With the theme “Unapologetic,” Friday’s Utah Pride Rally and March was one of three events that kicked off Pride Week.
“Queerleaders” and “foolsballs” players led the march from the Utah State Capitol to Washington Square, while speakers shared their stories along the way. Olivia Jaramillo, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and director of public outreach at Equality Utah, spoke unapologetically about living authentically without fear of judgment or unbelonging.
As Jaramillo spoke, 17-year-old Lillian Hawkins jetted around on roller blades, taking it all in while their mom, Marilee Hawkins, looked on. The younger Hawkins enjoys all the events in Pride Week but cherishes the rally’s lack of corporate influence.
“It’s a great time to gain togetherness,” Lillian Hawkins said. “I’ve gone for the last three years [that] they have had this rally. It’s honestly a great opportunity to meet other people in your community … There is a lot of corporate stuff in the parade and festival. While it’s good to be there, the rally is free of corporate.”
First-time attendee Zane Lythgoe attended the rally and march with enthusiasm and appreciates the presence of Pride events, which are put on by the Utah Pride Center. For Lythgoe, the rally provided a judgment-free atmosphere and sense of belonging.
“I have to put up my walls and stuff because of the people I’m around most of the time,” Lythgoe said. “I like having an opportunity to be myself without having to worry about anything.”
Friend Jessica Orton joined Lythgoe to lend support.
“[Attending] shows the people I care about that I’m there for them and support them,” Orton said.