What a year this has been! On a national front, we've seen a sitting President affirm his support of marriage equality, the implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" allowing LGBTQ soldiers to serve openly in the U.S military, new HUD rules protecting against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, gay marriage became legal in four additional states during the recent elections, and a second Federal appeals court ruling that the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) unconstitutionally discriminates against married same-sex couples.
During this year, members of the LGBTQ community in every state in the union continue to face instances where people blatantly, and gleefully, showed support for organizations that fund hate, discrimination and inequality in the name of free speech. Through extensive and often disturbing media coverage, we learned more about environments where LGBTQ students, at college levels and below, could no longer endure and brought the astounding statistics of LGBTQ youth suicide a little closer to home. The crescendo of political rhetoric against LGBTQ people continues to make many fear that the gains of this movement may be swept out from under us.
On a local front, Utah Pride has continued to lead forward on many visible issues like; laying a foundation of safety for LGBTQ youth through training and policy advocacy within Utah's foster care system, educating schools and other social service agencies; establishing vital resources to support the health and well-being of those in crisis; addressing the rhetoric from some of Utah's prominent leaders who spread homophobic lies about our families failing to provide a loving and nurturing environment for their children; highlighting the responsibilities of local media to properly and fairly represent our community and our issues; advocating on issues including having a book like "In Our Mothers' House" being relegated to the "by permission only" shelf (or even worse removed from circulation) in a Utah elementary school library.
Utah Pride is a state-wide organization of people — people just like you — joined in a common, grassroots mission to create positive change in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, families, allies and communities.
Our power and longevity as an organization is a reflection of this willingness of dedicated individuals to become personally and financially involved in our core programs and services including:
- Ensuring that Utah's LGTBQ youth have access to safe and affirming spaces (both at the Utah Pride Center and beyond), healthy relationship skills and life-enriching resources to help them build a strong foundation and a bright future.
- Ensuring that those struggling with coming out to loved ones, those being bullied, and those feeling isolated and hopeless have access to peer-support, social outlets and tools to build strong support systems.
- Heeding the warnings and creating programs and advocacy efforts to address the impending crisis in elder care where LGBTQ lives often become complicated and life threatening due to widespread homophobia, transphobia, racial injustice and economic inequality.
- Helping to build and strengthen relationships with individuals, businesses, government entities and faith-based organizations towards more inclusive communities.
- Providing life-saving advice and advocacy for individuals, families and communities in crisis through resources like our crisis support line and our "Zero Bully" resource network.
- Educating and encouraging Utah families to practice unconditional love and provide tools for acceptance for the LGBTQ people in their lives.
- Producing the state's largest LGBTQ celebration – the annual Utah Pride Festival and Parade.
Today, you, through your financial contributions and volunteerism, can help give us the building blocks necessary to enhance current services, enrich community connections and save lives. We are asking you to join us in building a stronger future for the LGBTQ community in Utah with your time, your money or both. Give what you can, and watch your dollars transform into a more inclusive Utah. Every dollar counts in ending discrimination, eliminating hateful talk, stopping bullying and saving lives. Thank you for providing the building blocks and doing everything you can to make our community a better place!
Nikki Boyer, Board President Valerie Larabee, Executive Director