Commentary: Enjoying freedom for all in Utah County

Thanks to county and festival for including non-discrimination clause.

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune The Old No. 1 1917 American LaFrance Fire Engine drives past the Provo City Center Temple during the annual Freedom Festival Grand Parade in downtown Provo Tuesday, July 4, 2017.

We, the Utah County LGBTQIA+ community, along with our family members, friends and allies, would like to thank the Utah County Commissioners and the trustees of America’s Freedom Festival of Provo on their unanimous decision to include a non-discrimination clause to their 2018 funding agreement.

The LGBTQIA+ community consists of a large and varied tapestry of people that includes parents who choose to raise their children in Utah County, veterans who have served this country proudly and with honor, business owners who provide the goods and services that allow the community to prosper, students who live and learn in area schools and look forward to their own bright futures, community volunteers who work tirelessly to help make the community a more welcoming place and homeowners who simply choose to live and work in Utah County because they love this community for all it has to offer.

When we read the mission statement of America’s Freedom Festival — “to celebrate, teach, honor, and strengthen the traditional American values of God, family, freedom, and country” — we find so much we, too, seek to celebrate, teach, and honor. Many of us, like other residents of Utah County, find peace and comfort in worshipping God.

Like other residents of Utah County, we enjoy the freedom this country offers us, to enjoy our lives, exercise our liberties and to pursue our happiness. Many of us live our lives out in the open as LGBTQIA+ individuals, not to flaunt anything or to make the people around us uncomfortable, but because we have come to know and love ourselves.

Others of us keep parts of ourselves hidden from our families, friends, employers, fellow worshippers and peers. Sometimes we do not come out because we do not feel safe or welcome to do so; sometimes we simply have no desire to do so.

Like other residents of Utah County, we are members of families that we love and cherish. Some of us enjoy the full nurturance of parents, siblings and extended family, which we value and celebrate. Some of us know the tempered acceptance of family members who don’t understand our experiences. Some of us, have experienced rejection from our families of birth, but we have found families in our community with people who have embraced us, sheltered us and treasured us. Some of us look forward to forming our own families and, while we don’t know exactly what those families will look like, we feel gratitude for a community in which we can do so in safety and peace.

We look forward to collaborating with the Trustees of America’s Freedom Festival to work out the details of our participation in the Freedom Festival parade and public events. We also invite Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and Gov. Gary Herbert to follow the example of the Utah County Commissioners and include non-discrimination clauses with their pending funding agreement with America’s Freedom Festival.

Jeff Case; Brianna Cluck; Roni Jo Draper, vice president, PFLAG Provo/Utah County; Karen Deysher Fernandez; Randy Glasscock, president, PFLAG Provo/Utah County; Liza Holdaway; Celeste Kinnard; Susan Krueger-Barber; Conner Leavitt, president, Spectrum: Queer Student Alliance at Utah Valley University; Wayne Leavitt; Celeste Ludlam, PFLAG Provo/Utah County; Sabina Alane Mendoza, student, Brigham Young University; Erika Munson, co-founder, Mormons Building Bridges; Keisha Namba, PFLAG Provo/Utah County; Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Queer Meals; Jordan Sgro; Nickolas Thurber, Provo Pride; Cristobal Villegas; Kendall Wilcox, co-founder, Mormons Building Bridges; Tinesha Zandemela

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