LOCAL NEWS

Pride Story Garden Shares Stories Of Struggle, Acceptance

Jun 3, 2021, 6:19 PM | Updated: Jun 4, 2021, 12:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A unique exhibit was put on display in Washington Square as part of Utah Pride Week. Members of the LGBTQ+ community created a Story Garden to celebrate the individual and collective stories of their struggle for acceptance. 

Organizers of the Pride Story Garden said COVID-19 forced them to come up with a different way to celebrate without a festival. As you walk through the story garden, you’ll see colorful presentations of pride organizations, sharing the stories of those communities and individuals. 

“The Pride Garden is a very unique experience that is only happening once in our lifetime,” said Jonathan Foulk, CEO of the Utah Pride Center. 

They started to celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community in Utah. The display Inside the Story Garden shares the story of the LGBTQ+ community in Utah and its individuals and their love for the community over the last 30 years. That’s when the Utah Pride Center was established. 

“We’re bringing the community together, especially this year, showing that you can be queer, you can be loud and you can be proud and we’re so excited to welcome the community back,” said Foulk. 

You will see coming out stories, highlighting acceptance, celebration, and inclusion. 

“I think it sends a message that you’re not alone. Especially in Utah, it’s really easy to feel alone when you’re LGBTQ+, and I think things like this really show, ‘Hey, there’s other people like you,’” Brooke Hoelzer said while they enjoyed the Story Garden. 

Events like this made Hoelzer feel more confident. 

“This is my first year being out to everyone. So, I wanted to come to pride, and I’m coming to the march on Sunday,” Hoelzer said. 

Hoelzer’s family accepted her as an individual. 

“It was definitely scary taking a step out. But, it was kind of like it felt like lifting a weight off,” Hoelzer said. 

Aster Hudgens still searches for acceptance at home, but found it at the Utah Pride gathering. 

“It’s really nice to be in such an accepting environment, and to see that there are other people like me,” said Hudgens. “Especially growing up in Provo, Utah. There’s not a lot of that. Even kids who are out, you don’t really know them because they are so far and few between.” 

The Utah Pride Center wants to make sure people don’t feel they need to hide who they are. 

“It really is bringing the history of the LGBTQ community to life. This is the largest LGBTQ exhibit in the country that has never been done to the size and scale before,” said Foulk. 

The Story Garden runs through Monday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Tickets are available online at utahpride.org or at Washington Square. 

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Pride Story Garden Shares Stories Of Struggle, Acceptance