The Daily Herald – Happy Valley may be the last place one would suspect to find a gay pride festival, but sure enough the second one in two years was held Saturday.
The Provo Pride Festival was filled with families of all sorts listening to live music, dining from food trucks and visiting various festival booths.
That was the goal, according to Tosh Metzger, Provo Pride Festival president. He said the slogan “It gets happier” was designed to show how family-friendly the festival really was.
“That’s what’s unique about us, it’s our flair,” Metzger said.
Metzger knew family appeal was the driving factor for success for the festival. With Utah Valley being predominantly conservative with a family-oriented culture, the family-friendly theme was the way to get people out and into the festival.
“It’s good. It helps because it gives people more info,” Metzger said of the festival’s welcoming atmosphere.
Michael Bronson, a member of the Provo Pride council, said the festival was also an outreach for the “underground” gay community of Utah Valley.
“It was meant to happen,” he said. “You have such a diverse culture, even though it’s so conservative here. There are so many gays who need to show their colors.”
Ultimately, there were very few things that set the festival apart from any other festival. There were many booths geared toward advocacy for gay rights and, yes, there was a drag queen show, but there was little that otherwise distinguished it as a gay pride festival.
There weren’t even protesters like there were last year.
“We’re always going to have that [threat],” Bronson said, “but we don’t have any protesters.”
The festival received one threat that someone was going to arrive with protesters in tow, but it never happened.
“People [in Provo] are more upset about the parking than the gays,” Metzger said with a chuckle.
Kyle Davis with the Human Rights Campaign said there have been hecklers, but overall not much opposition. He said the Provo Pride Festival is geared to help educate the public about the LGBTQ community.
“The best way for people to understand gay people is to meet them,” he said. “Provo Pride is a lot more important than some of the other festivals.”
In total there were 61 booths at the festival, more than double that of last year.
“It’s showing that maybe people are getting more open-minded,” Davis said.
Metzger said more open-mindedness can yield to more assistance in same-sex legislation for Utah County.
“Provo has a pride,” he said. “Now we can help participate.”