The 2011 Utah Pride Festival officially opened with a march nearly 1,000 strong combining the lesbian march, transgender march, an interfaith rally and their supporters. The three groups held individual rallies and met up for a march down 200 East to the festival grounds on June 4.
With chants for equality and support, approximately 800 people walked past protestors and through the streets of Salt Lake City. While focusing on equality and unity, the rallies highlighted some of the important issues facing each of the different groups.
The speakers at the Dyke Rally, which was held at the Utah State Capitol, emphasized the importance of maintaining individuality while celebrating the diversity of each member of the community. From transgender to feminine, from butch to lipstick, each member of the community should be accepted, said Cathy Martinez, the director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Utah.
“We need to invite all identities,” Martinez said. “I’m tired of the dominate queer culture and not feeling included … I open the local queer publication and don’t see people like me, I feel left out.”
The other speakers focused on inclusion as well as acceptance within the local queer communities for all groups.
The Interfaith Rally, which was held at the First United Methodist Church, highlighted different faiths that are accepting and affirming. With everything from Buddhist chants to traditional hymns and speeches, the rally was a true celebration of diversity in faith and community.
Along with members of queer-affirming religious groups, both Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker spoke at the gathering.
“Equality should not be based on a person’s sexual orientation or political party or anything else, for that matter,” Corroon said.
The transgender march gathered approximately 250 supporters of transgender rights at West Temple and 200 South. The rally was a huge success and the largest they’ve ever seen, said Rose Ellen Epstein, the transgender youth program coordinator for the Utah Pride Center.
This is the second consecutive similar series of marches and the size and attraction grows annually. While there are specifically themed groups, members of the community are encouraged to support the marchers and walk with the groups in solidarity.