The Utah Pride Center (UPC) is bringing Pride Week back to Salt Lake City for 2021 with all new events that promote representation and celebrate the history of the LGBTQ community in Utah.
While the traditional Pride Parade had to be shelved for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UPC has organized a weeklong slate of activities that bring a unique focus to Pride for 2021.
“A big pride party is all good and well, and we’re going to miss that this year… but 2021 and COVID have allowed us to bring something with depth and meaning as a Pride Week celebration,” said UPC Executive Director Rob Moolman.
To accommodate the fast-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, UPC started organizing four outdoor events in February that would allow attendees to reconnect in person but still maintain social distance.
The week began with the raising of a rainbow flag at the Utah Pride Center building and a ceremony at the Salt Lake City and County Building during which Salt Lake City mayor Erin Mendenhall and members of the city council addressed festival goers and formally raised flag in honor of Pride Week 2021.
“We think that it is vital that we see our leaders, be that elected representatives or other leaders in the community, be vocal about their support for the queer community,” Moolman said.
UPC will host a virtual Pride Interfaith Service — a coming together of many faiths for songs, prayer and inspiration — beginning at 7 am on Wednesday, June 2. The service will be broadcast online and registration for it is open on UPC’s website.
The service is meant, “to show that there are communities of faith who accept, who celebrate and who include LGBTQ individuals. It breaks down the narrative that there is some sort of Biblical or religious textual reason that LGBTQ individuals cannot be celebrated in faith-based spaces,” Moolman said.
On Thursday, June 3, UPC will unveil the week’s main attraction: A walking tour through LGBTQ history and issues in Washington Square known as the Pride Story Garden. The garden features 20 fenced-in spaces with interactive displays dispersed throughout a “labyrinth” layout, according to the garden’s designer, Billy Clouse. It will remain open until Monday, June 7, and tickets are already on sale as space is limited.
The different gardens include LGBTQ artist installations, large displays highlighting the history of the LGBTQ community in Utah and a collection of exhibits transported from the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Florida.
“Being able to tell those stories that people have never heard before is the biggest thing,” said Emily Walker, UPC community engagement manager over volunteers. “We have put together, in the garden particularly, not just a history or a timeline, it’s also current issues, issues for the future.”
On Sunday, June 6, UPC will lead a march and rally beginning at 10 am in front of the Utah State Capitol. Attendees will walk down State Street with a 200-foot rainbow flag before turning down 900 east and ending at Liberty Park, where local advocates will speak to the protestors.
“[The march] enables everybody to participate,” Moolman said. “All those people who would usually just stand along the route [during the Parade], have the opportunity to be in the rally.”
The full schedule of events for Pride Week 2021 is available on the Utah Pride Center’s website.