The PRIDE Issue | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The PRIDE Issue 

Be bold. Be brave. Be proud. Be you.

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MAGNUS HASTINGS
  • Magnus Hastings

The quote "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken," is often attributed to Oscar Wilde, though some could argue it was perhaps a marketing ploy by the brilliant minds at Hobby Lobby to sell more ready-made art.

Still, the queer playwright and poet's words carry with them a dose of self-acceptance heft. Despite many misconceptions, LGBTQ culture in Salt Lake City is thriving, and this week's Pride festivities are a testament to that—from the 8th annual Miss City Weekly on Thursday, to Sunday's parade, to a series of splinter festivities across town—SLC's rainbow colors run deep.

This issue is licensed as a celebration, not a condemnation. To wit, subjects highlighted in this extra-special edition range from locals celebrating breakthrough milestones, to festival mainstage headliner Big Freedia, to a group of golden gays living life to the fullest, plus a revealing conversation with covergirl Alaska Thunderfuck. In these pages, you'll also get chummy with some of the city's top bartenders, learn to embrace often-misunderstood bisexuality and look back at some of the past 365 days' landmark headlines.

This is for you: the different, the outsiders, the weirdos. Go ahead and relish in the oddities that shape your individuality and remember to be bold. Be brave. Be proud. Be you.

—Enrique Limón


The Year in Queer, from A-Z
By Enrique Limón

A is for allies. Be them from inside the LGBTQ community (lesbians played a huge role helping out their gay brothers during the height of the AIDS crisis), or outside, the queer movement owes a lot to those who've lent their voice when they didn't have to. Think the revolutionary flame has extinguished? Just last March, students at Mount Ogden Junior High School got approval from the Ogden Board of Education to start the district's first gay-straight alliance club.

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B is for bathrooms. In February, the current administration rescinded former President Obama's pledge that transgender students in public schools could use the bathroom that matched their gender. "This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school," Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said at the time. As recently as last week, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) once again implied that he'd press legislators to return for a special session on the matter.

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C is for Cox. Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. Though he shares a party affiliation with his Texas counterpart, their values could not be any more different. On June 15, in the wake of the savage Pulse shooting, Cox addressed a crowd of devastated locals outside the City and County Building, identifying himself as a straight, white, middle-aged, Republican "with all of the expectations and privileges that come with those labels." Six months after the watershed, headline-making speech, Cox told City Weekly he thought it was sad that "a no-name, nobody lieutenant governor from a small state in the middle of nowhere" would get so much attention just by preaching kindness, adding, "I think that's how far political discourse in our country has fallen, and people are just hungry for us to stop calling each other names, and to try to work together, and to be kind."

D is for dichotomy. Last October, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched Mormon and Gay. The move came almost a year to the day after the church declared that married same-sex couples should be considered apostates and that their children cannot be baptized until they turned 18 and were out of the household. Many, like Mormons Building Bridges' Kendall Wilcox were quick to point out the message was far from timely, though he did note the website represents "a huge step forward."

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E is for Ellen DeGeneres. It's hard to believe, but last April marked 20 years since the comedian came out publicly on the cover of TIME magazine. As witnessed by her perennially popular TV show and the $1.068 billion global box office Finding Dory garnered last year, the move clearly ruined her.

F is for film. A little more than a decade after Brokeback Mountain made a splash, Moonlight became the first LGBTQ movie to receive a Best Picture Oscar. Locally, the Damn These Heels festival, whose mission it is to provide a "safe, supportive environment that empowers historically marginalized LGBT voices and [to] facilitate discussions crucial to inspiring positive social change," has educated and entertained audiences for 14 years. Watch out for their latest iteration July 14-16.

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G is for Gilbert Baker, the man behind the rainbow pride flag. Prompted by Harvey Milk, Baker designed the iconic flag in 1978, with each colored stripe representing different qualities (red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art and indigo for harmony). Before passing away on March 31, Baker saw his creation become an emblem of the gay liberation movement, a crosswalk adornment—in streets from the Castro to Saskatchewan—a Facebook filter and an emoji. Following his death, California State Sen. Scott Weiner said Baker's work "helped define the modern LGBT movement."

H is for HIV. According to a City Weekly story published in February of this year, the Utah AIDS Foundation estimates that approximately 3,000 Utahns are living with HIV. Of those, between 200 and 400 could be carrying the virus and not know it. No longer synonymous with a death sentence, prevention, early detection and treatment continue to be paramount in preventing its spread. Unsure of your status? The foundation offers twice-weekly free STI screenings on a walk-in basis. Best part: It's conducted in a completely welcoming, sex-positive and nonjudgmental environment.

I is for Interfaith service. Contrary to popular belief, we're not all boozehound deviants (at least not since that damn .05 DUI bill passed). Designed to "celebrate the sacred in all of us," this year's Pride-sponsored worship service takes place Thursday evening at First United Methodist Church. So get off the apps and nurture your spiritual side before the party kicks into high gear. What's that? Jesus is less than 25 feet away?

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J is for J. Stuart Adams. Call him a man of contrasts. Sure, the Layton Republican vocally opposed April's decision by a federal judge in Chicago to expand the definition of workplace sex discrimination to include LGBTQ individuals. Yet, at the same time, he led a cross-country tour promoting a "Fairness for All" ideal. The concept, Adams says, is an extension of the basic "Love thy neighbor" principal. "Now I'm living my religion," he told The Christian Science Monitor. "I'm being more compassionate and tolerant, and I'm getting respect back from the other side."

K is for Kids. The Bad ones. Founded in June 2012 as a response strict gender norms and even stricter nightlife regulations, the Bad Kids Collective continues to be a shining beacon for any and all that march to the beat of their own drum. Follow them on Facebook, and if you see they're throwing a party, go. Your vision of SLC's nightlife will never be the same.

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L is for Luxemburg. The small, landlocked European nation seldom makes headlines, so people paid attention when it started trending on social media last week. The reason? In a picture depicting NATO WAGS, the White House failed to acknowledge first husband Gauthier Destenay's existence. "Is there a reason the @WhiteHouse didn't include the First Gentleman of Luxembourg in this photo caption?" Weekend editor for The Daily Beast, Scott Bixby, tweeted. "Like, a non-homophobic one?" The gaffe was corrected 9 hours later.

M is for Misty K. Snow, the self-defined "true Progressive" who last year became the first openly transgender candidate to win a major party's U.S. Senate primary. Snow lost to Republican incumbent Mike Lee in November, but don't count her out yet. On April 13, the Salt Lake City native announced she plans to run against incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart for Utah's 2nd Congressional District seat in 2018.

N is for "No promo homo." While this year's legislative session included few surprises, the Republican-controlled assembly approved Senate Bill 196, sponsored by Mr. J himself—Sen. J. Stuart Adams—with inordinate bipartisan support. Squashing the state's dated "promotion of homosexuality" stature, the bill passed both houses and was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert. "Today is a historic day for Utah's LGBTQ youth," Troy Williams, Equality Utah's executive director, said in a statement. The measure goes into effect July 1, 2017.

O is for Orlando. Salt Lake City and the world shared the gut-wrenching pain on June 12, 2016, when an armed gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub leaving, 50 dead. We honor your legacy. We will forever remember your light.

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P is, for the second year in a row, for Pre-exposure prophylaxis. Taken once daily, PrEP has proven to be more than 90 perfect effective in preventing HIV exposure. Get the facts, and if it's right for you, get on it.

Q is for Queer Prom. Being gay is hard enough, but being gay and young—and living in Utah for that matter—is quite the trifecta. Luckily, Pride's Youth Activity Center circled the wagons and staged the 12th annual event last April. With a carnival-theme, Queer Prom represented a safe-space for youth ages 14-20 to experience the right of passage with their chosen attire and dates without fear of ridicule.

R is for resistance. As a nation, we collectively saw the worst and the best of people in the aftermath of last year's presidential election. One positive side effect was that a sleeping giant was awakened. A new slew of queer activists was born, lending their energy to a variety of topics, LGBTQ-related or not. In January, for example, Ella Mendoza passionately addressed the crowd gathered at Salt Lake City International Airport protesting the current administration's travel ban against visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. "I want you to know that when they come for us, you need to be there," Mendoza, a defender of gender-nonconforming, PoC and Latinx voices, said over a megaphone. "The time is now!"

S is for sodomy. Fourteen states, including ours, still have obsolete anti-sodomy laws on their books despite a 2003 Supreme Court ruling nullifying them.

T is for Trump. At a rally in Colorado last October, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump held up a rainbow flag emblazoned with "LGBT's for Trump." A spokesperson later said Trump was "proud to carry the 'L.G.B.T. for Trump' rainbow flag on stage," being his aim was to be "president for all Americans." Insert collective sigh here.

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U is for uterus. Aka a place where no crusty, white, male politician has a say. On the campaign trail, Trump said he intended to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade. Since then, people like Karrie Galloway, president/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Utah, have been working tirelessly to keep providing health services—including cancer screenings and birth control—for free or at a reduced cost. "Women need a safe and confidential place to get their reproductive health care," Galloway told City Weekly in January. "We can't let them down."

V is for visibility. On March 31, the Utah Pride Center joined others across the world to commemorate Transgender Day of Visibility. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2016 was a record-breaking year for violence against transgender individuals in the U.S., registering 22 deaths. This year, violence has already claimed 11 trans* lives.

W is for wedding registry. Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court on Dec. 20, 2013. After a series of legal maneuvers, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Utah's appeal on Oct. 6, 2014. And guess what? The world hasn't ended.

X is for X Factor. Sophia Hawes-Tingley has it, and she's hoping it'll take her all the way to the Midvale Mayor's office. If she wins, she'll be the first transgender mayor of a Utah city. Read more on her here.

Y is for youth suicide rates. They're the principal cause of death for people under 24 in the state, and while no official statistic exists pairing them with conservatism and the mainstream religion, the dots aren't hard to connect. "Please make a space for your gay members," Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn said in an emotional Facebook Live video in July 2016. "Please tell them they are OK and they're made in the image of God and they're not flawed. Please stop telling them that they are abnormal. Please, please, please, how many more? How many more?"

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Z is for President Obama's Zero-Fucks-Given wrap-up tour, which on June 24, 2016, included a National Monument designation for the Stonewall Inn. Learn your history, kids, and bow down to those who opened the watershed. Had it not been for those brave pioneers your school probably didn't teach you about, there would be no Pride.


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About The Authors

Enrique Limón

Enrique Limón

Bio:
Editor at Salt Lake City Weekly. Lover of sour candies.

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