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.
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