Despite pandemic, participation higher than ever at Ogden Pride Center

David Kristensen

During the past eight months, countless companies and businesses have been adversely affected and forced to move their services to an online market. This move has been particularly difficult for support groups, such as the Ogden Pride Center, due to the loss of community and outreach.

Pride Parade in Salt Lake City, UT. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)
A past Pride Parade in Salt Lake City, UT. (Sara Parker / The Signpost) Photo credit: Signpost Archives

Despite pandemic changes, participation in the Pride Center’s events is at an all-time high.

For example, the center typically holds a festival and parade in Ogden in September. Last year, there were about 1,800 attendants and vendors. This year, they decided to hold the event online to conform with CDC regulations, and the online parade had over 5,700 views.

Though participation is up, not everyone is excited to be online.

“It’s always nice that we can get together, but I much prefer actually meeting with people,” said Joseph Riley, an attendee of the online events. “We don’t have the same opportunities to laugh and hug and support each other.”

Brian Barnum, board president of the Ogden Pride Center, said this lack of community and access has been especially difficult for students. Typically, high school students could go to the center after school anonymously. Now, with online school, leaving one’s house to go to the center could cause problems at home for these students if they haven’t come out to their parents.

With this in mind, the center has had to find creative ways to continue with their events in an online capacity.

Barnum announced that they are moving their Nov. 13 auction to a free, online, silent auction, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ogden Pride Center is planning to continue and expand its virtual influence through the winter. They even want to apply it to post-pandemic life by integrating the video portions of their events into the in-person meetings.

“Being able to have that available to the community so they still feel part of the community, whether or not they can attend, it’s healthy,” Barnum said.

Volunteers are necessary to make large events possible, and the center is looking for all of the help and support it can get. Barnum said that they are currently looking for sponsors for and donations to their silent auction. Participation in the center’s events is also a show of support for the Ogden Pride Center community.