Thursday afternoon Washington Square was being transformed. Dozens of workers spent the day putting up tents and setting up food carts for what Michael Westley, Spokesman for the Utah Pride Center, says will be the largest Pride celebration ever.
“This will be absolutely a record breaker. We estimated about 28,000 attended last year, we had about 25,000 paid ticket sales and we are expecting that number to go well above 30,000.”
Adding to this year’s growing number will be several Mormon supporters being recognized by the LGBT community.
“Dustin Lance Black will be honoring the students at BYU with a Courage Award on behalf of the Utah Pride Center for making their It Gets Better Video which was an unprecedented move. And the Mormons Building Bridges Group will be marching with Dustin Lance Black on Sunday in the parade.”
Westley says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the LGBT community have spent too long focusing on their differences and now it’s time to build bridges.
This year’s theme is Changing Hearts and Lives. 20 year old Mckenna Winterholler plans to attend the festival for the first time this year to help do just that.
“I think that having things like Pride Festival opens conversations about transphobia and homophobia and other things like that. I think that there are a lot of internalized things that go around that need to be stopped and Pride Festival opens the door for awareness.”
The Utah Pride Festival runs through Sunday, when the annual parade will travel the streets of Salt Lake City. More information is at UtahPrideFestival.org. Proceeds from the event go to the Utah Pride Center, which has been a part of the community since 1992.