A giant Y that adorns a mountain near the private, Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University was lit with rainbow-colored lights Thursday evening by LGBTQ+ activists, prompting a rebuke from BYU.
The temporary queer takeover of the iconic Y took place in honor of the Utah university's unofficial Rainbow Day. The event was first held last year following BYU officials editing their honor code in February 2020; the alteration initially appeared to condone same-sex "physical intimacy" on campus, like hugging, kissing, and holding hands. Then on March 4, 2020, BYU administrators informed students that school policy didn't in fact change and open same-sex affection was still against university rules.
Color the Campus, an unauthorized LGBTQ+ group at BYU, organized the Thursday event, which involved approximately 40 students utilizing 76 flashlights to add rainbow colors to the Y. The hour-long event concluded at 9 p.m., and as the participants walked down the trailhead connecting to the Y they were greeted by parked cars blaring Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." The students also encountered university police at the base of the mountain, but no one was arrested or questioned.
Bradley Talbot, a gay student who organized the event, told The Salt Lake Tribune, “We’re here. And we’re part of this institution. We should have a place at the Y.” Of the university's actions last March 4, Talbot added, “That day felt like a betrayal for a lot of LGBTQ students. It was traumatic. So this was a day for us to reclaim that and try to turn it into something positive.”
The action at the Y and the university's response generated a lot of discussion on Twitter.