For those of you who don’t know, the month of June is widely considered Gay Pride Month. The first gay pride march was held in 1970 in New York City as a form of protest and has over the years evolved into an annual celebration that occurs all over the country. This was to be my first but from what I googled, its typically a very colorful show with music and dance and outrageous costumes.
I was invited by a couple of my colleagues to attend the 2015 Gay Pride Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah. The curious cat in me was thrilled at the prospect. What do I wear? Would I get hit on by a cute lesbian? Would there be tons of near naked hot men that I can scope? The festival in Salt Lake City was to be from June 4th -7th, 2015 but I was only going from the 6th – 7th. The 7th, a Sunday, was the actual parade march and to me, that was the most important of all.
As the day approached, I began to get nervous and different questions started going through my head. What if the gay people do not like me? What if I am made out to be the fundamentalist gay-basher that I am not so sure I am not? I don’t know about y’allz, but growing up in Nigeria, in a very Christian conservative home, we don’t have a very positive opinion about homosexuality. Heck, isn’t it even illegal in Nigeria? Enough about that and lets get back to the event at hand.
Saturday afternoon, I got to the festival venue but the sky was leaden with overcast and I could already smell rain so I had to make my visit snappy. Just after parking my car, and in the middle of releasing a wedgie, I was stopped by a random dude who said I have a beautiful aura and he would like to read me. Huh?? He continued: “I don’t usually stop people like this but your aura is unbelievably bright so I had to meet you. You are a very positive person but you are surrounded with negative people. I can also sense a bit of confusion in you about yourself. You are at a point in your life when you have to make decisions and this is probably what is causing the confusion. If you come with me this way, i will properly read you and I promise it will only be positive things”. I wasn’t sure if he was hitting on me or trying to scam me so i didn’t follow him ANY way.
That was weird! But at least someone was seeing me in a positive light. Maybe my possibly-homophobic-aura is successfully hidden. I got to the entrance of the venue and was greeted by this:
The guy on the far left was vigorously waving his Bible at me and anybody who looked his way. This got me thinking.. Am I on this side? Is this really the best way to go about soul-winning?
The rest of the festival was pretty average. I sat around the park, listened to a few bands play, visited several booths and a museum. I had to leave early because rain started falling heavily. This didn’t stop my night travels though. I went to a local gay bar, Club JAM, and had what I think was the best party of my life. Yes, I was hit on by several lesbians; Yes, there were a lot of very handsome near-naked go-go dancers to look at; and No, I do not have pictures to prove it.
Sunday Morning, Parade Day, I hurried to a nearby church for service. I went to First United Methodist Church that was right on the road where the parade was being held. In contrast to the church with the Homo sex signs, this church seemed very supportive of the gay community. The pastor had dyed his hair purplish to show solidarity and was wearing a colorful garland around his neck. The service was brief – 30 minutes long – because the pastor and the members were going to march in support of the parade which was supposed to start by 10am. A member even told me her sister was marching for the first time and she can’t wait to cheer her along. WHAT??? A CHURCH IN A PARADE?? AM I IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE??
After a struggle to find parking, I proceeded to the parade and took as many pictures as I could before my phone died. Most of the pictures were just before the parade started but I got a few during the march. Enjoy!
All in all, it was a very festive experience. The march was an hour long and concluded with a parade of a huge coloured flag carried by dozens of people.
At some point, I got really emotional at all the support shown by the community. Its hard to believe how much has changed in only a few decades.
That’s all folks. Pictures are courtesy of iPhone 5s. Thanks to the internet for donating one more photo. What do you think of all this? Please leave a comment.