LGBTQ groups can now reapply to parade in Provo after controversy
PROVO, Utah – Five LGBTQ groups may now be able to play a role in the America’s Freedom Festival Parade. The festival’s executive director has released a statement Thursday allowing them to adjust their parade applications and then resubmit them.
This after they were denied participation in the Fourth of July parade Wednesday, the same day a nondiscrimination policy with Provo was released to the public.
Executive Paul Warner announced that declined groups could reapply at the exact same time representatives from the 5 declined LGBTQ groups (Provo PFlag, Provo Pride, Mormons Building Bridges, Encircle House, and QueerMeals) held a press conference outside Provo’s city building Thursday. About 100 people attended the event.
LGBTQ representatives were surprised by the festival’s change of heart, but still disappointed and frustrated with the process which they
believe is discriminating.
Parade organizers insist these groups didn’t meet specific requirements and it has nothing to do with prejudice or discrimination.
“Provo Freedom Festival denying LGBTQ Plus organizations the opportunity to march in the parade is a tragedy because it teaches queer children and teenagers that their identities and sexual orientations are something to be hidden,” said Kris Irvin with QueerMeals.
America’s Freedom Festival said out of 122 applications, 22 were declined.
LGBTQ group reps say their parade applications filled Freedom Festival criteria which included celebrating America, instead of advertising a group.
“We proposed a parade entry that would honor our LGBTQ veterans who have sacrificed so much for this country. By rejecting this entry, the Freedom Festival is sending the message that LGBTQ people are not welcome in the parade and are not welcome in Provo,” said Erika Munson, co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges.
America’s Freedom Festival is now accepting modified applications by Friday at 5 pm. Groups interested in doing so can meet with parade organizers Thursday at 3 pm.
Mormons Building Bridges Executive Director Kendall Wilcox says for more than a month now they’ve been working with parade organizers to fulfill expectations, but Wednesday’s denial broke the spirit of their agreement.
“Call upon the organizers of the Freedom Festival to open their hearts, open their minds, and let our community march,” said Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams.
Some groups I spoke to plan to reapply. Others say they have some thinking to do.
“I look forward to the day when we can proudly and honestly say ‘United We Stand,'” said Addison Jenkins, a gay BYU student.
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