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As tragic news rocks the queer community, Salt Lake City club continues a Thanksgiving tradition

“The universe brought me here to become myself.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Friends and guests attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

For Jasmine Post, Thanksgiving is more than just a yearly meal — it’s the day she revealed her true self to the world.

Post came out as a trans woman on the holiday in 2019, a year after she moved from Seattle to Salt Lake City. In the years since, she also has found a sense of belonging with Utah’s queer community.

“The universe brought me here,” Post said, “to become myself.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jasmine Post wears rainbow jewelry during a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

She thought she was an introvert her whole life, but after transitioning and visiting LGBTQ-safe spaces, her buoyant personality came through. And at Salt Lake City’s gay clubs, she discovered something else about herself.

“Dancing feeds my soul,” Post said, her ears adorned with a row of rainbow studs, “like nothing else does.”

She was one of about two dozen people who opted to have a Thanksgiving meal Thursday at Club Verse, sipping wine and enjoying a spread with all the traditional fixings — roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, pie and carved turkey.

Tēcuani Oliver-McKee, who is disabled and uses he/him pronouns, recently moved back to Salt Lake City. He’s struggled to find stable housing and said he doesn’t have a support network in the city.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Friends and guests attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

“I don’t give myself an opportunity to be social,” Oliver-McKee said, adding that he’s autistic. “... It’s been nice to come out.”

It’s the eighth time Michael Repp has hosted Thanksgiving dinner for those who don’t have family or other places they feel comfortable spending the holiday.

The tradition started at the iconic Sun Trapp gay bar, but Repp moved the feast with him when he cut ties there and opened Club Verse nearly a month ago.

“We’ve had just over 7,000 people through our door as of last night,” Repp said. “Not bad for no advertising.”

But the club’s front door had a recent overhaul. A conspicuous metal detector now greets patrons as they enter, a stark reminder of the deadly Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs that happened mere days ago.

“Was it in response to Club Q?” Repp said of the new sensor. “Absolutely, yes.”

He’s working on more security throughout the club and has guards that are trained for crisis situations. He wants the club to feel like an accepting space, where patrons feel free to be themselves.

“We will be the safest place in town,” Repp said, “and we’ll continue to do what we’ve always done.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Friends and guests attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.