Members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community gather for the Pride Rally at Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 6, 2021 (Photo by Brooklyn Critchley | The Daily Utah Chronicle)
May 25, 2022
The week of May 29 to June 5 marks Pride Week in Utah. This year, the Utah Pride Center expects to have the largest festival and parade in 30 years. Leading up to their three main events on June 4 and 5, there are 11 other events people can participate in.
“Over the last three years that we haven’t been able to do this, it has been a challenge to know how many people out there support the LGBTQ+ community, to know who our allies are … It’s easy to feel alone in times where we can’t gather,” said Kevin Randall, the communications manager of the UPC. “So now that we’re able to do this, I think people are just really thirsty for it.”
Pride Week is occurring just a few months after the Utah legislature overrode Gov. Cox’s veto of H.B. 11, which would ban transgender girls from participating in sports aligning with their gender identity, and weeks after it was revealed the United States Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.
One event of Pride Week is an LGBTQ+ film screening put on by the UPC, where participants can watch “Changing the Game,” a film about transgender inclusion in sports, for free at the Salt Lake City Library.
Randall said this film is ever important in Utah in 2022 because it has been difficult for transgender youth to hear their rights debated constantly.
“Knowing some of these youth myself, personally, it’s been difficult to hear their stories — in fact, one kid I know had to leave school on the day that the legislature overturned the governor’s veto on H.B.11,” Randall said. “He said he just couldn’t be in school anymore.”
On the first day of June, which marks 23 years since Pride Month was officially recognized by the U.S. Government, the pride flag will be raised at the Salt Lake City and County Building to commemorate the month. This also marks the first day of the UPC’s Pride Story Garden Exhibit, which will be at the library atrium for 17 days. The exhibit attempts to share LGBTQIA+ histories, stories and communities with attendees.
“We want people to know what the story is,” Randall said. “We want people to know how much people have fought for the rights and freedoms that we enjoy today, rights and freedoms that actually could be rolled back if we’re not careful.”
Through its activities ranging from youth pride to 21+ events at clubs and various free opportunities, the UPC is trying to have an all-inclusive Pride Week, Randall explained.
“We just want everyone to come and enjoy it, just to be there, be together and also take pride in contributing to the Utah Pride Center itself,” he said.
According to Randall, all money raised through their Pride Week events directly supports the UPC efforts, including mental health and wellness programs.
“Having the Pride Festival back and seeing the community support, it makes us feel even more confident that we can continue those services and support our community,” he said.
The UPC festival will be two days, starting on June 4, with more than 60,000 people expected to attend. There will be food trucks and exhibitor booths. The following day, June 5, marks the end of Pride Week, where participants in the Utah Pride Parade can march to the second day of the festival.
The University of Utah will have a walking delegation in the Pride Parade, supported by the LGBT Resource Center on campus, among other collaborators.
Clare Lemke, the director of the LGBT center, said the U is a sponsor of the 2022 Utah Pride Fest.
“It’s a way for the university to show its commitment to supporting LGBTQIA+ community members and also for the commitment for advocating for equity for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff,” Lemke said.
Lemke encourages people to look into pride celebrations happening in other areas of Utah as well for the rest of June.
“So really, what pride means, is different LGBTQIA+ communities making this celebration and also this observance of people’s activism and people’s refusal to be silenced or to be invisible, really honoring the communities that they’re in through their local celebrations and what it looks like for them to celebrate pride in their spaces,” Lemke said.
Ermiya Fanaeian, the founder of Armed Queers Salt Lake City, said pride should be centered in its radical roots. The first pride parade happened in 1970, one year after the Stonewall Riots, where individuals protested police raids of the Stonewall Inn, a club and place of refuge for New York’s gay community.
This fight against police brutality, according to Fanaeian, is often forgotten in the corporate attempt to honor LGBTQ+ histories.
“Over the years, nonprofits that have taken on the LGBT struggle, have done so in ways that have been incredibly capitalistic and filled with corporate-centered greed, instead of our radical roots,” she said.
Fanaeian will be speaking at Salt Lake Community Mutual Aid’s Pride Without Police event on June 10 — this event advocates for queer liberation rather than assimilation and the revolutionary spirit characterizing pride movements historically.
“Unlike the rainbow capitalists who actively invite cops into queer spaces, we stand with great revolutionaries like Marsha P, Sylvia Rivera, and Harry Hay in recognizing that the police state has always been and will always be an enemy of the queer liberation movement,” the group’s Instagram post read.
The UPC Pride Festival and Parade will have police presence. Randall said they will serve as escorts and security.
“We have chosen to include the police in this festival but we also empathize with people who struggle with that, because in the past, police have harmed our community, and we understand that,” he said. “But we, as of today, have a good relationship with the police department, and want to maintain that, we want to have an all-inclusive festival for everyone, and that includes law enforcement.”
According to Fanaeian, the Pride Without Police event is essential to “honor the true anti-capitalist, anti-police, radical, revolutionary roots of the queer and trans struggle.”
Armed Queers is a socialist group fighting for communal defense of the queer community. This, Fanaeian said, is necessary, because the police do not protect them.
“I will be talking about the need for queer and trans people to arm ourselves in the moment of hostility and the moment of political tensions growing against us and really defer [to] communal defense and communal protection of one another,” she said.
In addition to celebrating pride’s radical roots and anti-police history, Fanaeian said pride represents liberation.
“It’s a time to really grow that organizing in ways that we aren’t able to grow in maybe other times of the year,” she said. “It’s about growing the struggle and growing our movements.”
The event will have speeches from queer organizers, free food, music and dancing. Independent queer artists can direct message the SLCMA’s Instagram to table at the event.
Fanaeian said pride is not for corporations, so instead they should realize how they have contributed to the need for pride celebrations in the first place.
“[Corporations] need to allow for their queer and trans workers to unionize and to be able to stand up against many of the oppressive ways that they treat them,” she said. “I think they need to recognize that they are the reason behind much oppression and exploitation against us.”
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