SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations like the Utah Pride Center to re-think how to host events that normally have large gatherings, such as Pride Week. They ended up canceling their festival and parade in 2020 and hosting the Road Rally instead to keep everyone safe. This year, they’ll be resuming limited in-person festivities between June 1 and June 7, but with some new and unique elements.

“This incredible event will probably never happen again in this form and on this scale. It’s going to be unique, fun, educational, and offer an opportunity to come out of our houses, be together again, and do so safely,” said Dr. Rob Moolman, executive director and CEO of the Utah Pride Center.

The celebration will include the Rainbow March and Rally, Pride Month proclamations and flag raising, Pride interfaith service, and the Pride Story Garden. The garden is an interactive outdoor exhibit with 20 uniquely themed gardens celebrating the LGBTQ+ community that includes Utah’s queer history, local heroes, drag queendom, stories around the world, civil rights timeline, and more. Due to COVID-19, organizers say a Pride Festival and Parade is not safely possible this year. This means omitting things like food, vendors, beverages, exhibitors, stage, and live entertainment. However, they are hopeful all of that will return in 2022.

Billy Clouse (he/him/they/them), who is a volunteer for Utah Pride Week, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion about the Story Garden, an exhibit that he designed and will be featured front and center to thousands of people attending the event.

He talked about what Pride Week means to him, how he likes to celebrate it, why Pride Week is so important given how difficult the past year has been, his personal tie and vision for the Story Garden, the different themes the exhibit will have, and how he feels to have his work featured at the event.

Isaiah Mataele (he/him), community engagement manager, and Kevin Randall (he/him), spokesperson for the Utah Pride Center, discussed having to shift plans for Pride Week last year during the pandemic, what it means to host the country’s first in-person Pride Week celebrations, how this year’s festivities will be different and unique, what it means to be a unicorn donor, how the public can get involved or show support beyond attend the event, and how to buy tickets for the Story Garden.

For more information, visit the website for Utah Pride Week or click here to buy tickets for the Pride Story Garden.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Clouse, Mataele, and Randall, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.