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2010 Community Service Awards

The theme of the 2010 Utah Pride Festival, “Our History, Our Future” has a focus that both acknowledges the duality of where the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community has been as well as how far it has yet to go.

Along the same lines, the choice of Rep. Christine Johnson as the recipient of the 2010 Pete Suazo Political Action Award, and Mark Swonson as the recipient of the Dr. Kristen Reis Community Service Award, have a similar duality: Johnson as the public face fighting for justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people and understanding on capitol hill and Swonson, the unsung participant, selflessly working behind the scenes for a myriad of community missions.

“One gets all the face time and the other gets none,” said Utah Pride Center Executive Director, Valerie Larabee. “And you can’t discount either because it takes both kinds of people to create the kind of leverage we need for full LGBTQ equality.”

The Dr. Kristen Ries Community Service Award was established in 1987 and was first presented to Reis for her humanitarian efforts in dealing with the AIDS crisis and forever named in her honor. Mark Swonson, as the recipient if this award, has shown relentless dedication by being present and willing to lend a hand. He has served as a selfless promoter for the Utah Pride Center, the Utah AIDS Foundation, Equality Utah, Stonewall Democrats and many more organizations.

“He must spend all of his free time doing things that benefit the community,” said Lucy Malin, past award recipient and North Salt Lake resident.

The Pete Suazo Political Action Award was established in 2001 in honor of Senator Suazo’s tireless attempts to pass hate crimes legislation in Utah. Rep. Johnson, as a recipient of this award, embodies exceptional commitment to the equal rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community of Utah through legislation, policy or declaration as a two-term member of the State House of Representatives. Johnson carries with her a resolute conviction of the strength and enduring qualities of the community along with a fierce set of networking and negotiating skills. Her efforts on Capitol Hill during the past Legislative Session kept peace during what could have been a tumultuous season.

“These awards represent giants in the work of the broader Utah community to address health and social concerns,” said Larabee. “To be a recipient of these awards is perhaps one of the highest honors bestowed on individuals working in the community.”

The awards will be presented at the Utah Pride Festival’s Grand Marshal Reception, honoring Sister Dottie S. Dixon as the 2010 Grand Marshal at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 4 at the IJ & Jeanne Jewish Community Center, 2 North Medical Dr., in Salt Lake City. Recipients will also be honored on Sunday, June 6 at the 2010 Utah Pride Parade.

For tickets to all Utah Pride Festival events, please visit utahpridefestival.org. The Utah Pride Festival is a program of the Utah Pride Center.

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Michael Westley

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