Utah’s queer community is about to get more peppy and cheerful. A veteran of the San Francisco branch of the Pride Cheerleading Association is bringing the cheers, pep and fundraising experience to Salt Lake with its own branch.
Valina Eckley had always wanted to be a cheerleader, but was nervous to get involved.
“I was a young queer woman growing up in Wyoming,” Eckley said. “I didn’t ever have the chance until I heard about the PCA and fell in love.”
Eckley is starting the branch in Salt Lake and hopes to join the ranks of the other branches of San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and others in bringing pride to the community and raising funds for people with AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.
Meetings are scheduled to begin in the near future and people of all ages, fitness abilities and experience are invited. The team will also need managers and marketing representatives to help with performances and other events. The events will be posted on cheersaltlake.org and on their Facebook page as more information becomes available.
“We want everyone to come and check us out. We’ll need performers, managers and fans,” Eckley said. “Oh and let’s not forget allies. Everyone is welcome.”
The San Francisco branch performs regularly in the pride parade and was even featured on the NBC TV series America’s Got Talent. The group, along with the New York branch, recently raised more than $16,000 at an event in Germany, Eckley said.
“I definitely think it’s something that’s needed here more than anywhere. And if a PCA can thrive in Salt Lake, it can thrive anywhere,” Eckley said. “Experience is nice, but heart and determination is so much more important.”
For more information, go to CheerSaltLake.org.