Utah Pride Center
Each year, QSaltLake names as its person of the year an individual or group who has had a substantial effect on Utah’s LGBT community over the year — for good or for ill. This year’s recipient is a familiar face in Utah’s nonprofit sector who has elevated every organization she has touched — Carol Gnade, Utah Pride Center’s executive director for the past two years.
The job, according to Gnade, was supposed to be temporary. In October 2015, the former social worker was retired from a life of activism and public-sector work and living in Torrey, Utah, when the Center was shaken by the abrupt departure of its executive director. Marian Edmonds-Allen resigned after just 11 months on the job, citing the Center’s ongoing financial problems and struggles with its board of directors.
Opening in 1992 under the name of the Utah Stonewall Center, the Center acts as a central location for the LGBTQ+ community to come together to advocate for social change, a safe an inclusive environment, and the equal treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Utah that had for years been living in fear of “coming out”.
When facing severe financial difficulties in the mid 1990’s, the community rallied behind the Center to raise funds for this vital organization. In 1997, the Center reopened as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Utah. The new Center expanded its services, expanded its volunteer base, and started the annual Utah Pride Festival which takes place the first week of June. The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Utah changed its name to the Utah Pride Center in 2006, to be inclusive to all people impacted by LGBTQ+ issues, and in 2013 moved it its current location in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.
The organization prides itself on its abilities to bring people of differing opinions together for the betterment of the lives of individuals in the community. In 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints gave to the Utah Pride Center- its first ever donation to an LGBTQ+ advocacy group. The donation of an undisclosed amount goes toward getting those who are suffering from mental illness help, and feed hungry and homeless youth.
Jane and Tami Marquardt are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community and dedicated supporters of the Utah Pride Center. For more information on events, services, or resources provided by the Center, please visit www.utahpridecenter.org/.