Pride Week 2023 events will feature an exciting calendar of events prepared for our campus, including drag shows, markets, talent competitions, queer prom, and more.
Pride Week at the U is an annual event honoring LGBTQIA+ histories, cultures, and lives. Our queer and trans community at the University of Utah is powerful, persistent, resilient— unstoppable. The history of queer and trans community at the university is a proud piece of larger histories of LGBTQIA+ movements and resilience in the face of obstacles and opposition. Join the University of Utah in celebrating our unstoppable community during Pride Week 2023, March 27 through April 1, for an exciting calendar of events prepared for our campus, including drag shows, markets, talent competitions, queer prom, and more.
Jasen Lee: Hello, I’m Jasen Lee with the division for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Today, we’re speaking with Shelby Hearn, who is the coordinator of education, leadership, and development in the U’s LGBT Resource Center. Shelby, thank you for joining us. I’m really hoping you can tell us about the exciting upcoming Pride Week. But first, before we get to that, can you give a brief explanation as to how you came up with the theme of this year of “Unstoppable?”
Shelby Hearn: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Jasen. So “Unstoppable” was one of a handful of themes that the EDI marketing team and our office kind of presented to our committee, our planning committee of faculty, staff, and students. And we had them kind of deliberate, think through like, what are the vibes of these different themes, what are they giving you? And I think “Unstoppable” wound up really resonating with folks and do in part to the political climate of the last couple of years, now when it comes to LGBT and particularly trans legislation, folks protesting LGBT events and all in public, right? We’ve been seeing a pretty significant uptick of that and in some ways kind of a repeat of history when it comes to the types of legislation we’re seeing around drag and around queer expression. And so I think “Unstoppable” really resonated, given that, you know, we’ve seen stuff like this happen before. It didn’t stop our community from thriving and gathering then, and it’s not going to stop us from celebrating and thriving, now.
Jasen Lee: That’s right. The momentum continues. So, Pride Week starts March 27th, goes through April 1st. I was hoping you could kind of give us a kind of a rundown of what you guys are going to be doing.
Shelby Hearn: Absolutely. Our committee has put together such a stellar slate of events. I’m really excited for, just about everything. We’ll start the week on Monday around noon with our opening party up by the Block U. It’ll be wrapped in our progress Pride Flag colors. As has become tradition for campus and folks will be able to gather, take awesome photos with the Block U, eat and be in community and celebrate the beginning of the week. We’ve got a great panel that afternoon of our LGBTQIA+ alumni talking about what it’s like to navigate job searches and kind of professional life as out Queer people.
On Tuesday, we’re going to be celebrating our faculty and staff at the U with our LGBT faculty staff talent showcase, a mixer and talent show, and art gallery. Also, be presenting some awards for our employees as well. And then throughout the week, starting on Wednesday, we’ll have our Pride Plaza goes Wednesday and Thursday of the week, featuring our local LGBT-owned and allied businesses and artists selling their wares.
And then we’ll have our gender-affirming clothing swap and salon starting on Thursday and going through Friday. And that will be free clothes that have been donated starting like mid-February. Folks have been bringing donations of clothing in and folks can go and take what they need, find clothes that feel really good, get to play with some makeup, nail polish, things like that in the salon area.
And Thursday night, we’ve got a drag show. I’m really, really excited for our drag show, in part because it’s a really diverse cast of types of drag. We’ve got drag kings and folks playing with gender in ways that might not have even thought of before, and they’re all local, right down to people being a part of our campus community, some of our performers are employees and students here at the university. So really excited for our drag show, Thursday evening in the Union Building in Crimson View.
And we’re going to finish up the week with our second annual Queer Prom. That’s going to be on Saturday, April 1st, from 7 to 10 p.m. in Child Hall on the business building and nineties theme, come ready to really dance and get some great photos taken. We’re gonna have a good time.
Jasen Lee: So, I mean obviously it sounds like such a great time and you want to continue the momentum that has been going on in your community for so long. Do you have something that you want people to kind of hold on to and look forward to as you have all these great events? And what do you want them to come away with after they’ve experienced all of what has been going on in Pride Week?
Shelby Hearn: I think, you know, with again, with this theme of “Unstoppable” in mind, I really hope folks are able to take away from this a real sense of community support that is felt across campus, something that I think is really important about Pride Week, in general, is that this is an institutionally led week of events that the folks on our committee are from all corners of campus. So that folks feel that our LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, staff, that they are celebrated, supported, loved in all places across campus, not just our LGBT Resource Center kind of little corner, but that they have a community here. They’ve got support here and will be able to continue to really feel celebrated even beyond this week.
Jasen Lee: Shelby, that sounds like a great list of events, but if people want to find out more about everything that’s going to be going on, where were they go?
Shelby Hearn: Folks can find the whole calendar of events on EDI’s website at diversity.utah.edu/pride. Just check out the Pride Week calendar. Also, follow the LGBT Resource Center on our social media, Facebook/Instagram (@lgbtresource). We’re posting there as well about all the events you can look forward to.
Jasen Lee: Pride Week begins March 27th through April 1st. Looking forward to it. Thanks, Shelby.