LGBTQ parade participants pleased with supportive crowd response

Jul 4, 2018, 5:47 PM | Updated: 10:24 pm

PROVO, Utah – America’s Freedom Festival Grand Parade in Provo is a Fourth of July tradition for many families, attracting thousands of spectators.

This year, LGBTQ groups participated after five of them were originally not approved to be in the parade.

MORE: LGBTQ groups can now reapply to parade in Provo after controversy

Event organizers had said their application didn’t fit the parade’s theme. After public outcry, they allowed them to reapply and eventually came to an agreement with the groups.

MORE: Compromise allows LGBTQ groups in Provo parade

On the holiday, we spoke with members of one of those groups, Mormons Building Bridges, who said the parade was a success, making even more people feel welcome in Provo. Their float thanked and honored LGBTQ veterans.

“It’s nice to be a part of this and be kind of out of the open and be able to be myself with it and kind of bridge that gap,” said Sgt. Jeff Clement, who identifies as a gay U.S. Army veteran.

“We definitely stand up for what the Provo Freedom Festival was trying to represent with love of family, with love of country. Just families look different for some people,” said Jeff Case, a gay veteran.

These veterans said the crowd’s response to their float was overwhelmingly supportive.

“I don’t think I saw one person in a couple of thousand people who wasn’t proud to have representation in their town,” said Angie Rice, who flew as a pilot in the Air Force for 20 years.

“At one second, you have a lot of supportive people and they’re screaming and shouting and saying thank you. You know? You get a couple of other people that are shaking their heads and are like, thumbs down, or whatever, and you’re like, you know, that’s okay. You’re entitled to your opinion. We’re entitled to ours,” said Sgt. Clement.

They hoped this holiday showing helps reduce the shame and stigma for those identifying LGBTQ.

“We’re the people in your neighborhood. We’re your families. We’re your friends. We’re members of your congregations and mostly invisible,” said Case.

Parade organizers said the day went really well and people were respectful. They said they’ll meet at the end of the month to look at what could be done better next year.

RELATED: Hundreds of thousands turn out for America’s Freedom Festival Grand Parade

LGBTQ parade participants KSL spoke to said this year’s parade was a step in the right direction for all Americans.

“It was long overdue, but you can’t dwell on that. Today, I think common ground was established,” said Rice. “It’s a beautiful day. I never in my lifetime thought I’d be on a beginning of a float as a veteran in Provo, Utah, or anywhere else celebrating diversity and common good,” said Rice.

Mormons Building Bridges planned to apply for next year’s Freedom Festival parade.

They hoped they could use their float, which was made spur of the moment because of the initial controversy, in other parades this summer.

Provo Pride and PFLAG Provo/Utah County also had a float in the parade, and Encircle marched in the pre-parade so they could include more youth and dance.

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LGBTQ parade participants pleased with supportive crowd response