A member of the Moth Closet, a flash dance club group out of Salt Lake City, dances with an audience gathered at the Helipad during Pride Festival 2017. Moth Closet will take place at Moab Pride Festival 2018 on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Helipad. [Photo courtesy of Moab Pride Festival]

This weekend, Moab’s QTs come out to play for the eighth annual Moab Pride Festival and are celebrating with intersectional workshops, music, dancing and performances from a variety of queer and trans artists.

This annual event provides a public outlet where the community of queer and trans (QTs) people in southeast Utah can gather to celebrate with each other and the larger Moab community. A visibility march on Saturday, Sept. 29, is a core part of the festival where participants are marching for their rights to be visible and safely exist in their community.

“Despite the tourism economy making our small town seem like a big city sometimes, Moab is absolutely a rural town in southeast Utah,” Cali Bee said, a Moab Pride Festival organizer. “We are geographically isolated, and the ‘it’s not okay to be gay’ sentiment that pervades the state can be found in our town, too.”

Bee spoke about the importance of the visibility march for the people in the community who identify with non-binary gender and sexuality roles, and instead define themselves as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer/questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA).

“For us, our visibility march is still a visibility march — not a parade — because we are literally still marching for visibility down here,” Bee said. “Why? So that LGBTQIA and questioning people of all ages can see examples of QTs living authentically in our community safely. Being visible for me is about being able to see each other, in order to build community so that we don’t lose any more precious, bright rainbow lights who otherwise may think they are alone in this life fight.”

The Moab Pride Festival begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, with a series of workshops, including a do-it-yourself book binding with Wanting to Die Poetry.

Moab Pride Festival Organizer Steph Hamborsky emphasized the importance of a Pride festival in rural communities in Moab as well, including sharing her experience working with QT youth in the Grand County School District.

“I think the isolation and rural aspects of Moab can make it really hard for people to feel like there’s an alternative, or queer/trans, community that will embrace them because we’re not next to an urban center,” Hamborsky said. “Generally, larger queer populations exist in large population centers, so it’s really important for us to create that space in Moab. Also, the prevalent bullying culture in the schools in Grand County make it so the students don’t feel as welcome there as they should, and so that’s a huge focus for us, too. … There’s a lot of intersection between mental health issues and suicide and queer and trans identities, and so doing interventions in the schools is really important.”

Prioritizing intersectionality and wide variety of events, Moab Pride Festival will have something for everyone to experience.

“We have so many events,” Bee said. “We have a contact improv jam on Thursday, Sept. 27, with special facilitators from Salt Lake City; we have the third annual Spit Love, a queer poetry slam.”

There are workshops on consent, “queerstory” and intersectionality, making musicals, herbal medicinals and drag persona.

All events, except for the events being hosted at the World Famous Woody’s Tavern, are appropriate for all ages and are donation-based, Bee said.

The festival this year focuses on maintaining a family friendly and all-ages environment.

“Overall, we have a lot of youth-friendly events, more than we had last year,” Hamborsky said. “I’m personally really excited for the Moth Closet on Saturday night (Sept. 29) . It’s all-ages and I think having an all-ages, family friendly dance event during pride weekend is really important, especially because of the reputation that a lot of pride festivals have for being really driven by partying and drinking culture and things like that.”

Hamborsky said she is “super excited” for a mini-musical DIY sing-along event on Friday, Sept. 28, at Star Hall after students are released from school.

“That’s youth only, and I think it’ll be a great way to integrate kids on Friday into pride weekend,” Hamborsky said.

Both Hamborsky and Bee encourage people of all identities to attend the Moab Pride Festival this year and experience all of the multi-faceted events that are taking place.

“I think for everyone, but especially for people who don’t identify as queer or trans in any way, I think there are a ton of educational opportunities to learn about things like consent, queer history, intersectionality and things that aren’t typically available in Moab,” Hamborsky said. “Not only is it a great way to build community and have a ton of fun, it’s a great space for education, and so I think people should go out, maybe they won’t be here this weekend, but at least come out for the Thursday and Friday workshops to learn more about our history and understand why this event exists in Moab.”

Organizers ‘super excited’ for eighth-annual festival with youth-focused events

“Not only is it a great way to build community and have a ton of fun, it’s a great space for education and so I think people should go out, maybe they won’t be here this weekend but at least come out for the Thursday and Friday workshops to learn more about our history and understand why this event exists in Moab.”

When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West

More info: A full schedule of events can be found at www.moabpride.com

When: Saturday, Sept. 29, at 12:30 p.m.

Where: Departs from Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West

When: Friday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m.

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

When: Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m.

Where: the Helipad, 239 W. Center St.

When: Thursday, Sept. 27, at 4 p.m.

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North