Year in Review

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LDS President Monson dies

Thomas S. Monson, the 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dies January 2, in his home in Salt Lake City. His nine-year tenure as president built an embattled legacy among LGBT Utahns, including sending a letter to California congregations directing them to get involved in the Proposition 8 battle to constitutionally define marriage as only between a man and a woman and supporting LGBT discrimination in employment and housing in Utah, among others.

Utah Sen. Thatcher proposes hate-crimes bill

Sen. Daniel Thatcher pushes his Senate Bill 86, titled, “Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements,” which would have secured an “enhanced penalty for a criminal offense if the offender acted against an individual because of the offender’s perception of the individual’s ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”

Two-Spirit couple raises awareness

A Salt Lake City couple who were allowed to dance in a powwow “Sweetheart Special” couples dance, but then disqualified for not being a male-female couple, has been invited to speak at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive conference  in Orlando, Florida.

Adrian “AD” Matthias Stevens, who is San Carlos Apache, Northern Ute, and Shoshone Bannock, was raised in Fort Duchesne, Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. His fiance, Sean Snyder, is Navajo and Southern Ute, from Iowa City, Iowa. Also, the couple later in the month are allowed to compete in the Seminole Tribal Fair and Pow Wow in Florida, and brought home a second-place trophy.

Sen. Dabakis says bye-bye

Senator Jim Dabakis announces that he will not be seeking re-election to the Utah State Senate in 2018. The only openly gay representative at the state legislature was appointed by Democratic delegates in December 2012 to replace outgoing Ben McAdams when he became Salt Lake County Mayor. “I leave ever optimistic about Utah’s future,” Dabakis tweets as he announced the decision.

UofU PrEP clinic opens

University of Utah Health opens Salt Lake City’s first free PrEP clinic, one of only two in the nation.

HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, known as PrEP or its brand name Truvada, is taken once a day with minimal side effects and has proven to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing HIV when taken as directed. UofU Health opened the volunteer-run clinic to address the resulting gap, and its model is one that could be echoed nationwide. Along with PrEP, the clinic will offer HIV testing, prevention, treatment, and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases.

Robert Moolman takes UPC reins

The Utah Pride Center board of directors chair Sue Robbins offers Robert Moolman the job as executive director. A South African native, Moolman previously lived in Australia. Yet he never imagined he would reside in Salt Lake City, a place he always lived thousands of miles away.

“I’d like it to be the first port of call for the community. In our new, larger space, we can host events, develop new leaders and move the cause forward confidently,” he says. “We credit Carol Gnade, the current executive director and the board for this amazing new space to grow into.”

Sun-Trapp owner dies

Sun-Trapp owner Rob Goulding, known to most as Uncle Rob, passes away. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer.

The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire Empress Tiana La Shaé announced his death on the Court’s Facebook page: “Today we mourn the loss of long-time supporter of the RCGSE and friend to the community, Rob Goulding. We appreciate Rob welcoming us into the SunTrapp and giving us a place to call home. Thank you for all the wonderful memories and may you Rest In Peace, dear friend.”

No more ‘No Promo Homo’

The State Board of Education unanimously votes to end the discriminatory No Promo Homo policy by affirmatively stating that schools must train and report bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These are the first explicit protections for LGBTQ students in Utah law.

Utah voters define LaVar Christensen unfit

Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, loses his Utah Senate District 11 seat. He was the author of Utah’s Amendment 3, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, as well as several other anti-LGBT measures over the years.

Study shows thousands of sexual assaults in Utah

The Utah Department of Health reveals the results of a 2016 sexual-assault survey of about 10,000 Utahns over the age of 18. Nearly 10 percent of Utah adults reported that someone had sex or attempted to have sex with them without their consent in their lifetime. But 33 percent of those who said they were gay or lesbian reported they were sexually violated, and over 45 percent of bisexuals said the same.

Dabakis no longer can stand the heat, welcome to the Kitchen

The LGBTQ Victory Fund has endorsed Salt Lake City Councilmember Derek Kitchen to replace Sen. Jim Dabakis for his state senate seat. As a Salt Lake City Council member for District 4, he was the named plaintiff in Kitchen v. Herbert, which legalized marriage equality for Utah and five western states in 2014 and set groundbreaking case law that led to nationwide legalization in 2015.

So. Utah center earns EU award

Equality Utah honors Switchpoint Community Resource Center with the Excellence in Advocacy Award for their unbiased and nondiscriminatory service to the southern Utah LGBTQ community. Switchpoint offers emergency shelter, in addition to various resources and programs that help move people out of poverty.

Pride Festival hate crime

A small group leaving the Utah Pride Festival Saturday night are chased by a group of 10 to 15 young men who were allegedly yelling anti-gay slurs and threats of death. One of the victims spoke with QSaltLake Magazine, saying that he, his husband and two male friends went to Stoneground Kitchen for dinner. As they left through the back entrance a group of men were “ harassing a homeless woman”, and when confronted by the man’s husband, he was verbally attacked: “What are you looking at, you fucking faggot?”

The incident escalated as they feared for their lives and “ran down the alley to Doki Doki, which is on the main floor below the restaurant. The store’s clerk Terrance Mannery attempted to lock the door, but one of the assailants “started pounding on him.”

Mannery sustained bruises and a cut to his face as he tried to keep the attackers out of the shop to protect the intended victims.

Encircle axed yet again

The Freedom Festival Parade organizers once again reject an application for Encircle, an LGBTQ outreach group based in Provo, to participate in festival events. The festival also rejected the applications of several other LGBTQ groups, including Mormons Building Bridges, PFLAG, and Provo Pride.

OK, not axed but left red, white and blue

Provo’s Freedom Festival reversed its decision to block LGBTQ groups from its yearly parade following a compromise struck between opposing sides. Members of participating LGBTQ groups must only wear American flag pins/buttons, carry American flags, and must dress in red, white, and blue. Mormons Building Bridges presented a float that read: Utah Honors it LGBTQ+ Veterans.

Affirmative action

For the first time, Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends leaders representing diverse spiritual perspectives, sexual orientations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds are spearheaded to become certified suicide prevention trainers by one of the leading suicide prevention training institutes, QPR.

Over the next three years, suicide prevention trainers will conduct training sessions at every Affirmation conference held throughout the world. Affirmation will also make online training on trauma and suicide prevention available at no cost to Affirmation members and others.

Southern censorship

The National Coalition Against Censorship called on public libraries of Washington County, Utah to reconsider a ban on LGBTQ displays. Joined by the National Council of Teachers of English, and LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal, the letter warns that the current ban poses a serious threat to equal rights and freedom of expression and sets a dangerous precedent by perpetuating a culture of prejudice and intolerance.

IRCONU royalty dies

Russell Lynn Griffin, Emperor VI and XV of The Imperial Rainbow Court of Northern Utah passed away. Russell courageously battled end-stage renal disease for 16 years.

Utah’s real Suicide Squad

Utah communities and schools — with the aid of the state’s suicide prevention task force — begin placing more emphasis on prevention through heightened mental health resources and by asking others to take a more active role in the conversation. As well as A peer-to-peer intervention group called the Hope Squad, another organization seeking to make a difference.

Greg Hudnall, founder and executive director of Hope4Utah said this peer-to-peer interaction is what has been missing from suicide prevention initiatives. According to Hudnall, it’s going to take more than health professionals and teachers to save Utah teens; it also needs to include the very teens that people are trying to protect.

Gay hater Chris Buttars dies

Anti-LGBT former senator Chris Buttars passes away at age 76. Buttars was co-author, alongside Utah Rep. LaVar Christensen, of Utah’s Amendment 3, which amended the state constitution to say marriage was solely between a man and a woman.

Stan Penfold announces mayoral run

Utah AIDS Foundation executive director and former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold announces he will run against Jackie Biskupski to become Salt Lake City Mayor. Penfold is largely credited for being the person who got the city to rename part of Ninth South from Ninth West to Ninth East “Harvey Milk Boulevard,” after the San Francisco politician who made significant change in California and became a beacon to the gay community nationwide.

LDS General Conference: Oaks unbending on gender identity

In his Church of Latter-day Saints General Conference speech, First Counselor Dallin H. Oaks says “Some are troubled by some of our church’s positions on marriage and children. Our knowledge of God’s revealed plan of salvation requires us to oppose many of the current social and legal pressures to retreat from traditional marriage or to make changes that confuse or alter gender or homogenize the differences between men and women. We know that the relationships, identities, and functions of men and women are essential to accomplish God’s great plan.

Gender is eternal. Before we were born on this earth, we all lived as male and female in the presence of God.”

He also said that opposition to the church was part of Satan’s plan.

The ‘Shepard’ of Being gay

Matthew Shepard, who was murdered at 21 years old in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime, is interred at Washington National Cathedral in D.C.

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral.

SLC bangs the pots and pans

With a showing of over 77 percent of the votes, Derek Kitchen becomes the next Utah state senator in District 2, which  encompasses the Avenues, Central City and University neighborhoods. In a Facebook Post, Kitchen writes in part: “I will stand for the rights of the diverse and vibrant LGBTQ+ community we have here in Utah, for gender equity, and for the rights of immigrants.”

PTSD-LDS link?

A study says that the messages and teachings that come from the LDS Church regarding sexuality and gender identification may be causing LGBT members of the church to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder at a rate nearly 10 times higher than the general population.

“The thing that shocked me, as well as my committee members, is the number of participants who likely would have experienced PTSD,” University of Georgia graduate student Brian William Simmons said, regarding the results of his study as published in his doctoral dissertation, “Coming Out Mormon.”

The gay kids in the hall

The Utah State Board of Education Student Advisory Council, a newly placed committee of which junior and senior high school students holds its first student-led meeting.

Member Daniel Bernhardt said that it formed sub-committees around topics, such as school safety, representation of race and sexual orientation, and updating standardized testing. “It was inspirational to be surrounded by students who were willing to put in the work to change schools,” he said.

LDS Bishop ‘The Forseer’

Bill Reel, a former bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces on his website that he has been excommunicated over a podcast that frequently criticizes church history, policies and procedures including the religion’s stance on LGBTQ issues. His statement in parts says,  “… the Stake President for the Mormon Church in my geographic location hand-delivered his decision to my Disciplinary Council. The decision was as we all had expected, I had been excommunicated. Immediately, my family signed onto QuitMormon.org and completed their resignations.”

Utah researcher’s early findings between faith and sexuality

A Utah suicide researcher says the friction between LGBT sexuality and [the LDS] religion in Utah may not be quite the driving factor behind youth suicide.

“There’s no data to show that, period,” says Michael Staley, who works in the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner and is the first person who would know, since he leads an effort to collect, compile and analyze suicide information from around the state. He conducts that research at the behest of the Utah Legislature.

PrEP on the rise

Jorgen Madsen, a UofU medical student who earlier this year joined forces with two doctors at University of Utah Health, Susan Keeshin, MD and Adam Spivak, MD, along with a fellow medical student, Julie Weis, and the local nonprofit Utah AIDS Foundation, makes major strides to improve health care for the LGBTQ community. Their main efforts laid the groundwork for what at that time was only the second free PrEP clinic in the United States.

From the beginning, Madsen and his cohorts were determined to make the clinic an oasis of tolerance and empathy. Along with PrEP and STI education, they provide peer counseling for patients struggling with stigma, isolation, and depression. “This is a population that’s already marginalized,” Madsen says. “The clinic is a space where we can talk about the excitement of a date they had, or how the family is reacting to coming out.”

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