Utah has been making national headlines lately. With two major presidential candidates with ties to the conservative state, it seems the nation is trying to understand what makes Utahns tick. For example, the New York Times recently did a cover story about Utah’s outrageously confusing liquor laws and lampooned lawmakers for their ludicrous approach to controlling alcoholic beverages.
But not all of Utah is so uptight and conservative as it appears in the media, said Nate Porter, the organizer of the Utah Undie Run 2011 Protest against Utah being so Uptight.
“I think so many people have all these misconceptions about Utahns because the angry, uptight ones are so vocal. And I’d like to see that change, even just a little. I am so sick of hearing all the crazy things Utah is known for, like the liquor laws, and don’t even get me started on Prop. 8,” Porter said. “I want to show a more interesting side of Utah.”
Porter started the idea as a small event with just his wife as co-organizer, but it ballooned into a viral hit on Facebook. Shortly after creating the event and inviting his 500 or so friends on Facebook, there were thousands of people that had clicked the, ‘I’m Attending,’ button. There are approximately 9,000 people that have recently said they are attending the run, and plans are being made for up to 15,000 participants.
The casual run has morphed into a large event featuring a Guinness world record-breaking two-mile run through the heart of downtown, and a festival in the park. The festivities will begin Sept. 24 at 5 p.m.; the run/walk will kick off at 6 p.m. and the after-party will go until 10 p.m. Local musicians and disc jockeys and vendors will provide entertainment in the evening. The location of the run will not be disclosed until the week of the event.
“We want everyone 18 and older to come. No matter your body shape or size. No matter your race or sexual orientation, please come and have a good time,” Porter said. “This really is a rally of sorts to get the attention of the uptight people in the state so they can be reminded that they’re here. They need to know that making people feel unwelcome is not acceptable. So come on down and join in the fun.”
One Utah mother, who is openly lesbian, said she supports any cause that tries to help people relax and not take life so seriously.
“It seemed like a ton of fun to just be silly and be a little bit overt about saying, ‘Utah please let down your hair.’ Please don’t take yourself so seriously,” Keri Sanders said. “And I think it really resonates in our community and I have a lot of friends who are planning on attending and gender-bending.”
Utah’s queer community is bound to be well represented, Sanders added.
Salt Lake City officials are very receptive to the idea as long as participants follow the run’s rules, Porter said. There can be no nudity, thongs, g-strings or see-through underwear. However, these items can be worn over other pairs of underwear. No bare butts can be showing and to participate in the counting at the beginning of the run for the record, women must wear a tank top or other kind of covering and guys cannot wear shirts. And while beer will be available for purchase, arriving at the event too drunk could result in a public intoxication ticket.