SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Pride Center finally has a home of its own.
Friends and supporters gathered Saturday for the ribbon cutting of its new home at 1380 S. Main, just south of Smith's Ballpark.
"It's just such a fabulous day for us. When I say us, I'm talking about our community. We waited a long time, I think since the early '90s, to have a place to call our own that we own, that we can grow all of our programs and save lives and make life entertaining. Now we have it," said Carol Gnade, who recently retired as the center's executive director.
The building, which was once a bank (the vault remains inside) and the Mexican Consulate, features an open flow and is flooded with natural light. The center includes meeting spaces, inviting common areas and offices for small groups and individual counseling.
Sue Robbins, who leads the center's board of directors, described pride centers as beacons for the LGBT community.
"It's where our community comes together, where we find community. If you don't know where else to go, you go to your pride center. You move to another city, you come to the pride center. It's our safe place, if you can call any place a safe place," she said.
Robbins added, "This amazing building is our beacon. This is the place."
The Utah Pride Center offers a wide variety of services to youth and adults, including mental health services as well as support groups for people who have attempted suicide, transgender youths and adults and others.
It is a "safe and welcoming space for education, partnerships, services and events which advance our collective health, wellness and success," a Utah Pride Center press release center says.
Rob Moolman, the Utah Pride Center executive director, explained his accent is "deep, deep South," which in his case means South Africa.
Moolman borrowed a term often used by Nelson Mandela, a political leader and anti-apartheid revolutionary, ubuntu, which is from the Nguni Bantu.
"Ubuntu means, I am because we are. Another way to look at it is, a person is a person through other people," Moolman said.
"We are here because we are connected. We are connected through our history, through the struggle, through our highs, through our lows, through love and through joy. We stand here because we see each other."
Moolman, in a prepared statement, said the Utah Pride Center is "thrilled to share this gift with everyone. This building will help ensure our ability to provide critical life-saving programs and services.”