Provo Pride Festival offers a safe place for LGBTQ students and community members

USGA Vice President Caroline Gassert talks with Provo Pride Festival attendees about her organization. (Lisi Merkley)

People from all over Utah gathered in front of the historic Provo Courthouse to celebrate the LGBTQ community at the Provo Pride Festival on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The Provo Pride Festival offered a space for Utah Valley residents to connect with other members of the community, enjoy local entertainment and find LGBTQ centric resources.

While most pride festivals are held at the beginning of summer, the festival’s organizers recognized that a large chunk of their potential attendees would not be in attendance in June or July. 

“The reason we do it in September is because Provo is such a student-based city,” Catherine Draper, a Provo Pride board member, said. “Once the students come back into town, they know where resources and safe places are.”

Families and friends wandered through pop-up tent booths advertising different groups and organizations in Utah that cater to LGBTQ issues.

These organizations offer a space for people to come and feel accepted outside of events like the Provo Pride Festival.

Understanding Sexuality, Gender and Allyship, the non-BYU affiliated organization for LGBTQ BYU students, sold pins and gave out pamphlets to interested attendees.

“There’s so much shame involved with these kinds of labels,” USGA vice president Carolyn Gassert said. “We need safe places to exist, be ourselves and be affirmed of our sexuality, because it’s very difficult.”

The festival was open to the entire community, including allies, or people who support the LGBTQ community while identifying as straight.

“I think it’s important for people who aren’t in the LGBT community to come and support,” said Elizabeth Oldroyd, a Timpview High student attending the festival with her friends. “We just need to be supportive of everyone and make sure that they can be who they want to be.”

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