Queer Advocates Help Create a More Inclusive City
June heralds the start of summer: longer days, warmer temps, and, of course, Pride Month, which celebrates the history and diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. While queer culture has not always been prominent in Utah, it has been present, and local queer-owned and -friendly businesses—including Park City’s Lucky Ones Coffee (1255 Park Ave, 252-531-8204, luckyonescoffee.com) and Salt Lake City’s new Under the Umbrella Bookstore (511 W 200 S, Ste 120, 801-922-0923, undertheumbrellabookstore.com)—are creating a more welcoming community for everyone.
“The goal has always been inclusivity,” says Taylor Matkins, cofounder of Lucky Ones Coffee along with Katie Holyfield. One of the only prominently queer-owned businesses in Park City, Lucky Ones further fosters this mission by employing and empowering people with disabilities. Matkins explains the importance of displaying a rainbow flag to mark Lucky Ones as a welcoming place: she says a Pride flag is a simple gesture that indicates, “I’m a safe space. I accept you. I love you. Come in here, and be who you are.”
Matkins collaborates with Park City’s LGBTQ+ Task Force (parkcity.org/about-us/social-equity), which launched in February 2021 to spur social equity efforts. “Our mission is to spread the love, but also to make people in the whole Wasatch Back, not just Park City ... feel included,” explains Lynn Ware Peek, Park City’s community engagement liaison. Over the past year, the task force has sponsored Pride Month events and partnered with local group Park City Pride to further advocacy and foster connections in the community.
While Cami Richardson, cochair of Park City’s LGBTQ+ Task Force, finds the town to be an accepting place, she says awareness is the key for that inclusivity to continue and to grow. This year, the task force floated the idea of lighting up the iconic McPolin Barn in rainbow colors—an important public recognition after recent contention over rainbow representation. In March 2021, students lit Brigham Young University’s giant “Y” in rainbow hues to protest its ban on queer relationships; a year later, the university pointedly fenced off the Y and banned demonstrations. In Salt Lake City, Laziz Kitchen’s rainbow flag was torn down multiple times, including last June; while the owners rehung it each time, the incidents provided jarring evidence that intolerance remains.
In some places, “still to be visibly queer is taking a risk,” says Kaitlyn Mahoney, founder of queer bookstore Under the Umbrella. The bookstore is the latest addition to the “growing, diversifying community” in Utah that Derek Kitchen, a state senator and co-owner of Laziz, describes. Queer community encompasses “a sense of safety, a place to be welcomed and embraced,” he says. “It’s like coming home—that sense of relief when you walk in the door.”
Park City Pride celebrations
Check out Park City Pride on Facebook (facebook.com/parkcitypride) and Instagram (@parkcitypride) for updates on the latest local events. For other area LGBTQ+ support and resources, consult with the following organizations:
Encircle Offers safe spaces and community resource centers for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. encircletogether.org
Iowa House Hosts queer-friendly gatherings, weekly queer and transgender dinners, community building, and more. @iowahouseslc
Project Rainbow Provides rainbow flags for homes and businesses during significant dates throughout the year, such as Pride Week. projectrainbowutah.org
Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce Represents more than 140 small business, corporate, and nonprofit members who strive to bring diversity and inclusion to workplaces throughout Utah. utahlgbtqchamber.org
Utah Pride Center Hosts Salt Lake City’s annual Pride celebrations and provides educational opportunities, events, and a safe space with resources for the LGBTQ+ community. utahpridecenter.org