Invoking the briny environs and namesake of everyone’s favorite city of salt, the 2018 Utah Pride Festival drew an estimated 30,000 people to the Washington Square Park and over 100,000 to the Utah Pride Parade this past weekend in downtown Salt Lake.
For the second year in a row, USARA’s alcohol-free space was ensconced in the midst of the weekend’s “party with a purpose.” USARA volunteers working in tandem with Fit To Recover, an exercise-based recovery community organization, offered the turnout to the “Get Salty” celebration/fundraiser a sober oasis.
“Reactions from people were super-supportive,” USARA Community Outreach & Empowerment Coordinator, Evan Done, said. “People would pass by, beer in hand, to say what a great idea it was to have a site that gives people a break from the rest of the festival. We heard ‘Rock on!’ and ‘Totally awesome!’ There wasn’t a single negative comment from anyone.”
USARA, whose Pride Parade float was christened “Riding The Wave of Recovery,” couldn’t be more grateful for the willingness of Utah Pride Center to donate the space, “which is no small gift to us,” Done said, noting that booth space at the festival generates a lot of revenue, and the weekend is an annual fundraiser for the Pride Center.
“We hope that we are part of the festival next year and for many years to come,” Done said. On a personal note, Done added, “Research shows that people in the LGBTQ community have higher rates of substance use disorders, lower rates of recovery, and tend to have a higher suicide rates than other demographic groups.
“As a gay man, it’s very important to me to show people in the LGBTQ community that people do recover. When I was in the depths of my addiction, I thought I would never have fun again because we tended to meet at bars and clubs — drinking and drugging. But I know now that recovery is a lot of fun; a lot more fun, actually.”