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No Homosexuals At BYU. Nope. No Siree.

Jim Burroway

December 8th, 2008

A student at Brigham Young University had put together a series of photographs for a Fine Arts show which feature… well, we’ll let him explain:

These are some of the final images for my fine art photography project. These portraits are of students of BYU who identify themselves as homosexual and a person that supports them. With all of the dissenting views regarding this topic in the past few months I have felt very strongly about this project. The portraits will be shown in pairs. The idea is that there are gay and lesbian individuals not only in the Mormon culture, but also at BYU. I also chose to photograph someone who is a support to this person. This could be a family member or friend. This support person may also identify themselves as homosexual and both people may provide support to each other. I am not telling the viewer who identifies themselves as homosexual, because I hope the viewer will realize that placing a label with the portrait only creates divisions in our society and furthers stereotypes. It is my hope this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.

It looks like portraying gay people — or is it the ambiguity of not knowing who is gay and who isn’t in these pairs? — was just too much for BYU’s administration. Michael now reports:

Apparently the topic of homosexuality is a bit much for the BYU audience and my part of our Fine Art Classes show was taken down today. It seems that censorship is favored over support and love. This really saddens me. I found out because a friend of mine went to the show and said that my pieces had been removed and the show had been rearranged. While I knew this topic would be controversial (in fact I expected that this would ruffle some feathers) I never thought that they would bring it down. Also I wish that they would have asked me to remove it, or at least had the courtesy to ask that I remove it or discuss it with me prior to its removal.

Update: BYU has put the exhibit back up.



Benjamin Clark
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

What do you expect from the heart of a university that has absolutely no respect for civil rights and is in complete denial about how it treats its GLBT students and professors. BYU needs to be called out on the carpet in a MAJOR way!!

Scott VanTussenbrook
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

That art project is touching, thought-provoking, eye-opening, maybe a little bit subversive, with unexpected themes on acceptance, friendship, love — it’s the sort of thing that goes beyond the artistic value in the photos and challenges misconceptions and may even cause some to introspect in ways they never have before…

Yep, I can see why BYU is having none of it. Tell me again why that “school” is still accredited? Isn’t that an insult to all other universities it shares accreditation with? Other schools where expanding one’s mind and learning about things one doesn’t already know are what’s important?

December 9th, 2008 | LINK


You just got all the publicity you needed for your art project. Good job.

You might get expelled from BYU but I would give you an “A” for your Business Marketing 101 class.

December 9th, 2008 | LINK

BYU is a religious institution that adheres to a religious view. Why is it so shocking they do not want homosexuality celebrated if it’s something that is considered morally wrong? Tolerance does not mean condoning unacceptable behavior. You do not love the sin, in order to love the sinner. Most people today probably don’t think God was being very “tolerant” when he destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah over their practice of homosexuality. Most people remember that Christ did not cast a stone at the adulterous woman brought to him, but conveniently forget the part He tells her to “Go, and sin no more.”

Jackson H
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

Wow, this is low, even for BYU. Censoring pictures of faces?

David C.
December 9th, 2008 | LINK


This is the purpose of Art: challenging us to look at ourselves, our world, and our beliefs from different perspectives. Obviously, academics takes a back seat to belief at BYU. Reread the article and see the artists’ unambiguously stated purpose for the exhibition.

December 9th, 2008 | LINK


The exhibit did not celebrate homosexuality. What it attempted to do, as I understand it, was to actually acknowledge the gays and friends of gays at BYU. Gays don’t count at BYU; and they don’t get counted in this country, still.

The federal census refuses to count gays or gay couples, still. This is the tactic used to ensure that we do not get recognized, acknowledged, or seen. If we were counted it would mean acknowledging that gayness is an immutable trait. Those doing the counting would be forced to realize we are, indeed, oppressed.

Having made such a realisation they then would see they have a problem with which to deal.

Also, your quoting scripture means nothing to me (I do not subscribe to your belief system) and should mean absolutely nothing in the public sphere when it concerns my ability to live joyfully and with dignity, without fear of reprisal. This is a secular nation, not a theocracy. Your scripture does not dictate the terms on which I live my life.

December 9th, 2008 | LINK

You wonder what kind of “world” BYU graduates graduate into.

Their little world is much like their campus and the surrounding, provincial village called Provo…

A few years ago BYU had the traveling Rodin exhibit at its brand-new art museum. But BYU wouldn’t show “The Kiss” statue. They relegated it to the basement of the museum and the Provo City mayor’s wife made sure no school-aged children visiting the museum would be allowed to view the statue.

This, mind you, is at a University.

(**If you’re curious, do a wikipedia to see what Rodin The Kiss statue looks like. Hardly the kind of art that would offend even the most prudish. And this is what was shielded from the University and its community.)

Justin Bell
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

If anybody reading this actually believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true, and that it’s leadership is inspired of God, you have a responsibility to study and pray until you finally see the wisdom in The Church’s push for to make same-sex marriage illegal.
There’s a good reason for it. It’s has nothing to do with bigotry.
My heart goes out to anybody who has homosexual tendencies, no doubt I know someone and never would guess it. That is an incredibly tough affliction to deal with. There is help, you don’t have to give in to temptation. The atonement is real and has the strength to support all.
Christ met you. He met you personally and knows exactly what you are going through.
My love to all, especially to my brother who sent me this link.

Lisa Marie Potter
December 9th, 2008 | LINK

BYU remains so VERY BYU. Ivory tower residents, holier than thou attitudes. The world is their campus? HA HA! The campus is their world.

December 9th, 2008 | LINK


The APA disagrees with you:

And the AMA also disagrees with you:

Homosexuality is not an affliction. You may feel it is immoral according to your religion; but it is not an illness.

December 9th, 2008 | LINK

Mr. Bell,

Is your attraction to a woman a “tendency”? Why would you think my attraction to a man is a “tendency”?

My homosexuality is not a sin. It’s a gift. Do me a favor and respect the trait I have been given. It’s not a choice or an affliction. I like who I am. I’m perfectly happy with being attracted to males.

I think your Brother is reaching out to you. I would suggest you first wish the blessings of peace and happiness when your Brother finds someone to share his life with. It’s hard enough to try to find someone let alone having family fight against you.

December 10th, 2008 | LINK

Justin, do you consider that your need to form a family with a women is just a tendency. I don’t think that you do. How is it that you can understand the people atracted to same-sex doesn’t just have a tendency to love one another, the same need to marry and dedicate their life to one another is real among homosexual couples. The sin is ingnore their needs. Out of all the churches, the mother of the poligamous churches has come in defense of marrige. between a man an a woman…eventhough it believes that in heaven this man will have more wifes. I think that the tendency to desire more than one wife destroy more de ideal of marrige and put women in a position that God have never intended for his daughters. I was active in the church, married and served a mission. I use to be proud of being a member. Now I want my name out of the church record,

Justin Bell
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

In response to all you fine people, I appreciate your comments. I went and looked at this exhibit today. It does not threaten anybody, not one little bit. Nor is anybody threatened that it was taken down. I love people who identify themselves as homosexual, I know at least two. I love all you. Same sex attraction is not a choice. Homosexual behavior however, is a choice that I cannot condone.
My final comments on this is that I love all of you and don’t expect you to agree with me. Nor should you expect me to agree with you.
I am tolerant. Tolerance is a two-way street.

Justin Bell
December 11th, 2008 | LINK

p.s. I never said that I am attracted to women. nor did I ever say that my brother is attracted to men. ya’ll assumed that.

December 11th, 2008 | LINK

I think everyone needs to step back and take a broader look at BYU, the LDS Church, and the world. BYU is a private university, and just like every other private university, they have their own specific way of dealing with the world and since they don’t get state funding, they don’t have to listen anyone else. Just like with ANY rule or methodology and ANY private school, if you’re that opposed to it, don’t go to BYU.

It’s true that you’re not going to get what most people consider a “fair” view of homosexuality in America (again, if that’s a problem, don’t go there), but since it IS possible to get a great education without considering homosexuality, I would point out that many of BYU’s programs are among the best in the world. It is true that there is a sub-set of LDS people who never leave Utah (except for a mission) and live in this “bubble” about how the world works, but these people do not represent the majority or the voice of the Church. No one should judge any group on just a small part of that group, even if that small part really makes them mad. I graduated from BYU, but grew up in the East and never plan on living in Utah again; everyone is too busy screaming for equality and an “end to hate” that they don’t realize they’re spreading discriminatory propaganda and hate messages themselves while they campaign against it.

It’s very true that this art would have been left alone to “be different” at almost any other school, but really, I’m shocked that ANYONE is surprised they took it down. That’s like being surprised for getting a ticket after driving passed a group of police cars at 50 miles over the limit. BYU and the Church is quite clear about all types of issues that go against policies; they don’t change just because society says it’s popular to change and whether you agree or not is besides the point. You want to make a splash about homosexuals, fine, but you’ll be more successful showing it in your basement than you will at BYU. Deal with it and work around the system; fighting it is just going to be fruitless.

I agree that BYU handles ALL situations dealing with homosexuality extremely poorly and if nothing else, they could get the same results they want with much less backlash and fewer hurt feelings, but again, it’s s private institution, so there’s nothing anyone can do. This applies to everything about BYU, not just how they deal with homosexual items. If you really want to ‘make a difference’ you’re going to get much better traction somewhere else. But if you’re going to preach equality and tolerance, than you need to practice it as well. I have just as much right to believe that something is wrong as you have a right to believe it isn’t, and just because you say it louder or more often doesn’t mean your right is greater than mine. It’s very true that we don’t live in a theocracy, but we DO live in a democracy, which means the voice of the people governs. If you can convince enough people to believe the same way you do, then great, things will change. But until then, yelling and screaming and saying hateful things about people or groups or people or organizations who are only trying to uphold their constitutional right to believe as they see fit, will do nothing for your cause. Does anyone really want to live in a country where all it take to change anything is a loud enough minority?

Step back and take a broader look; nothing is going to change overnight and no matter how much we may disagree on something, we both have the right to believe the way we each do.

jay hova
December 13th, 2008 | LINK

According to the story, the artwork was taken down because of a “administration miscommunication.” If this is true and the work was quickly placed back up again censorship never took place. Mistakes happen, so don’t get frustrated and see things that aren’t really there. Isn’t that the point of your artwork anyways?

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