The fifth Provo Pride Festival was in the heart of Provo, at the Historic Utah County Courthouse downtown, right at the corner of University Avenue and Center Street and directly across the street from the Provo City Center Temple.
That proximity was to put the festival, which up until Saturday had been held annually in a park, in the same location as other local festivals, not because of the temple’s location, according to James Bunker, the festival’s director and the president of Provo Pride.
The fifth festival was its biggest yet, with 5,000 people anticipated by the end of the day.
“It’s an emotional experience, just this festival is an emotional experience,” said Bunker, who performs in drag under the name Jackie Ohh Starr. “We are changing this area one step at a time.”
The festival’s theme was “Moving Mountains,” which fits into Provo Pride’s aim to respectfully push boundaries.
It was also the third year downtown businesses have supported the festival. Thirty downtown businesses flew rainbow flags this year, compared to 10 two years ago.
Bunker said the festival means support for LGBTQ youth, whether they are out or not.
“This means they can see they don’t have to be afraid anymore,” he said. “It shows them they are not alone.”
Visitors wore rainbow flags as capes, listened to musical performances by LGBT acts and danced Saturday at the festival.
Jordana Cashman, a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, was there with a table for the Understanding Same-Gender Attraction group, a group for LGBTQ students at BYU that is not official or university-sanctioned.
It was Cashman’s first year at the Provo festival.
“It is cool to see my own community in a LGBT way,” she said.
Cashman said the relationship between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LGBTQ community is complex, but that seeing the festival next to a temple was symbolic for her.
“The better we can integrate the two, the better,” she said.
Angie McKnight and Marshall Mason wore pride flags tied around their necks as capes Saturday afternoon as they listened to live music by the courthouse. It was both of their first times at Provo’s festival.
For McKnight, who is from Payson, the festival was a way to show the LGBTQ community is a part of the local community.
“For me, it’s we’re here, we’re part of this world,” she said.
Mason, who is from Spanish Fork, liked seeing the families walking among the booths.