Three Cache Valley organizations will march in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City this Sunday. They are: PFLAG Logan/Cache Valley; Allies on Campus; and Love Is for Everyone (LIFE). The groups expect more than 75 members to participate. PFLAG Logan/Cache Valley will march with a larger contingent of PFLAG members from across the state, while LIFE and Allies will team up to create a shared float entry. The lead group in the parade, Mormons Building Bridges, is an assembly of more than 100 active LDS members marching together to show love and acceptance for the LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning & Asexual) community.
The Utah Pride Parade is one of the largest parades in the state, and is part of the weekend-long Utah Pride Festival, which includes an Interfaith worship service, a 5K run to raise money for scholarships, and a community festival. The event is coordinated by the Utah Pride Center, a community-based organization that provides support, education, outreach and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and asexual (LGBT or LGBTQA) individuals and their allies, through programs, services and resources. It has been held every year since 1983, and last year attracted more than 20,000 participants.
Love Is for Everyone (LIFE) is a student organization at Utah State University that brings together LGBTQA students and their straight allies. The group works to educate members of the campus community about LGBTQA issues, and serves as a safe place to for students to socialize, engage in advocacy efforts, and get involved in their community.<strong> </strong>
Mel Austin, a bisexual woman who is married to a transgender man (someone born biologically female, but who identifies as a man) said, “This is the second year that I’ve participated with LIFE, and it’s exciting to me that our participation is not just continuing, but growing. It’s fantastic to see more people getting involved with the fight for equality.” Austin emphasized that the inclusion of PFLAG this year brings people from Cache Valley without a direct connection to USU to Pride.
Allies on Campus is an organization of USU staff, students, and faculty who strive to create a welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT members of the campus community. Established in 2004, Allies are a diverse group of faculty and staff who come from a variety of programs, colleges and departments from across the University. Their common bond is a desire to support LGBT or questioning students. They are trained to be accessible, to provide a nonjudgmental ear, and to provide campus and community resources. <strong> </strong>Allies on Campus strives to reduce homophobia and transphobia, as well as other forms of heterosexism and gender identity based discrimination through education, advocacy, awareness, and creating a visible network of allies.
Chris Chapman, a psychologist working at the USU counseling center, works extensively with LGBTQA students at USU, providing a weekly support group and participating as part of the leadership committee of USU’s LGBTQA Allies program. He said “I admire the courage of individuals in the LGBTQA community and feel passionate about fighting for their rights. I decided to get involved because I feel this is one of the defining human rights causes of our era, and I want to see so many of the people I care about and love receive the rights and respect they deserve in our society.”
PFLAG stands for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. It is a national nonprofit organization with more than 200,000 members and 350+ local affiliates. PFLAG provides support, education, and advocacy to promote the health and well-being of LGBTQA people, their families, and their friends. Utah has five PFLAG chapters, in Logan/Cache Valley, Ogden, Provo, St. George, and Salt Lake City. The Logan/Cache Valley chapter held its first official event in February of this year. For more information on PFLAG’s national organization, visit www.pflag.org. For information on the Logan/Cache Valley chapter, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pflag-LoganCache-Valley/319620208064824
Gaylee “G” Bishop, a straight ally with a gay brother and member of PFLAG, said “I think it’s important that Cache Valley has a PFLAG, so that people who are coming out of the closet – for themselves, or if they have a gay family member – can have a support system and know that they aren’t the only ones in that situation”.
Patsy Marx, the mother of 6 wonderful children “whom I love very much,” is the president of PFLAG Logan/Cache Valley. Marx says she became active with PFLAG “because I needed to learn more about the great people of the LGBTQA community and give support to those who deserve the rights and freedoms this great country has promised to everyone.”
More information on Mormons Building Bridges can be found here: www.facebook.com/groups/mormonsbuildingbridges/ .