I was in town for other reasons but was happy to find out in was Pride in Salt Lake City, Utah. There is something significant about an LGBT celebration of this kind in a state where the Mormon dominated population has headed some of the most aggressive negative campaigns across the country on issues like same sex marriage.
I came out years ago in Utah. I came out of a marriage at a time where LGBT support was minimal and the atmosphere even more antagonistic. I was able to find friendships through the underground gay bar and nightclub scene which in some cases had its own perils.
I even went to a Pride celebration years ago there where a small parade and a little festival were held.
Today, I am happy to report that the LGBT community and it’s straight supporters are larger and stronger. Salt Lake City has been perhaps the most liberal enclave for the gay community in the entire state of Utah. There are still challenges and the influence of the Mormon Church cannot be denied.
However, there is a thriving LGBT center. The festival is much larger and is attended more by the larger community and the parade has become an even bigger event.
There is also this unique strength that you see in the LGBT community here. It is sure courage and resolve, that despite the odds, they have been able to win some battles here and there for domestic partnerships in the city. It is even being considered statewide. The recent Prop 8 initiative in California even saw a split within the church membership on the issue as members separated church from state in their voting habits.
I believe that one of the great stories for the battle for equality for the LGBT community will come out of Salt Lake City. Here is where the battle is so organic and real. People put everything on the line here. There is less underground now and more openness in this city. Pride 2010 in Salt Lake City with it’s theme of “Our History, Our Future” resonated a message that greater things are yet to come.
A quote from the Salt Lake Tribune:
“Jocelyn Johnson and Denise Druce sported Equality Utah T-shirts as they hung out near the parade’s end on 300 South. Druce’s husband and sons Van, 5, and Bode, 7, had marched, too.
For two women who had grown up in the LDS culture in less accepting times, they are determined to see their children grow up without prejudice.
“I value diversity so much, and I want them to know diversity,” she said.
“Jesus said, ‘Love one another,'” she added, “and I don’t remember him making any exceptions.”
Johnson, who grew up in northern Utah farm country and did not come out as a lesbian until after she had moved away, said she came back seven years ago so her daughter could come to know the caring and genuine people of Johnson’s childhood. But she also found a much larger LGBT community than she had expected.” ( Pride Parade Draws a Throng , by Judy Fahys, The Salt Lake Tribune 6/7/2010)
I had the opportunity to go out to some of the local establishments and here are clips of some of the performances I saw:
Featured are the DC Cowboys: