December 2019

Pride Center

If you think the Utah Pride Center has only an annual festival, and maybe an activity or two, Hillary McDaniel, Community Events Manager for the Utah Pride Center can dissuade you of your limited notions. She spoke to us for about an hour talking rapidly and still didn’t cover all the activities based in the beautiful new Center. The doors opened in June 2018 with a mission to empower and celebrate Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community by providing a safe and welcoming space for education, partnerships, services and events which advance the collective health, wellness, and success of all involved.

Their website at describes opening as the Utah Stonewall Center in 1992 to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people to come together amid the conservative Utah cultural climate. Within two years, the Center attracted many volunteers and raised enough money to hire a part time staff person.

In 1997, they moved to two buildings. By 2006, they had settled on their current name, Utah Pride Center, to be inclusive of all people who are concerned with and/or are impacted by LGBTQ+ issues, including parents and children. By 2018, they had the wherewithal to build a Center of their own. The list of programs starts with Youth and Family. Of special note is the close association the Center has with the Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Center. The Humanists of Utah also feel close to the Homeless Youth Center, as we have been donating and providing services to them for many years.

Other programs have services for different age groups, i.e. for children 2-10, 10-14, 14-20, as well as parents and caregivers. Kids aged 2-10 are invited to a playgroup that meets weekly on Saturday. Whether one has two moms, a single gay dad, a transgender kid, or a questioning older sibling, all are welcome to the gathering called “Families Like Ours”.

My favorite events are the dances which provide a safe space for youth to experience an alternative to traditional school dances where they may feel isolated or judged for simply expressing themselves. Queer Prom is in April. Qpid’s Ball and Homecoming are held in the Fall. Masqueerade is held in December. Kicking off the Pride Festival, is an outdoor dance party on the Pride Festival Grounds. Parents and Caregivers have their own lounge in the new Pride Center Building which is open especially during the dances. In September, a GSA and Educator’s Conference was held. But services are not limited to the young ones. SAGE, Services and Advocacy for Gay, (lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer+) Elders, provides socialization opportunities, support for emotional, mental and physical needs with ongoing Social Events and Support Groups. Names like: Stitch and Bitch Knitting Club, Tuesday Trotters, Lunch and Learn, Sage Book club, Game Night, Bi-Hive (40+), Good Grief, Phone-a-Friend, and 1 to 5 Club represent the joyous and lighthearted approach to issues of real import and seriousness that the Pride Center attaches to caring for it’s community. The Utah Queer Historical Society is even more academic and serious with a mission to objectively compile, organize and safeguard the history of the LGBTQ+ community of Utah and to share this history within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond to the general public.

For the general public, there are cultural competency training sessions offered to businesses and community groups including educators, case workers, health care professionals, mental health professionals and youth service providers. The training covers basic language, current research, and best practices related to the LGBTQ+ community. There is exposure to the daily experiences of LGBTQ+ people including micro-aggressions, intersectionality, and multiple marginalized statuses. And finally, training in Q.P.R. for Suicide Prevention. Question a person about suicide. Persuade the person to get help. Refer the person to the appropriate resource.

In keeping with our Humanist desire to all do better (with a nod to Jim Jeffries), Hillary McDaniel has offered us a brilliant path. Thank you, Hillary.

—Lauren Florence, MD  

Climate Change

Hello freethinkers, I want to reboot my efforts to get our chapter involved in the realm of climate change. We can start by discussing the various ways to get involved from a global aspect through national, state, city, neighborhood, and even our homes. Another way for us, as a chapter, to get involved, is to help educate the public about climate change. At the January meeting I will be giving a presentation about studying climate in general and climate change specifically. I also want this meeting to be partly a discussion, so bring your opinions, suggestions, and information.

As I am starting to prepare for this presentation, I realize that I need an upgrade of my physical geography knowledge. So, I traveled up to the University of Utah bookstore and purchased the latest textbook for the Geography department’s Climatology class. It contains a wealth of information, presented in a way to facilitate learning about the subject. In fact, I plan to refer to Chapter 9 “Natural Causes of Climate Change,” as the foundation of my presentation.

I will begin by talking about my geography studies of the alpine and periglacial areas of the Uintah Mountain range, and my studies of the paleoclimate of the Lake Bonneville time frame. I will also spend a few minutes talking about how to get involved on the ground to make difference. Then I hope we can finish the evening with an informative discussion of climate change specifically and the environment in general.

Next month I plan to continue these Soapbox submissions with what might be considered as a “factoid” of sorts about one of the subjects of the previously mentioned Chapter 9 called “Variance in Solar Irradiance.”

Until then, I hope to see you at our annual Solstice Dinner for what I have always called a time for good food and good conversation.

—Bob Lane

  Remembering Rolf Kay

What do the following people have in common: Robert Redford, Leonard Bernstein, Mikhail Gorbachev, Colin Powell, Al Gore, Lech Walesa, Danny Kaye, Sid Caesar, Doc Severinsen, Pete Fountain, Mike Leavitt, Norm Bangerter, Scott Matheson, Rocky Anderson, DeeDee Corradini, Ted Wilson, Jon Huntsman, Jim Sorensen, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, Glade Peterson, Shamir Perez, Chase Peterson, Bernie Machen, Dionne Warwick, Nancy Workman, Earl Holding, Robert Goulet, Joey Silverstein, Ray Charles, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Dinah Shore, Mel Torme, Victor Borge, Elizabeth Dole, Ansel Adams, Elizabeth Smart, Alan Greenspan, Dorothy Hamill, Bob Bennett, Orrin Hatch, Roberta Peters, Olene Walker, Maurice Abravanel, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Larry Miller, Steve Young, Lavell Edwards, Ron McBride, Gordon Hinckley, Ezra Taft Benson, Dallin Oaks, Earl Wunderli, Florien Wineriter, Rabbi Benny Zipell, Yo Yo Ma, Jay Leno, Carol Channing, and Heather Dorrell? They have all been photographed by Rolf Kay.

Not only photographed but “there were always stories to tell after I photographed these people,” Rolf says. He rarely asks his subjects for autographs; the photos are enough. He did want an autograph of Gorbachev, however, but “didn’t have any paper with me for him to write on. All I had was a twenty-dollar bill, which I gave to his wife so she could hand it to Gorbachev to sign.” Then he realized he had no pen, but Raisa “got the message and started reaching in some men’s coat pockets until she found a pen and then handed them both to her husband. He pointed to the signature of the Treasurer of the United States and said something to his interpreter.” The interpreter turned to Rolf and said, “Mr. Gorbachev said that this bill has already been autographed.” They all smiled, and Rolf got the autograph.

Such stories are vintage Rolf. He tells another one of photographing Walesa shortly after Yeltsin had fainted in public and fallen. “Every time I photographed Walesa with a woman, he would look at her and raise himself on tip toes if she was taller than he.” One time he forgot to look at a much taller woman, so Rolf “got his attention and stood on my tip toes to give him the message. Someone bumped me from the back and I lost my balance. Walesa laughed, pointed at me and shouted, ‘YELTSIN.’”

Rolf and Victor Borge together were bound to create a classic. “Before I photographed him, I had dinner with him at his hotel,” Rolf relates. “I asked him where he was living now and he said, ‘Upstairs.’” After I photographed him I told him to come back soon and he replied, ‘I haven’t left yet.’”

Rolf’s interest in photography goes back to his high school days in New York, where he had his own photo-finishing lab. It remains his passion even though he couldn’t make it his life’s work until he retired from American Optical in 1983.

He was born in Badsachsa in the middle of Germany, a town that he hasn’t seen since he moved with his family to New York City in 1929 at age seven. His father and older brother preceded his mother and five other children (Rolf was the fourth child) to New York, where they lived for over ten years before moving to Utah in 1940.

He was the first in his family to graduate from high school and he worked as a messenger for American Optical before enlisting in the army in 1942. He was the only one in Officers Candidate School who hadn’t gone to college, and of the eighty in the class, one-half of them washed out. After OCS, he went to India, whereas a first lieutenant he served as executive officer in heavy automotive maintenance that maintained both the Ledo and Burma roads. He was honorably discharged in 1945.

After the army, American Optical called him back and he worked first as a lens grinder, then successively as a sales representative, branch manager, and finally major market manager. When the company closed all its branches, Rolf had had 42 years of service and returned to his first love, photography. He has three children, all in Salt Lake Valley, and eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren, scattered all over. He has been a director of Humanists of Utah virtually since its founding in 1991. He is also on the board of The Gandhi Alliance for Peace.

If you’ve talked to Rolf, and you probably have, you’ve also been told a joke. He loves humor, which he combines with his wisdom acquired over eighty years. He calls himself a god-fearing agnostic and passes along this adage for everyone to live by: “Remember that no matter how thin you slice baloney; you can always break a window with a brick.” Rolf died January 4, 2013

—Earl Wunderli  

Previously published January 2004    

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