2023 SLC Pride: What It Means to the Community


By Zach Anderson, Arts Writer


From June 1-4, 2023, the annual Salt Lake City Pride Festival was held in various places around Downtown Salt Lake. The theme for this year’s festival was “unapologetic,” a term meant to fight against stigma and encourage inner confidence. With plenty of vendors, events and a killer parade, I’d say it was a smashing success. More than that, Pride is an event that celebrates a community of inclusion, acceptance and being heard. These things consistently grow more important as anti-LGBTQ groups and legislation try to silence voices and rights.

Truly Unapologetic Pride

The festival kicked off with the raising of the pride flag at Salt Lake City and County Building. There, members of the Utah Pride Center and local government, including the mayor of Salt Lake City, Erin Mendenhall, gave ceremonial speeches criticizing “bad policy and bad legislation” against the LGBTQ community. This is most likely in reference to Gov. Spencer Cox’s signing of a youth gender-affirming care ban and other similar bans happening all over the country. The day after, the UPC joined an overwhelming crowd to rally and march on the State Capital carrying a 200-ft long pride flag.

On June 3 and 4, the festival itself took place in and around Washington Square Park. Here, artists, vendors and a soundstage for performers were set. People from all walks of life attended the festival, from drag queens to families to multicolored dogs. On Sunday, the parade began with over 150 participating organizations slated to walk in down 400 South.

While I attended the festival on Sunday, I was fortunate enough to talk with some of the vendors and participants of the festival. My goal was to better understand what Pride meant to them and their respective organizations.

The first person I spoke to was Mark Thompson with Affirmation, an LGBTQ Latter-day Saint support group. As someone that has attended Pride for about 5 years, Mark says that Pride has “[always been a place] to see all different types of people and where everyone is welcome and accepted.” The goal of Affirmation is to support LGBTQ individuals who come from an LDS background, a church that’s been stringent with anti-LGBTQ acceptance.

“We love them. We know what they’re going through,” Mark says. “Many of us have gone through the same struggles they’re probably going through now. … We’re here to help them get through the struggles that they’re facing.”

I was also able to talk to artist Jenna Louise Rogan. She’s attended Pride for about 3 years, but this is her first time as a vendor selling her artwork. Jenna also echoed what Mark said, saying that Pride is a place of overwhelming acceptance. “As I’ve gotten more involved in the community, I’ve gotten more comfortable being myself than, say, 10 years ago.”

Pride has also provided Rogan with plenty of amazing feedback. “As an artist, you don’t want to admit that you need outside validation, but having that acceptance and love is something truly beautiful.”

With a message of acceptance and love, this year’s Pride festival and the rest of the Pride month to come show us to be unapologetically ourselves, no matter who tells us otherwise.

Happy Pride, everyone!


[email protected]