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West Jordan Journal

Take pride in love

Jul 07, 2023 12:39PM ● By Peri Kinder

Although I don’t like crowds, parades or people, in general, when my husband suggested we attend the Pride Parade last month in Salt Lake, I painted a rainbow on my face, donned my “More Love” shirt and jumped in the car. 

After a year of devastating anti-gay and anti-trans legislation across the country, we wanted to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community, even if that meant standing in a crowd of more than 50,000 parade attendees singing at the top of their lungs.

Because how do you fight hate? With a celebration of love. 

The theme was “Queer Pride is Unapologetic” and that message rang throughout the parade. When the crowd saw the first rainbow banners a block away, it burst into applause and continued cheering for two hours. I sang out loud to every Lizzo anthem. I chanted until I lost my voice. I clapped until my shoulders hurt. I danced in ways that completely embarrassed my husband. I smiled until my face was sore. 

Love was palpable. It brought me to tears more than once as I watched the support, kindness and joy being showered on this parade by thousands of people, of all ages, faiths, races and gender identities.  

It was an event of unrestrained joy with enough sequins, bright colors, sky-high wigs, hella high heels and drag queens to bring a smile to RuPaul’s face. Couples were holding hands, hugging, kissing, smiling, dancing and lifting a big middle finger to oppression and hate. 

It was great to see nearly 200 businesses and organizations put on their rainbow best to spread the love. Entries included Delta Airlines, Westminster University, Intermountain Health, the Cougar Pride Center and ABC4 Utah. 

The Salt Lake City Public Library had a large group of participants, because librarians are on the front lines, defending free speech every day and fighting book bans with humor and flair. 

I’ve never been to a better parade. I’ve never celebrated a better message. With suicide rates rising for LGBTQ+ youth, hate is not acceptable. Intolerance is not acceptable. The only thing that’s acceptable is inclusion, joy, kindness, grace and love. 

After the parade, we walked through the festival, talking with vendors, enjoying live music and eating tasty foods. We learned about drag queen bingo at a local church, chatted with a BYU student who wrote a book about coming out as gay and took pictures for lots of happy couples.

We watched people get tattoos, we bought new T-shirts, we smiled at strangers, we stood in line for lukewarm BBQ. We visited with friends. We saw bravery. We saw community. We saw free mom hugs. We saw compassion. We saw gay Darth Vader. We saw celebration. We saw dogs in tutus. We saw love. 

Threats against the LGBTQ+ community have quadrupled over the last few years, and organizers spent extra money for heightened security at the parade and festival. State leaders, churches, communities and individuals should be careful about comments, rules and legislation that contribute to these dangers. Be careful who you exclude, it could be someone you love. 

For the LGBTQ+ community, continue living unapologetic. The world needs more dancing, more sequins, more hella high heels, more bright colors, more sky-high wigs, more connection, more dogs in tutus, more rainbow T-shirts and more love.