Residents of Heber City, Utah, could not see rainbow banners waving alongside their Main Street throughout Pride Month, as they’ve in years previous, however they’re going to quickly get an LGBTQ heart to name their very own.
Inspired by headlines a few controversial ordinance that will forestall advocates from putting in Pride banners on metropolis lampposts throughout Pride Month in June, the LGBTQ nonprofit Encircle introduced that it’s going to erect an LGBTQ resource center in Heber City. Encircle Heber, which can be simply blocks from the general public highschool, will take the form of a newly constructed home with a big gathering space, remedy rooms, a music room and an artwork room.
“The house, of course, is a safe space; it makes it feel like home, look like home, so that these individuals have a place to come every day and feel loved and accepted, maybe when they don’t feel at home in a school or church or even their own homes,” Encircle Executive Director Stephanie Larsen stated.
An exterior view of an Encircle house in Salt Lake City, Utah. Encircle
Since 2019, the sight of rainbow flags on Heber City lampposts throughout June has ignited debate within the small, predominantly Mormon city, with some conservative residents viewing the banners as city-sanctioned “political” speech. In response to the backlash, the City Council handed an ordinance in August to limit “political” banners and require that every one banners on metropolis lampposts get sponsorship from the town, Wasatch County or the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce. Because of the talk inside the neighborhood over whether or not Pride banners are “political,” it is unclear whether or not metropolis officers will approve them this 12 months.
“We call flags ‘political,’ yet behind every flag there is an individual who, I believe, those flags are sending a message of acceptance and love for those who are in the community who are LGBTQ,” stated Larsen, whose group has constructed LGBTQ neighborhood facilities in three different cities in Utah.
While proponents argue that the ordinance is critical to forestall potential hate teams from displaying their very own banners, LGBTQ advocates declare that the ordinance is a thinly veiled try and ban rainbow flags from being publicly displayed within the metropolis. Similar controversy over Pride banners flared in different cities final 12 months, together with Reading, Pennsylvania; Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Foster City, California; and Minot, North Dakota.
Heber City is much from the one neighborhood in Utah the place Pride flags have stirred rivalry. For the final two years, the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit Project Rainbow has rented out rainbow flags for $14 to individuals throughout Utah so they may stake them of their yards in the course of the metropolis’s Pride festivities. While the group staked about 1,400 rented flags in 2019 and greater than doubled that quantity in 2020, many flags have been stolen or vandalized,