Pride Returns to Salt Lake, Filling City Streets with Rainbows

Members+and+allies+of+the+LGBTQIA%2B+community+gather+for+the+Pride+Rally+at+Capitol+Hill+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Sunday%2C+June+6%2C+2021+%28Photo+by+Brooklyn+Critchley+%7C+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

Brooklyn Critchley

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 | Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Sunday morning, June 6, the lawn and steps of the Utah State Capitol were covered with the colors of a 200-foot rainbow flag and people celebrating the end of 2021 Pride Week, hosted by the Utah Pride Center. 

The week had several other events as well, including the Washington Square Pride Story Garden, an interactive outdoor exhibit with gardens such as “Utah Queer History” and “Remembering Stonewall.” 

The rally began with quick impact speeches from local leaders and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“We stand on broad, powerful shoulders of queer people that come before us … let’s not forget that that’s why we’re here today,” said Utah Sen. Derek Kitchen.

The march started at the Capitol and headed down State St. before finishing at Harvey Milk Boulevard and Liberty Park. 

Anna Nielsen, an incoming student at the U, said she was on the verge of tears looking at all the smiles and bright outfits filling the crowd. 

“I grew up in the church, and I was a whole homophobe until I was 12, and then somebody told me it was okay to be gay for the first time, and that led to my own realization that I was bisexual and that I didn’t really love the gender binary,” Nielsen said. 

Roller skaters and walkers alike flew traditional pride flags and flags from subsections of the LGBTQ+ community. Blocking off the streets as they marched, the hundreds of people held signs reading “Utah has pride,” “Proud to be LGBTQ+” and “Queerness is sacred.” 

While June is historically pride month, Gov. Spencer Cox declared June 2021 as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Utah, making state history as the first Utah governor to do so. 

Nielsen said she was shocked the turnout for the rally was so big, especially in a state like Utah. 

“We were towards the front of the crowd, and then we got down the hill and we looked up and it’s just people for a mile,” she said. “The entire street, I was in awe at how many people there are.”

Miranda Paulson, a resident of Salt Lake City, was happy to be at her first pride event. 

“I was really nervous to come to Pride, it’s just like a big hurdle to come as your first one, but I just love the energy here and it’s just the most amazing thing to happen to Salt Lake, and I love that it’s at Liberty Park,” she said. 

Kevin Randall, who works for public relations for the Utah Pride Center, said after COVID-19 cancelled last year’s events, they knew they needed to find a creative way to get the entire community involved in a safe way. 

“The thousands of people who are clearly here in Utah, they are allies, they’re members of the LGBTQ community, and they clearly wanted to participate and be part of this and it’s amazing to see everyone come out here,” Randall said. 

Randall said the Utah Pride Center was pleased with the event’s turnout. 

“We couldn’t be happier to have everyone out here participating — all the hard work that we put into this was definitely worth it,” Randall said. “I think it’s been healing for everyone to be out here among each other, to feel supported and loved.”

 

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