Salt Lake City's Gay Pride Festival makes history

By Ali Monsen

Published 06/08 2014 10:47PM

Updated 06/08 2014 10:50PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Thousands of Utahns spent the weekend downtown at Salt Lake City's annual Gay Pride Festival. 

Event organizers say this year’s celebration has made history.  From the state’s boy scouts to Mormons Building Bridges, Utah’s LGBT community has a growing level of support. 

"I grew up in Arizona, and coming to Salt Lake City, I felt more accepted and more understood than I ever have.  I think the community here is very closely knit," said Christopher Westergard, a gay Utahn who attended the festival.  

Westergard’s comments may sound surprising, but the man is not alone in his observation.

"I know a lot of the state is conservative, and that's what Utah is—conservative.  But Salt Lake City, itself, is not," said Chelsea Hyde, a festival-goer, who supports same-sex marriage.  

Around 10,000 Utahns—young and old—celebrated all forms of love this weekend at the community’s annual festival.

"We have lots of friends who have a wife and a wife, or husband and a husband,” said Rose Morris, who took her children to the big parade Sunday morning.

For the first time ever, a duly constituted color guard with uniformed boy scouts carried a rainbow flag.

"Being gay in the [Boy Scouts of America] is dangerous—today it is.  The policies are confusing,” said Geoffrey McGrath, a banned scoutmaster.

McGrath invited all Utah scouts to march with him in the parade.  About 10 showed up in uniform, despite the Boy Scouts of America forbidding them to do so. 

"It is a very special year for us this year," said Steven Ha, the Executive Director of Utah Pride.

More than 450 people marched in support of Mormons Building Bridges, an organization dedicated to showing love for the LGBT community.

"With the younger generation of conservatives—and even Mormons—they're shifting views," said Hyde.

Some say it is only a matter of time before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of Utah's same-sex marriages.  About 1300 couples who married in the state last December are still waiting to find out whether or not their unions will be recognized.

"It’s a waste of time.  It's going to happen,” said Kiesha Jones, a gay-rights activist.

Not everyone agreed with the festival's general message, but everyone was certainly invited. 

"You have straight people here, you have LGBT community representatives here.  You have the diversity of our community, which is the richness of Utah here," said Attorney Sim Gill, Salt Lake County’s District Attorney.  

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