Salt Lake LGBTQ bar serves free community Thanksgiving dinner

Nov 23, 2023, 10:39 PM | Updated: 11:11 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A downtown Salt Lake City bar hosted a unique Thanksgiving dinner for people who may not otherwise have had a place to go to this year. Club Verse served up more than just a holiday dinner to members of the LGBTQ community.

On another night, Club Verse might be filled with dancing, or maybe a DJ or karaoke. But on this particular Thursday night, the aroma of ham, turkey, and all the fixings danced through the State Street bar instead.

“We want to offer that safe space by taming down the lights, taming down the music,” said owner Michael Repp.

One television was playing a football game, while on another, a fire crackled on the screen. Repp was ready to serve anyone in the queer community who was displaced from their family on Thanksgiving, whether by choice or by force.

“We want them to feel and know that this is a comfort of their couch in their living room, where they’re having dinner with their friends,” he said. “We believe that everybody is entitled to a safe space, to have a hot meal and be with like-minded individuals who may be feeling their same trauma or healing from that trauma as well.”

The holidays can be hard and dark, without a place to go.

“It’s very easy to just feel looked over, or isolated, or misplaced, or displaced,” said Roman Brashier, VIP Host for Club Verse.

Brashier explained how a dear friend of theirs was planning to spend the day alone.

“And I was like, ‘No, please don’t. Like, that’s what we’re here for,’ ” Brashier expressed. “‘We might not be siblings by blood, but… you’re our family, too.'”

Brashier said no matter someone’s gender identity, age, or housing situation, they hoped that people would genuinely feel and experience a safe space at Club Verse.

A line of people went through the buffet, which Repp said was professionally prepared by a local bakery, before sitting down at tables that featured festive fall centerpieces. Folks enjoyed good food, laughter, and camaraderie with each other.

“I think it’s hard to put into words what that means when you’re provided that just unconditional embrace from people who you might not even know very well,” Brashier said, getting choked up as they spoke.

They said that it’s wonderful to be with chosen family members.

“It’s a holiday meant to be thankful, and feel loved, and feel family,” Brashier said.

Repp said they also offer free holiday meals on Christmas Day and Easter, but they aim to offer a welcoming space every day.

“This is our second home,” he said. “A lot of a lot of individuals come here that go nowhere else because they know that we’re safe.”

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Salt Lake LGBTQ bar serves free community Thanksgiving dinner