Two members of Utah’s LGBTQ community will be awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards at the annual Pride Spectacular, which will take place as a virtual experience on June 7, the day the Utah Pride Festival was scheduled to begin. It has been postponed to September.
John Bennett, who passed away in January of this year, held leadership roles in the ’80s and ’90s at the University of Utah Lesbian and Gay Student Union, AIDS Project Utah, Utah Pride Festival, and the Gay and Lesbian Community Council of Utah.
He was an accomplished classical pianist and was accompanist at the Salt Lake Men’s Choir for three years and, in 1993, helped found the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Salt Lake City.
He was also former Sen. Bob Bennett’s nephew.
Bennett served as executive director of the Utah Stonewall Center, now the Utah Pride Center, from 1994 to 1995.
He was part of many other groups, including the Utah AIDS Memorial Quilt Project, and marched with the Utah contingent at the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987.
Bennett managed a senior center of Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services from 2004 to 2013 before taking on the full-time role of caregiver for his aging parents until his mother’s death in May of 2018.
He started Bennett’s Art Glass in 2015. The name paid homage to the Art Glass Department of a former family business, Bennett’s Paint and Glass. He did custom pieces for many homes as well as Franklin Covey.
He became president of LifeRing Secular Recovery, a secular alternative to 12-Step recovery for drug and alcohol dependency, in 2017.
Kim Pederson began her service to others joining the U.S. Army at the age of 18. She was jailed two years later for being a lesbian.
After refusing to betray others by telling military police of other lesbians, she was tracked, harassed, put in solitary confinement on numerous occasions, and then discharged and declared an “Undesirable.” She went on to promote LGBTW veterans’ rights.
In college, she fought for the Equal Rights Amendment and against the Vietnam war. She also worked as as advocate for those on a limited income, battered women and children, and unemployed miners.
Pederson was the first director of the Utah chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness. She also worked with the University of Utah Women’s Resource Center and the Battered Women’s Project at the Utah YWCA.
She worked as a licensed social worker for four decades, focusing in part on alcoholism and addiction in the LGBT community. She is also personally celebrating 48 years of sobriety. As a longtime member of the LGBTQ Affirmative Psychotherapy Guild of Utah, she worked alongside others to address the treatment disparities based on racial and sexual biases. She also worked to ban reparative therapy in the state.
She is currently a member of the Utah Pride Center’s Sage leadership team, where runs the Supper Club committee. She is also an active resident of the Friendship Manor, encouraging proper treatment of LGBTQ residents and helping management deal with residents in crisis.