Second annual Provo Pride Festival sees greater support

Festival participants browse the food stands at the Provo Pride Festival. Booth count rose to 61 from last year’s 27. (Jackson Hadley)

The LGBT community in Provo held its second annual Provo Pride Festival last week at Memorial Park.

The gay pride celebration drew people of all ages and orientations to the park with family-friendly activities, live music, food trucks and information booths.

“There’s a need here in Utah County to have a pride event,” said Provo Pride Council President Tosh Metzger. “We like to call this event ‘the pride for the rest of us.’ At other (pride events) there’s a lot of drinking and alcohol, and a lot of us don’t do that; we’re from Provo. … This is a nice, small-town (event), and it’s open to everybody. It shows that we’re normal people like everyone else.”

Metzger also mentioned the increased attendance at the festival, with 61 booths compared to last year’s 27, and approximately 6,000 participants — up from 4,500.

Several organizations had booths offering resources to people raised in Utah Valley and struggling to fit in. Many are trying to resolve the conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation. One such organization, Affirmation, supports LGBT members of the LDS Church.

“Affirmation encourages spirituality and empowers LGBT Mormons to make valuable contributions within and outside of the (LDS) Church,” said Affirmation team member Trevor Cook. “It’s very hard to have parts of your identity that are so strong and so conflicting. From the outside people may say, ‘If you’re not happy with the Church, then quit it,’ but it’s not that simple. (LGBT members) grew up with the same background and desires, the same hopes and dreams. Sorting through that can be a long, painful process.”

Live music in Memorial Park for Provo Pride Festival. (Jackson Hadley)

Event organizers and community representatives said they wanted Provo Pride to be a celebration where everyone could feel welcome.

“It’s a chance for the community to get together in their own backyard with their friends and neighbors in an open and fun atmosphere,” said Preston Hilburn, field organizer for LGBT rights organization Equality Utah. The message to the LGBT people of Provo is, “You’re not alone,” Hilburn said. “There are more supporters around than I think anyone can imagine.”


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