Bi BYU Grad Shows 'True Colors' with Rainbow Gown

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday May 1, 2022
Originally published on April 27, 2022

BYU graduate Jillian Orr
BYU graduate Jillian Orr  (Source:Jillian Orr/Facebook)

A bisexual BYU grad came out in rainbow style in a surprise moment at the conservative religious school's commencement ceremony — and the moment went viral on TikTok.

Newsweek reports that Jillian Orr "posted a TikTok of her putting together the gown and wearing it to graduation where it received more than 2.7 million views and 5,700 comments since Sunday." Orr was protesting the university's stance against LGTBQ+ students being in relationships that reflect their authentic selves.

"Students who attend must follow the university's honor code," Newsweek explained, which includes "living a 'chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.' "

The TikTok video documents Orr's preparations as she lines the gown with a rainbow flag, then wears it to the graduation ceremony. As the footage plays, text explains that the school takes a hard-line, punitive stance toward those who do not conform with the institution's notions of sexual morality.

@jillianoreo Good thing I didn't have to rely on my sewing skills for this. #byugraduation #byu #lgbtq #lgbt???? #pride2022 #justice #sistersarethebest #collegegraduate #exmo #exmormon ? How You Like That - BLACKPINK

Noting that anyone suspected of being in a same-sex relationship can be expelled and have their degree revoked, Orr wrote that students "are afraid to be who they are so they hide out of fear until they get out.

"I will not hide," Orr added. "I will be seen."

In what looks like a private moment just before commencement, she flips the gown open in a superhero move, revealing the rainbow colors within — and revealing her own true colors, as Orr put it in a Facebook post.

"It's hard being gay at BYU," Orr related at Facebook in an April 22 post, local news station KSLTV reported. "I didn't know I identified as bisexual until half way through and it's scary to live with the fear that any moment they could take away your degree.

"You can't be in a relationship unless you're hetero and most of my classes spoke of the 'evil' that I was born into," Orr's Facebook post added. "Today I took a chance and sent a message to other students — you can make it too! Be authentic, brave, and unapologetically you!"

"During the ceremony, Orr went on stage to receive her diploma and opened her gown to reveal the flag while on the jumbotron," Newsweek recounted.

Newsweek took note of the disconnect between the school's assumptions about human sexuality and an increasingly obvious reality that contradicts those assumptions.

"An estimated 7.1 percent of American adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or non-heterosexual, according to data collected by Gallup," Newsweek recounted. "Nearly one in six Generation Z — born 1997 through 2012 — adults identify as bisexual."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.