Across the street from the Mormon temple in Provo resides an unlikely neighbor: the nonprofit LGBTQ+ resource center Encircle. Established in 2017, Encircle contains programs and events that help to both empower queer youth and reunite families previously separated due to prejudice of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Encircle includes many different programs within the company to meet all of the needs of the diverse youth within the LGBTQ+ community. It is an unbiased organization with its core value being to unite and build bridges with other youth going through similar circumstances and to give them an opportunity to feel a sense of togetherness with others. Encircle provides resources for youth across the state such as friendship circles, outlets for creativity, and sponsored events that help to celebrate the community.
Along with giving young people a safe place for speaking about their identities, the organization promotes integration between communities. While it might be hard at times to do so, Encircle has always tried to build bridges between people to help them understand one another, even amidst the chaotic debate between religion and sexual orientation. The families of LGBTQ+ youth are welcomed within the organization with open arms and are often encouraged to attend with them to hopefully learn something themselves.
A teenager who regularly attends Encircle, Brianna Faler, describes her own experiences with Encircle. In an interview, Faler revealed to me what her life was like prior to attending Encircle and what positive impact Encircle has had on her, “I really didn’t have many friends. Ever since attending [Encircle], I’ve made many more friends than I previously had. People see me differently.” After a brief pause, she tells me more information. “I also get compliments whenever I wear the Encircle tee I own.”
The organization offers a place where people can be themselves and feel proud of who they are. While Encircle sounds lovely in theory, I also got an opportunity to ask Faler her thoughts about the establishment and why she thought of it as an important resource for the LGBTQ+ community. As an LGBTQ+ teen living in the Provo area, Faler noted why she considered Encircle to be an important resource, “Utah Valley, in my opinion, is one of the most conservative places in Utah. There’s plenty of LGBTQ+ kids in the heart of it, and there are people that care enough to try and find somewhere for those kids to go if they get disowned or have nowhere safe to go.”
With endorsements by celebrities such as Tyler Glenn and Dan Reynolds, the institution continues to grow and thrive. Recently, because of their overwhelming success, Encircle has been able to open up a new location in Salt Lake City.
As I wrapped up the interview with Faler, I asked who she believes should consider attending. “I recommend that anyone goes to Encircle. It’s an eye-opening experience for what it’s like to be an LGBTQ+ teen in Utah.”
There have been plenty of advancements within the country regarding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, though it wasn’t always this way. It was only in 2003 - fifteen years ago - that sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. In 2007, a Utah senator attempted to reinstate these laws. Although Salt Lake City has the highest density in the country of same-sex parents, Utah holds another top spot for LGBTQ+ people: suicide. Since 2011, Utah has doubled in their rates of LGBTQ+ teen suicides whereas the rest of the country had not seen any substantial upsurges. Encircle is important to guide LGBTQ+ teens from their somewhat bleak reality into a lifetime of hope and self-love.
Whether you’re gay, bisexual, straight, cisgender or transgender, attending Encircle will certainly offer an experience that is both educational and communal.
Published on November 5th, 2018.
Goldblood Collective and its impact.
by CAMERON JUSTICE
Goldblood Collective started jokingly as nothing more than an art blog a few years back. Quickly, it became something more. “It was a joke, just an art blog.” Matt Windsor, co-owner of Goldblood, said when asked about it. “But it kind of just started to take off and shocked us with what it evolved into.” The transition from art blog to venue has been one to keep an eye on.
Goldblood is a great place and sanctuary for local artists who truly care for their craft. They put on three to four events a week and are always looking for serious local artists to perform. When asked the best way to be put onto a show or event, Matt Windsor said, “We used to kinda just be down for whatever but we kinda stopped doing that because there was kids trying to play shows but only for the sake of clout, they weren’t really about it. Now it’s different, we can’t just say yes to everyone anymore. You have to be serious. We need to weed out to kids that aren’t really about it, this is a place for passion.”
Goldblood has two locations, Goldblood Collective & Goldblood II, also known as New Hope Church. Goldblood and New Hope share one main common interest: community. “Half of these kids I’ve never seen before and to give them a spot to come out with all the stuff they could be doing on a Saturday, it’s dope to see the turnout for these local artists and to see a community, a scene built slowly... it’s amazing,” Windsor said when asked about the sense of community building within Goldblood. Goldblood’s second location is an old abandoned LDS church owned by David Wright, founder of the New Hope Campaign. The New Hope Campaign is all about building community and turning the church into a community center.
When asked why he’s doing this, Wright stated, “My main goal from the church and new hope is to build a community.” He first got into serving his community years ago because he felt he was indebted to society, “As a young person I saw things that needed to be changed in society, but I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to know how to change them. So I used the only tool I was comfortable with, which led to me taking a lot from society and damaging society in other ways. As I got older, I felt that I was indebted to society and started looking for ways to give back. Community gardens was how I first entered the lifestyle of community service and community building.” Dedicated already to bettering his society and community, Wright soon established New Hope.
When the sense of community within our arts scene has began to hit a new low, heroes such as the owners of Goldblood and David Wright of New Hope Church showed up just when we needed them. “New Hope is a place for the people, a place for the arts, and a place of healing. A huge part of the healing process is healing the hurt we have caused this Earth, So gardening will be a central theme. The pros is that it is different than other places around here. We are literally looking to do events for events for every population of society, in a productive and meaningful way. The cons is changing perceptions and misconceptions that certain populations have towards other populations.”
Published on November 5th, 2018.
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