- Sallie Hodges (right)
Since its 2011 debut, the Moab Pride Festival has nearly doubled its attendance numbers, and is expecting at least 1,000 people to join this year's celebration (Sept. 26-27, MoabPride.org), which includes a Visibility March, live music and a beer garden, with entertainment by L.A. comedian Jennie McNulty. Leading into Moab Pride is Gay Adventure Week, a one-of-a-kind fundraising event that aims to attract tourists and encourage everyone to get together and feel accepted. And Sallie Hodges, the executive director of the festival, wants to keep the love growing.
Is Moab Pride different from other gay-pride festivals?
It's a rural festival. It's a festival that's very, very inclusive of everybody. It's full of friends, allies and families. It's also a festival that has been described as if Utah Pride Festival and Burning Man had a baby.
How many people are you expecting for this year's parade?
We'll be expecting 1,000 to 1,500. We don't really have a parade—we have a Visibility March. We encourage anybody to join us starting at Swanny Park and marching through the streets of Moab. It's a demonstration that we are united, everybody loves each other and we embrace diversity and it includes everyone.
What is Gay Adventure Week?
I think that was inspired really by Gay Ski Week. We just thought that it would be a great idea to do something like that here and turn it into an adventure week, because Moab is sort of the adventure capital of the world. It's very unique. There's no other gay adventure week that leads into a pride festival anywhere in the U.S.
It's pretty much just a get-together. We try to include everyone to come. I think in the past, a lot of ski weeks are predominantly men (I don't know why); we're trying to encourage more people to come. We just want people to come and hang out. It's an official fundraiser for Moab Pride. If they do make any money, it goes to Moab Pride.
What do you hope to accomplish with this Moab Pride?
Oh, crikey. I just want people to come and enjoy Moab! I think Moab has a big core, and I think it's lovely for people to come down and realize how supportive the city is. We want it to grow. We want people to love and accept each other. A lot of people have said it's their favorite festival. Something I'd like to work on in the future is making Moab Pride a "destination pride."
Are you doing any activism for same-sex marriage in Utah?
We have a lot of organizations that come to our festival. Our local hospital has a new doctor that's just joined them and he has done a lot of work with the trans community—they'll have a booth for the first time to let people know that service is there for them. We just partnered with the multicultural center down here so they have a space for us to have a drop-in once a week. What we're working on, to be honest with you, is working on legitimizing Moab Pride as an organization that will be here year-round. That's pretty much what our festival is for.