While members of the Utah Pride Center raised a rainbow flag in front of city hall Wednesday, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski signed a proclamation declaring this week Utah Pride Week.
The flag will remain at half-staff to honor its designer, Gilbert Baker, who passed away earlier this year.
This year’s theme is “Pride Elevated.” New events include a health day at Jordan Park and a youth dance at Library Square on Thursday evening.
An interfaith service, a 5k, and the parade on Sunday morning will return as events this year.
There’s also the Friday evening march and rally. But this year, festival director Liz Pitts has invited nearly 100 community organizations to participate. She says in 2017, more people want to make a political statement.
“We want to show that the LGBT community is in solidarity with people who are concerned about clean air, people who are concerned about health care for everyone, elder care, immigrant and refugee rights, anti-racism, fair pay, reproductive rights, and all of the things that make us human,” says Pitts.
Biskupski, who is Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor, says the mission of the Pride Festival is about including everyone.
“We will never really achieve full equality or equity if we aren’t lifting all boats at the same time. That’s the importance of this march,” Biskupski says.
Pitts says the Utah Pride Center is working closely with the Salt Lake City police and fire departments, as well as a private security firm to keep festival-goers safe.
“There’s a certain place for fear,” Pitts says. “We won’t be afraid to march in the streets. We won’t be afraid to celebrate. But we plan well.”
Only cash will be accepted for admission to events and the Utah Pride Center is still looking for volunteers to help this weekend.