In support of President Deneece Huftalin’s inclusivity initiative, Salt Lake Community College participated in the Utah Pride Festival Parade for the first time on Sunday, June 7.
Walking behind a #inclusivitySLCC banner, a large contingent of SLCC Pride supporters assembled with bright smiles and signs, wearing blue t-shirts with a vest pattern, international symbols of peace and love and the SLCC logo over the heart.
Jo Enscoe, the director of diversity and multicultural affairs, says SLCC coordinators worked with Institutional Marketing to create just the right message to reflect the leadership efforts by President Huftalin’s Inclusivity and Equity Initiative.
“Our Vice President of Student Services said the President felt strongly about having a presence … 275 people signed up and we even got a car!” says Enscoe.
Service learning coordinator Lucy Smith jumped at the chance to organize the event and worked with Enscoe to coordinate activities.
“We thought maybe we’d get 50 to 100 people, but the response was amazing,” says Smith.
While the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community has faced legal and political challenges regarding civil rights in recent years, the mood at this year’s Utah Pride Festival and Parade centered around unity.
“Everybody seems happy, relaxed and orderly,” says Dr. Clifton Sanders, the provost for academic affairs. “Our turnout shows that there are a lot of people in SLCC’s community who are committed to inclusivity, equality and diversity.”
“Salt Lake Community College’s welcoming and inclusive environment is to not discriminate in any way, but to accept everyone as learners of knowledge. This is a culmination and celebration of champions of advocacy for equal rights and protections under the law. It’s pretty festive today — particularly with regard to recent legislation.”
In attendance was online SLCC student and customer service support secretary, Alyssa Bloom, who joined the event after her employer mentioned a volunteer opportunity.
“It’s awesome! There’s a lot of love in the air … and a lot of respect,” says Bloom, who served as a volunteer traffic controller. “I’m a major in Criminal Justice and I believe in equality.”
Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, was also on hand during the festivities.
A long-time local radio host and co-founder of both the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah, Dabakis received the festival’s Pete Suazo Political Action Award.
“After decades of Pride Festivals, never have Utahns had more reason to celebrate than at Pride 2015 … This is a celebration of 30 to 40 thousand people here,” says Dabakis.
Attorney Paul Burke, a Utah Hero Award Winner, led a 2013 legal team with former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman (Burke’s “favorite republican”) in filing the U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief (friend of the court) addressing the Defense of Marriage Act and California Proposition No. 8 on behalf of the Utah Pride Center.
Burke recently returned from Washington, D.C. where he presented oral arguments.
“This is a great event. It’s a celebration with your friends and neighbors. It shines a positive light on a community who, for so long, has suffered discrimination,” says Burke.
Other Pride participants included Willy Marshall, who served as volunteer driver for the award winners. Marshall made national news after becoming Utah’s first openly gay mayor after he was elected Mayor of Big Water, Utah in 2001.
Miguel Gallegos, an aspiring police officer and three-year Pride volunteer, says he will take a writing class this summer at SLCC to prepare for the NPOST exam.
“I think it’s a great source of opportunity where everyday citizens can access great education,” says Gallegos.
He drove a golf cart through the parade route to help with event coordination and deliveries. In contemplating his future plans, Gallegos says, “One day I want to run for mayor of Salt Lake City.”
Pride Parade photos by Ashley Frias