Pride in a supportive town

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If you haven’t made your accommodation reservations for this year’s Moab Pride, festival organizer Amy Stocks has one thing to say:  “Don’t wait!”

The festival is scheduled for late September, but even though it’s held in a town with a population of only about 5,000, Stocks says she expects the place to fill up for this year’s event. In only its fifth year, “It’s really become a destination,” Stocks says.

Moab Pride started in 2011 almost as a joke after Stocks asked tongue-in-cheek on Facebook if her small town would throw a Pride party for her. The response was real enough though, and Moab Pride emerged.

The festival doubled in size during its first four years, Stocks estimates, from about 500 participants that first year to about 1,000 last year.

“As people realize how accepting and supportive small towns can be, I think we’ve seen a lot of growth,” Stocks says.

Let’s face it: In a town of 5,000 people, how many LGBT folks could there be? Stocks says the festival gets a lot of support from the LGBT community throughout Utah, particularly from the Salt Lake area and the Four Corners region in the southeast part of the state.

But she also says there’s a lot of support from non-LGBT sources in Moab. “People say it’s the straightest Pride festival they’ve ever been to, and that’s because our allies are so strong,” she says.

Stocks says events like Pride festivals shouldn’t be seen only in more populated areas. “Pride festivals in small towns are so important because people feel really isolated in small towns and not connected,” she says. “It’s so important for young people growing up [in a small town] to see that that there are other people like them and that they have that support.”

This year’s Moab Pride Festival is Sept. 25-26, getting started at Moab’s Club Rio with an “Orange Party” meet-and-greet event at 8 p.m., featuring DJ Dan and DJ divaDanielle.

The following day, beginning at 11 a.m. at Moab’s Swanny Park, is the festival’s “Visibility March,” which is in place of a more traditional Pride parade. Stocks says the idea is for the event to be more participatory or “organic” as the festival’s website describes it. “It’s more about showing your pride by being part of it,” rather than just watching it go by, Stocks says. The march makes its way through downtown Moab before ending up again at Swanny Park, where the festival will continue throughout the day.

Entertainment — including such acts as Talia Keys and the Ease, Bronwen Beecher, Indi Skies (and her troupe of drag queens), The Lovebirds and The Painbirds — will accompany the goings-on at the park until 6 p.m.

An after party at Club Rio begins at 9 p.m. with Salt Lake’s DJ Morea and Mike Balance providing music.

While the Pride festival proper is that weekend, Stocks encourages folks to come down a few days early for Gay Adventure Week, “an event for adventure seekers and lovers of the outdoors and the official fundraiser for the Moab Pride Festival,” according to the event’s website.

The week features activities that include biking, hiking, river rafting, jeep and hummer rides, horseback riding, hot-air balloon rides, ziplining and more. People can go for the whole week as a package deal, or take part in activities “a la carte.” More information is available at www.gayadventureweek.com.

For more information about Moab Pride, go online to www.moabpride.org.


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