The Utah Pride Center lost the plot on nonbinary inclusion during 2023's Pride events | News | Salt Lake City Weekly
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The Utah Pride Center lost the plot on nonbinary inclusion during 2023's Pride events

Small Lake City

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Several weeks ago, I turned in a column about my experiences at the recent Utah Pride Festival, intending to address what I viewed as deficiencies by Utah Pride Center (UPC) leadership and to suggest where improvements could be made.

However, as you likely know, UPC recently announced layoffs and restructuring; I don't want to kick the organization while it's down. I hope that during this time, those in charge consider that there may be a dignified way to end the organization while honoring those who contributed to it or will find a way to revive and make it relevant again. Continuing as-is is simply no longer an option.

I love Pride. A lot. When I wrote my custody agreement, I didn't ask for my kids on Mother's Day or Christmas, but I did ask for them on Pride weekend. The march is one of my favorite annual traditions with my partner, and both my daughter and I spoke at the rally preceding it this year.

Pride is one of the few unapologetically queer spaces in Salt Lake City. But unfortunately, what I experienced in 2023 was also, largely, a binary space. As one example, at a drag brunch hosted by UPC, an out-of-state emcee misgendered attendees and continually used the phrase "Ladies and Gentlemen."

You may recall my frustrations with binary language as published in this newspaper. In short— non-binary folks exist, and I would hope Pride, of all places, would recognize that.

When I expressed my concerns to a Pride center representative, I noted that all members of the events committee were cis-gendered men.

Pride should be a place for everyone. Until it is, it isn't a place for anyone—and UPC must diversify its committees. Pride must also insist on inclusionary language training for anyone who has the privilege of holding a microphone at the event in 2024.

We need more safe spaces where everyone feels heard, seen and valued. My hope is that when we get upset, we can build bridges and not burn them. More conversations need to happen because, whether I'm attending or not, Pride must be a space that is welcoming to everyone in our community, not just the cis-gays.

Our community has evolved and non-binary folks are an important part of it. Several of my gay friends expressed to me that they sit out Pride weekend, finding their community elsewhere. I don't want to feel like I am in a hetero space when I am at a Pride event.

My love for Pride weekend will continue, but it's essential that the Utah Pride Center doesn't forget what the "T" in LGBTQ+ stands for, especially in these trying political times. Let us not forget what the first Pride was and the people who started it.

The Small Lake City column is home to local writers and their opinions.

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