage participants in Mormons Building Bridges and friends of the organization to reach out to the parade sponsors in the spirit of open and compassionate dialogue and tell them what it would mean to you and your community to have a ‘Mormons Building Bridges Celebrates Utah’s LGBT Pioneers’ entry in the parade.”