Updated: Oct 25, 2022
History Saturday looked like a grassy Provo park, an overcast sky and two rows of flags lining the sidewalk of Lions Park.
But while its organizers sought to create a safe, family-friendly space for Utah’s first transgender pride festival, they also knew they didn’t host the event just for those who came, but also for youth who need to see those affirming the transgender community.
“There are people who are not here today who are so thankful this is happening,” said D Porter, a board member with Genderbands.
Genderbands, a national nonprofit that awards grants to help transgender people afford gender confirmation surgeries, hosted Pride in the Park: Utah Trans Pride, Saturday at Lions Park in Provo. The organization, which is based out of Orem, hopes to replicate the event every year.
The festival included tables decorated with the colors of the transgender flag, a wall of transgender heroes and mermaids who were available for selfies.
Porter, who uses they/them pronouns, said planning for the event began this summer after Genderbands looked at its next steps. They said people have voiced that they want the organization to also serve as a community center.
With resources for the LGBTQ community already existing in Salt Lake City, Genderbands wanted to host the festival close to home.
“We intentionally wanted to keep it in Utah County,” Porter said.
LGBTQ pride events are held in the summer, but Porter said Genderbands wanted to create an event specifically for the transgender community. While Pride was originally started by transgender, black women, Porter said Pride events today are dominated by white, cisgender, gay men.
“We need to create spaces where we highlight and put a mic to marginalized communities,” they said.
Tyler Rowe, a drag king from Salt Lake City who performs as Tyler Sign, wanted to be there for the moment.
“We are literally making history,” said Rowe, who uses they/them pronouns.
Rowe moved from Provo in August, and said they’re glad the first transgender pride event is happening in Utah County.
“It’s nice to be in the majority and not the minority,” they said.
For Savy Stay, who lives in Orem and uses they/them pronouns, the event was a chance to meet friends in the transgender community that they can relate to.
“I can say ‘they/them,’ and everyone knows what I’m talking about,” Stay said.
The event also creates space for the transgender community that isn’t a bar. Stay said they wish there were more alcohol-free, transgender-friendly spaces, such as LGBTQ coffee shops.
“This is great,” Stay said, “but it’s only happening once a year.”