Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski proclaimed May 28 to June 2 as Pride Week in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Her announcement kicks off a week of celebrations aimed at the LGBTQ community in the capital and beyond.
“We, as a welcoming community, are always happy to bring people in from around the Western region who don’t otherwise have a pride celebration in their neighborhoods,” said Biskupski, who is gay.
The Salt Lake City pride festival is one of the largest in the Western United States, according to Liz Pitts, director of community engagement for the Utah Pride Center. The festival and parade each attract around 50,000 attendees, Pitts said.
The first half of 2019 has been a mix of wins and losses for Utah’s LGBTQ community.
Steps forward including the passage of a state hate crimes bill that was 20 years in the making, and changes by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints softening policies towards gay members of the church and their children. But 2019 also marked a setback for the LGBTQ community when legislation to ban gay conversion therapy failed to pass earlier this year.
This year marks over four decades of Pride celebrations in Salt Lake City. The festival is the primary fundraiser for the Utah Pride Center, a community organization that provides services for Utah’s LGBTQ community.
Having the support of the Salt Lake City mayor creates visibility for members of the LGBTQ community and suggests the importance of representation to people, especially in places around the region where gay and lesbian individuals aren’t in positions of leadership, according to Rob Moolman, executive director of the Utah Pride Center.
“It is also an important message to send to the leaderships in those spaces, recognizing and seeing all members of your community and recognizing the importance of what this could mean to them,” Moolman said.