QSaltLake Asks: What are You Doing for the Festival?

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Each year during the Utah Pride Festival, dozens of local and statewide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-friendly businesses, social groups, service and political organizations come together to educate, inform and help make Utah’s queer community safer, healthier and better. Here is a list of what just a handful of these groups have planned for June 5 – 7.

Community Inroads Alliance is group dedicated to supporting gay and transgender-friendly businesses and raising awareness of issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Utahns. The fledgling organization is proud to participate in this year’s parade, said founder Rhonda Martinez.

“We have just gotten the great news that we have a spot in the parade (thanks to The Utah Pride Center’s Scholarship Program),” she said. “I have never walked in a Pride Parade before and we are so excited to be apart of it all, this year it is going to be huge.”

Statewide gay and transgender rights group Equality Utah will kick off its Campaign for Common Ground during the Utah Pride Festival. The organization’s booth will have information on Equality Utah’s future town hall meetings in key legislative districts, as well as lawn signs, t-shirts, postcards and information sheets on the Common Ground Initiative for gay and transgender Utahns to give to family, friends and neighbors.

Located on the campus of Westminster College, The Inclusion Center is an organization dedicated to fighting all forms of discrimination, privilege and exclusion, including racism, sexism and homophobia. “The Inclusion Center is ecstatic to show our continued love and support for the LGBTQ community by participating in The Utah Pride Center’s annual Pride Parade,” said Nicholina Womack, the center’s Community Affairs Coordinator. “We will spotlight our upcoming Drive Out Racism Golf Tournament on September 24. Our float theme will demonstrate what a drag discrimination can be and how we can still be en vogue while putt-putting for equality and inclusion.”

The University of Utah’s LGBT Resource Center and its Queer Student Union will march in Sunday’s parade and staff a booth on the festival grounds with information about the center’s activities. Resource Center director Cathy Martinez said that the students are also putting together a float. “Last year our float took second place in the parade … hurray!” said Martinez. “This year we are planning on taking first place.” 

The People With AIDS Coalition of Utah offers several services for people living with HIV and AIDS, including various wellness programs and seminars. Cody Hendricks, a volunteer with the organization, said that PWACU will have two booths at this year’s Utah Pride Festival: an information table and a prize wheel, which can be spun for $1 per turn. Prizes include PWACU pins and magnets as well as $15 gift certificates to Our Store: Your Thrift Alternative, the shop owned and operated by PWACU.

The Pride Community Softball League will march in Sunday’s parade with the Salt Lake City Gay Athletic Association — an umbrella organization overseeing the Mountain West Flag Football League, Volleyball League and Basketball League.

“Watch for our banners!” said Jarrod, the softball league’s chairman. “The parade spectators cheering the loudest will receive a special gift from one of our friendly players.”

On Saturday and after the parade, the league will staff a booth on the festival grounds where festival-goers can pick up league merchandise and sign up to play softball. The league, Jarrod noted, accepts players of all skill levels.

The Rape Recovery Center provides education about sexual violence and crisis intervention counseling services to survivors of sexual assault, their families, partners and friends regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also advocates for comprehensive medical treatment and respectful legal representation for survivors and their loved ones. The center will have a booth on the festival grounds and invites those seeking information about preventing and recovering sexual violence to visit, as well as those who wish to become volunteers for the center.

The Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps of Salt Lake City, Utah’s award-winning, gay-friendly color guard, will perform during Sunday’s parade, as well as during Friday’s Grand Marshal Reception and during the festival’s opening ceremonies on June 6 at 4:00 p.m.

“Also, ROTC-SLC is going to have a booth at Pride to raise money so we can participate in the San Francisco Pride Parade [on] June 27, 2010,” said Logan Brueck, ROTC-SLC’s director. “We are having a booth with a carnival game [called] ‘Ring the Ding-a-Ling.”  It’s a ring toss (hula hoop) around an inflatable six foot penis. For every dollar you donate to ROTC-SLC you get a toss to ‘Ring the Ding-a-Ling.’ Each Ringing gets you a chance to win $100!”

Tongue-in-cheek gossip blog Slcdirt.com will host “Shit-Wrecked,” its first-ever Pride Kick-off Party on June 4 at the Mercury Lounge, 155 W 200 S above The Hotel nightclub, beginning at 10:00 p.m.. Although this is a private party, everyone is welcome to attend. To avoid a cover charge, RSVP at slcdirt.com.

South Valley Sanctuary, a domestic violence shelter open to men, women and children of all races, ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientations, will distribute its brochure on domestic violence in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Its booth will also give out information on domestic violence and community services open to victims of such violence. The group will also distribute a flyer advertising the domestic violence support group it will hold at the Utah Pride Center in coming months.

South Valley Sanctuary will be distributing our brochure on domestic violence in the GLBT community–the only brochure of its kind in Utah. We will also give out information on domestic violence, supportive community services and safe shelter information. We will be starting a domestic violence support group at the Pride Center in the near future and will also have flyers to announce this.

Lesbian social and civic group sWerve will gather in the Northwest Corner of City Creek Park at 2:30 p.m. on June 6 to walk in the festival’s annual Dyke March. On both days of the festival, members will serve drinks in the festival grounds’ VIP area. sWerve is looking for volunteers to staff three hour shifts on both Saturday and Sunday. All volunteers will receive a free Festival pass. To volunteer contact Donna Cooper at (801) 809-0832.

Temple Squares, a gay and transgender-friendly square dancing group, will offer festival goers a chance to dance every time eight people show up at their booth on the festival grounds on Saturday and Sunday. The group calls this impromptu instruction “Give It a Whirl.”

This Pride Festival will be the first in which TransAction will participate. Sponsored by Utah Pride Center, TransAction is a youth-lead advocacy group for transgender, genderqueer, transsexual Utahns and their allies.

“For  their debut Utah Pride Parade the TransAction Queerleaders will be hailing the streets of SLC with trans-positive cheers and jeers,” said Bonnie Owens, Youth Program Coordiantor at the Center. “Look for pom pom-wielding, chant-yelling gender-transgressors behind the Utah Pride Center banner.  Afterwards in the Gender Playground we’ll have makeovers, face and body painting, and not to mention tons of transgender resources available. Get your picture taken in a variety of genders.” The group’s Gender Playground, she added, will also have gender-themed coloring books and vegan-friendly gender cookies, as well as “Ask a Transgender Person,” in which festival-goers can ask “those burning questions” they have about transgender people or gender identity “without fear or hesitation.” The group will also display the Transgender Community Quilt, a community art project featuring panels by transgender Utahns.
The Utah AIDS Foundation provides a number of programs and services (including a food bank) to people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as several HIV prevention programs. During the Utah Pride Festival, the foundation will offer $15 painless, oral swab HIV tests at its booth, said Carlos Navales, HIV prevention specialist and coordinator of The Village, UAF’s program for gay and bisexual men. He also encouraged festival-goers to visit the booth for the Village and Hermanos de Luna y Sol, the foundation’s outreach program to gay and bisexual Hispanic men, as well as the foundation’s “sex shop booth” where they can get their photos taken with a large condom.

This year’s festival will begin a year-long campaign by gay-friendly GOP group Utah Log Cabin Republicans to recruit county and state delegates to attend next year’s conventions.

“It is at these conventions that the Republican candidate is chosen that will actually be running against the other candidates from the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party, Green Party, etc,” said Melvin Nimer, president of Utah LCR. He noted that participation by gay, transgender and allied Republicans is key at these conventions, because it can keep anti-gay politicians, such as Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, from being elected.

“At last year’s Salt Lake County convention, Senator Chris Buttars got elected to be the Republican nominee from his district by only two delegate votes. We can change that for every person running for office this next year – from Governor, to US Senator, to one-third of the Utah House and Senate,” said Nimer. “This is the time – and the way – for our community to come together and make a real difference in how our state is governed.”

Potential delegates, as well as individuals interested in running for precinct chairs, may sign up at LCR’s booth on the festival grounds.

The Utah Pride Interfaith Service will begin at 2:00 p.m. on June 6 at the First Methodist Church, 200 East, 200 South. The theme of the service, which is held yearly during the festival, is Faith. Voice. Action.

“Speakers and performers will be from many diverse faith traditions including Scottish Bag Pipers, Christian Faith groups, Buddhists, and many more,” said Russ Baker-Gorringe, Utah Pride Interfaith Coalition Chairperson.

Maureen Duffy-Boose, also of the coalition, explained the need for the service:  “It is tragically believed by some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people that on the event of their coming out, they lose all rights to consider themselves people of faith, spiritual and capable of holiness. As an InterFaith community we come together from many diverse faiths and cultures, to proclaim loudly and proudly that such is not the case! Each of us is a being of love, created as we are.”

On Sunday, June 7, during the Pride Parade, the Interfaith Coalition will also join together to carry the large rainbow flag seen each year in the parade.

Utahns for Marriage Equality, a coalition of gay, transgender and allied Utahns in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, will be march in Sunday’s Pride Parade. Their number will include a few members clad in tuxedos and wedding gowns

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