Story and photos by SASCHA BLUME
The culmination of Pride Week at the University of Utah was the Gay-La and Silent Auction at the Jewish Community Center.
Approximately 240 people attended the dinner and silent auction with all proceeds being donated to the LGBT Resource Center at the U.
The money earned at the event went to student scholarships and student emergency funds.
People who attended the event were able to silently bid on numerous items, including: a limited edition collection painting by Trevor Southey, Ballet West tickets and a two-night stay at Hotel Monaco located in downtown Salt Lake City.
The silent auction raised $2,800, with the highest auction item being Southey’s painting. It sold for $500.
Attendees enjoyed the meal and the silent auction, but every person who paid to participate in the Gay-La was there because Matthew Breen was the keynote speaker.
Breen, a U alumnus, is the chief editor of the nationwide LGBTQ news magazine, “The Advocate.”
He began his speech by thanking everyone in attendance for their time and kindness toward the U’s effort in championing LGBT equality in Utah.
Breen disscussed the hardships of growing up gay in Salt Lake City during the 1980s and 1990s, and said how thankful he was to be back at the U.
It was while he was at the U, that Breen grew to understand that on planet Earth, it is not easy to conduct one’s life with loving kindness, especially when the community he grew up in was intolerant toward the LGBT community.
“A younger me would have benefited from Pride Week,” he said.
During the keynote speech, Breen said how important it is for gay and lesbian people to come out as soon as possible. He also encouraged parents and the community to support all people in this process.
It has been 15 years since Breen publicly stated that he is gay. However, this trip to Salt Lake City was the first time he has been openly gay in Utah.
In his speech, he encouraged the audience to never forget the hard work and dedication of previous generations and their efforts to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Breen’s speech, however, was not exclusively focused on how far the LGBTQ community has come. Rather, he focused on the idea that people should “take abject lessons to heart,” and that they should “unlearn that there are two sides to the story.” Breen said there is only one truth in a story and that is what people should focus on.
He then discussed the idea that the media and general public still are misinformed regarding what being gay or lesbian is.
Breen explained that in America most people still link pedophilia with gay men. He also said the media and general public still believe that children cannot thrive in a same-sex household. He stated categorically that there is zero evidence to support these myths. The audience responded with loud applause.
The Gay-La also recognized nine students who attend Brigham Young University for their courage and resilience for upholding its Honor Code despite the fact that they are gay. BYU forbids sexual contact between gay people and will expel students for having same-sex relationships.
One of the students, Adam White, said, “It is scary to speak up for what you believe to be right, but I found that when I raise my voice to spread awareness and understanding, that it does make a positive difference on this campus.”