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ICYMI: SLC Pride 0.5K bRUNch

In my younger years, I ran a 5K or two. I once even ran in a Santa suit with SLC Pride’s festival director (and have the pictures to prove it) but a 0.5K? Nope, I’ve never run one of those. Having attended SLC Pride’s 0.5K bRUNch, I can still confidently claim I’ve never run one, because on Saturday, June 8th, we wandered, mosied, and meandered, but we didn’t run. 

Upon arrival, I found Dug decked out in a rainbow flag, spiky hair and face glitter in the middle of the street, waving ribbons and guiding people into (out of?) Sugarhouse Coffee, looking for all of the world like the Statue of Gay Liberty. Had I not already been on my way to the 0.5K, I would have stopped at this fantastic welcome. 

[caption: Dug wearing his SLC Pride VolunQueer shirt, a knee-length skirt and a rainbow-colored cape with glitter on his face waving ribbons and pointing the arrow the wrong way]

After snapping a pic, I raced into the parking lot of Sugarhouse Coffee, just in time to hear SLC Pride’s Creative Director, Kate Rusk, give a very brief, hilarious speech to the crowd. She gave instructions on the short route, and for those with less desire to add 500 steps to their daily total, she gave instructions for the shortcut before adding one final warning. “Seriously, though, the ground is uneven, and I’ve looked at some of your shoes. Be careful out there. Don’t break a hip, people.”

Before she fired the proverbial gun to start the 0.5K, a tiny mover-and-shaker, still climbing through the single digits, jumped into the spotlight. “So the race is about to start,” he announced with a very straight face. The audience fell silent, and in the most matter-of-fact voice, he lined out his version of the rules, “No laughing. No pushing. And don’t cheat! But some people can cheat.” The crowd howled with laughter.

[caption: the mover-and-shaker holding a rainbow fan over his head, the person responsible for my favorite moment of the event]

And then the “race” began. Starting at Sugarhouse Coffee and wrapping around the block to come back to either The Locker Room or Sugarhouse Coffee (depending on your beverage of choice), several dozen of us waved signs and chatted as we wandered on the sidewalk at our own pace. As we turned the final corner, a rainbow finish line welcomed us. With their acting skills cranked to a ten, people finished with the dramatic flourish expected from this colorful crowd. My personal favorite? The pair in the Richard Simmons outfits who crawled past the finish line with feigned exhaustion while the rest of us clutched our stomachs and laughed.

[caption: two men wearing Richard Simmons 4th of July regalia huff and puff as they prepare to finish the race. One crawls on his hands and knees. Over the shoulder of the Nathan Lane lookalike in sunglasses, blurry me approaches the finish line. I can hear the laughter, and I'm trying to hurry so I don't miss their show.]

Since I registered for the 0.5K with my 8-year-old, I expected to play bingo with her at Sugarhouse Coffee, but she ditched me that morning. I wanted to catch up with some old friends who were headed to The Locker Room, so I switched my destination. 

After Bonnie gave one of her hilarious and poignant speeches to thank everyone in attendance for supporting SLC Pride this first year, she turned things over to our bingo emcee, C Meyer of Flourish Therapy. C provides LGBT+ affirming therapy and will be one of our vetted and licensed therapists moderating the YOUth zone at the SLC Pride festival at the end of the month. With sunshine for a voice, C did a fantastic job calling out numbers and switching up the type of bingo win possible (equality sign, L for lesbian and others). Somehow she managed to run out of prizes at the exact moment food began pouring out of the kitchen. In case you didn’t know, that’s bingo magic, y’all. 

[caption: C Meyer of Flourish Therapy and a cute person with a mask and coffee hold a trans flag in front of a rainbow graffiti brick backdrop with pride flags on either side]

I’ve never been lucky at bingo, and Saturday was no exception, but I chatted, table-hopped, spent time with old friends, talked with new friends and had me an excellent time.

With a smaller crowd, my odds would have been better at winning at Sugarhouse Coffee. There, Jodie Naranjo, the perfect example of what an ally should be, did an excellent job of emceeing. Even with a smaller group, the yells for bingo were more enthusiastic. That's how you work a crowd. I’m looking forward to going to Sugarhouse Coffee next year (hopefully with my kid in tow).

On the drive home, I reflected on how lucky we are to have places like Sugarhouse Coffee and The Locker Room, companies driven by a love for this community with owners that celebrate our differences and give us places to gather to be our weird selves. To everyone who came and made the event what it was, please let me extend a hearty thank you. We are truly grateful for your support of SLC Pride. We feel your love. 

For us organizers, the last few weeks before a festival are chaos. Since it’s our first year and it’s being put on with an all-volunteer staff, things are even more tense. Every event, we have to hold our breath and hope we get enough people through the door to break even. So each time you show up, especially in this first year, it means something to us. When we get to see you enjoy it, our cups runneth over, and we have a moment to be grateful we put in the work. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

For those of you who missed out, feel free to watch the great video montage here and don’t worry. We’ll be back next year, and we hope you’ll join us then.


Tami Mandarino (she/her) - Pansexual, drug felon with a 5+ year incarceration history. Lifelong struggle with ADHD and major depressive disorder. Survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. Badass witch. As I like to say about myself, I’ve seen some things, and those things make me strong, powerful and beautiful. Now that I live in the ‘burbs and could be mistaken for a soccer mom, I speak publicly about my past so we can break the stigmas that hurt our communities. When I’m not writing software at my day job or volunQueering for SLC Pride at night, I write contemporary YA novels under the pen name Tami Morning about issues facing youth today like poverty, climate anxiety and the necessity of choosing your family. If you catch a mistake in any of my articles or know a better/more sensitive way to say something, please shoot me an email at, and thank you for helping me grow.

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