“We’ve come a long way since the early days.” As Pride Month comes to a close, we sat down with Executive Director, Troy Williams, to learn about the history of Pride in Utah, Equality Utah’s accomplishments, and their continuing work in the fight for equality .
Can you tell us more about the work that you do?
Equality Utah is the state’s premier LGBTQ advocacy organization. For two decades, we’ve been working to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahans in one of the most conservative states in the nation.
Utah was the first state to overturn a ban on gay marriage in 2013. Since then we have consistently advanced pro-LGBTQ legislation.
We also feature engaging DEI trainings for businesses and certify businesses as Business Equality Leaders. Taking part in Equality Utah’s interactive trainings is a big step forward: meeting people where they currently are, building on shared values, and opening hearts to the benefits of having a diverse work team. Ultimately, all our efforts combined are what help make Utah a more welcoming, inclusive place for everyone to live and to work.
Can you tell us how Pride has evolved in Salt Lake City through the years?
According to a Gallup poll, SLC is the 7th gayest city per capita in the US. Troy Williams has been part of the movement for almost 20 years and was recently named one of the 50 LGBTQ Champions of Pride by The Advocate magazine. We’ve come a long way since the early days.
Are there any resources for people to use to best educate themselves on the history of Pride?
The documentary Quiet Heroes explores the HIV/AIDS crisis in Utah in the 80’s. It’s a much watch! Other films and series to watch include MILK starring Sean Penn, POSE on Netflix and the ABC miniseries, When We Rise by Dustin Lance Black.
What are you most looking forward to for Pride Month?
We hope that all of Utah will open their hearts and help us create a more inclusive Utah. We can show up for each other no matter how we identify.
What is a big win Equality Utah has achieved that you’d like to share?
We recently became the 19th state to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy. But our work is not over. We are now battling a wave of cruel legislation that is targeting transgender children. And we are here to fight for them.
What are some initiatives you are all working on right now?
Right now we are working to support and defend transgender youth. There has been a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping across conservatives states. We need to make sure that we hold the line in Utah, and not lose ground on the many gains we have achieved.
What are some direct actions we can work on to help you achieve your current initiatives and goals?
Sign up to volunteer on our website. Get out to vote, or consider running for office.
What do you all think the best kept secret of Salt Lake City/Utah is?
If you haven’t been to our Allies Gala (this year on August 27 at the Eccles theater) you are missing out! It’s been called Utah’s Met Gala or Utah’s Gay Oscars. Check out Allies2022.org for more info! Eddie Izzard marketing
We are thrilled to have one of our MyCommunity Partners executing their incredible work from The Shop every day. Troy and the Equality Utah Team can often be found on our 3rd floor lounge for their team meetings, say hi the next time you see them. Remember, continue staying informed, exercising your right to vote, and Pride is every single month, not just June.