“This is Family” Theme Helps Further Define Utah Valley’s Families
Photo Credit Gabi Campbell
On Saturday Sept. 19, Provo city was host to its own 3rd annual Gay Pride festival. The event continued the success of previous years, drawing an ever visible LGBTQ community and their supporters together to celebrate the freedom to be who they are without shame or fear.
Festival director Jack Garcia described the decision to make this year’s slogan “This is Family” as a type of normalization tactic for the growing population of alternative families, since gay marriage was recently legalized. “It’s interesting since this is a family area to kind of reinvent the family, or not really reinvent it, but make it more inclusive,” said Garcia.
The festival, held at Memorial Park, bustled with people all day. Several bands performed, including local favorites like The Troubles, Red Sleeves, and Intra-Venus & the Cosmonauts. Food trucks Casa del Soul and Chedda Truck were there, serving food to the diverse crowd. A child’s area with bounce houses was set up on one end of the park.
The booths included many local vendors and groups from art, jewelry, and roller derby to literary journals and political groups such as Affirmation, a group of LGBTQ Mormon church members. There was also a group of the Latter -Day Saint church members giving hugs to passersby’s and placing “I was hugged by a Mormon” stickers emblazoned with rainbow flags on their shirts.
Even just a few short years ago, an event of this nature in Utah County appeared to many like a hopeless dream that could never come to fruition. Similar to the overturn of the Gay Marriage ban by the Utah courts, followed by the Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage throughout the nation, Gay Pride in Provo became a reality seemingly overnight.
Although organizers haven’t quite raised enough funds to hold a parade in Downtown Provo, the potential for growth in years to come is encouraged by the unceasing support of the local community.
This year’s Pride has been bolstered by a myriad of sponsors, including Equality Utah, Mark Miller Subaru, and radio station Alt 101.9, who were broadcasting from the festival.
Another sponsor was trendy local eatery, Guru’s, who had a booth serving food at the festival. Guru’s Provo location was also the host to an art auction fundraiser, featuring artists including UVU alumni Christi Simpson, for the Provo Pride Fund in August.
Centro Hispano, a non-profit center, was also a sponsor of the celebration. The center has been striving to bring the Hispanic and gay communities together with the mainstream Utah community and offer education. They provide free HIV and STD testing on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in their Provo location.
City Limits, a Provo bar, hosted all of the nightlife Pride events that took place throughout the week. City Limits has had a mutually beneficial relationship with the LGBTQ community over the last year since instituting a weekly gay night. The bar was once considered by many as a place to stay away from, due to violent crowds and unsavory patrons. But they have turned their image around and thrive as a new hub for Provo’s burgeoning gay scene. As longtime bartender Nicki Cloward said, “We used to sweep up blood, and now we sweep up glitter.”
City Limits featured parties on the nights leading up to, and the day of the festival; presenting drag performances from Utah’s Divine Sister-Misters and Portland, Oregon’s Caravan of Glam.
As the years pass by, and the festival continues to blossom, residents may look back at this time as the emergence of Provo’s LGBTQ population into a more visible and unapologetic community. The success of this yearly festival and the support of local businesses have aided greatly in providing a foundation on which the community can stand proud.