Amidst the semiskyscrapers of downtown Salt Lake, musclemen in tight booty shorts danced in cages on a spaceship float of drag queens. What a setting for a parade! The streets of Salt Lake City were rainbow-colored on Sunday, June 8. Lesbians, gays, bisexual, curious and heterosexual alike celebrated the annual Utah Pride Festival in the thousands. Protestors made an appearance as well, although they were overwhelmingly outnumbered. Signs littered the street corners with phrases such as "Homo Sex is a Sin" and "Fear God, Repent or Perish." The thing about Pride is that those unfamiliar with the meaning of the festival think it is a celebration to flaunt seemingly alternative sexualities. But Pride is not that. A celebration, yes — it is most definitely a celebration. Protestors have become a fixture in the festivities but are generally ignored because nothing could get in the way of that party.
In any case, let’s set the facts straight (no pun intended) about the Pride festival. It is a celebration of diversity. It celebrates the differences that make a community a place to grow and learn, much like a Greek festival or a neighborhood barbecue. We all get together to spend time with those that we live near and to share in the things that make us unique.
More importantly, Pride is about acceptance. When the existence of the gay community is so prominently on display, which can be uncomfortable for some, it allows at least for its presence to be known. Fear, rooted in a lack of understanding for people with different ideas than our own, is detrimental to our culture. We shut people out when we don’t understand, instead of letting them in and trying to find common ground. The simple acknowledgment of this often-disregarded community’s existence can only perpetuate a growth of acceptance. Images of the parade are flittered on local news and hopefully are viewed with open minds by those hesitant about the gay lifestyle. Even these small fragments of exposure to other sexual orientations are a small step in achieving a wide range of acceptance. The more that mainstream culture, and Utah in particular, sees and interacts with those outside of the "norm," the sooner we can all live in a synergistic community with unity and acceptance for all.
The final thing Pride is about that is often overlooked is the uncomplicated, unpretentious, and just plain reason of love. It sounds so simple, but love is something that, at this time, unfortunately, seems restricted and frowned upon for this community. Pride tries to illustrate the love that can be shared between any two people, as long as they are dedicated to give it a try; not unlike the heterosexual neighbors that harbor in the same communities. We easily forget this common thread that binds us all together, that makes us human, and in a sense, makes us all the same. We all yearn for love, and to think that when someone is lucky enough to find it, someone would have the nerve to try and restrict it is shameful.