Wednesday, May 30, 2007

5 Spot: Terry Mitchell Nani

In City Weekly’s May 31 Five Spot, Utah Pride Festival Director Terry Mitchell Nani talked about “the little festival that could” (June 1-3 at Washington & Library Square, schedule at Here is the entire conversation:

You’ve upped the ante this year with this year’s Pride Festival, going three days with big-name entertainers. Why all this ambition?
The festival was “just fine,” or good … but the community is ready for this festival to be great. It’s about greater outreach into the community at large, it’s about giving the community a quality, enhanced festival that the gay and lesbian community can even be that much more proud. It’s about increased awareness.

You’ll need lots of people to attend to pay for the entertainment, right? Do you envision nicely coiffed families from the suburbs driving in with their minivans to see Sheena Easton?

It is, in fact, “A Celebration For Everyone,” regardless. And yes, a more enhanced festival certainly comes with a bit more of price. Where else do you find an entertainment bargain to see John Amaechi, Sheena Easton, EnVogue, The Pride Dance with Nick & Jesse, two full days of festival, A Tea Dance with DJ K at The Depot and more, for only $40 (or less, depending on the amount of “Pride” you are able to share)?!

Any advice on what to tell the kids about the festival beforehand?
Tell the kids that the world is a beautiful tapestry of different fabrics, threads and colors, and at this particular festival, we have an opportunity to acquaint with some of those rich colors and textures … and why not? We teach their kids, we nurse their wounds, we entertain them, we write the poetry they read, and we serve their food … and then some.

Speaking of pride, what is the Utah Pride Center most proud of?
We all should be proud of the pronouncement of who we are, and celebrate that which makes us whole, even unique. The straight community, more than likely a bit more mainstream, may not have had the same challenges that a gay teen, or a lesbian trapped in a marriage, might have had in their process of discovery. Just as the black community, the Irish community or the Jewish community enjoy ways in which they celebrate their unique individuality, the gay community has a lot to be proud of in their journey, both individually, and collectively.

Can you offer any comebacks for the Bible-thumpers who feel it is their mission to stand outside the fence and pronounce judgment on festival-goers?
They need to judge; we have no need, or desire, for comebacks. What’s the point.

Why is the Pride parade the parade of the summer? How does it compare with, say, Days of 47?
This year with more than 50 wonderful and outrageous, all at once, entries, you decide!

Why should the entire community support the Pride festival?
Well, first of all, a helluva-lotta fun. This will be a terrific festival. But be clear, sexuality does not define the individual, nor draw boundaries on a festival. And most “straights” in the more sophisticated corners of this town understand this very well. In fact, they enjoy, very much, their gay friends, and want to come and be supportive of what gay and lesbian men and women all over the world have brought to their social/cultural arena.

If someone wanted to walk in the Pride parade, is there a float they can join or be a part of?
Yes, contact PFLAG, or Family Fellowship or The Pride Center. There is a place of acceptance, or membership, for everyone at this “church.”

Forget the headliner entertainment for a moment. What are the best little secrets of the festival and/or the best annual traditions people shouldn’t miss.
The InterFaith Service is a unique and powerful experience (Thursday evening), as is our other kick off event, the Damn These Heels film festival. The kid’s area this year, as in the part, is hugely popular. The Dyke March, and Rally that follows, has a wonderful following. And check out Coffee Grounds this year. Go to for the whole story.

Do you think Jazz owner Larry Miller will attend former Jazz player John Amaechi’s grand marshal’s reception?
I tried. He was invited by myself! I’m not sure that Mr. Miller cares a great deal about anything having to do with the tapestry of humanity—clearly, not about this corner of the cloth.

What do you have to say to the cheapskates who try to listen to EnVogue from the Burger King parking lot?
Enjoy the show.

(Jerre Wroble)

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