Darlings, I have been experiencing a profound inner conflict that has been eating me alive for weeks. The Alternative Gardening Club of which I am a proud, but horticulturally inept member, is taking a field trip next week to the Gardens at Thanksgiving Point for their annual Tulip Festival, and therein lies my cognitive dissonance problem.
The green thumby, gardening geek, fan of all things botanical and seasonal part of me really wants to go. But my conscience and the self-respecting gay part of me just can’t get past the fact that Alan and Karen Ashton who fund Thanksgiving Point, pour millions of dollars into anti-gay political campaigns. For far less reasons I boycotted Carl’s Junior for years, and now I refuse to eat at a Chick-Fill-A because of their hateful campaigns against gays and lesbians, and don’t even get me started about Target and their anti-gay donations (which I totally don’t understand considering most of the designers making collections for Target are super gay!) These organizations however, never put the massive amounts of money into discriminatory political campaigns that the Ashtons have ($1,000,000 to pass Prop 8 in California, $100,000+ to pass Amendment 3 in Utah, and God knows how many anonymous and undeclared donations to marriage related front groups.)
As someone who has visited botanical gardens and arboretums all over the planet, I would love to enjoy Thanksgiving Point and its mass plantings of tulips, but I will never get over that insidious nagging feeling that part of my admission price will inevitably be used to hurt me, and fund political campaigns to eradicate gay relationships and discriminate against gay families.
That’s the reason I haven’t been to Thanksgiving Point since it opened in 1997. Don’t get me wrong kittens, it’s not like I have never ever wanted to visit the place, because I have. Over the years I have wanted to go see several concerts at their Waterfall Amphitheater (I hear it’s gorgeous) or go to the Concours D’ Elegance vintage car show (until it moved to Thanksgiving Point, I loved it and looked forward to it every year since I was at the University of Utah.) But the unwelcoming negative vibe coming off of Thanksgiving Point that screams, “You and you’re kind are not welcome here” is far bigger and more memorable than their water tower. You just instinctively know at the cellular level, that you, as a gay person, are not supposed to be at Thanksgiving Point.
Even for judgmental and conservative Utah County, Thanksgiving Point’s holier than thou shtick is off the scale. Their website and mission is overflowing with dog-whistle references to family; and values; and heritage; and blessings; and family; and more family; and every other co-opted weaponized code word that enables Utah County Mormons to self-righteously sneer down their noses at the rest of us.
Yes Alan, I get it. You’re a direct descendant of David O. McKay and you have made a boatload of money, and with your political influence you can do any damn thing you want. So go ahead, plant a few hundred thousand tulips and make a colorful spectacle for “your” chosen people. Perhaps planted en masse with enough pretty blooms it will hide the real dirt underneath. Yikes, that sounded a little more snarky and bitter than I originally intended, but oh well.
I’ll probably end up going to visit the gardens, but I know my conscience is absolutely going to give me hell about selling out. Especially when I have to buy the Jimmer T-shirt and the “not-so-concealed” gun holster that I need to blend in, in Utah County. Oh that reminds me, I better leave the pink Prius with the “BIGPHAG” license plates at home. No point tempting fate. Ciao, babies!
You can see Ruby Ridge and the Matrons of Mayhem in all of their polyester glory at Third Friday Bingo every third Friday of the month at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church at 777 S. 1300 East.