Members of the LGBTQ community are imploring the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to match a donation that would bolster youth suicide prevention programs.
Last week, two friends, Hillary McDaniel and Kat Kellermeyer, spearheaded the Gayest Bake Sale Ever, a response to the LDS church’s inclusion on an amicus brief in Masterpiece Cake v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That case centers around whether a cake-maker can deny making custom pastries for same-sex couple weddings. The LDS church is siding with the bakery on grounds of protecting religious freedom.
At least 22 Utah state senators also attached their names to an amicus document related to the same case.
The Gayest Bake Sale Ever took place on Sept. 18 at North Temple and State Street, an intersection near the Church Office Building and the Utah State Capitol. The location was picked “as a metaphor for the political influence that the LDS church has in our state,” McDaniel said.
A host of local bakeries donated goods to the cause. “One of the best parts of this project was to call all these bakeries and hear them say, ‘We support you; we love you,’” she said.
The sale raised $2,257 in cash. In addition, about $1,160 in online donations poured in. And the bake sale was able to garner up to $1,000 in matching donations. Grand total: the event topped $4,400, which will go directly to the Utah Pride Center’s survivors of suicide attempts support group for ages 16-20.
Now, organizers are asking the Mormon church to match. Kellermeyer said they sent a letter to the LDS office on Monday.
“Just weeks ago, the LDS church supported a music festival to raise awareness for queer youth suicide and foster community. In 2015 you made a donation to the Pride Center to help their efforts to support homeless queer youth,” a portion of the letter reads. “Both times you acknowledged a need in our community. You saw suffering and extended your charity to us. We may not agree on everything, but we absolutely can agree on the ‘pricelessness and sanctity of youth.’”
The Trevor Project predicts that LGBTQ youth are about five times more likely to attempt suicide than their counterparts. In Utah, suicide is now the leading cause of death among youths, an epidemic that Gov. Gary Herbert and other lawmakers have vowed to address.
Rachel Edwards, a transgender woman, contemplated suicide in her youth during periods of alienation. “Back when I discovered who I was, I was scared to death because I was in Utah,” she said. But she found the Utah Pride Center and began volunteering there. That support saved her, she said.
Members of the Mama Dragons, an ally and support group for parents of LGBTQ children, also lauded the bake sale organizers and their commitment to supporting LGBTQ youth.
President of the Mama Dragons Neca Allgood said rhetoric surrounding the Masterpiece court battle is worrying.
“Our concern is that this divisive discourse makes our LGBTQ kids feel like they are not valued and it makes it harder for them to envision a hopeful future for themselves,” she said. The counter-message the Gayest Bake Sale Ever sent, she continued, is powerful and necessary.
“There are people who see them, who love them and who will work with them to create a more inclusive and hopeful future,” she said.