All year ‘round, Salt Lake proudly owns its designation as one of Advocate magazine’s Ten Queerest Cities in America, but in June, well, something extra special happens. Rainbow flags appear in windows, in yards, on porches, and on restaurant patios. The city block around Library Square bustles with activity as festival tents and audio systems are set up. Restaurants and bars stock up for a wave of revelers. And everyone in town — whatever their orientation — gets ready for a rainbow-infused real-good time. It’s Pride Week.
Back in the seventies, Pride celebrations began as a humble annual gathering in the park among Salt Lake citizens determined to build a community with more tolerance and inclusivity. Since then, things have escalated … well … just a bit. Today, a multi-day Pride extravaganza attracts tens of thousands of revelers every year, with one of the best-attended Pride parades in the country.
In a state usually known for its conservatism and a city increasingly known for its liberalism, the Pride festivities are a wonderful coming-together of all sides and beliefs, uniting everyone who can agree that love is simply love. Grassroots groups like Mormons Building Bridges come together with their LGBTQ friends and family in interfaith services and rallies. It’s a beautiful— and colorful—sight to behold.
The Pride Spectacular
Pride week’s formal (but unfussy) kickoff gala is so well loved that every year it needs to find a bigger venue to accommodate the sellout crowds! The event raises life-saving funds for the Utah Pride Center while honoring recipients of the Kristen Ries Community Service Award and The Utah Pride Lifetime Achievement Award. There are raffles, prizes, food, drink, and a guaranteed amazing time gathering together for a fantastic cause.
Youth Pride Dance
Held on Washington Square grounds (the site of the larger Pride Festival), this dance is an incredible and affirming time for teens aged 14-20. It’s a setting where any teen, however they identify, can have a blast dancing and hanging out in a fully accepting and safe environment. The dance takes place on Friday night of the Pride Festival.
The Pride Festival
This is perhaps the biggest headliner event of the entire week — a two-day extravaganza that takes over Washington Square downtown and turns every inch of the place into a dedicated space for celebration. You’ll find something for everyone — dance, music performances, karaoke, food trucks, drinks, and even a Queer Poets Slam. Spend the day Saturday and Sunday wandering, eating, drinking, laughing, and commiserating with like minded folks who believe everyone should be celebrated.
OUTdoors and Proud 5k
Brush off your running shoes! The Pride 5k includes a fun race at Jordan Park along with yoga, volleyball, and fitness challenges. Promoting health for all, this event is family-friendly and noncompetitive. In fact, the only required preparation is that you’re ready for a good time.
Pride March and Rally
On Saturday afternoon of Pride Week, you can march in solidarity from the Utah State Capitol building all the way to the Pride Festival grounds at Washington Square. It’s a perfect way to express your belief in building an ever-more equal and accepting state of Utah. The mood is lighthearted but the purpose is powerful, and marchers of all ages, ethnicities, orientations, backgrounds, and credos come together for it.
Pride Speakers and Films
On both Saturday and Sunday afternoons of the Pride Festival, speakers and films will be featured in the Salt Lake Public Library auditorium (which is located adjacent to the festival grounds at Washington Square). You can hear about a wider range of topics, and it’s a great way to get more informed about issues at the heart of LGBTQ matters.
The Pride Parade
Every year on the Sunday of Pride Week at ten in the morning, downtown Salt Lake turns into one big rainbow-hued party. The parade stretches for several city blocks through the heart of the city. This family-friendly gathering attracts thousands every year and is a surefire feel-good way to spend a sunny Sunday morning.