Utah Pride Center has a new director and a new home

Rob Moolman seeks input from LGBTQ communities on what they would like the center to be.<br>

It’s a new day for the Utah Pride Center — the Salt Lake City organization that serves the LGBTQ communities has a bright, new building and a new, energetic director.

Gay marriage may be legal, said Rob Moolman, the nonprofit agency’s executive director, but there is a lot of work still to do for people and their families who don’t fit into the heterosexual norms of this culture.

Known for the Utah Pride Festival and Parade, the center also seeks to support its constituents with social connections, emotional support and mental heath needs.

“We have an opportunity to help people in crisis,” Moolman said. “That’s one of the wonderful things this organization can offer.”

The Pride Center’s new home at 1380 S. Main St., near Smith’s Ballpark, is an architectural delight of open space and sunlight. It once housed a bank and, later, the Mexican Consulate. The outgoing executive director, Carol Gnade, made the center’s new home a priority and now is retiring.

Moolman, who is stepping in as executive director, is a native of Australia who has lived in Utah for two years. A graduate of the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, he earned a Master of Education Leadership at the University of Melbourne and is completing a Ph.D. in education with emphasis on LGBTQ youth.

At the Utah Pride Center, Moolman said a top priority will be building an inclusive model for all members of the LGBTQ communities — adults and youth.

The center will begin a new outreach effort, he said, to welcome people who have strayed from the organization or those who have not yet sought its services.

“We need to understand the marginalization of different people in different communities,” Moolman said. “One of the things I want to get across is that we need to work together. I want an open-door policy to invite people into the center to tell us what is relevant to them.”

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rob Moolman, center, new executive director of the Utah Pride Center, talks with staff members Liz Pitts, events director, left, and Angie Salot, operations director, right. He and the staff are in the process of moving in and setting up the new location at 1380 S. Main St. in Salt Lake City.

Whether with youth or adults, the center always has focused on suicide prevention. The center specializes in psychotherapy for LGBTQ people and welcomes all cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities.

It also provides counseling for families who have relatives in those groups.

The organization offers Survivors of Suicide Attempt, an eight-week support group that acts as a suicide prevention strategy by providing support and coping skills.

Men’s and women’s support groups, a trans adult support group and trans parents and caregivers group are included among the nonprofit’s programs. The organization also offers individual therapy.

Services are provided on a sliding scale based on ability to pay. Among other things, that means the Pride Center must do a lot of fundraising, Moolman said.

The organization also operates a Youth Activity Center for ages 14 to 20. It offers such things as Trans and Gender Exploring Support Group, Queer Youth Activist Council and social get-togethers, such as Youth Activity Night, Teens Like Us, and Kids Like Me Group.

The new building provides a warm environment and will allow the agency to expand programming and activities.

“We own the building free and clear,” Moolman explained. “But our services have to be paid for by massive fundraising. Maintaining our financial stability will be a continuing challenge.”

The new building was purchased with the aid of Elizabeth “Beano” Solomon, a stalwart underwriter of the Utah Pride Center.

Its grand opening is slated for May 19 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tours will be offered, along with a chance to meet the staff.

For more information on the center, visit www.utahpridecenter.org

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rob Moolman, new executive director of the Utah Pride Center. He and the staff are in the process of moving in and setting up the new location at 1380 S. Main St. in Salt Lake City.