Homos, Mormons, lesbians, supporters, straight couples, gay couples, kids, teenagers and everything else in-between! Gay Pride in Salt Lake City was an event not to be missed. First of all, I couldn’t think of a less likely destination for me to end up in for a gay pride celebration than SLC. As I’m sure everyone knows, it’s the headquarters for the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or LDS for short, The city is just a little bit less than 50% Mormon, who are not big fans of boys and girls of the gay persuasion.
My friend Ron met me in Las Vegas, figured we’d do sin city before heading to you better repent if you’ve sinned city. We were pretty excited to see SLC and we weren’t disappointed. My credo for this trip from the very beginning has been “no judgements” when I come across hard core religion though that really tests me, being a devout atheist myself.
We did a tour of Temple Square, chatted with lots of Mormons who were very nice polite people. Of course Ron and I were still practicing the antiquated policy of ” Don’t ask, don’t tell”
There was something special about this pride celebration. In NYC and LA it’s not a big deal to see same-sex couples holding hands, sharing a kiss and being open about who they are, in SLC it’s just not that easy. Before arriving I had visions of violent clashes and signs saying “God hates fags” next to gay boys holding signs that say ” If god hates fags how come we’re all so cute” , but much to my surprise there was absolutely none of that.
It was a pretty emotional experience being here and the support that was shown for SLC’s gay community was awesome! I guess the thing that sturck me is how diverse the crowd was, lots of straight people, lots of gay people, teenagers, parents with kids and everyone was having a good time and celebrating. It was very clear however that the fight for the right to be who you are is far from over in this corner of the world.
The most amazing thing is that there was a group of Mormon supporters and if I have my information correct, this is only the second year that group has participated in the parade. It seems 80 or so Mormon supporters were expected and 300 showed up. When you think about the fact that globally the Mormon church has 14 million members ( almost half of them are in the U.S.) 300 is a tiny number, but every movement starts with one person saying something is not OK and it seems that things are moving in the right direction here. As I sat watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir before going to the parade I got a little teary, (OK they got to me a little bit with the images of chirping birds and babbling brooks) but what really did it is I thought, I can be happy for you because what you believe in and they way you live your life makes you happy, I don’t believe in your way of life but it’s your choice–why can’t you practice they same tolerance and attitude for the gay community?
We had a fantastic time and I believe we experienced both cultures while here in Salt Lake City. OK, there are A LOT of photos! I tried to edit the best I could, but there were so many beautiful faces everywhere I looked it was really hard, so indulge me a bit and take a look at who came out to celebrate this weekend.
Participant #1, me
Participant #2, Mr. Ron Burton
On our way to Salt Lake City we stopped in Provo for a little wander around the BYU campus
After wandering around for a few hours and thinking SLC was going to be really lame, we found the slammin night club!
The Lady Gaga impersonator worked the crowd, she was amazing!
A freakish shot of Ron caught in the laser lights-love it!
Gaga ooh la la
The next morning it was time to tour Temple Square
A gaggle of Mormon girls
A slightly disturbing life-like figure of Brigham Young
We were told not to miss the giant Jesus statue, so Ron and I were wandering around looking for it. He was in the other room and I went in and said” Please let me enjoy this line because I’ll never say it again–“I found Jesus”
Not a combination of things you’ll likely see again any time soon
After all of that religousness it was time for the Pride festivities, so why not kick it off with an attractive, scantily clad gay boy
Gettin his Pride on
Now you may not have noticed but poor Ron had some wrist trauma and had a cast on when he arrived. Not wanting to miss an opportunity we turned “it” into a “her”. One of our friends commented his cast looked like Shari Lewis’ puppet Lambchop, so we created the very lovely, the very talented drag puppet She’lleta Lambchop
Me, Ron, new friends and She’lleata
A beautiful couple!
How do you not like someone who’s cracking them self up because they’re having so much fun wearing a penis balloon hat?
They remind me a little bit of Thing 1 and Thing 2 of Dr. Seuss fame
Awesome teenagers celebrating in style
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Dustin Lance Black who won an Oscar for his screenplay of Milk gave a touching and heartfelt speech that didn’t leave a dry eye in the crowd, it was one of the best moments of the weekend
“Sisters are doin it for themselves”
One of my favorite photos, this beautiful English girl was having a wonderful time at the celebration
Ron got a great shot of these kids, just having fun.
Straight people, gay people, everyone was having fun and celebrating our right to be who we are
Frenchie Davis, a finalist on “The Voice” and an American Idol contestant rocked the event with an incredible performance
The next morning’s performance was a little more serious, but how can you come to Salt Lake City and not see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform. Their reputation is well deserved they were absolutely magnificent
A closer look
The choir’s performance is part of a weekly broadcast entitled Music & The Spoken Word. I was a little horrified at myself by how emotional I got during the “sermon” and the images of little chirping birds and babbling brooks, what can I say–propaganda is effective!
I don’t remember his name but he was a very effective speaker
This was probably the most moving part of the weekend. The group of 300 Mormon’s who refused to choose between their religious beliefs and the people they love (or are). They were welcomed with thunderous applause, as they should be!
Really touching and how proud she must have made her son that day!
Give it up for the old lesbians!
Me and Ron celebrating the day
Really who has a stomach like that? Given the fact that he’s obviously never eaten a cookie in his entire life, and since he’s worked so hard on creating that perfect stomach, I think he deserves a photograph, don’t you? 🙂
Her generation is going to look back on all of this in the same way my generation looks back on the civil rights movement and think, “It was so obvious, what was all the fuss about” not to mention could she be any more adorable?
I like her outlook
As the saying goes “From the mouth’s of babes”
How different it is for him now than when he was a teenager
The beautiful, accepting faces of tomorrow
Does anything increase the value of your face like an uninhibited smile?
One of the dozens of amazing performers who helped make this weekend a huge success
Ron and Wonder Woman?
The next generation, somehow I think they’ll do a lot better in this area that we did
Shake it girls!
Ron captured this lovely image of me back at the room looking a little exhausted after 3 days of Pride Celebrations. I was exhausted, but so happy to have been part of this wonderful experience. I was also ready for a very long sleep–goodnight.
Special thanks to Ron Burton for being awesome company during the celebration and for taking a lot of the photos you see in this post