OGDEN – When her son first turned out to be gay with her, Kathryn Hueth didn’t know where to turn.
She did not tell her husband and followed her son’s wishes. It was the mid-2000s and there were no organizations in Ogden to support them. “There was absolutely nothing. … I was ultimately only alone for 10 years or so, “she said as her son went through the subject.
Things have stabilized since then – her son got married and prospered, she said. Even so, she knows that others face the uncertainty and fear that has caused her and her son, and as Chair of the Ogden Encircle Advisory Board, her mission is to do whatever it takes to help the LGBTQ community. “I want everyone to lead a beautiful, fulfilling life. That’s the end point of all of this, “she said.
To that end, she shared her story on Thursday at an event aimed at spreading the message of Encircle that it will build a facility in Ogden that will serve as a refuge and resource center for the LGBTQ community. Circle leaders soliciting financial assistance took part in the construction of the proposed facility at 2458 Washington Blvd. also an appeal for donations. emerges. It has raised around $ 320,000 so far, said Stephenie Larsen, CEO of Encircle, and Hueth said the response from the Ogden area has been positive since the Encircle plans emerged here.
“It’s all good. It’s phenomenal. … People were passionate about getting fully involved,” Hueth said. Encircle representatives broke ground on Washington Boulevard in late March last year, and Larsen, who also spoke on Thursday, hopes work on the red-brick facility can begin in earnest next month, with a preliminary completion date in spring 2022.
Around 100 people attended the Meet Encircle event held outside the Eccles Art Center in Ogden on Thursday, including Rep. Rosemary Lesser of Utah, Jim Harvey, Commissioner for Weber County, and Marcia White, Councilor for Ogden. Encircle, a nonprofit founded in 2017, currently has facilities in Provo, Salt Lake City, and St. George.
Encircle’s offers are aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community and their family members, with the focus on Thursday on the planned offers here.
“We all have stories and by sharing those stories we connect with each other,” said Hueth. Encircle is a place where the personal stories of the LGBTQ community can be told, she continued, serving as a “lifeline” for them.
More broadly, Larsen said that encircle facilities are intended as safe spaces for the LGBTQ community, providing a place to get support and therapy, make friends, and more. “You walk into an encircle house and it’s laughter, happiness. … It is built by the community for the community. I think this love – you can feel it in the walls of the houses, ”she said.
Taylor Knuth, a member of the Ogden Encircle Advisory Board, spoke about his coming out. Growing up with no agency like Encircle to turn to, he suspects that life “would have been filled with a little more camaraderie and fellowship” had such an organization existed.
Encircle received a series of high-profile donations worth $ 4 million earlier this year from Apple, the Cupertino, Calif.-Based technology company; Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith; and Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds. This money will help build the Ogden facility and others.