‘Equality Celebration’ takes guests back to 1969 in recognition of LGBT community’s gains

Dancers at the 8th annual "Equality Celebration" in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of revelers in St. George took a trip back in time to 1969 Saturday evening – complete with Beatles music, flower power headbands, tie-dye and go-go boots – in celebration of the gains achieved by the LGBTQ community in the ensuing decades.

Beatles tribute band Hard Day’s Night performs during the 8th annual “Equality Celebration” in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The eighth annual “Equality Celebration” took place at the Dixie State University Film Studio overlooking St. George with the theme “All You Need is Love.”

About 300 celebrators gathered for the event in an effort to raise awareness and money for Equality Utah’s efforts in Southern Utah and the state as a whole. The organization seeks to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families.

In recognition of the era, attendees wore 1960s fashion and enjoyed dinner and a concert by Beatles tribute band Hard Day’s Night.

“The ’60s were a very tumultuous time. It was a time of war, a time of student protest – it was a time of a political divide,” said Stephen Lambert, event co-chair and Equality Utah’s Southern Utah coordinator.

“The ’60s also brought about an unprecedented social change,” he said. “There was a change in social consciousness.”

Revelers dance during an outdoor performance during the 8th annual “Equality Celebration” in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Focusing in on some of 1969’s landmark gay rights events, such as the Stonewall riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said there have been big gains by the LGBTQ community since then.

“That was 49 years ago. Now look at everything we’ve achieved over these decades,” Williams said. “Those riots launched the modern LGBT political movement.”

“We in Utah are now the beneficiaries of it. We are one of the few red states that have actually achieved nondiscrimination legal protections,” he said. “We’re the only Republican-led state to pass pro-LGBT legislation through a Republican-controlled House. It’s incredible.”

Williams outlined some of the recent accomplishments made in part thanks to Equality Utah and its many partners.

“In 2017, we overturned what was called the ‘no promo homo law.’ This was a prohibition that public school teachers and students had where they couldn’t talk about gay issues in the classroom.”

Read more: Law against discussion of homosexuality in schools repealed

L-R: Stephen Lambert, Troy Williams and Robyn Boudreau speak during a press conference at the 8th annual “Equality Celebration” in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The organization also worked with the Utah State Board of Education to implement anti-bullying measures aimed specifically at LGBT youth. Equality Utah also successfully lobbied in the 2018 Legislature to secure policies that protect LGBTQ youth with bills that fund mental health services, crisis hotlines and mobile outreach clinics.

“We’re just at the table working with so many folks – from the State Board of Education to the Department of Health to the LDS church. We’re all working together to try to help LGBT kids, and that is unprecedented.”

However, Williams said, there is still much work to be done.

“We are working really hard in 2018 to expand the circle of love and to gather more people as supporters of the movement,” Lambert said.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations who are working toward goals of greater inclusion and equality in Southern Utah.

Representatives from Switchpoint Community Resource Center are honored during the 8th annual “Equality Celebration” in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Switchpoint Community Resource Center, a shelter facility in St. George that helps homeless and impoverished people move toward self-sufficiency, was honored for its commitment to support struggling LGBTQ individuals.

“Unfortunately, there are people who are not welcome in their home after they come out. That puts them in a very vulnerable situation, and Switchpoint is a safe haven,” LGBT advocate Linda Stay said. “They serve our community without bias and without judgement.”

“We are so honored and so pleased to be recognized by Equality Utah,” said David Dangerfield, chairman of the board of directors for Switchpoint. “We try very, very hard to make sure that is a safe and a welcoming environment for all folks in our community.”

Read more: Switchpoint shelters 2,000 so far, affordable housing in the works

Jayci Bash, co-chair of Allies on Campus, a support organization for LGBT students at Southern Utah University and high school-age youth, was recognized as one of the event’s honorees for her work in Iron County.

L-R: Jayci Bash and Sue Lipsman are honored during the 8th annual “Equality Celebration” in St. George, Utah, May 19, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

“It was a grass-roots effort 10 years ago put on by faculty and staff who saw a need that wasn’t being met by our administration,” Bash said of Allies on Campus. “So, they put this organization together and over those 10 years have trained hundreds and hundreds of people to really create a community.

“Most of our LGBT students feel very safe. They feel like it’s a home, and they have people in their corner. It’s really the first time in some people’s lives that they’ve ever felt they weren’t alone.”

Sue Lipsman was also presented with the “Excellence in Advocacy” award for her work in Southern Utah.

“We need to educate people and bring people to a point where they can understand all of us,” Lipsman said. “I’m so proud to support the organization and get other folks involved and make this a really loving community.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • PatriotLiberal May 20, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    This looks like it was such a cool event. I wish I could have been there.

  • NickDanger May 20, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    What I don’t understand about gays is, why is gayness something worth celebrating? Is heterosexuality also worth celebrating? You don’t see straight people prancing around in costumes because we’re allowed to have sex with each other.

    • comments May 20, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      That is an interesting thing. It isn’t so much about celebrating gayness as it is about celebrating all forms of sexual degeneracy, and with all this ‘transgender’ nonsense being the most recent trend I’m going to say it’s also about celebrating sexual confusion. If this was LA or SF there’d be a massive after party in the form of… I’m not even going to say it. But that’s not even a joke.

    • youcandoit May 20, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Agree also if we say anything about it they accuse us of discriminating them.

    • Lee Saunders May 20, 2018 at 8:29 pm

      You’re not proud of who you are? Why shouldn’t they be proud of who they are? Are you still of the opinion that being gay is a choice? If you are, perhaps you should do some unbiased research and learn about the culture. By the way, no one is more heterosexual than I am.

      • comments May 20, 2018 at 10:59 pm

        hahahaha @ “the culture”. The prominent feature of LGBTQ-whatever or let’s just say gay culture IS PROMISCUITY. It’s the reason HIV became epidemic within “the culture” in the 1980s, and from what I hear not much has changed about “the culture” since then. Is promiscuity really something that should be celebrated? Ask me, I say no way. It’s as I’ve said in the past, it isn’t really “equality” they are after. They already have their equality.

      • Utahguns May 21, 2018 at 11:35 am

        Well I guess I should start celebrating that I’m NOT queer !
        BTW, I have that right you know….

        But really, I have a lot of other things that I can celebrate instead of wasting my time “advertising” my sexuality.
        Which starts making me think that this event was just a poor excuse for masquerading as a “queer dating service”.

      • Mike P May 21, 2018 at 11:47 am

        Mr Saunders, The thing is, we ALREADY know AII about their “culture” , how couldn’t we? We’ve pretty much had their “culture” slammed down our throats for decades now. Why cant they just let it be? O.K., your gay, whoop e de! Who cares besides you? It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere in the media and Hollywood. They cant even produce a T.V. show without having at least one major homosexual on it. Just don’t understand why you cant be happy without having these public celebrations.
        I’m not racist, and I’m not discriminating. I’m just tired of all this. Just let it be, be happy, and live your life to the fullest.

      • ladybugavenger May 21, 2018 at 5:48 pm

        You still think it’s not a DC choice? Haha! It’s as much of a choice as me smoking cigarettes at 13. I frick’n loved it!!! I was born to smoke! (Sounds just as lame as being born gay, but I’m sticking with it as long as you stick with someine being born gay)

    • JJ May 20, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Yes, they are both worth celebrating. And they are both celebrated, albeit in different ways. What’s the problem?

  • RadRabbit May 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

    They should really drop the T from the LGBTQ being attracted to someone of the same sex is a lot different than someone with gender dysphoria that has a mental disorder. I have some friends who are gay that feel it hurts their cause by including it under their umbrella.

  • utahdiablo May 21, 2018 at 11:17 am

    As to the Beatles tribute band…..you can’t Beat the Meatles

  • John May 21, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    You can put all the lipstick in the world on a pig and it will still be a pig

    • Real Life May 21, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      Them are some interesting looking “ladies”.

  • comments May 22, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Sometimes I might be too hard on these LGBTxyz crowd. In some ways I get what they’re going for. I just wish in some cities they’d tone it wayyyyyyy down.

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