[Courtesy photo]

Visitors to Moab this week may notice a sense of festivity in the air. Rainbows won’t just appear in the sky — thanks to the vision of Amy Stocks, founder of Moab Pride, they’ll pop up in local businesses and organizations throughout the community, proudly announcing that this is a city that celebrates its diversity.

When Stocks floated the idea of a Pride Festival in Moab four years ago, she did so informally on Facebook, with a bit of humor and no expectations. The encouraging response shocked her, and she continues to be moved by the city’s ebullient embrace of its LGBTQ community, as Moab Pride and its yearly festival grow in reach and popularity every year.

“I was surprised,” she said. “But thinking back, I probably shouldn’t have been. Moab has a magic to it; once the community is ready to embrace something, they just take it and make it Moab’s.”

Under Stocks’ leadership, the organization and its festival have focused on celebrating the entire community, highlighting the character of Moab as a city friendly to people of all walks of life, said friend and fellow Moab Pride founding member, Helene Rohr.

“Amy is from here and was able to tap deeply into the community,” Rohr said. “Support in the first year actually wasn’t from the LGBT community, it was mainly support from everyone else … As it turned out, Moab is proud of its entire community. That’s what Moab is about more than anything: community.”

Stocks and the founding members of the organization were firm from the beginning that the organization be called “Moab Pride,” and be family friendly and open to the whole community. The first Moab Pride festival drew more than 500 attendees – 10 percent of the city’s population.

Stocks envisioned the festival as a musical, colorful event showcasing Moab’s artistic and creative spirit, sending a message that that this small town in the West welcomes everyone.

“Small town pride festivals are super important,” she said. “It’s especially important for local kids’ confidence. It personalizes the pride movement when you have a festival in your own community.”

Since merging with Utah Pride this year, Stocks is in a paid position and has been able to expand her role, including outreach efforts to other small communities forming Pride organizations. She focuses her volunteer energies on Youth Rock Camp Moab, bringing young people from across the U.S. for an immersive musical experience, and culminating in a band performance.

The community itself is what drives her, Stocks said. “The focus is celebrating diversity of our community. We just have a completely amazing community.”

This Week: Amy Stocks

Moab has a magic to it; once the community is ready to embrace something, they just take it and make it Moab’s.