This past Sunday, Aug. 16, I had the pleasure of attending Q Salt Lake’s Gay Lagoon Day event. I will admit that I was somewhat concerned beforehand, being skeptical of the Utah public’s response to a gathering of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in a “family” environment such as Lagoon.
Throughout the day, we walked through the park, enjoying the atmosphere, the games, the rides, and all of the fun normally associated with Lagoon. We walked behind large groups of people from the LGBT community, mostly wearing red to affiliate themselves, trying to observe the reactions of people in the park to their presence.
My hat goes off to Utah. Not once did we hear any negative or derogatory comments toward gays in the park. No sideways glances, offhand gestures or anything in any way inappropriate or demeaning. At one point, as the entire crowd had gathered near the park entrance for a group photo, one passer-by raised both hands in a victory gesture and shouted his support.
The question this begs, though, is why are Utah’s elected leaders so far behind the will of the people? It was obvious from my observations and from several comments overhead by others and reported to me that the masses of Utah do not hold the level of animosity for the LGBT community that is evidenced by the repeated comments and actions of our elected bigots. Granted, this was not anything resembling a scientific poll, but based upon my observations, it was a pretty decent sampling of Utah’s population roaming Lagoon.
Ironically enough, the “Gay” pavilion was located in a somewhat secluded area, relative to the other pavilions, but was connected by a small shared courtyard to one other pavilion. On Sunday, that other pavilion was occupied by the Trinity Lutheran Church group. One could almost expect that such groups would mix about as well as oil and water, but again, there was not a hint of a problem from any part of the general crowd. Would this have been the case 10 years ago, or even five?
We have differences in our society, differences of race, religion, belief systems, ethics, gender, gender identity and preference, culture, creed and all sorts of other things. There is absolutely no reason that society cannot embrace these differences and be the better for it. While there is still much work to be done to help bring Utah’s laws in line with the finest traditions of liberty and equality for all, if the acceptance and even support that I witnessed on Sunday is any indication, that day is coming. If only our leaders were as in touch with the masses as they are with the fundamentalists at the Eagle Forum and Sutherland Institute.