Confusion over gender-inclusive restrooms at the LoveLoud Festival led some LGBTQ groups to leave the event early

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The crowd reacts as Dan Reynolds performs with Imagine Dragons, at the Loveloud Festival at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday, July 28, 2018.

She just wanted to use the restroom before a celebrity meet-and-greet at Saturday’s LoveLoud Festival.

But Bobbee Trans Mooremon had a hard time finding a gender-inclusive one. The transgender woman, who is disabled and uses a walker, was told by a festival staffer to go to a nearby men’s restroom.

Mooremon, who was volunteering with the nonprofit QueerMeals, had been told all of the facilities at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium would be gender-inclusive for the event created to raise awareness of — and support for — at-risk LGBTQ youths.

So Mooremon went inside. But as she was washing her hands, Mooremon said a man wearing LoveLoud volunteer credentials told her she was in the wrong restroom.

He told her, if she wanted a gender-inclusive restroom, there were two in the general population area of the concert venue. This one was for men.

“I felt very frustrated and very unsafe,” Mooremon said Monday. “It was a big event for LGBTQ people, and this concert was supposed to be addressing things like that and making it better for us.”

After her run-in, Mooremon said she felt she couldn’t stay at the concert — and QueerMeals and other organizations that had been at the festival packed up their booths early and left. They are now pressing LoveLoud to make changes moving forward.

“A couple of organizations took it seriously and were not going to stand for transphobia in LGBTQ spaces,” Mooremon said. “Which was great.”

One of the organizations that left was Provo Pride. Representative Brianna Cluck said concerns about the festival’s inclusion of transgender people began before Mooremon’s experience that Saturday.

Cluck said the groups had been told days in advance that all the restrooms would be gender-inclusive — but on the day of the event, there were only two. Wading through a sea of 35,000 concertgoers to find one of two gender-inclusive restroom in a large venue would be impractical and uncomfortable, she said.

“On the outside looking in, it can seem to be a little petty,” Cluck said. “It’s about more than that. It’s about respect and equality.”

Since then, several LGBTQ groups — including Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Provo and Ogden Pride — have released statements expressing disappointment and asking LoveLoud for change.

“We have confidence that the organizers of LoveLoud will be able to learn from this event and do better in the future,” PFLAG Provo wrote in a Facebook post. “For our part, we intend to ask more questions and get detailed answers when we participate in any future community events."

LoveLoud representatives said in a statement Monday that they were “saddened” to hear of reports of discrimination at the festival.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy toward any behavior that makes anyone feel unsafe or unwelcome,” the statement reads. “As an organization dedicated to creating safe and affirming events for our LGBTQ+ friends and families, our staff, volunteers, and charity partners were asked to participate in an LGBTQ+ cultural competency training. We are committed to learning from our mistakes and will continuously work to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in our community and beyond.”

The statement added that if concertgoers wished to shared their experience “so that we know where we excelled and where we have room to grow,” feedback could be sent to info@loveloudfest.com.

Mooremon said Monday that she hopes her experience will lead to changes at future LoveLoud events — including mandatory gender-inclusive restrooms. She hopes the organization might also consider creating a working group to focus on issues involving underrepresented groups, like the transgender community, people of color and those who are disabled.

Cluck said Provo Pride will still come back next year to the LoveLoud Festival but added that she hopes the restrooms will be gender-inclusive and the volunteers better trained.

“These are issues that happen, that hurt the community and make people uncomfortable,” she said. “But these are issues we can learn from and LoveLoud can learn from.”