From the time I was small, I’ve always loved Pioneer Day. I am a descendant of pioneers, and loved to hear the stories of ancestors who risked everything, even their lives, for what they believed in. I would often think about whether I could be brave enough and strong enough to do what they did. This Pioneer Day, though, I want to move away from the handcarts and the flowered bonnets and honor a different type of pioneer.
I want to honor the suffragettes. From our own Mormon foremothers to Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party, these women with their iron resolve and relentless persistence fought for the right to vote.
I want to honor the civil rights activists. From Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King Jr. to the anonymous masses who risked their freedom and their well-being by sitting at lunch counters and in the fronts of buses, who staged sit-ins and marches and boycotts in the name of equality.
I want to honor the second-wave feminists. From Betty Friedan to Gloria Steinem, these women entered the workforce, fighting for jobs that had previously been limited to men, and making it possible for little girls like me to be told they can do anything that a man can do.
I want to honor those in the LGBTQIA community who from Stonewall on have fought from their rights. From Harvey Milk to Laverne Cox, these brave individuals have chosen to live an authentic life, to stop hiding and come out in a world where being different could (and often does) cost them their jobs, their housing, even their lives.
So many others deserve to be honored. Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Alice Walker, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, the Nigerian schoolgirls, the Idle No More movement, Malala Yousafzai, and many, many, many more.
Finally, I wish to honor those pioneers within the LDS church. Those such as Darius Gray for his work on race, and Carol Lynn Pearson who works to make the church a more inclusive place for LGBTQIA individuals. And people like Kate Kelly and the rest of the Ordain Women movement, people who are not afraid to ask questions even when those questions are unpopular.