SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Pride Parade is back and bigger than ever after the pandemic put the celebration on pause for the past three years.
The Utah Pride Center made up for lost time with more floats, more people, and a longer route.
“To be back is incredible. Because we’re coming back stronger and louder than ever, and that’s absolutely beautiful,” said Maddy Farrer of Vineyard, one of the thousands of parade attendees.
Flags flowed along crowded sidewalks as cheers echoed throughout the streets of downtown Salt Lake City Sunday morning.
The return of colorful sights and sounds. Something many haven’t seen on this scale in years.
For Emma Hostetter, it’s more than simply being back. It’s being part of a family. Emma came out in the middle of the covid pandemic while attending BYU.
“My family did not take it well at first. They disowned me in the beginning, so I just felt like I didn’t have anyone,” Emma said.
Emma endured long months of navigating the changes.
“I just felt like I was all alone, and there was no one else out there like me,” Emma said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic unifying events like the pride parade weren’t happening.
“Knowing there are other people like me and that I wasn’t alone and that this is a shared experience would have been so much better,” Emma said.
Now Emma is surrounded and overwhelmed by love. A love she didn’t have when she first came out.
“I didn’t even know there were this many queer people or allies in Utah I didn’t know,” Emma said. “My sexuality used to be a curse and anxiety, and now it’s joy and love, and it’s so amazing.”
Just one story among the thousands of others, many with similar experiences. All at the parade to support, love, and accept.
“Everyone can be who they are, who they genuinely are. Whatever gender who they want to be, how they want to look, it doesn’t matter,” said Kendra Gonzalez, who was attending the parade from Taylorsville.