Introduction to Utah Pride

Utah Pride is a dynamic and inclusive annual event organized by the Utah Pride Center. Established in 1977, Utah Pride aims to unite, empower, and celebrate the diverse LGBTQ+ community of Utah. With a focus on promoting diversity, equality, and love, Utah Pride has grown to become the largest LGBTQ+ celebration in the state. The Utah Pride Parade, launched in 1990, now attracts around 150,000 participants and spectators each year.

Roots of Utah Pride: The Human Rights Convention

The origins of Utah Pride trace back to the Salt Lake Coalition of Human Rights' convention in June 1977. This pivotal event, held in Salt Lake City, saw the formation of Gay Mormons United (now Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families, & Friends) by Stephan Zakharias (Matthew Price) and nine others. The 1978 convention featured notable keynote speakers such as David Kopay, the first NFL player to come out, and U.S. Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, an ex-Mormon and the first openly gay person on Time magazine's cover.

Early LGBTQ+ Advocacy in Utah

While private and unofficial LGBTQ+ groups existed in Utah during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the 1977 Human Rights Convention is considered the beginning of Utah Pride. A significant early event was the Beer Bust Kegger Party in 1974 along the Great Salt Lake, which drew over 200 attendees. In 1975, the Gay Community Service Center was established and sponsored the first Gay Freedom Day on June 1 in City Creek Canyon.

Evolution of Pride Celebrations

The 1980s saw Pride celebrations, then called Gay Pride Day, take place in various parks, including Fairmont Park, Pioneer Park, and Sunnyside Park. The first Pride march occurred on June 27, 1990, with 270 participants marching from the State Capitol to South Temple and West Temple. That year's festival was held at the Northwest Community Center.

Growth and Expansion

When the Utah Stonewall Center began organizing Utah Pride Inc, festivities moved to the Salt Lake County Fairgrounds in Murray, doubling attendance. New events such as the Pride Day Art Expo and Competition, the Lesbian and Gay Pride Art Award, and the Mapplethorpe Award were introduced to spotlight local queer artists.

The Iconic Giant Pride Flag

In 1997, the famous giant pride flag made its debut at the parade, becoming an instant symbol of unity and pride. The flag was carried from the Utah State Capitol to the City and County Building along State Street. A new flag was purchased in 2012 and is still in use today.

A Triumphant Return Post-Pandemic

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Utah Pride made a triumphant return in 2022. The celebration featured the longest-ever Pride Parade, a Festival at Washington Square, a Glow March, a 5K run, and numerous events hosted by various venues throughout the month.

Utah Pride continues to be a beacon of inclusivity and celebration, honoring the rich history and vibrant future of the LGBTQ+ community in Utah.

Juana Dantiacq Ricci