A young man in Utah uttered a profane, homophobic slur as he used water to deface sidewalk chalk art supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
The incident took place last Thursday evening on the sidewalk of University Avenue at Brigham Young University in Provo. The street art had been part of a "chalk protest" where folks were encouraged to create messages of support and affirmation for the LGBTQ+ community.
Video of the incident, which has since gone viral, showed the man pouring a large bottle of water on the art when he was confronted by Amber Sorenson, who videotaped the incident, and her companion, Anthony Guth.
“There you go,” Guth can be heard saying sarcastically off camera. “I’m feeling a little less homophobic.”
“Oh, no,” the young man replied in response as he emptied his water bottle on the chalk art. “All f*ck*ng f*gg*ts go to hell.”
“Oh, yeah?” Guth continued.
“Yeah,” the homophobic vandal replied as he walked off.
“I’m sure the bible actually says that,” replied Sorensen.
“I still kind of can’t believe that I saw that with my real-life eyes because that is something that you see on other people's videos,” Sorenson told KSTU-TV on Friday.
Although not students at the famed Mormon university, the pair decided to walk by and admire the street art when they encountered the young vandal.
“Myself and Amber, we were just lingering around and reading all of the positive messages,” Guth recalled.
“And then this kid walks up with his water bottle,” Sorensen said.
Sorenson posted the video to her Instagram not long after, although it was initially removed due to the uncensored profanity uttered by the vandal. A second censored video is available on her profile.
Officials at BYU issued a statement last Friday, condemning the incident and stating the actions seen in the video violate the school’s Honor Code.
“We unequivocally condemn behavior and language that is disrespectful and hurtful,” the statement read. “There is no place for hateful speech, or prejudice of any kind, on our campus or in our community. The Honor Code explicitly states that each member of the BYU community has the obligation to respect others. The incident seen in a video circulating on social media is now under review.”
Sorenson and Guth both appreciated the statement but noted it means little without action.
“I like that but what’s next?” Sorenson asked after learning of the statement.
“Yeah,” Guth said. “Without actions, these are just words.”
Both Sorenson and Guth told KSTU-TV they believe the incident is related to a speech given last week by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in which he addressed “the feelings that swirl around marriage and the whole same-sex topic” in reference to the church’s opposition to marriage equality.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand, and I will go to my grave pleading that this institution not only stands but stands unquestionably committed to its unique academic mission and to the church that sponsors it,” Holland said in his remarks, quoting from Abraham Lincoln’s famed 1858 speech.
“The events of this week, including that speech, have kind of drawn a line in the sand in the same way that the November 2015 policy drew a line in the sand,” Sorenson said, referencing the decision by church authorities which declared those in same-sex marriages were apostates of the church.
Sorenson said she hoped her video would open the eyes of those who think such acts of homophobia are a thing of the past.
“I want people to see that this kind of behavior is alive and well,” Sorenson concluded.