Weber State University’s LGBT Resource Center and Gay-Straight Alliance took their places for the fifth time at the Utah Pride festival and parade in Salt Lake City June 3.
Students and community members walking in the parade included local vendors, clubs, organizations and other higher education institutions such as Westminster College, Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College.
Colton Bell, WSUSA’s newly appointed Activities VP, has marched in the parade with the LGBT Resource Center for the last three years. Bell commented on not only Weber’s participation in the parade but the impact colleges and universities had when participating in the event.
“It’s really empowering to see that (other universities) are coming and getting bigger and better with more support,” said Bell. “It’s good to see how all of Utah is jumping on how love is love and we should support everyone.”
Notably, Pride’s accepting and supportive environment wasn’t solely for members of the LGBT community: Other minority groups were given a platform to peacefully protest in the parade. The Utah Coalition for La Raza and Black Lives Matter marched, drawing attention to the intersectionality between race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
“Everyone’s in a good mood, which I love, and dancing and very accepting,” said Breanna Steggell, a Pride attendee. “You can see people that you might not have seen, and you can reconnect with people you might not see otherwise.”
A 2015 Gallup survey reported that Salt Lake City ranked seventh in the nation for adult residents who identified as LGBT. Weber State sophomores Jennifer Rozco and Taylor Funderburk commended Weber State’s acceptance of minority students.
“I feel like it’s a huge thing, especially here in Utah, because it’s not as accepted,” Rozco said. “At Weber, we are a more diverse school, we have a bunch of different backgrounds coming together and we’re accepted.”
Following suit, Funderburk added, “I couldn’t imagine going to any other school, really. Even though I’m straight, I feel accepted for how I am.”
The LGBT Resource Center’s next event will take place Aug. 4 at the fourth annual Ogden Pride Festival. Incoming and current Weber State students who want more information regarding the LGBT Resource Center can visit weber.edu/lgbtresourcecenter or contact Coordinator Jayson Stokes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-626-7271.
“No matter what your stance is on anything, I think everyone has a place at Pride, and it’s such a unique experience, and it’s so empowering to see,” said Bell. “Whether you’re marching with Weber State as a student or you just want to come and watch it, I encourage everyone to come and check it out once.”