Utah Pride Festival creates a safe space for the LGBTQ community, kicks off Pride month

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The Utah Pride Festival brought together thousands of people who gathered at Washington Square in Salt Lake City, to celebrate and kick off Pride month.

The festival was hosted by the Utah Pride Center, an organization which “unites, empowers and celebrates Utah’s diverse LGBTQ community.”

“We really had to pull out all the stops this year for the event,” Kevin Randall said.

Randall, the public relations manager for the Utah Pride Center, also said they were expecting between 60,000 and 75,000 people at the festival.

He also explained the goal was to create a fun and safe space for the LGBTQ community.

“It’s hard to tell how many allies we might have in this community,” he said. “But when you come here, when you go to the parade, when you come to the festival, you see it and you’re in it.”

The festival is a fundraiser with the purpose of providing mental health and wellness services to the LGBTQ community in Utah. The event featured food vendors, artists and live music.

“I love these kind of events because it’s like the confidence and love here are just incredible,” said Dalan Nelson, a gay BYU student celebrating Pride this month.

Nelson said there is a strong LGBTQ community in Provo, and he has found friends by being authentic.  

“I try to just be myself, and people tend to recognize that I’m different,” he said. “And then the people who are LGBTQ tend to kind of gravitate toward me and open up.”

Even with supportive friends, Nelson said it’s not easy to be an LGBTQ student at BYU. 

“There are also a lot of people who are not even opposed to it, just like really uncomfortable,” he said. “It’s hard to be yourself around people who are uncomfortable with that.”

Nearly a thousand volunteers helped to run the festival and the parade over the weekend. Randall said at the end of the day, the time and effort which go into the festival are well worth it. 

“It just feels good to have it finally be happening. It’s a relief,” he said. “There’s still some work to do. We still have a day and a half left, but this is what we live for and it’s fun. We love it.”

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