For National Coming Out Day this year, Utahns will be asked not to come out of the closet but to come out in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The Support Love Courage Council hopes the state's residents will create a giant, human pink dot by wearing pink and gathering at Salt Lake City's Spring Mobile Ball Park on Oct. 11.
"Most people who are straight know gay people in our community, but they're not quite sure how to support them or show that they care," said Denise Winslow, a member of the council who is the straight mother of a gay son. "It's a positive campaign to let everyone have a chance to step up."
The council, an affiliate of the Utah Pride Center, rolled out the Pink Dot Utah Campaign this week. The idea is borrowed from Singapore, where an annual Pink Dot celebration has grown from 2,500 people in 2009 to 10,000 people this year.
Although the campaign was not created in Salt Lake City, it may have particular resonance here after a recent attack on a gay man sparked calls for greater compassion toward the LGBT community. Twenty-year-old Dane Hall was leaving a gay-themed night at Club Sound on Aug. 27 when he said he heard an anti-gay slur and was beaten by four men. When one attacker stomped on his face, his jaw broke in three places and a bone chip lodged in his brain.
Salt Lake City police have not made any arrests in the case, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime. But Salt Lakers have organized a flurry of fundraisers to help pay Hall's $40,000-plus medical bill. Roughly $7,000 has been donated to accounts in his name at Zions Bank and Wells Fargo, according to Q Salt Lake publisher Michael Aaron.
This week, there will be a theater benefit at Club Jam, a fireside vigil at Liberty Park and a panel discussion hosted by the Women's Democratic Club of Utah. The latter was a last-minute change for a regularly scheduled luncheon.
"Our community was absolutely incensed by what happened," said Marian Edmonds, co-pastor of City of Hope Salt Lake, a nondenominational, gay-friendly church that is hosting a fireside vigil and march on Friday. "The reaction we heard from just about everyone was: 'This is terrible. This is awful. What can we do?' We decided as a spiritual community what we can do is get together and pray and read poetry and be a witness to the fact that all people should be loved and accepted."
The Pink Dot event has a similar message. The focus is nonpolitical. Attendees are not asked to endorse gay marriage but to show their love for the LGBT people in their lives.
"We just hope that with the campaign that we're able to reach out to families and family members that haven't been willing to step out before," said Valerie Larabee, director of the Utah Pride Center. "It's an action that people can take in response to what happened to Dane, but also more widely in support of their loved ones."
A website for the campaign, pinkdotut.org, goes live on Friday.
email@example.com Reporter Sheena McFarland contributed to this story.
Events planned in response to beating of gay man
Public outcry has swelled since Dane Hall, an openly gay man, said he was beaten and called an anti-gay slur outside a Salt Lake City club in the early hours of Aug. 27. These are some of the community events planned in response.
Theater benefit • Actors from a variety of productions at local theater companies, including Pioneer, Pygmalion and Salt Lake Acting Company, will perform musical selections to raise funds for Hall's medical expenses, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 7-11:30 p.m., at Club Jam, 751 N. 300 West, Salt Lake City; $10 suggested at the door.
Vigil • City of Hope Salt Lake will lead a fireside vigil and a glow-light march to raise awareness of and condemn violence against LGBT people, Friday, Sept. 9, 8-10 p.m., at Liberty Park, corner near 900 South and 700 East, Salt Lake City. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panel discussion • The Women's Democratic Club of Utah will host a panel with leaders of Equality Utah, the Utah Pride Center and the Stonewall Democrats to discuss equality for the LGBT community, Saturday, Sept., 10, at noon, Red Lion Hotel, 161 W. 600 South, Salt Lake City. Lunch is $22. RSVP by 9 p.m. Wednesday to Billie Gay Larson, 801-949-9321 or email@example.com.
Reward • The Q Business Alliance has created a reward fund to encourage arrests in hate-motivated crimes directed at members of the LGBT community. When enough funds are in place, the group plans to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of assailants in the Dane Hall case. To donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Michael Sanders, 801-364-0664.
More about Pink Dot Utah
P An informational video about the Pink Dot campaign has been posted at youtube.com/user/PinkDotUT. Additional videos will be rolled out in advance of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.