Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Utah Pride Festival: Sunday
Saturday night at the Utah Pride Festival was fun, so much fun in fact that we all woke up exhausted the next morning in an inexplicably destroyed hotel room. One of us was missing a tooth, a baby was crying and there was a ferocious tiger in the bathroom that may or may not belong to Mike Tyson. Or was that 2009's The Hangover? Hard to tell.
Anyway, we dragged our sleepy butts out of bed, showered and dressed, and then began the ever-enjoyable activity of locating all our belongings and repacking. Coaxing the tiger out was probably the hardest part, but we managed by using Brett's rainbow-colored boa as a lure. Before checking out of our room we enjoyed breakfast at the 5th Street Grill of the Sheraton Hotel and then hopped on the hotel shuttle. Other pleasant people joined us on our way to the parade route, and the building excitement for the event was palpable.
This feeling only increased as we stepped onto the sidewalks and found ourselves a nice, shady spot on 200 South to view the parade from. There were thousands of people all around us from every walk of life. People with rainbow mohawks or angel wings, shirtless gay couples, older couples in chairs, straight couples, and even families with strollers. People of all ethnicities, economic statuses and sexual orientations joined together to support the LGBT community and I was very happy to be a part of it.
The day was sunny and the parade was awesome. Brian and I went to the parade a few years ago on a gray, rainy day and I remember being disappointed with the parade. This year, however, the atmosphere was jubilant and the parade seemed longer and more interesting. The parade's Grand Marshall, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (known for Milk and J. Edgar), led the parade full of church groups, gay rights organizations, various LGBT clubs and groups, local businesses and publications, and larger corporate sponsors. A couple of floats featured live music or dancers, drag queens in all their glory and even a sneak peak of an upcoming performance of Chicago at the Egyptian Theater in Park City.
The first group to march in the parade, Mormons Building Bridges, was also the group to create the most media buzz. Basically it's a group of Latter-day Saints who believe in showing love and support to the gay community and who do not take the Church's stance on homosexuality as individuals. As a former Mormon myself, it meant a lot to me to see them marching in the parade on my behalf. I was thankful I was wearing sunglasses, because I was moved to tears. They had signs like "Love one another" or "I'll walk with you, I'll talk with you, that's how I'll show my love for you" from the LDS children's hymn. And the gay community was grateful, as shown by the enthusiastic applause and cheers from the sidelines.
Here's a YouTube video somebody posted of the group in the parade:
After the parade, the four of us followed the crowd back to the festival grounds where we checked out all the various booths, signed some petitions, made some donations, ate some food, got lots of free swag, and even got a demonstration in how to use a condom. Not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon. In fact, the whole thing wasn't a bad way to spend a weekend. Walking back to the car, Brett and Wes talked about how great it was to see all the support and love. They mentioned that it was nice to feel like they were part of a community where they could truly be themselves. Where they could be unashamed. Where they could be proud.
I'd like to thank the Utah Pride Center for sponsoring the festival and for all they do to change hearts and lives for the better.