SALT LAKE CITY — After the Utah Pride Festival in June was canceled due to the pandemic, the Utah Pride Center had to get creative. They came up with a socially distant "road rally" where members of the community could decorate their cars, honk their horns and drive through downtown Salt Lake City to show their support on National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11.
"People are in their cars, they brought their dogs, they brought their family pods and everybody's safe, but they can see each other," said Rob Moolman, executive director of the Utah Pride Center.
Hundreds of cars decorated with pride flags showed up to the event Sunday morning. Chris Jensen, vice-chair on the board of directors for the Utah Pride Center, said organizers were overwhelmed with the turnout.
"It's bigger than what we thought it would be, and it just keeps on going," Jensen added.
For attendees like Savannah Skyler, the event coinciding with national coming out day was very meaningful.
"Coming out is a huge part of my story," Skyler said.
When she was 12 years old, Skyler made national news by coming out as lesbian in front of her church's congregation.
"While I was coming out, they turned off my microphone," she said. "I felt very crushed, I didn't feel loved, I felt like I lost a family."
Amidst the changes of the pandemic, events like the road rally remind her that she is not alone.
"I am surrounded by people that make me feel valid, so I feel like it's a very freeing moment," she said.
Because members of the LGBTQ community have higher suicide rates than the national average, mental health resources are a major focus for the Utah Pride Center. Organizers said events like the road rally add to that mission by providing a space where people can be reminded that they are supported and loved by those around them.
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