Pride Week 2023 at the U is ‘Unstoppable’


Jack Gambassi

The block U on campus with the colors of the intersectional LGBTQ+ pride flag on March 24, 2021. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


Unstoppable — this one word encapsulates the week of March 27-April 1 on the University of Utah’s campus as people join together to celebrate Pride Week 2023.

From a clothing swap to a drag show, the LGBT Resource Center, along with partner organizations, has planned several events to celebrate the power, persistence and resilience of the LGBTQIA+ community on campus.

What to Expect

Shelby Hearn, coordinator of education and leadership development with the LGBT Resource Center and chair of this year’s Pride Week committee, said there is a lot of student input in the planning process. 

“Something that I really like about the Pride Week committee is it is a group of folks from all over campus, so it’s comprised of faculty, staff and students,” they said. 

Pride Week kicks off with the opening party in front of the Block U, which will be wrapped in the progress flag, a variation of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag that includes black and brown stripes, as well as the transgender flag colors to represent marginalized communities within the queer community. A photographer will be present to take professional photos in front of the rainbow block U. 

Selena Pham, a U student studying mechanical engineering, is on the subcommittee for Pride Plaza, a space for LGBTQIA+ and ally vendors, live music, performances and an art exhibit. The event will be held March 29 and March 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Abbie Fuller, who studies kinesiology at the U, is helping plan the Dress Yourself, Express Yourself Clothing Swap, where individuals can bring something and take something. There will be supplies for hair, nails and makeup as well.

Fuller said they have been collecting clothes over the last few weeks with donation bins across campus. There will be a raffle for binders and haircuts at a local salon.

Fuller said this event is to “help others who are questioning their gender identity or just want to experiment a little bit, especially with being in such a difficult place with a lot of parents who are not as accepting as others, giving students and people in the community a chance to freely express themselves.”

This event will take place on March 30 and March 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Another event on March 30, from 7-9:30 p.m., is the Unstoppable Drag Show, including performers from campus. 

“I’m really excited to have this really nice review of the different types of drag that folks perform,” Hearn said. 

Other events include a panel discussion titled Out in the Workplace, a talent showcase and a space for queer and trans students of color to get ready for Queer Prom, which will be on April 1.

‘We’re here and we’re queer’

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been really fun to kind of connect with other students and faculty who also want to help and support, create and make this event as magical and awesome as it can be,” Fuller said. 

The theme, Pham explained, was voted on by committee members.

“We’re here and we’re queer,” they said. 

Fuller said the theme is about advocating for respect. 

“​No matter what comes our way and what things that we do experience, we are going to push through and create a space where we belong,” she said. 

Hearn said this concept of being an unstoppable force resonated with individuals given the recent uptick in anti-trans legislation and the protest of LGBTQIA+ events.

“In many respects, when it comes to laws that are policing how people express their gender and that are policing drag shows, we’ve seen this happen before and it didn’t stop us then,” they said. “It’s not going to stop us now.”

Fuller said Pride Week offers a space for people to feel welcomed, loved and like they have a sense of community. 

“To have all these different events that maybe students haven’t been able to experience like the drag show or going to prom or things like that, they get the opportunity to do that but also to do it in a way where they are themselves 100%, and feel confident and comfortable and able to meet so many other students who are in the same boat and just want that sense of community,” she said. 

Pham brought up the educational component of the week itself. 

“I know a lot of people have never had any experience interacting with at least like out queer kids or students, you know, so, this might be their first time doing that and it can kind of ease them into it,” they said. “Or just if you’re questioning or anything like that, it’s just a safe space for that to happen.”

Hearn said the show of support from other organizations shows that queer people belong in all corners of campus. 

“I went to an undergraduate campus where we didn’t have an LGBT resource center, let alone a week’s worth of pride celebration,” Hearn said. “I would not have been able to imagine something like this and how good that would have made me feel as a young queer person where I went to school, and so to be able to provide that for the students at Utah is just really exciting and it gets bigger and better every year.”


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