Continuing with tradition after cancellations last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salt Lake City will celebrate Pride Week beginning Tuesday, June 1. The week-long festivities will be unlike any before, as restrictions due to the pandemic have forced the Utah Pride Center to come up with creative ways to celebrate Queer history and community. The main events of the week are the Pride Story Garden, the Rainbow March and Rally, the Pride Month Proclamations and Flag Raising and the Pride Interfaith Service.
A Colorful History
Pride celebrations in Utah began in the 1970s, just years after the Stonewall Riots in New York City inspired worldwide demonstrations in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Celebrations in the decades since have taken many forms and have commemorated important milestones in the fight for equality. Pride has spread from Salt Lake City to include marches, rallies and festivals all across the state.
Salt Lake City has long been labeled one of the “queerest cities” in America. Though it is indisputably among the more progressive areas in the state, many residents are hesitant to accept this title. Our city’s unique religious heritage and conservative political overtones have heavily impacted life for LGBTQ+ people here.
Additionally, Pride in Salt Lake, along with celebrations across the world have received backlash for their over-commercialization and censorship of queer culture. Amid all this, residents of Salt Lake and people around the globe continue to gather in protest and celebration, however imperfectly, and find community and healing.
This Week’s Events
The emphasis of the Pride celebrations this year seems to be on history and healing. Events throughout the week have been curated to draw attention to issues facing the LGBTQ+ population in Salt Lake as well as celebrate its history.
The first of these events will be the flag raising and proclamations that will take place on Tuesday, June 1 and will be hosted by the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office.
The interfaith service, which will be held virtually on Wednesday, June 2, marks the Utah Pride Center’s efforts to unite those in attendance under the banners of religion and identity and has been celebrated the many years since Pride celebrations and rallies began in Utah.
The Pride Story Garden will open on Thursday, June 3 and will be held in place of what would normally be the Pride festival. The Story Garden is a focus of this year’s Pride festivities and will feature a maze of exhibits by local artists showcasing queer history art and culture. This event will last through the week and end on Monday, June 7.
The Rainbow March and Rally, Utah’s longest-standing Pride Week tradition, will take place on Sunday, June 6 and will be free to the public. It will be a march in support of LGBTQ+ communities and participants are encouraged to bring signs and walk with the group from the Utah State Capitol building down to Liberty Park.
Pride in a Pandemic
This year’s Pride celebration organizers are serious about COVID-19 precautions and encouraging all participants to socially distance and wear masks when possible. Food, drinks, live performers and other vendors will not be present at the event and organizers hope that Pride can be celebrated in normal fashion next year.
Pride Week is sure to be fun, healing and reflective after a difficult year and with collaboration from so many local artists and organizers, it will definitely be a celebration we won’t forget.
For more information on the events of the week, visit the Utah Pride Center’s website.