Guest Editorials

State of the Utah Pride Center

by Dr. Rob Moolman

Our Utah Pride Center has been through many difficult times and had some hard years in its almost 30-year history. I believe that 2020 will go down as one of those years that tested our Center, but that ultimately showed our resilience and the importance of this space and the work we do. 2020 has shown once again that the Center has a role as the heart of our community. In 2020, the Utah Pride Center and the team working in it rose to every challenge before them and continued to ensure that our Utah LGBTQ+ were provided crucial resources, were care for, and were seen.

It is difficult thinking back to October of 2019 and the hope and excitement we all had when we presented our 2019/20 Budget to the Board. After my second year as executive director, it was wonderful to see the new initiatives, processes, and programs that we had begun starting to blossom and take root at the Center. We were bursting at the seams, and our Center really felt like the ‘center’ of LGBTQ+ work in Utah.

And then, on the very day that we were due to launch our 2018/19 Annual Report, we had to close our doors. Even as those doors closed, our teams sprang into action and moved everything online. Although our doors closed to the public, our services and programs did not. Our SAGE program, our Youth and Family Program, and our Mental Health program went “virtual” and continued serving our communities in need. The brand-new Suicide Prevention and Resources program became a crucial part of our work through COVID-19 — never more timely — and our work took on an even more important role as we strove to work intersectionally throughout all of the communities affected by the pandemic.

I am incredibly humbled and proud of the team of people we had at the Center through this year, who, despite pandemics, earthquakes, restructures, and hurricanes, kept our community’s health and wellbeing at the very core of what they are doing. At a time when our marginalized, frightened, and at-risk communities called out to the Center for help, we were there, and we answered the call. As a result, they are thriving, and at a time when it could be devastatingly the opposite.

I cannot help but think about how we have grown and become stronger as a Pride Center. As the Executive Director, I believe that I have four key responsibilities that I am accountable for – ensuring our work is community-focused and lives up to the Mission and Vision of the Center; to make sure we recruit, retain, and develop the staff in the Center; to ensure the financial stability of the Center; and finally, to develop the foundational processes and procedures that ensure we can fulfill our work effectively, and that the Center is strong and sound enough for its next level of growth. This year has tested all of us, but I believe in considering these four imperatives, that the State of our Center is stronger, more prepared, and more resilient than ever.

As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we are all very excited about opening our doors to our community once more, returning the ‘heart and soul’ to our Center — the people we serve every day. Our programs, services, and resources are thriving, and we are now starting a new Rainbow Wellness program that will build connection and provide a space for preventative care. I am also excited to announce that to ensure the longevity of the Center; we will soon be formally launching our Endowment Fund. And finally, using our pandemic measures, we will continue to grow and expand our online services and resources throughout Utah, thereby turning this challenge into UPC expansion and support for LGBTQ+ throughout all Utah communities.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to support our Mission and Vision these past few months — our UPC Team, the Board of Directors, donors, volunteers, and supporters who have contributed to ensuring our continued survival of this space. I am proud to be a part of the Utah Pride Center. A Center that withstood crisis and pandemic, and most importantly, continued to be strong and responsive for the Queer Community of Utah through 2020 and beyond.

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