PARK CITY, Utah – The Park City LGBTQIA+ community task force is starting to take shape. Members of the new group spoke with KPCW about what the future might hold and why the group is important for the greater Park City community.
In an effort to further Park City’s social equity goals and give the greater LGBTQIA+ community in Park City a seat at the table of local government, the community task force was formed in early February.
Currently made up of just over a dozen Parkites, the group is working towards creating an LGBTQIA+ community in Park City that is more visible for individuals who are looking for a place to come together.
Leah Langan is the Executive Assistant to the Mayor and City Manager in Park City and a founding member of the group. She said the group is still working out what their core mission will be and how the group will be structured — including determining whether or not to call the group a “task force” at all.
“Right now we’re at the very beginning stages of figuring out who we are and what the focus is, but I think it leaves us with a lot of growth to move forward,” she said.
Langan was also part of an internal city task force that took a deeper look at things like city facilities and HR policies in order to be more inclusive to all of Park City’s residents, visitors, and employees.
Mitchell Walski is another member of the group and moved to Park City in early 2020 with his husband. He also created the Park City Pride Facebook page as a way to connect members of the community.
He said at Tuesday’s roundtable that a sense of community was something missing from his life when he first came out over a decade ago. He now hopes the Park City community can fill that gap for others who might be in a similar situation.
“Visibility is definitely key because when I came out of the closet forever ago now, it was 14 years now, I grew up in a tiny rural Nevada town and there wasn’t a representation of what it meant to be gay,” said Walski. “I didn’t have gay role models in my life, I didn’t know what path I was on, I knew I was on it on my own though because I didn’t have that sense of community when I was there. Starting this conversation, being visible, showing that, hey, there are people like you within the community, feel free to reach out, find your people because we’re out there is definitely the biggest aspect.”
The group will also be coordinating with Encircle, a Utah-based LGBTQIA+ youth and family center, which is expected to open a location in Heber later this year.
Langan said the Park City group is exploring branching out further into the greater Wasatch Back in the future and as of right now, all options are being considered.
“Should it be an inter-regional collaboration effort or should we just start with Park City proper?” Langan said. “Right now, we don’t want to be too constrictive in terms of where we’re starting out, but right now all the ideas are on the table.”
In the immediate future, the group is coordinating with the city to update the city’s pride flags and banners for June’s Pride Month, planning a pride picnic, and finalizing their participation in the city’s Fourth of July parade if and when the festivities are approved by city council.
The group is also drafting a resolution to formally declare June as official Pride Month in Park City. That resolution is expected to be in front of the city council later this month.