In Fairpark, we value diversity and appreciate cultures from all corners of the Earth. This is a neighborhood rich with a history of welcoming new residents from different backgrounds for generations. This month, we will be focusing on the LGBT Pride Month of June and we had the opportunity to sit down with one of our local west side celebrities, artist and drag performer, Miss Gia Bianca Stephens. Let’s get started neighbors!
LGBT Pride Month History
Did you know that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan? The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. Utah Pride Day which was celebrated earlier this month drove record numbers to the Pride parade, the 2nd largest parade in the state only outdone by the Days of ’47 Parade. Utah is also the number one state for gay parents raising children.
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou
She’s even more beautiful in real life than she is in pictures. Tall, statuesque and stunning, Gia Bianca Stephens has been performing for years and could possibly be Fairpark’s most glamourous resident. Lately though, she’s been taking her talents to the national level.
“Things really kicked off when I ran for the Mountain States National Showgirl Pageant. After winning in Utah, I showed up to my first pageant at a national level and made second alternate. To make top 3 my first time was really, really cool.” Gia is also the current reigning Rocky Mountain National Showgirl for both 2015 and 2016. She is a former Queen of Hearts (2014) with the Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire, a local non-profit organization that raises money for local causes such as cancer awareness, HIV-AIDS patients, homeless youth and scholarships. When she is not performing at local venues, Gia manages Bodega/The Rest restaurant on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City. “Pageantry as a whole on the national level has changed over the last decade. Because there are so many pageant systems, there are so many options, and I’d love to continue to compete in the pageant circuit. This is something I really love to do! It gives me the opportunity to entertain, raise awareness, and fundraise for great causes. It’s a blast! I’ve been focusing on National Pageantry lately, but I’m looking forward to stay involved in the local community.”
Gia is a co-founder the Ladies of Marmalade at Jam, a local drag show, and is currently performing regularly with local favorite Indi Skies. “Because of the new found demand related to LOGO’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, we started with Friday nights and that has allowed us to build a show which has been really great.” [Editor’s note: If you haven’t caught onto RPDR yet, it’s a hoot!]
“Everyone has their hobbies. Some guys are into cars, some guys are into sports. My hobby just so happens to be gowns and feathers.”
Gia also performs regularly at Sunday Drag Brunch Club X (445 S 400 W). When asked what makes Drag Brunch appealing to the average Joe she said, “This is appealing because this is not a night time show. There is a wide audience appeal, and you’re seated, drinking mimosas and eating fabulous food. It’s much more inviting, a bigger production and you can sit and eat and enjoy the show. If you don’t want to navigate your way through a packed club at midnight, this is for you! There are pop queens, old school queens, impersonators and burlesque vintage style queens.”
Gia has been a longtime resident the west side and of Fairpark for a few years. “I saw my house and said immediately, Yes, yes, yes!” It was very affordable and gorgeous inside. The property values have increased so much since we moved in. We had friends on the west side, and it was so close to downtown, a great location. We love our street [shout out to Marion]! It’s so quiet and mellow. Our house was built in 1956 and we love it! It was so fun to put in the landscaping.”
Why would a Fairpark resident want to see one of Gia’s shows? “It’s just fun! It’s entertaining. It’s different! Especially with Drag Brunch, there’s nothing else like it. It puts a spotlight on local performers and we all work really hard at our craft.” Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information!
Fairpark residents were shocked and saddened about the massacre in Orlando. The mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub on Latino night was a horrific attack on the LGBT community. It was also a painful reminder of the violence and discrimination that LGBT people face across America – particularly Latina/o and Black LGBT people. When asked about how she felt about the shooting in Orlando Gia said, “It’s kind of hard to think about anything else. For a lot of us, gay bars have become a sanctuary, so when something sacred like that is threated in such a horrible way, it makes us question ourselves thinking, do I feel safe going out anymore? I still don’t have my head wrapped around it. It was so terrible. I remember breaking down and thinking how awful it must be for their families and friends and community. In tribute, I performed “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor at Drag Brunch on Sunday. There are a lot of us who have been so deeply affected.” She went on to say, “This was an act of terror. It was a hate crime, and it was racism. The sting of this shooting is going to affect us all for a long time. And frankly, I hope it does, because this could be a catalyst for real change. It’s time to open up some long overdue discussion in our government and our communities.” Kudos to you Gia!
“We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present.” Marianne Williamson
Westside Hangouts (Where Everyone is Welcome!)
- Club Try-Angles – 251 W 900 S (Open M-Th, 4pm-2am; Fri-Sun, 2pm-2am) Winner of the local “Fabby Awards” for Cheapest Drinks, Best Friday Night bar, and Best Afternoon Crowd.
- The Sun-Trapp – 102 S 600 W (Open M-Th, 1pm-2am; Fri-Sun, 11am-2am) The longest running open gay bar in Utah. Local neighborhood favorite. Good for groups and outdoor patio seating.
- Jam in the Marmalade – 751 N 300 W (Open Wed-Sun, 8pm-2am) JAM is has been voted as “Utah’s Best Gay Club” for 6 years in a row. Features the Ladies of the Marmalade Drag show.
- Metro Bar – 615 W 100 S (Popular on Th, Fri, Sat Nights and open for other events) Winner of “Best Nightlife” in Utah 4 years running and home to Dance Evolution Thursdays.